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  • Updated 31 May 1998
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Dwarves

The Children of Aulë

"Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd aimênu! Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!"
The battle-cry of the Dwarves
The Lord of the Rings Appendix F I: Of Other Races: Dwarves

Unlike Elves and Men, the Dwarves are not Children of Ilúvatar; they were created by Aulë the Smith, though Ilúvatar granted them life. Aulë made seven Fathers of the Dwarves, and these slept through many ages until after the Awakening of the Elves. Almost all the Dwarves that appear in Tolkien's works were descended from the eldest of the Seven Fathers, Durin the Deathless.

Like Aulë their maker, the Dwarves delighted in smithcraft and stoneworking; they mined and worked metals throughout the mountains of Middle-earth. The Dwarves kept themselves apart from the other races; their language, Khuzdul, was a closely guarded secret, and they told their true names to none but themselves (all the Dwarf-names in Tolkien are in the tongues of Elves or Men, not true Dwarf names).

Origins of the Dwarves

The first Dwarves were made long ages ago by Aulë the Smith. He had dimly perceived the coming Children of Ilúvatar, and desired to make Children of his own to teach his many skills and arts.

Aulë's work was doomed, though, because he did not have the power to grant independent life to his creations - that power belonged to Ilúvatar alone. When the Dwarves were completed, though, the voice of Ilúvatar spoke to Aulë and agreed to grant them true life, and include them in His plan for Arda. Ilúvatar would not allow the Dwarves to awaken, though, until after the Firstborn (the Elves), and so Aulë set them to sleep far apart from one another, deep underground, until the time came for their awakening.

The History of the Dwarves Before the First Age

Ilúvatar promised Aulë that he would awaken the Fathers of the Dwarves 'when the time comes'. We must assume that he did so shortly after the Awakening of the Elves at Cuiviénen (the Elves awoke approximately 4,300 years before the first rising of the Sun, the first Dwarves would have followed shortly afterward).

It seems that not long passed after their awakening before Durin the Deathless, eldest of the Fathers, founded Khazad-dûm (later called Moria) in the Misty Mountains. Certainly it was well established as their chief citadel by the time the first Dwarves crossed the Blue Mountains into Beleriand. This took place about 2,400 years before the rising of the Sun, during the second age of the Captivity of Melkor.

The Dwarves had no settlement in Beleriand itself, but they built two mighty citadels in the Blue Mountains; Gabilgathol to the north and Tumunzahar to the south. These fortress-cities are better known by the Elvish versions of their names: Belegost and Nogrod. The Dwarves also laid the long road that ran westwards out of the Blue Mountains and along the course of the River Ascar, crossing into East Beleriand at Sarn Athrad.

The Dwarves in Beleriand

For the Elves dwelling in Beleriand, the first appearance of the Dwarves in the Blue Mountains was a startling revelation - until that time, the Elves had thought themselves the only speaking peoples in the World.

Throughout the long ages, the Elves and Dwarves developed a mutual respect which, if not quite friendship, was far from enmity. After their return to Middle-earth at the beginning of the First Age, the Noldor became closest in friendship with the Dwarves - both peoples revered Aulë, and both had a love of craft and making that made them natural allies.

Of all the Elves of Beleriand, though, it was not a Noldo but a Sindarin Elf who became most trusted and respected by the Dwarves. This was Eöl, the Dark Elf of Nan Elmoth, who travelled often to the dwarf-cities in the Blue Mountains, and who took also his son Maeglin during his youth.

The Nature of the Dwarves

Aulë made the Dwarves at a time when the World outside Aman still lay under the dominion of Melkor, and so he made them sturdy and hard to survive the dangers and hardships of that time.

In nature, the typical Dwarf is stubborn and secretive. Though they make loyal and good friends, they are also a proud and stern race. They do not suffer grievance or insult, and their enmity is long-lasting. They are said to be quick to learn new skills.

Probably the best known aspect of the Dwarvish character, though, is their strong instinctive skills in the working of metal and stone, no doubt derived from Aulë their maker, the Vala whose province these things were. In ancient times, they were said to have preferred working with copper and iron, though in later days they wrought gold and silver, and the mithril they found in the Mines of Khazad-dûm.

Dwarvish Mortality

Though they live much longer than Men (usually around 250 years), Dwarves are mortal creatures. What happens after their death, though, is a mystery. The Elves have said that the Dwarves return to the stone from which they were made, but the Dwarves have a different belief.

According to Dwarvish tradition, they are gathered by Mahal (their name for Aulë) in a part of the Halls of Mandos set aside for them. After the end of the World and the Last Battle, they say, they will aid Aulë in the rebuilding of Arda.


See also...

Aglarond, Alphabet of Daeron, Aman, Amon Rûdh, Angerthas, Angerthas Daeron, Angerthas Moria, Arkenstone, Aulë, Azaghâl, Azanulbizar, Azog, Baggins Family, Balin, Balrogs, [See the full list...]

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