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ELVISH CROSS

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CULTURAL RELATIONS
BY ASKMIDDLEARTH.TUMBLR.COM

ELVISH CROSS-CULTURAL RELATIONS

INTRODUCTION
Elves. Probably the most popular of Tolkien’s races. Tall, beautiful, immor-
tal and hugely misunderstood. Because, while many fans believe at first
that the elves are ever-wise, peaceful, and mature, those who read fur-
ther will discover that they are not nearly that perfect. Most importantly
(at least, as far as this guide is concerned), the elvish race is split into
many cultural factions, and the relations between these groups often
have significant impacts on behavior and important decisions.

If you read this guide, you’ll not only get a very thorough idea of what
these cultural groups are, and how they were formed, but you’ll also gain
an understanding of how all of these groups interacted with each other.
Trust me, after reading this, you’ll never be able to look at your favorite
elvish characters the same way again.

This guide is organized into three chapters, each correlating to a major
cultural group. At the end of each chapter is a suggestion for further read-
ing, if interested. Finally, the artwork in this guide does not belong to me.
Most of the paintings are by Ted Nasmith, with a few by John Howe or
Alan Lee mixed in there. Anything that looks like it was made in Power-
Point, though, that’s all me.

If, after reading this guide, you have any more questions you should defi-
nitely find me at askmiddlearth.tumblr.com.

1

ELVISH CROSS-CULTURAL RELATIONS THE AVARI .

the darkness.” Another When the Valar invited the elves to come live with them in Valinor. and both You can even see such beliefs in the names they gave the Avari. For the most part. most wanted to go to Valinor. and Moriquendi was Cuivienen. But some (half Valinor (including the Nandor and Sindar). “Avari” itself is a Sindarin name. it was largely replaced with Umanyar. It’s this moment that defines the next several thousand used only to refer to the Avari. they’re even part of the overarching elvish culture. meaning “the refusers. 3 . Of the three primitive tribes (the Minyar. comes to us from a Noldorin or Sindarin point of view. And this is no ac. cident.GENERAL OVERVIEW OF AVARIN RELATIONS The Avari are so rarely talked about that often readers forget that years of Avarin relations with the elves that did follow the Valar. and the Nelyar). these groups had strong. views on the Avari. largely negative. a common name in Quenya was “Moriquendi”. the information we have on the elves The Eldar looked down on the Avari for refusing the Valar’s invitation.” Moriquendi technically referred to any elf that never saw Tatyar. but as the Sindar found it of the Tatyar and some of the Nelyar) refused to leave their home in offensive. which means “elves of great debate was held. called the Eldar.

it was the Eldar that had few Avari ever joined a Sindarin community made a poor decision. and untrustworthy. treacherous.though whether this was due to a lack of selves as the only “true” elvish culture. In time. having gone superior to even the Sindar as to make the “evil and savage in the wild. secre. and all of them are basically tive clan that the Sindar descended from. . They were said to at Cuivienen in a very different light. From live deep in the woods or in caves.the relationship between the Avari and the Sin- Kwendi (primitive Quendian for “the peo- dar is specific to those Avari who de- ple”. ar- It’s certainly worth noting that.” Which tells Avari seem no better than men. the Noldor were so far is that they might be Avari. their bitter Avarin cousins formed immedi- ately. where we start to see On the other hand. Sindar’s part is unknown. of the term “Eldar” to refer to elves in gen- 4 .The Avari. the situation only wors- the consequences of the prejudices formed ened for those Avari descended from the by the Sundering of the Elves. this openness would on the Avari is rare and incomplete. as well as the influence of And their first thought on encountering orcs Thingol and Melian. their way to Beleriand. Windan.) In fact. Cuind. The Avari were It was the Noldor that really pushed the use described as hostile. the Noldor. “Kwendi” in another dialect: Kindi. and very their point of view. Tolkien lists six tribal names scended from the Nelyar . But we lead to a much more positive relationship do know that some Avari eventually made for all involved. on the other hand. It’s said that these Avari were friendly to Hwenti. While the Sindar were su- Avari even arrive in Beleriand. or hostility on the saw those who went to Valinor as deserters. the Sindar perior to the Avari due to their brief expo- have come into contact with the first orcs. Kinn-lai. saw the split tive. and Penni.the same primi- for the Avari. and were willing to learn After the Eldar leave Cuivienen. and desire on the Avari’s part. information from them. before the rived in Beleriand. their “cousins”. The Avari saw them. The situation doesn’t improve much when the Avari do actually arrive. Tatyar when their cousins. sure to the Valar. They continued to call themselves by varia- The only positive thing we hear about the tions of the original name for the elves . An unhappy you right away what the Sindar thought of relationship between the lordly Noldor and the Avari.

But this term specifically excluded the the closest the Avari will ever get to anyone Avari. Meanwhile. Thranduil’s father) experiences something of a change • Artwork by Ted Nasmith of heart after the War of Wrath.php Sindar (most notably Oropher. But there’s no evidence in Tolkien’s Avari elf. of Nandorin and Avarin elves) as leading the simple life “natural to the elves” before the Valar’s invitation. The Histories of Middle Earth vol. and accused the Noldor of being arro- where else the Avari lived. Be- yond that. This is 5 . There’s been gant (frankly. This implied that the the Avari. Which just illustrates a further lack writings to prove or disprove this. since “Eldar” had traditionally be telling them that they were right all along. a view shared by most of the some fan-speculation. And other than those who were bitter and jealous of their “exalted joined the Silvan elves. we don’t know kin”. found at silmarillionwritersguild. is in fact an Avarin another person by referring to them as an realm.com) Sindarin faction strongly disliked the Noldor and wished to be free of their influence. but among other and where the wine that the elves of Mirk- elvish groups it wasn’t uncommon to insult wood drink is made. in go.eral. they saw the Silvan (a combina- tion. by the Third Age. This small (tednasmith. used to refer to the elves that accepted the This is also practically the last we hear of Valar’s invitation. And some reference/references/pf/namecalling. near the Sea of Rhun I’ll address this more later. Further Reading: After the First Age things improved a bit for the Avari.org/ power in Mirkwood and Lorien.mymiddlearth. 11 descended Avari had shown their Sindarin • “Name Calling: Group Identiy and the and Nandorin cousins paid off: many Avari Other Among First Age Elves” by Angel- joined the Silvan communities rising to ica. of respect for the Avari as a whole. mainly. the Avari Misty Mountains.) gion of Dorwinion. It’s said that. as far as cross-cultural relations • “Quendi and Eldar” by JRR Tolkien. though that the re- elves anyway. Noldor did not even consider the Avari to there are no Avari to be found west of the truly be elves at all. The openness that the Nelyar.

ELVISH CROSS-CULTURAL RELATIONS THE VANYAR .

Eventually. for the two tribes to live in. The two After this first Sundering of the Elves. But since none of the Minyar joined the The Vanyar. The tribe led by the oldest of the elves was called the Minyar calling them the Valar. the second tribes (the Tatyar groups travelled to Valinor together. Tirion. the other elves started tribes. which means “Fair”. However. This name (the “First”). they were divided into three refer to themselves as the Minyar. all the Vanyar left Tirion to live closer 7 . loved the Valar and the Avari. they saw no reason to adopt a new name. hair so common among the Valar. who greatly admired the golden tribes. But when the Valar invited the elves to come live in Valinor. without their Avarin cousins. and when they arrived in the and the Nelyar) changed their names to reflect their new identities new land. close relationship between the Vanyar and the Noldor. From the beginning they were the smallest of the elvish was given to them by the Noldor. So there are no Avarin This flattering name from the Noldor is just the first indication of the elves that descended from the Minyar. more than any other elvish tribe. every single member of the Minyar accepted.GENERAL OVERVIEW OF VANYARIN RELATIONS When the elves first awoke at Cuivienen. and continued to Two Trees of Valinor. as in fair hair. they built a single city.

growing apart. when Feanor leads the majority of the Noldor remain friendly. rather than mourning Finwë’s he had a few more children. with whom with the Valar. And when Morgoth come live with the Vanyar for a while. who died during the journey. It’s im- The Noldor and the Vanyar had originally plied that the woman Finrod was in love spoken a single language. though. Ingwë and Finwë were close friends. but it’s said that she was prohibited separate dialects. this point. the two tribes develop them. termarriages between the two tribes. nied the Noldor. After thing to do with him. though.to the Valar. Indis. Compared to their relationship with the The low point of the relationship between Noldor. Amarië. the Vanyar still adopted more Valarin it seems that the Vanyar didn’t hold any sort words than any of the other elvish tribes. Ingwë invited him to come him as a teacher. and that was Turgon’s wife Elenwë.) and didn’t change as much as the Noldorin dialect. they maintained a the Vanyar have less contact with the positive relationship. he fell in love with and mar- Trees of Valinor. command was is unknown. As time fought against Morgoth in the War of Wrath. And while the Vanyar and ter. the Vanyar seemed to grow closer to the Valar while simultaneously growing Even when the Vanyar and the Noldor were apart from the Noldor. this separation Noldor into exile. The Vanyar also adopted some We hear very little about the Vanyar after words from the language of the Valar (Va. When Morgoth is released on proba. After leaving Tirion. of grudge against the Noldorin exiles for de- fying the Valar. The Vanyarin dialect was joining the exiles (how widespread this tended to stay truer to the earlier Quenya. the Vanyar stay to mourn ried a relative of Ingwë’s. the Vanyar were practically strang- the Vanyar and the Noldor comes soon af. It’s likely that they stayed friendly larin. And tion in Valinor. while the Noldor wel. Quenya. While kills Finwë (king of the Noldor) and the Two Finwë was there. would have accompanied living apart. There were several in- Noldor. death with the Noldor. Finwë’s first wife died. the Vanyar refuse to have any. While with. because the Vanyar made The Vanyar were also the only tribe to main- up the majority of the Host of the West that tain regular contact with the Valar. ers to the Teleri. and colors. went on.) Though it was only a few words for with those Noldor who stayed in Valinor. Only one Vanya accompa- marks a new phase in their relationship. They travelled to Valinor 8 .

This idea that the Vanyar essentially the end. Imin noticed that were unfriendly. since he was the old- On a more general note. He have much of a relationship at all. But the joke was on him. ultimately. 11 it likely isn’t being told from the Vanyarin • Artwork by Ted Nasmith point of view. Histories of Middle Earth vol. So. implying that he was Chances are. being the oldest. These first elves started exploring their envi- 9 . while there’s no real “moral” to the story. Being the old- when they found a group of 48. the tallest tower in the city was Ingwë’s. The only real source we have to show how the other elves viewed the Vanyar is the Further Reading: Cuivienyarna. The Vanyarin king’s full name elves that he’d claimed. And Vanyar and Noldor built the city of Tirion. in culture. this story is being told from the High King of all the elves. Imin as- est tribe (if only by a few minutes). Imin skipped his turn. They contin- laying at Alqualondë by the War of Wrath.com) awake was Imin. Imin ended up with the smallest outranked the other elves manifests in a tribe. was Ingwë Ingweron. in The wasn’t specific about the origin of the story. lived far apart. the Van- sumed that the sixth group of elves would yar saw themselves as the leaders of the be the largest yet. the principle elvish as they never found a sixth group. They just didn’t seem to each group was larger than the last. and. elves. ued moving. So when they next found a group of 36 yarin relations with other elves is definitely elves. claimed these still had not forgiven the Noldor for the Kins. made up of only the first group of 12 couple ways.mymiddlearth. and found a group of twelve more corder intermarriages. ronment. and found a group of 18 elves. Then they found 24 no indication that the Vanyar and the Teleri elves. the theme for Van- est. the Vanyar obviously had. and again one of assumed superiority. and had no re. But there’s also which Tata claimed. followed by Tata and Enel. didn’t think that it was fair for him to have the smallest group. a legend of how the first three tribes were formed (though Tolkien • “Cuivienyarna” by JRR Tolkien. new elves as his companions. the first elf to (tednasmith. And while the Teleri elves.separately.) In the story. Imin (representing the Vanyar) certainly comes off as a bit arrogant. And when the the Noldorin (or Sindarin) point of view. which Enel claimed. which translates to “Chief of Chieftains”. Imin.

ELVISH CROSS-CULTURAL RELATIONS THE NOLDOR .

actually. it’s no wonder It’s because these names were given from one tribe to another that that their given name means “the Wise.” The root of the name Noldor they’re so important when studying elvish cross-cultural relations. (“ngol”) originally signified “wise”. The Noldor. which im- called the Tatyar (“the Seconds”). and “lore master. how- tribe that they describe. The Noldor named the Vanyar and the Te. a kind reference to their blonde hair was time for some new names. called them the Teleri (“the Lasts”). that none of that completely lacked any suggestion of authority.NOLDORIN RELATIONS: THE BEGINNING The Noldor were the second tribe to awake at Cuivienen.” And this 11 . after they lost half their numbers plied their superiority over the other clans. It’s interesting. The Noldor instead called to the Avari during the Sundering of the Elves. Meanwhile. and it’s said that the name Noldor was itself given to the Noldor own superiority over them. “lore”. Given the clever way the early Noldor used names. the the commonly used elvish tribal names were actually created by the Teleri called themselves the Lindar (“the Singers”). the Noldor decided it them the Vanyar (“the Fair”). Originally The Vanyar called themselves the Minyar (“the Firsts”). ever. by the others. which implied the Noldor’s leri.

after 12 . the Teleri refused to join many of the Noldor considered themselves the fight.) In what can only be de- from Morgoth. Fëanor swore developed slightly a different meaning in to follow Morgoth to Middle Earth and re- the Sindarin language. the Noldor and the Vanyar travelled order to steal their ships. he needed ships . this time. since they had been so uneager to leave Middle Earth. interestingly. But we’re getting ahead of scribed as a combination of rage. and it’s unknown how the Te- started drifting closer to the Valar. and killed many of the Teleri in series.is how the word continued to be used in Morgoth killed Finwë (king of the Noldor) Quenya. This was called together to Valinor. mained in Valinor. and was often Earth.which the Teleri associated with black arts . when the Vanyar mitted this act. and the fact that they built the city of It was only a faction of the Noldor that com- Tirion together. the Noldor con- across the ocean. sidered the Teleri to be Avarin at heart.) Even centuries later. in their city of Alqualondë.this because had. agreeing only to ferry the Vanyar superior to the Teleri. as evidenced by several intermar- riages. where it came to trieve the silmarils. But. and refused to give up (not agreeing some Sindar believed that the Noldor with Fëanor’s actions. when the Vanyar and the The Noldor were friendly with the Teleri (also Maiar went to Middle Earth to fight Morgoth evidenced by a few intermarriages). The friendly Noldorin/Telerin relations came to an abrupt and violent end. But. But to get to Middle mean “secret knowledge”. the leri dealt with those innocent Noldor who re- Noldor instead turned towards the Teleri. ourselves. (those elves who followed Fëanor. pride. and also taking great gained their wisdom and skills by learning pride in their ships. But the Teleri did not for- who had settled east of Tirion along the get their grudge against the Fëanorians coast. Fëanor and those of the Noldor that followed him attacked the city of As mentioned in the Vanyar chapter of this Alqualondë. the root “ngol” and stole Fëanor’s silmarils. In fact. though. the First Kinslaying. and desperation. since it was the first They maintained a close relationship during time one elf had killed another. but in the War of Wrath. and arrived together.

Fingolfin swears to obey his brother form then on. and the relationship worsened. and Morgoth steals sons. died soon after Eventually. of the Vanyar.) Even by elvish standards. Finwë. Fëanor and Fingolfin get in an argument so bad that giving birth to their son. Fëanor. But it’s during dis. and was considered the greatest elf to ever live. Fëanor had been very close to his mother. This is because the first king of the Noldor. and marry again. he took advantage of this strained relationship. the Noldor were di- He manipulated both sides. and his second wife was Indis. had two wives. With In. The Valar banish Fëanor from Tirion. vided into two basic factions. Fëanor swears an a prodigy. But oath to follow Morgoth and the silmarils. From an unfortunately early stage of their history.FINWËAN DRAMA: NOLDORIN RELATIONS WITH THEMSELVES Understanding Noldorin relations with other elves requires an under.) When Morgoth was released in Valinor on probation. 13 . and hated Indis and his standing of how the Noldorin elves got along with each other first. His first wife.the silmarils. Miriel. Finwë had several more children (most importantly. Finwë got the Valar’s permission to Fëanor attacks his brother. two more Fëanor’s banishment that Finwë is killed. Fingolfin and Finarfin. half-brothers (especially Fingolfin. Fëanor was Fëanor’s most prized possessions .

When the two the Kinslaying at Alqualondë. and are frankly on the brink (hereby referred to as the Fëanorians) and of their own little war. meanwhile. the House of Fingolfin stay in Valinor. finds tion that the Sindar are greeted with when their own way to Middle Earth . those following Fingolfin (hereby referred to Meanwhile. Maedhros) are angry. and Fëanor dies so quickly more conflict. to obey Fëanor. but by then return to their people safe. far from the House of Fin- almost immediately find themselves battling golfin. their revived they were already committed to getting to friendship is enough to heal the Noldor .by crossing their Noldorin “cousins” return to Middle the Helcaraxë. it’s important to keep these two The two factions stay camped on opposite groups in mind: those following Fëanor sides of a lake.) Finally. Then Caranthir (an- tray him in the future. So. and leads his own people and it’s said that only shame kept them from into exile. Maedhros decided to take burn their ships (even though Maedhros. High King. most of the Fëanorians stay in Valinor. don’t have any kind thoughts left for the Finwë’s youngest son. But when Fingolfin is made the next ships to transport all of the exiles. Fingolfin wants to Fëanorians. and are led by Finarfin.The Noldor are torn about whether to follow ter at their abandonment. The Teleri didn’t have enough a while. Fingolfin) for speaking to Thingol on the be- half of the Noldor (we’ll get to that in a mo- The Fëanorians arrive in Middle Earth and ment. the Fëanorians and establish realms in east- Fëanor’s oldest son. Fëanor’s sons (except for By now convinced that Fingolfin will only be. Maedhros was captured by Mor- as the House of Fingolfin.) goth. By now. a dangerous ice bridge. abandoning the grod (one of Finarfin’s sons who followed House of Fingolfin on the coast of Valinor. though. Some decide to lost crossing the ice.for Middle Earth.) They then ern Beleriand. but remembers his promise are feeling pretty badly about their actions. and at those lives Fëanor into exile or not. Fëanor takes the other of Fëanor’s sons) gets angry at An- ships for his own people. in exile. when talking about the Noldor humbly welcoming the House of Fingolfin. hoping that the distance will avoid Morgoth’s army. Bit- Earth. And this is the (already complicated) situa- The House of Fingolfin. 14 . objected. that it’s actually quite anticlimactic. and Fingon (Fingolfin’s son) goes to The House of Fingolfin had little to do with rescue Maedhros by himself.

THE NOLDOR IN EXILE: RELATIONS WITH THE SINDAR When the Noldor arrived in Middle Earth. and thought that the Noldor must have been sent by the Valar princes looking to establish their own realms in what Thingol consid- to protect them. lan- guage use officially entered the realm of cross-cultural relations When Angrod relayed this to the rest of the Noldor.500 years. the Sindar saw how great While the Sindar in general were happy to see the Noldor. they thought that when Thingol. the Noldor quickly learned Sindarin. and Sindarin was much easier to learn than Quenya). narfin’s sons. so there was a definite language sidered his children to be kin. travelled to Doriath to greet Thingol. Thingol the Noldor had become while in Valinor. Noldor. outlawed Quenya entirely. Being a pretty smart man. one of Fi- barrier keeping the two groups apart. since there was now a slew of Noldorin orcs. so Thingol con- been apart for about 3. Finarfin had married Thingol’s niece. or the Kinslaying at Alqualondë. this was a pretty cold greeting from Thingol. So. While oath. But by this point the Noldor and the Sindar had ered his land. soon after arriving. And while Fingolfin re- 15 . king of the Sindar. Angrod. leaving the south free for the Sindar. Angrod didn’t mention anything about Fëanor’s To overcome this barrier. Thingol gave them permission it was just more practical this way (the Sindar far outnumbered the to settle anywhere in the north. and saw them defeat the was immediately uneasy.

by the Noldor themselves. But Cirdan ac- sulting Angrod) that spurred Maedhros to tually thought that the rumors were started move the Fëanorians east. and for the Fëanor’s oath. Soon after picious of the Noldor. Second and Third Kinslayings.and in. So. Which says a lot about Despite Thingol’s less than welcoming atti- how the Sindar viewed the Noldor. ing the Teleri at Alqualondë.spected Thingol’s leadership. but in their quest to reclaim the sil- lumped together with the Avari. but Noldor before they returned to Middle Earth. making no and the Noldor usually lived together in effort to sugar-coat the deeds of the Fëanori- mixed communities led by the Noldorin ans. tude towards the Noldor. since they hadn’t seen the light of pretty rapidly.when the Noldor arrived. things deteriorate Elves”). nology for the Sindar to avoid offending Things continue on like this. relatively peace- them . for the rest of the First Age. Fëanor’s sons attack both Doriath the Noldor started calling them Umanyar and the mixed Sindarin/Noldorin community (“not of Aman”. ex- of those cities and Doriath itself. the sons of mors (that happened to be true) about the Fëanor were less impressed. Not to get bogged down in Valinor. Most of the Noldor questioned her about what happened to the return to Valinor when their exile is lifted. they re- fully. and bans the use of princes. Melian (Thingol’s wife) grew sus. to- ferred to the Sindar as Moriquendi (“Dark wards the end of the Age. most of the Noldor actually get along pretty well with most of Cirdan relayed the rumors to Thingol. and Melian often destroyed in the battle. And outside grod. The Noldor helped build walls confirmed them with Finarfin’s children. But the Sindar didn’t like being details. Morgoth starts spreading ru- 16 . and Beleriand is daughter) lived in Doriath. These are called the Meanwhile.referring to the Avari . some remain in Middle Earth. as part of their inter-house conflict. An- around Cirdan’s coastal cities. Caranthir. and it was his reaction (calling Thingol nizes that these rumors (true or false) were a “dark elf” . and about the Noldor attack- most part ignored Thingol’s order. who the Sindar. the Sindar plains the truth of the situation. started with malicious intent. marils. The Noldor even altered their termi. Eventually especially.) in the Havens of Sirion. was angered by Thingol’s greet. these rumors reach Cirdan. or Valinor. instead. But. Cirdan recog- ing. At this point. still angry about Caranthir’s words. Thingol is furious. I think. Galadriel (Finarfin’s the War of Wrath occurs. Quenya in Beleriand.

many of the After about a millennia of this.) These elves were bi- presence in Middle Earth. never had a king. and Elrond (of mixed heritage. the elves start shifting. so it sounds like the elves of Ere- 17 . There’s no mention of Gil-galad’s reaction to this. First. They and led a mixed community of Noldor and Sindar. though. they still had a and Greenwood (now known as Mirkwood. dwarves there have started mining mithril. an elf from Doriath. By this point. they head east of the Misty Mountains. free from tell. also didn’t seem to hold any sort of anti-Sindarin bias. These elves. where they establish dynasties in the Silvan communities at Lorien called Eregion. After the War of Wrath. a Noldor in that kingdom also leave. Gil-galad Noldorin influence. establish a realm west of Moria after hearing that the Oropher. Lead by craftsmen. Gil-galad is High King of the ased against the Noldor because they saw them as the source of all Noldor. made up primarily of small faction of strongly anti-Noldorin Sindar leave Lindon. From what we can wanted to return to a more “natural” elvish lifestyle. he establishes his kingdom in Lindon.) Soon after the small Sindarin faction leaves Lindon. as his closest but it seems that he didn’t object too strongly. advisors were Cirdan (Sindar). everyone lived together in Lindon pretty peacefully. This Noldorin realm. the suffering the Sindar had gone through in the First Age.NOLDORIN RELATIONS IN THE LATER AGES Though most of the Noldor had returned to Valinor.

Greenwood) resented. remains strong. since they ended ladriel. the old prejudices weren’t entirely pher led their armies in a charge before the forgotten. and the was welcomed by those eager to learn from Noldor didn’t take another High King. This him. Gil-galad sends people north and away from Lorien. a Noldorin elf. and wouldn’t let Annatar enter Lindon. partly Elrond with Lindon’s own army to help. Amdir and Oro- However. Those few that were left in Middle trust of Eregion. Oropher died in the battle. which (tednasmith. He claimed that Gil-galad Earth generally lived in Lindon under Cir- was warning the elves not to trust Annatar dan’s rule. Further Reading: fers for their lack of trust in Gil-galad. Amdir and Oropher (the kings of Lorien and mate leader. But it’s said that Annatar used his was mostly because nearly all the Noldor knowledge of the strained relationships left Middle Earth at the end of the Second among the Noldor in order to first gain the Age. and her husband Ce- up ignoring Gil-galad’s warnings. leborn. Thran- Eregion. ence.gion still recognized Gil-galad as their ulti. Obviously. move to Lorien and Despite this. Gil-galad and his mies were crushed. because he didn’t want their realms to be- While the Sindarin dynasty in Greenwood come as wonderful as his own. and both Amdir and advisors mistrusted him from the beginning. The anti-Noldorin Sindarin faction also suf. All the elvish armies ulti- • Artwork by Ted Nasmith mately fell under Gil-galad’s control. or in Rivendell under Elrond. When Sauron appeared. Ga- believed on some level. dis- rest of the armies were ready. but in order to avoid Galadriel’s Noldorin influ- the realm is destroyed anyway. Annatar turned to Eregion. Lorien’s Sindarin king this was something that the elves of Eregion leaves shortly after Moria is abandoned. in The wood send armies to fight in the Battle of Histories of Middle Earth vol. Tired of taking or- ders from one of the Noldor. At the end of the Second Age. a Sindarin elf. In- stead. The Silvan ar- guised as the fair Annatar. Gil-galad does not abandon assume leadership of the elves there. When Annatar (now revealed to be duil (the new king of Greenwood) moved his Sauron) attacks Eregion. Lorien and Green. 11 the Last Alliance. • “The Grey Annals” by JRR Tolkien. where he Gil-galad also died in that battle.mymiddlearth.com) 18 .

ELVISH CROSS-CULTURAL RELATIONS THE TELERI .

as a group. learned to sing before they learned to speak. called them the Teleri (“the Last” or “the Lingerers”) because they The Nelyar were. which actually worked in his favor. And. they since each group of elves they found was larger than the one be- called themselves the Lindar (“the Singers”. since their leader. 20 .) So. Since Enel was the youngest. the Nelyar were the largest group. was the third elf to awake. than the Noldor and Vanyar. in the end. the Nelyar joined the Avari. the Teleri is the name most later. he got The Nelyar were especially fond of water and singing (and in fact the last choice of companions. and always saw them. many who had at first wanted to join the Avari and three first tribes of elves to awake at Cuivienen. So. AND THE TELERI IN VALINOR Like the Vanyar and the Noldor. because most of Tolkien’s stories selves as separate from the Vanyar and the Noldor (more on that are told from the Noldorin point of view. were so reluctant to travel west. when their leaders (Elwe and Olwe) were determined to commonly used. the Noldor fore.) Because of this. The Teleri were origi. the most reluctant to leave Cuivienen. the Teleri originated in one of the travel to Valinor. stay instead decided to travel west. and made the journey more slowly But they were also a very cohesive group. Even so. meaning “the Thirds”.THE BEGINNING.) However. Enel. a little over a third of nally called the Nelyar.

At this point. and were unwill- didn’t want to travel any further. and didn’t want to leave them. looking for their king. Others decided to stay became known as the Nandor (more about because they’d learned so much from Osse them later. This group ing to abandon him. slowly. Some stayed because they eral of the Telerin elves decided that they still hadn’t found Thingol. and no matter how much they selves as separate. In fact. When they fi- in the woods together for over 20 years. and – for lack of a better word – froze Eressea) for another century. Ulmo returned with the floating ferent places temporarily. sad to elves-in-general until they came into contact be parted from them. Osse and Uinen. Them” mentality that the Te- When the Teleri realized that their friends leri didn’t even develop their own word for were gone.) Olwe (Elwe’s brother) to be their new king. the Teleri didn’t even arrive close to each other. they so strongly Valar) used a floating island to bring the Van- felt their own uniqueness and developed yar and Noldor over the ocean to Valinor. and so when the Teleri finally ar- While the Noldor and Vanyar built the city of rived in Beleriand the two groups lived Tirion together. learned “sea-lore and sea music” from yar. generally slowing island to bring the Teleri to Valinor.) and Uinen. they took with non-elves (meaning dwarves.Since they outnumbered the Noldor and From the Teleri’s point of view. sev- their journey. and were especially searched for him. down the entire trip. However. The Teleri made most of the journey west And while waiting for Ulmo to return. During this time. the Teleri saw them. The leader of the Teleri (Elwe) was good These elves that remained behind were friends with the Noldorin leader (Finwe). and tended to stop and settle in dif- Eventually. they actually stayed on the float- upon Melian (one of the Maiar. after reaching not all of the Teleri decided to complete the eastern side of the Misty Mountains. Ulmo (one of the the journey west. they rushed to the coast. This While the Teleri were still in inland Beleri- feeling of difference only increased during and. 21 . such an “Us vs. And was traveling to visit Finwe when he came even then. ished. conscious of their own cultural identity.) though. known as the Sindar (more on them later. they couldn’t find Elwe. This is because the Teleri traveled more Ulmo’s servants. their king van- Vanyar combined. separated from the Noldor and Van. In fact.) They fell in ing island (which came to be known as Tol love. they alone. Elwe in Valinor until the city was finished.

nally arrived on the shores of Valinor. however. the Noldor attacked. Olwe denied that he was renouncing his friendship. But this – the First Kinslaying – is considered one of the leri to join him in Middle Earth. and wellnigh emp- Noldor were closer to the Teleri than they were to the Vanyar. Not all of the Noldor took part in the battle. and helped them to build their own city of Alqualonde.) There are no is hardly the kindest of the Noldor. Teleri. but darkest events in elvish history. but there’s a chance that his words recorded marriages between the Vanyar and the Teleri. Even centuries later. were based in some truth. They wanted instead to convince to take part. had not the were also a few intermarriages between the Noldor and the Teleri (no. weren’t interested. the Noldor greeted them Feanor became angry. though. The Teleri were sort of outsiders in Valinor – when the Valar held their great feasts. and afterwards the came at last to these shores. he at first tried to persuade the Te- how it started. the Noldor to stay in Valinor. as far as the Noldorin perception of the Te- leri went. but never the Teleri. fainthearted loiterers. when the Host of he needed their ships to transport his own people across the sea. and some that did didn’t understand When Feanor came to Alqualonde. though. the Vanyar and Noldor would attend. agreeing only to ferry the Vanyar across the ocean. Noldor carved out your haven and toiled on your walls. After thinking over his options.) 22 . Finwe’s son Finarfin and Olwe’s daughter Earwen. Yet fain were ye of our aid when ye around this time that the Vanyar leave Tirion. even in the hour of our need. The the West was preparing to fight in the War of Wrath. Feanor tried stealing the ships from the It’s said that they just didn’t care much about the Valar.” Now. Not only were their people friends. In huts on the beaches would ye dwell still. It’s ship. and when the Teleri resisted. the Teleri refused Teleri. and said to Olwe “Thou renouncest thy friend- happily. Feanor tably. There tyhanded. and wouldn’t help them in their defiance of the Valar (and trusted in the Valar to deal with Morgoth themselves.

or even the Nandor (who were themselves as quite separate from the in- “rude and rustic” in comparison. the Sindar maintained much better point that they didn’t consider themselves relationships with their Avarin cousins to be Sindarin at all. Thirdly. after his convenient return. known as different groups: Thingol. These were elves who had Because of their relationship with Osse stayed in Beleriand reluctantly (some.) Because of most skilled of the elves of Middle Earth. elled to the northwest of Beleriand. there were the Iathrim. and selves. and Tolkien mentions at one ever. more than the other two. the elves of the Sindar referred to each other by the Doriath. who lived along the southern iles. and instead contin- than the Noldor did.) How- land Sindar. They also saw Avari. ued to see themselves as purely Teleri. and so hadn’t the Sindar became the fairest. Elwe (who the Sindar themselves broke up into three was. This riand. under the leadership news of the Kinslaying at Alqualonde. and had a choice in the matter. ended up ered creating a unifying name for them. they never both. Second. like and Uinen. Because of this. 23 . the Sindar were the only elves in Bele. as well as their leadership Cirdan. who lived in the inland forests un- region they lived in – because early on. their desire to go to Valinor. group. when the other Teleri left. meaning a single community “the Departed. there were the Falathrim (Falmari in the most hostile towards the Noldorin ex- Quenya). who trav- nor. They did refer to their Telerin cous. of Cirdan. der the leadership of their king.) The elves of Doriath were always First.” Instead of a single name. there were the Mithrim. their queen). the Falathrim They were always recognized – even by were later known to be the most friendly the Noldor – as more advanced than the to the Noldorin exiles.THE SINDAR Once the rest of the Teleri travelled to Vali. intermingling with the Noldorin exiles. for the most part lived alongside them as ins in Valinor as the Gwenwin. were still out searching for Thingol from Thingol (and Melian. mainly because of their outrage over coast of Beleriand. wisest.

It was right after this. though. just like the Noldor. Har- against Morgoth. The elves won the First others believe that it’s a reference to the Battle of Beleriand.”) And still tack the Sindar. soundly defeat Morgoth in the second most of the Sindar ended up in Lindon battle. his relatives had (though it wasn’t actu- ally all that common a hair color among the Sindar. an elvish haven in what later be- Noldorin/Sindarin relationship in the came southern Gondor. This community Noldorin section of this series. that Elves” and the “Light Elves” of Valinor. Gil-galad ruled a mixed Noldorin/ “mighty kindred”. they first be- lindon. early on (after learning about ship- building from Cirdan) and founded Edhel- I talked in more detail about the lond. lieved that the Noldor had been sent by the Valar in order to help the Sindar in However. One group left Noldorin exile and Feanor’s oath. but sustained heavy Sindar’s place between the Avari “Dark losses. was predominantly Sindarin. Some believe it was because of elves of Lorien and Mirkwood (more on the silvery hair that Thingol and some of them later. but it’s had mostly sailed to Valinor by the mid- worth mentioning here that the Noldor Third Age. The Sin- along with the other refugees of Beleri- dar were very impressed with their and. but when Morgoth returned to it was simply because of Thingol’s name Middle Earth. though it’s have such powerful help in their fight mentioned that the southern region. It means “the Grey” or “the Grey- thousand years of the Second Age and Elves. there were several groups of their time of need. A more famous group were the ones to give the Sindar their of Sindarin elves left around the first one name. It wasn’t until much Sindarin elves that left Lindon in order to later that they learned the story of the live away from the Noldor. the first of the Noldorin exiles arrive. In fact. (which means “Greymantle. who were typically dark- 24 . he sent his armies to at. though. and At the beginning of the Second Age. and were thrilled to Sindarin population there. the Dagor-nuin-Giliath.Things in Beleriand were quite peaceful haired.) Others think for a while.” The origin of this name is a little travelled east to live among the Silvan unclear.

though. and in- ership of Denethor.THE NANDOR IN THE FIRST AGE The Nandor were those elves who decided to stop and settle east of meant “Green-elves. but the actual Nandor were still It was said that some of them were “darkhearted”. while some went south and west into Eriador. termingle with those Avari they encountered while wandering or go into open battle again. and it meant “the Re. After that. The Sindar called them the Danwaith (which is stead stayed in mostly isolated communities away from Menegroth.” Even though none of the Nandor actually returned to Cuivie. green country of Ossiriand. The Laiquendi had been lightly armed. under the lead- elves. horror of war. the Nandor were seen as “virtually Avari”.” This new name was a reference not only to the the Misty Mountains. instead of completing their journey to Valinor. In fact. instead relying on stealth and secrecy throughout Middle Earth. Afterwards. though. the forest. some returned to Ossiriand. The Nandor settled wear green clothes. with disastrous results. so as to help them camouflage themselves in along the river Anduin.) Avarin at heart. the Noldor saw their refusal to go on as a sign that they were and many of them died in the battle (including their lord. Not all of the Laiquendi returned to Ossiri- and. region of Beleriand). They also tended to in.) Denethor’s elves settled in Ossiriand (the southeast of these Laiquendi elves that moved to Doriath. and came to be called the Laiquendi. nen. They didn’t really get along with the Sindar. which 25 . basically just “Nandor” in Sindarin). Denethor. and told their people of the having not seen the sea or any of the Maiar. riand. the Laiquendi refused to take another king. Tolkien suggests that Eol was actually one as “pure” Teleri. Their name was given to them by the Noldor. and tended to calling themselves the Lindar (suggesting that they saw themselves give in under great strain. The Laiquendi came to the Sindar’s aid during the First Battle of Bele- turners. some of the Nandor arrived in Beleriand. Some went to live in Doriath with Thingol’s Sindarin Eventually. to defend their territory. but also to the Laiquendi’s tendency to They were entirely made up of Telerin elves.

established Sindarin dynasties in the pre- existing Silvan communities. Third Age).THE SILVAN ELVES (NANDOR IN THE LATER AGES) At some point. except for Lorien and Mirkwood came to be ruled an influx of (Sindarin-speaking) Noldor. a Eregion during the War Between the relatively small group of Sindarin elves Elves and Sauron midway through the left Lindon and travelled east. though.) standpoint: they wanted to join the Silvan The Silvan elves lived mostly in Lorien and return to the “simple life natural to and Mirkwood (which was known as the Elves” before they’d ever been ap- Greenwood until midway through the proached by the Valar. the want to be merged with the other Sindar relationship between the Silvan elves of Beleriand. Sometime in the first who arrived in Lorien as refugees from thousand years of the Second Age. He and his companions left Age. They didn’t used. by Sindarin elves. and why. had also come to a new ideological sition took place. From what we can tell. adopted the Silvan culture. and there they lived simple Because of this. where they Second Age. was a Sindarin elf originally even said that. by the end of the Third from Doriath. is unknown. Despite the original intention of assimilat- ing in Silvan culture. the Nandorin language was rarely Lindon for various reasons. It’s in Mirkwood. the new king of the Silvan elves new Sindarin and Noldorin members. but we do know that ized” by the Beleriandic influence of their Oropher. both the Silvan communities of experience was very similar. and they wanted to avoid and their Sindarin rulers was a peaceful 26 . the Sindar in Mirkwood peaceful lives without princes or rulers. they known as the Silvan elves (when this tran. Beyond that. the Nandor become Noldorin domination. the end result was We don’t know much about the elves that that the Silvans were themselves “Sindar- moved to Lorien. In Lorien the However.

the High so welcomed the Sindarin and Noldorin elves who joined their com. and didn’t like following the orders of Gil-galad. and dependent. they recognized that Sauron was an 27 . King of the elves. So Oropher and Amdir (the king of Lo- lerin cousins in Valinor than they were to the Silvan elves. While the Sindar were actually more closely related to their Te. • “The History of Galadriel and Celeborn” by JRR Tolkien. during the War of the Last Alliance. While the Silvan elves • Artwork by Ted Nasmith. Alan Lee. the Sindarin kings were in- had always viewed themselves as fellow members of the Eldar. barely a third of the Silvan dangers of Middle Earth. less well-armed than the elves of Lindon. the Silvan elves became more ordered and wise. Because of this.one. a few Silvan elves (most no- armies returned home at the end of the war. and so were out-numbered. their casualties in the war were much higher. tably Nimrodel of Lorien) disliked the Sindar because they blamed them for bringing war and danger to the Silvan lands. because Under Sindarin rule. Because of this. Further Reading: their Sindarin rulers disliked the Noldor for these very reasons. All in all. in The The strained relationship between the Noldor and the Sindarin rulers Unfinished Tales of Lorien and Mirkwood came to a head at the end of the Second Age. and John Howe wanted nothing to do with war. Oropher himself died early on in the war. evil that had to be dealt with. he and part of his army charged before Gil-galad had given his or- But they also became less isolated and protected from the wars and ders. and because the Silvan elves were munities in the Second Age. However. Meanwhile. the Silvan rien) led their armies to Mordor.

so it seems appropriate to do a quick summary of where all these groups end up in the later ages: • The Teleri of Valinor: Still in Valinor. • The Nandor: At some point we stop referring to them as the Nandor. because of the complicated nature of the Telerin sub- cultures. a mixed Noldorin/Sindarin community. • The Sindar: Many have. Sindarin. (Also.. there’s no timeline included in this section. and much of the pure Silvan culture is lost to Sindarization. • The Silvan: Their population becomes increasingly mixed with Avarin. • The Laiquendi: After the First Age.. especially at the Grey Ha- vens. and Noldorin elves. as far as we know. traveled to Valinor them- selves. at this point.THE TELERI IN THE LATER AGES As you can see. though. So. they lived mainly in Lindon.) 28 . the Teleri split into many smaller subcultures dur- ing their history. where Cirdan helps other elves sail west themselves. and start calling them the Silvan. Most of this happens before the Third Age. Their main communities in Lorien and Mirkwood remain ruled by Sindarin or Noldorin lead- ers. And some others still live in the predominantly Silvan communities of Lorien and Mirkwood. Some remained in Lindon. I hope you understand. Oth- ers live in Rivendell. having a wonderful time.