The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Uncertain, but in use by II 16971
Location
Known to have been used on the West-gate of Moria, and almost certainly elsewhere2
Race
Division
Particularly associated with the Noldor
Culture
Settlements
Drawn on the Doors of Durin that led into Khazad-dûm
Pronunciation
ithi'ldin
Meaning
Translated 'Starmoon'3
Other names

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  • Updated 17 December 2016
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Ithildin

The magical substance known as ‘starmoon

A magical substance made by the Elves from mithril, that could only be seen by the reflected light of the moon and stars, and even then remained hidden until a magical word was said. Gandalf translated its name as 'starmoon', but 'moon-sparkle' would perhaps be a more literal rendering. The designs on the West-gate of Moria were made from this substance.


Notes

1

II 1697 is the first mention in history of the Doors of Durin that were marked with ithildin, so the substance must have been in existence at this date. Of course this is the absolute latest possible date for its creation; it presumably dated back farther this, perhaps by centuries or even millennia. The fact that incorporated mithril, however, implies that it was probably first devised in Eregion, and therefore no earlier than about II 750.

2

It is not clear how widely ithildin was used. Gandalf was familiar enough with the substance to remember the specific spell that brought it to life, which rather implies that he had come across it before, though he may have gained the same information through research rather than experience. The substance contained mithril, which could be found only in Khazad-dûm, but in earlier days the Dwarves would trade far afield. Thus it was conceivable for Elves outside the particular region around Khazad-dûm to have worked with the substance.

3

Gandalf's translation of ithildin as 'starmoon' is close, but not completely literal. The name comes from ithil, 'Moon' and din, 'glint', 'sparkle', also used of small faint stars. So the name would literally be 'moon-sheen', or poetically 'moonstar'.

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About this entry:

  • Updated 17 December 2016
  • This entry is complete

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