The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Forged between c. II 1500 and c. II 1600. With the destruction of the One Ring in III 3019, the surviving Rings lost their Power.
Origins
Made by the Elves of Eregion, under the instruction of Sauron. Sauron was said to have had no part in the making of the Three Rings, while he alone made the One Ring.
Other Names

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  • Updated 26 January 2002
  • Updates planned: 8

Rings of Power

The magical rings made by Sauron and the Mírdain

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Eregion was a land founded by the Noldor in the eighth century of the Second Age. Their leader was Celebrimbor, the grandson of Fëanor himself, and their skill and smithwork became famous throughout Middle-earth. In about the year II 1200, they began to receive emissaries from a mysterious stranger calling himself Annatar, who offered them even greater knowledge of their arts. Despite warnings from Gil-galad and Elrond, they accepted Annatar's offer, and he came to Eregion to teach them.

For three hundred years the Mírdain - as the Jewel-smiths of Eregion were known - studied at Annatar's side, and learned the making of magical rings. In about the year II 1500, the first of the Rings of Power was forged. Over the following decades, with Annatar's help, the Elves made sixteen Rings of Power, each set with a gemstone. Both the Elves and Annatar had their own secret aims, though, and each forged work of their own. Celebrimbor and the Elves made Three Rings more powerful than the others, Narya, Nenya and Vilya, the Rings of Fire, Water and Air.

Unknown to the Mírdain, 'Annatar' was none other than the Dark Lord Sauron. In the fires of Mount Doom in the dark land of Mordor, he forged a Ring of his own, to enslave the holders of the other Rings of Power. Filled with much of his own native power, this was the Ruling Ring, the One Ring that would make him Lord of all the Rings. But Sauron had not reckoned on the Elves forging their own Rings of Power; as he took up the One Ring for the first time, they became aware of it, and took off their own Rings to foil his ambition.

Sauron in his anger swept out of Mordor with a great army. The land of Eregion was overwhelmed and destroyed and Celebrimbor was slain. The Three Rings of the Elves had already been sent away, but the Dark Lord claimed the remaining Rings of Power1. Nine of these he used to subvert nine Men to his cause; this was the origin of the Nazgûl or Ringwraiths. Seven he gave to the Dwarves with the same purpose, though with much less success, as the Dwarves proved resistant to their magic.

Centuries later, at the end of the Second Age, Sauron fell in the War of the Last Alliance. Isildur cut the Ring from Sauron's hand, but he was lost in the River Anduin, and the Ruling Ring was lost with him. So the Elves could once again use the power of their Three Rings, as they did through the Third Age. At last, the One Ring was found again, and Sauron's quest to retrieve it resulted in the War of the Ring. Ultimately, the Ring was destroyed in the place where Sauron had forged it nearly five thousand years earlier. With that, the remaining Rings of Power, including even the Elves' Three Rings, lost the power they had held.


Notes

1

There was a tradition among the Dwarves of Durin's Folk that Celebrimbor had already given them one of the Rings of Power before Sauron attacked. At this time, Durin's Folk still lived in their ancient home of Khazad-dûm, neighbouring Eregion to the east, and there was great friendship between the Elves and the Dwarves. According to the Dwarves, Celebrimbor gave a Ring as a gift to the then King of Khazad-dûm, Durin III. Hence, Sauron would have recovered fifteen of the Rings, not all sixteen.

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