The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Location
Eregion, in southeastern Eriador close to Khazad-dûm in the Misty Mountains
Origins
Founded by Noldor out of Lindon
Race
Division
Mainly Noldor
Culture
Settlements
Headquartered at the House of the Mírdain in Ost-in-Edhil
Pronunciation
mee'rdine
Meaning
Other names
More fully known as the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, the People of the Jewel-smiths

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  • Updated 2 April 2018
  • This entry is complete

Mírdain

The jewel-smiths of Eregion

The Founding of the Mírdain

In the eighth century of the Second Age, a party of the Noldor left Lindon and crossed the Blue Mountains into Eriador. They settled in a land that came to be called Eregion, near the Dwarf-city of Khazad-dûm in the western shadow of the Misty Mountains, and there they built themselves a city that they named Ost-in-Edhil. The Noldor were a people who esteemed knowledge and craft, and among the settlers in Eregion was Celebrimbor, the grandson of the great artisan Fëanor himself.

These craftsmen formed a powerful and influential society of jewel-smiths. They took their name from the Elvish mírdan 'jewel-smith', becoming known in full as the Gwaith-i-Mírdain or 'People of the Jewel-smiths', a name commonly abbreviated to simply Mírdain or 'jewel-smiths'. They constructed their own great hall in Ost-in-Edhil, the House of the Mírdain, that contained their forges and workshops, as well as treasuries to hold their works.

These Mírdain of Eregion were said to have been the greatest smiths of their kind since Fëanor himself. A strong friendship grew up between them and the neighbouring Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, who greatly prized the skill of the Elves of Eregion. This partnership is clearly shown in the Doors of Durin, the West-gate of Moria that opened onto Eregion, which were jointly made by the Dwarf Narvi in partnership with Celebrimbor himself.

Annatar and the Rings of Power

The Mírdain had been crafting their jewels in Eregion for more than four centuries when a strange visitor came to them. Calling himself Annatar, 'Lord of Gifts', he offered extraordinary knowledge. The other Elves of Middle-earth warned the Mírdain that this stranger was not to be trusted, but the Jewel-smiths were greedy for his lore, and chose to accept his teaching.

Annatar remained among the Mírdain for some three centuries, and during that time they grew in knowledge and power until they were ready to begin a great project: the making of the Rings of Power. As they embarked on this task, Annatar departed from the land of Eregion,1 but the Mírdain pressed on with their work, creating many extraordinary Rings. The summit of their work was a series of Three Rings, made by Celebrimbor alone, independently of Annatar's influence.

Because of these Three Rings, Celebrimbor uncovered Annatar's secret: he was none other than the Dark Lord Sauron, and had forged a Great Ring for himself. This Ruling Ring would grant Sauron power over all the other Rings and their bearers, but Celebrimbor defied the Dark Lord and sent his Three Rings into hiding.

The End of the Mírdain

For Sauron, centuries of planning were undone by Celembrimbor's discovery. Enraged, the Dark Lord led an army out of Mordor to invade Eregion and take the Rings of Power by force. The Mírdain attempted to withstand the massed force of Sauron, but they had no hope of success. Celebrimbor made a last stand on the steps of the House of the Mírdain in Ost-in-Edhil, but he was captured.

Sauron's forces pillaged the treasuries of the Mírdain, and many of the lesser Rings of Power were taken, including those that would become the Nine Rings of the Nazgûl and the Seven Rings2 of the Dwarves. Though Celebrimbor was tortured, he would not reveal where the Three Rings had been hidden, and so Sauron slew the master of the Jewel-smiths. Thus the last of the Mírdain met his end, more than nine centuries after the founding of the order.


Notes

1

It may seem strange that Annatar would leave Eregion just as the Mírdain were embarking on the greatest work. Rather, we might reasonably have expected him to remain to oversee this crucial matter, at least for a time. All the relevant sources, however, are definite and consistent on the point: the Jewel-smiths began their work on the Rings of Power in about the year II 1500, and Annatar departed at about the same time. It should be said that the date is marked as approximate in all cases, so there would have potentially been scope for Annatar to supervise the Mírdain for a few years before he left, but it is clear that he did not remain for long after they embarked on their great project.

After several centuries of instruction, we must presume that Annatar felt confident that the Mírdain would follow his guidance while he worked on his own Ring. From a narrative point of view, his absence from Eregion was necessary for Celebrimbor to act independently, allowing him to make the Three Rings free of Annatar's influence. Annatar's misplaced confidence would ultimately prove to have been a fatal flaw in his plans.

2

Strictly speaking, Sauron seems to have captured just six of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves. According to the traditions of the Dwarves, the Ring of Thrór had been given by Celebrimbor directly to King Durin III of Khazad-dûm before Sauron's invasion. Unlike the other six Rings of the Dwarves, then, the Ring of the House of Durin was never in the possession of the Dark Lord.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 2 April 2018
  • This entry is complete

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