Despite their diminutive height, the Dwarves of Middle Earth prove their mettle time and time again in the quest to destroy the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings and in Bilbo’s unexpected adventure in The Hobbit.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s high fantasy masterpiece has a rich and complex lore. The history of the Dwarves is elaborate but hardly touched upon in the first of the epic trilogies brought to our silver screens. Gimli, son of Glóin, is a stalwart of the fellowship in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings but it is The Hobbit which gives us a more rounded sense of Dwarven culture and introduces us to more of the secretive race.
Although not as widely loved as The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit movie trilogy gave viewers the chance to delve a little deeper into the mythology of Tolkien’s world. Lucky for us, one of the aspects we are able to explore in more depth was the Dwarves.
Only the most die-hard of Tolkien’s fans can recount fully the complex history of these bearded, treasure-loving heroes. Regardless of whether you are a hardened Tolkien scholar or a new fan of the franchise, there is a lot to be explored in Middle-earth’s vivid history.
Here are 16 Things You Didn’t Know About Dwarves.
16. They Were Created By An Angel
Tolkien’s The Silmarillion recounts the creation of Middle-earth in lyrical style.
We discover that the Dwarvish race was created by a Vala named Aulë the Smith. Classified below Eru Ilúvatar, who serves as Supreme Being and Creator, the Valar are akin to angels.
Aulë was impatient for the promised coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, who would be the Elves and Men. In his impatience, he created his own race, so he could teach them his craft and smith’s wisdom.
When Ilúvatar discovered his actions, he wasn’t pleased. Aulë could not bring the Dwarves fully to life; that power rested with Eru only. Eru agreed to help but his price for assisting with Aulë’s creation was to demand that the Dwarves sleep until after the Elves had woken.
Once awakened in turn, the Dwarves revered Vala Aulë and believed that after death he would care for them.
15. Tolkien invented the term “Dwarves”
Tolkien was not responsible for inventing the dwarf. They are based on Germanic myth, where the dwarf was already established with many of the famed facets we would associate with them; their diminutive size, dwelling place in mountains, association with mining, metalwork and craftsmanship.
Tolkien’s real contribution was in purposefully misspelling the plural, changing it from dwarfs to dwarves. At the time of his writing, the most famous dwarfs of fiction were the cartoonish Disney offering from Snow White and Tolkien was keen to distinguish from these clownish sidekicks.
As a scholar, he would have been aware that the correct archaic plurals were dwarrows or dwerrows. He felt dwarves paired better with elves.
In many early editions, his editors corrected this plural but Tolkien was adamant and now the plural is as commonly used as the original one. This is just one of the ways that Tolkien has left an indelible mark on the English language.