The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dwelt in Aman during the Years of the Trees1
ma'htan ('ht' is pronounced like -cht German 'nacht')
Probably 'skilled craftsman'2


About this entry:

  • Updated 26 June 2018
  • Updates planned: 2


The father of Nerdanel

A Noldorin smith in Valinor, who studied the arts of working metal and stone with the Vala Aulë himself. It was Mahtan who taught these skills in turn to the great craftsman Fëanor, who also wed Mahtan's daughter Nerdanel. In later years, Mahtan came to regret passing his knowledge on to Fëanor, who used it to build stores of weapons and armour.



We have no canonical account of Mahtan's ultimate fate, but it's strongly implied that he remained behind in Aman when Fëanor led most of the Noldor back to Middle-earth. That's suggested by his evident regret at teaching his craft to Fëanor, and in The Shibboleth of Fëanor (in volume 12 of The History of Middle-earth) it's explicitly said that he stayed in the West on the advice of the Vala Aulë. If he did indeed remain behind, then he presumably continued to live in Aman indefinitely.


Mahtan's name probably derives from the roots maƷ (literally 'hand', but implying skill) and tan ('craftsman, smith'). A possible alternative source for the first element of the name is mak ('sword'), in which case the name Mahtan would be interpreted 'swordsmith'.

It seems clear from late notes that Tolkien intended to change Mahtan's name, though he does not seem to have reached a definite choice for its replacement. Among the alternatives he considered were Aulendur ('devoted to Aulë') and Urundil ('lover of copper'; Mahtan was said to wear a copper band around his head). Though neither of these names found their way into the published Silmarillion, they do give us a small glimpse into the deeper background of the character.

See also...

Fëanor, The Wise


About this entry:

  • Updated 26 June 2018
  • Updates planned: 2

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