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Ireth_Telrunya
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Post Elven kindreds' different hair color?
on: April 17, 2015 03:04
I'm curious as to how distinct the three kindreds of elves -- Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri -- would have been based on looks, primarily hair color. I know that the Noldor had mostly dark hair, and some had red, while the Vanyar were primarily blond. (Intermarrying between the kindreds would obviously produce some variance, as with the blond Noldor of Finarfin's house.) But is there any such distinction for the Teleri, or were they all just kind of all over the place as far as hair colors went? (I believe silver hair was a primary Sindarin or Telerin thing; eg. Celeborn, Cirdan, Thingol.)
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on: April 18, 2015 02:27
The Teleri are said, in one of JRRT's notes in HoME, to closely resemble the Noldor, and as such were usually dark-haired. There are exceptions in both kindreds, though. Red, blonde and silver hair is attested for some Noldorin individuals (in HoME), and blonde and silver for some of the Teleri.
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Elthir
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on: April 18, 2015 07:06
It might depend on how you break things down:

Author-published description The Return of the King [Appendix F] generally tells the reader that the Eldar were dark-haired, excepting the golden House of Finarfin.

And as the Vanyar are certainly Eldar in any case, it seems they are mostly dark-haired too.

Yep... I said that

A) coupled with this is that the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien were not considererd Eldar according to The Lord of the Rings [note: this is not the idea presented in the posthumously published Silmarillion however], thus Tolkien does not even generally state what colour one might imagine for these Silvan Elves.

I note the golden-haired Silvan Elf after the Company enters Lothlorien. Of course this is only one example, exceptions do exist for the Eldar in any event, considering Thranduil for instance.

So according to author-published text, to my mind the hair colour of the Silvan Elves is quite open, again, along with the implication that the "Vanyar" (being Eldar if not specifically called the Vanyar here) are mostly dark-haired. This implication certainly exists beyond my opinion, since Christopher Tolkien himself objected to the passage in Appendix F based on other description referring to the mostly golden-haired Vanyar.

__________


Posthumously published text (written by JRRT but never published by him) Quendi And Eldar [The War of the Jewels] describes the Vanyar as mostly golden or yellow-haired, and it is from this seeming uniqueness among Elves that they come to be known as the Vanyar, which name refers to hair. The numerical names of the three clans were Minyar 'Firsts', Tatyar 'Seconds', Nelyar 'Thirds'.

B) the reader is told that later through intermarriage this blond Vanyarin trait appeared among the Noldor, notably Finarfin's house. Concerning the name Vanyar, JRRT describes [Quendi And Eldar]:

'This name was probably given to the First Clan by the Ñoldor. They accepted it, but continued to call themselves most often by their old numerical name Minyar (since the whole of this clan had joined the Eldar and reached Aman). The name referred to the hair of the Minyar, which was in nearly all members of the clan yellow or deep golden. This was regarded as a beautiful feature by the Ñoldor (who loved gold), though they were themselves mostly dark-haired. Owing to intermarriage the golden hair of the Vanyar sometimes later appeared among the Ñoldor: notably in the case of Finarfin, and in his children Finrod and Galadriel, in whom it came from King Finwe's second wife, Indis of the Vanyar.'


C) the Sindar generally resemble the Noldor, being [again generally speaking] dark-haired. Silver-hair is noted as a relatively rare trait among them. JRRT describes (my emphasis):

'The Loremasters also supposed that reference was made to the hair of the Sindar. Elwe himself had indeed long and beautiful hair of silver hue, but this does not seem to have been a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally, especially in the nearer or remoter kin of Elwe (as in the case of Círdan). In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe.'


D) the Noldor were generally dark-haired and they hailed from the second clan, and the Sindar were generally dark-haired and they hailed from the third clan -- so I think we seem to have support that the Vanyar were named Vanyar due to being notably different in hair colour from the rest.

E) in a late text the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien are said to be, or to hail from, Telerin Elves.


In my opinion, from posthumously published description I think we can tentatively 'deduce' that the Teleri were mostly dark-haired elves, otherwise, why mark the Vanyar out with this clan-name, by comparison.

Again, all this generally speaking. Exceptions can occur, and do.

And how rare was the red-haired exception?

'Maitimo 'well shaped one': he was of beautiful bodily form. But he, and the youngest, inherited the rare red-brown hair of Nerdanel's kin. Her father had the epesse of rusco 'fox'. So Maitimo had as an epesse given by his brothers and other kin Russandol 'copper top'.

'... the first and last of Nerdanel's children had the reddish hair of her kin.'

JRRT, both quotes from The Shibboleth of Feanor, late text, from notes on the names of Feanor's sons.


I take it to mean "rare" among the Eldar, which is only my opinion of course.

All that said: what if Tolkien "noticed" what he had implied, in an already published text, and decided that the "Vanyar" should be dark-haired? If so he could easily alter the name Vanyar, and the idea.

Tolkien actually revised this description in the 1960s, altering House of Finrod to (ultimately), House of Finarfin; but he did not alter the implication that the Eldar were dark-haired except for the House of Finarfin...

... or perhaps there were so few Vanyar, the statement was true enough, generally speaking. In Quendi And Eldar Tolkien had actually noted that the Vanyar were the smallest clan.

So... not confusing at all

[Edited on 04/25/2015 by Elthir]
Ireth_Telrunya
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on: April 18, 2015 07:14
Thanks, guys!
Far over the Misty Mountains cold, to dungeons deep and caverns old. We must away ere break of day, to claim our long forgotten gold.
Elthir
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on: April 18, 2015 07:37
By the way, just to note it, I am aware that some modern editions now contain a footnote concerning the passage in Appendix F about the Eldar. It reads...

1.[These words describing characters of face and hair in fact appplied only to the Noldor: see The Book of Lost Tales, Part I, p. 44.']


A footnote not added by JRRT himself of course, in any case.

[Edited on 04/18/2015 by Elthir]
Eruwestiel_Evensong
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on: April 21, 2015 10:26
Wow, Elthir, nice writeup! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
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cirdaneth
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on: April 24, 2015 04:09
I think we have a special thread for elves' hair. I'll look it out and "bump" it.
Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: May 21, 2015 05:27
Teleri, Sindar, Nandor, Green Elves, and Silvan were all the same group originally, so if they are as genetically homogenous as Noldor and Vanyar seem to be, then a statement about one should apply to the other divisions too.

The dates on Tolkien's various statements are important. As anyone who has delved into this stuff knows, he changed things as his ideas evolved. For example, humans were taller than Elves in the Lost Tales, but Elves are generally taller than humans in LOTR. But there is no "conflict" because Lost Tales came earlier; Tolkien just changed his mind.

Its funny, but I always thought that Sindar etc. were mostly blond, and no, I did not get this idea from the movie! As I reread the novels, I'm looking for how I got this impression and how likely it is to be true. So far, I've got Thranduil (Sindar) having "golden" hair in The Hobbit. Do you think gleaming is Tolkien code for gold/blond? I've noticed he often describes Elf hair as gleaming, including Celegorm's, which is said to be golden outside of the Silmarillion.
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
Elthir
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on: May 23, 2015 12:32
As I reread the novels, I'm looking for how I got this impression and how likely it is to be true. So far, I've got Thranduil (Sindar) having "golden" hair in The Hobbit.


Yes, and as you likely know, he was given this trait as the King of the Woodland Elves, before the term Sindar existed and arguably before Tolkien's later ideas about Elven hair colour -- at least well before Appendix F was written, in any case.

Anyway, and not that you said otherwise, in my opinion Thranduil the golden haired Sinda must be accepted. We could possibly add Amroth to this, although the following was not published by Tolkien himself.

"The mariners with their Elvish sight for a long time could see him battling with the waves, until the rising sun gleamed through the clouds and far off lit his bright hair like a spark of gold."

Unfinished Tales, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn


This is from a late text when Amroth had become Sindarin. Interestingly, in an earlier text Amroth was the son of Galadriel and thus a Finarfinian -- which would have explained his golden hair!

Had this not been revised

And it seems that the Silvan Elf Nimrodel might have been golden-haired, as well as a random Elf in Lorien, based on (Nimrodel first):

"A star was bound upon her brows,
A light was on her hair
As sun upon the golden boughs
In Lorien the fair."


The Lord of the Rings, Lothlorien

"There is one of my people yonder across the stream," [Haldir] [...] gave a call like the low whistle of a bird, and out of a thicket of young trees an Elf stepped, clad in grey, but with his hood thrown back; his hair glinted like gold in the morning sun."

The Lord of the Rings, Lothlorien


Not that these specific descriptions represent all Silvan Elves in any event, obviously, but as I noted earlier about the term Eldar, these passages need not be in contradiction to the statement about hair (and so on) in Appendix F, as also according to Appendix F most of the Elves of Lorien were not Eldarin.

Amroth as a Sinda would be an Elda, however

Do you think gleaming is Tolkien code for gold/blond? I've noticed he often describes Elf hair as gleaming, including Celegorm's, which is said to be golden outside of the Silmarillion.


I've wondered this myself!

Today I lean toward gleaming hair being not necessarily golden, although I think the case of Celegorm does reflect this. I note too, in Three Is Company the starlight was glimmering on the hair and in the eyes of Gildor's folk, who are Exiles. Again according to Appendix F (written much later than this early chapter in any case), these should be mostly dark-haired Elves.

It's interesting: for the constructed Silmarillion Christopher Tolkien altered a reference to Celegorm's golden hair based on the Appendix F statement (as he is not a Finarfinian). I agree with this. And that decision seemingly gives The Lord of the Rings the power to trump arguable inconsistencies with respect to constructing the Silmarillion from "unpublished" (by author) sources, which notion I also agree with...

... yet the constructed Silmarillion includes the detail of the golden-haired Vanyar, and being Eldar, this seems to conflict with the same statement in Appendix F, again despite that the Vanyar are not there specifically named as "Vanyar"! The same Appendix which these days contains an editorial note (in some editions) to say that these characteristics of dark hair and grey eyes refer only to the Noldor.

I realize there might be a chronology issue here too, as (if I recall correctly) the reference to Celegorm's golden hair was "early-ish" while Quendi And Eldar (which contains, for example, a direct reference to nearly the whole clan of the Vanyar being yellow or golden haired) was written after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, and thus after Appendix F was in play.

Still, as the new note seems based on posthumously published text, it's arguably not "only" the Noldor if we take into account the description of the Sindar from Quendi And Eldar as well, in that the Sindar are so like the Noldor, including being mostly dark haired, and whose eyes were differentiated from the eyes of the Noldor by light or brightness (the returning Noldor being flame eyed); so seemingly, not differentiated by colour.

In other words, not only the Noldor but the Sindar too, if we add in posthumously published sources -- the same sources that appear to exclude the Vanyar from being dark haired and give rise to the edtorial note.

It's a bit of a tangle here... I think

[Edited on 05/23/2015 by Elthir]
Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: May 24, 2015 03:54
No kidding! I don't have the edition that clarifies Appendix F as being about Noldor only, but I always thought that was the case because it was obviously talking about West Elves in Middle Earth, which would exclude Vanyar.

I don't know what to think about the identical Noldor and Sindar in Quendi and Eldar, not having read it yet. ( I wonder why Tolkien would want that?) I usually privilege newer unpublished stuff over older, but only if it does not contradict the novels. It is worth noting that sometimes the newest source does this, as with Celeborn being a Telerin prince of the Valinor in The History of Galadriel and Celeborn.

Disregarding Celegorm's golden hair also seems justified to me given the circumstances.
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
Elthir
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on: May 25, 2015 01:07
No kidding! I don't have the edition that clarifies Appendix F as being about Noldor only,...


It's in newer editions edited by Hammond and Scull, who work with the Tolkien Estate in general, and I would guess they have the backing of Christopher Tolkien for this editorial addition, as well as a number of other relatively recent alterations (alterations outside of typos and more "minor" corrections, like adding a Numenorean king, for instance).

Given their status as Tolkien scholars (well deserved in my opinion, in any case) and the status of The Lord of the Rings: 50th Anniversary Edition, I have little doubt that other editions will take up the note sooner or later.

... but I always thought that was the case because it was obviously talking about West Elves in Middle Earth, which would exclude Vanyar.


This is very interesting! I thought of this myself as a possible reading, but it does not appear to be an obvious interpretation (or there would be no "controversy" here, so to speak, and Christopher Tolkien would have no need to object due to the mostly golden-haired Vanyar)...

... and admittedly, for myself, I can't make this interpretation work perfectly given the full context of this section -- or rather, I can't prove it is the certain meaning here, even if Tolkien himself at least appears to see no contradiction, given that he actually revised this passage in the 1960s, changing the name "Finrod" at least, for the second edition.

Quite interesting is the phrase (about the Eldar) in this passage "who now are gone" suggesting that it's the Eldar of Middle-earth who are under discussion, as you say...

... but the Eldar in general can be said to be "now" gone too in any case, with the Vanyar having left long ago. And the initial description of the Eldar does appear to include those who passed Over Sea, thus the (if not named here) Vanyar.

But that said, to my mind the idea that the Eldar "of Middle-earth" is meant still works better as a footnote (if one agrees that "corrections" should be made in consideration of posthumously published texts anyway), given that the Noldor and Sindar could hardly be told apart...

spoiler alert

*
*
*

"In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe. Indeed they could hardly be told apart except by their eyes; for the eyes of all the Elves that had dwelt in Aman impressed those of Middle-earth by their piercing brightness. For which reason the Sindar often called them Lachend, pl. Lechind "flame- eyed"."

JRRT, War of the Jewels, Quendi And Eldar



So why not footnote that the Appendix F description refers to the Eldar "of Middle-earth" rather than the Noldor "only"?

But even that said, I can't easily agree that any footnote is needed here. Although needed is a bit of an unfair word I think, as I doubt anyone would argue that it's "needed", but anyway there is no contradiction between The Lord of the Rings, or anything else Tolkien himself published, and Appendix F. That I'm aware of anyway.

It only becomes a question when one adds description that Tolkien himself never finalized for publication. Granted this detail (the golden haired Vanyar) is now popular and fairly well accepted, but for myself, I see nothing wrong with mostly dark-haired Vanyar...

... with perhaps a new name for them, since Vanyar refers to hair. Maybe retain Minyar or Ingwer, other also attested names for this small clan.

If so Galadriel's golden hair (and the golden hair of Finarfin's house, or golden hair in general) arguably becomes more rare among the Quendi, which is not necessarily a bad thing I think...

...or...

... the option to have golden-haired Elves among "non-Eldarin" clans still exists, which could fit in well enough with Nimrodel, or the Elf of Lorien described above (if a Silvan Elf).

I don't know what to think about the identical Noldor and Sindar in Quendi and Eldar, not having read it yet. (I wonder why Tolkien would want that?) I usually privilege newer unpublished stuff over older, but only if it does not contradict the novels.


As do I! Chronology has weight, but not to trump already published accounts in my opinion. I very much agree.

It is worth noting that sometimes the newest source does this, as with Celeborn being a Telerin prince of the Valinor in The History of Galadriel and Celeborn.


Very worth noting! Celeborn as a Teler of Aman might be interesting as an external detail (Tolkien musing about the idea at various points in time), but for myself, I'll have no such notion as "true" internally, given the already published account (published by Tolkien himself) that he is Sindarin...

... and here again is a case where I agree with the constructed Silmarillion: the history there is not the latest history about these two characters from Tolkien's pen, but it very arguably is the history that best fits with what Tolkien published about them.

And given Tolkien's memory in his later years, it's hard to know just what he wrote in a moment of forgetting what was already in print.

[Edited on 05/25/2015 by Elthir]
Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: May 25, 2015 01:43
Elfeawen: ... but I always thought that was the case because it was obviously talking about West Elves in Middle Earth, which would exclude Vanyar.

Elthir: This is very interesting! I thought of this myself as a possible reading, but it does not appear to be an obvious interpretation (or there would be no "controversy" here, so to speak, and Christopher Tolkien would have no need to object due to the mostly golden-haired Vanyar)...

I read it again, and I see it isn't obvious, but still possible I think. I was more sure before because I had just read the account of the Eldar's final departure from Middle Earth in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, so that was in my mind. On the last page, it says the last Noldor left ME in the Fourth Age, then it says an "end had come for the Eldar." Do we know that all the Sindar left? At least a few, like Thranduil, did not. I still think its on the right track though, because the appendices are written from the perspective of Fourth Age chroniclers, so the more recent departure of the High Elves would be more note worthy to them.


Actually Tolkien does mention the Vanyar once in his novels! The Hobbit: "There [in the West] the Light-elves and the Deep-elves and the Sea-elves went and lived for ages . . . " (151) I think Light-elves are the same as Vanyar.

So if Sindar are Eldar, and Eldar have dark hair, then Sindar have dark hair. But Sindar and Silvan are both from the Third Tribe, so why would Sindar have a different hair color from the Silvan? To keep my brain from exploding, I will continue thinking Sindar and Silvan have mostly fair hair while still allowing for complexity and revision as I continue to research it.
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
Elthir
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on: May 26, 2015 12:02
On the last page, it says the last Noldor left ME in the Fourth Age, then it says an "end had come for the Eldar." Do we know that all the Sindar left? At least a few, like Thranduil, did not.


This brings up the matter of posthumously published accounts again, because as you rightly note, Of The Rings Of Power And The Third Age does appear to relate that the last of the Noldor set sail and left Middle-earth for ever: "And latest of all the Keepers of the Three Rings rode to the Sea..." seemingly indicating that the Noldor had departed before Galadriel, Elrond, Gandalf, and Frodo for instance...

... but The Lord of the Rings relates: "There, though Elrond had departed, his sons long remained, together with some of the High-elven folk." [Note On The Shire Records] High Elves (Tareldar) usually refers to the Noldor with respect to Middle-earth, but to my mind it's possible that it had a wider application now and again, more equivalent to Eldar.

So the question once again becomes: did Tolkien intend this seeming contradiction, or do we simply have a case here of JRRT himself never finalizing Of The Rings Of Power And The Third Age for publication?


I still think its on the right track though, because the appendices are written from the perspective of Fourth Age chroniclers, so the more recent departure of the High Elves would be more note worthy to them.


The odd thing here is that the passage in question comes from the "On Translation" section of Appendix F, which should mean that it is JRR Tolkien "speaking" here. That said, his perspective can still be like that of later Men, given that the "Vanyar" had hardly been part of Middle-earthian history.

Again I think the idea works, but I think we would have to assume a sort of "shifting" perspective here, as the initial description goes back to the passing Over Sea, and thus would appear to be thinking of Eldar in its most general application -- those who passed Over Sea plus the Sindar.


Actually Tolkien does mention the Vanyar once in his novels! The Hobbit: "There [in the West] the Light-elves and the Deep-elves and the Sea-elves went and lived for ages . . . " (151) I think Light-elves are the same as Vanyar.


Right but what I mean is this: Appendix F does not represent a problem unless JRRT had published the term Vanyar (which refers to hair) or had described any Eldarin clan as mostly golden-haired.

The Light-elves could be mostly dark-haired, as the light is that of the Two Trees, for instance.

Even the word Vanyar might not be problematic, depending upon what it means. Vanimalda had been published for example, and Tolkien changed it to (second edition) vanimelda, and appears to have decided: 'It is supposed to mean at once (1) 'beautiful and beloved' = movingly lovely and (2) 'elven fair' [JRRT, Words, Phrases and Passages]

Right now I can't think of any other author-published examples that might be impacted, besides the change from Tar-Vanimalde to Tar-Vanimelde, but what I mean is, if the term Vanyar need not refer to light or golden hair, then the name itself, even if in print somewhere, perhaps need not present a problem.

I think however, that the term Vanyar itself was never published by JRRT.

So if Sindar are Eldar, and Eldar have dark hair, then Sindar have dark hair. But Sindar and Silvan are both from the Third Tribe, so why would Sindar have a different hair color from the Silvan?


That's a good point, but for clarity, I'm delving into possibilities that might still be open when only author published text is considered. After all, Tolkien is quite free to drastically alter anything not yet in print, noting, for instance, that he once imagined (after The Lord of the Rings was in print) that the term Noldor might refer to hair colour rather that a kind of wisdom!

Later texts show that he went back to the old meaning of Noldor, but JRRT knew that the revision of private ideas (from his perspective) would not upset the subcreation in the mind of the reader.

So if we imagine that Tolkien reads Appendix F and sees the same problem Christopher Tolkien points out: if JRRT thinks Appendix F keeps him from having the Vanyar be mostly golden-haired, is he also prohibited from having a lot of the Silvan Elves be golden-haired, based on what was already published somewhere?

In The Hobbit it is said of the Wood Elves of Mirkwood: "For most of them (together with their scattered relations in the hills and mountains) were descended from the ancient tribes that never went to Faerie in the West. There the Light-elves and the Deep-elves and the Sea-elves went and lived for ages, and grew fairer and wiser and more learned, and invented their magic and their cunning craft in the making of beautiful and marvelous things, before some came back into the Wide World. In the Wide World the Wood-elves lingered in the twilight of our Sun and Moon,..."

Does "descended from ancient tribes that never went to Faerie in the West" necessarily prohibit Tolkien here? I think Appendix F notes that most of the Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien were "East-elves," and not Eldar, distinguishing them from the Sindar and other West Elves.

Of course, even if there is something I'm not missing or forgetting, would Tolkien want to revise his clan history simply to better allow for more golden-haired Elves among the "non-Eldarin" Silvan folk?

I can't really answer that of course, but I'm not sure he would necessarily have to. In my opinion at some point the reader will arguably accept "what is", especially if the author provides an explanation. The House of Finarfin is basically a Noldorin House, yet they are not dark-haired. Why? The answer is: due to intermarriage with the Vanyar.

Makes sense, but would the reader really find it unbelievable or problematic that the House of Finarfin simply had this trait... because they do (in the scenario that the Vanyar were also mostly dark haired, in theory)...

... just like the Vanyar have golden hair in certain written accounts... because they do

In other words, I'm not sure readers would really find it problematic that several houses of the Teleri that remained in the Anduin Vale were golden haired, despite being from the same general clan as the mostly dark haired "Sindar" who passed on to Beleriand.

I mean, if you keep the larger scenario in which the Sindar and Silvan Elves hail from the same third clan, and explain that not all of this large clan were dark haired -- even if the majority of those that went further West (Sindar) were dark-haired -- then I think readers would accept it.

Again, unless I'm missing something published by Tolkien himself that arguably "locks" him out of this. Please tell me if I am...

... I could easily be!

[Edited on 05/26/2015 by Elthir]
Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: May 27, 2015 05:13
I basically agree with everything you've said. I really appreciate all the thought you have put into this. I can see several ways a person could choose to resolve this mystery.
1. Accept that there is no resolution. (I can understand this intellectually, but I want to have an explanation to believe in.)

2. Strictly limit data to author published sources. (The constructed Silmarillion could be allowed in since it elaborates on the novels in a continuity friendly way.) If one accepts that the Eldar in Appendix F are Noldor only, it becomes pretty consistent that (Vanyar have gold hair in the Sil), Noldor black, and members of the third tribe can have silver or blonde. (This is where I started.)

3. Strictly interpret Appendix F to mean dark haired Vanyar, etc., possibly include Silvan in the definition of Eldar as they were in other sources. Use what ever criteria seems best, date of writing, frequency of statement, whatever, to support your position. The answer would probably be that almost all Elves are dark haired. (This option is not satisfying to me personally, and not I feel, exactly what Tolkien intended, although I can’t prove it. Of course the question remains, Tolkien’s intentions in what year?)

4. Mainly rely on the novels plus the 1977 Silmarillion, but take into account other sources and creatively draw from them while being aware that the end result is probably not exactly what Tolkien intended at any one time. The conclusion would be much the same as option 2, but a bit more elaborate. For instance, we could say that since the Third Tribe was the largest, it could have more genetic diversity, and therefore members could have any color hair mentioned for Elves (or at least any hair color attributed to Sindar, Silvan, Teleri, etc. characters), unlike the more homogenous and smaller First and Second Tribes.

Makes sense, but would the reader really find it unbelievable or problematic that the House of Finarfin simply had this trait... because they do (in the scenario that the Vanyar were also mostly dark haired, in theory)...


Right, readers would have no reason to question it. Although . . . it offends my knowledge of genetics to believe that everyone was dark haired until a blond person just happened to be born to dark haired parents. Wait! It could be a mutation! Do Elves have mutations . . . never mind. If not biology, I need a mythic explanation, like gold hair was a gift of the Valar.

So far my personal preference wavers between options 2 and 4. I suppose there are other options.

I mean, if you keep the larger scenario in which the Sindar and Silvan Elves hail from the same third clan, and explain that not all of this large clan were dark haired -- even if the majority of those that went further West (Sindar) were dark-haired -- then I think readers would accept it.
Okay. I think this is where I end up too. I'm doing a complete review of author published writings and I'll get back to you if I find anything.
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
Elthir
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on: May 28, 2015 02:33
Elthir said: I mean, if you keep the larger scenario in which the Sindar and Silvan Elves hail from the same third clan, and explain that not all of this large clan were dark haired -- even if the majority of those that went further West (Sindar) were dark-haired -- then I think readers would accept it.

Elfeawen Lomiondil responded: Okay. I think this is where I end up too. I'm doing a complete review of author published writings and I'll get back to you if I find anything.


Great! I put stuff out there sometimes just to see if it holds water, and I can't remember every passage or think of every angle. Let me know!

I sorta like the idea of the Third Clan, being the largest, having the diversity, although taken together, even the Vanyar, Noldor, and Sindarin branch of the Teleri would account for a lot of mostly dark-haired Elves!

Of course it's arguably a bit moot at this point to wonder if Tolkien could have a lot of golden haired East-elves if he wanted to, and felt that Appendix F here should not be altered (or altered again, considering the change to "Finrod" already), thus 'forcing' him to go outside the Eldar, if he wanted more golden heads.

But no matter... it's still chatting about Tolkien.

Plus even the definition of Eldar might change when you compare posthumously published description to The Lord of the Rings -- that is, if we employ the idea chosen for the constructed Silmarillion, the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien, if Telerin, are arguably Eldarin!

Another tangle, possibly.

And there are likely no still undiscovered letters in which Tolkien might explain himself here, given that he passed on before the blond Eldarin Vanyar became well known among Tolkien fans!

A missing note maybe? But if Christopher Tolkien hasn't found it yet, perhaps not

[Edited on 05/28/2015 by Elthir]
Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: May 28, 2015 08:27
Elfeawen: Do you think gleaming is Tolkien code for gold/blond? I've noticed he often describes Elf hair as gleaming, including Celegorm's, which is said to be golden outside of the Silmarillion.


Elthir: I've wondered this myself!


I agree with your assessment that "gleaming" dosn't mean golden 100% of the time. I just read that when Frodo put on the ring on Weathertop, he saw the Witch King had "gleaming" hair. I don't think a Nazgul would have golden hair . . . ?
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
The Lady Idril
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on: August 15, 2015 06:29
I have a question regarding Thranduil. Where does it say that he has blond hair? This seems important in determining Legolas' hair color, and I have heard multiple times that Thranduil's hair is blond, but where is that stated?
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Elthir
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on: August 16, 2015 01:34
Hi Lady Idril. Thranduil is noted as golden-haired in The Hobbit, when Bilbo and the Dwarves come upon the feasting Elves.

"[...] at the head of a long line of feasters sat a woodland king with a crown of leaves upon his golden hair [...]."

The Hobbit, Flies and Spiders


At the time Tolkien wrote The Hobbit the Elven-king was not yet named Thranduil, and not really the father of Legolas, as Legolas son of Thranduil did not yet exist.

Still, the description of the golden-haired Elven-king remains in the second and third editions of The Hobbit, and so Thranduil the Sindarin (thus Eldarin) elf is seen as an exception, when his "older" description is mixed with the much later statement about the Eldar in Appendix F.

As Idril would be an exception to Appendix F as well
__________

Just to note it, there was a Legolas of Gondolin, one the Noldoli, in the very early Book of Lost Tales, as well as the Elf Gimli, although in that conception "Legolas" may have been a confusion of the names Laigolas Legolast.

After Legolas of Mirkwood was invented for The Lord of the Rings, the name Legolas became a Silvan dialectal form of pure Sindarin Laegolas.

[Edited on 08/16/2015 by Elthir]
The Lady Idril
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on: August 22, 2015 05:39
Thank you so much, Elthir.

That's been something I've been wondering about for a while, and that really cleared it up.

Regards,

Idril
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Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: October 03, 2015 12:17
Introduction

Elfeawen said: I'm doing a complete review of author published writings and I'll get back to you if I find anything.

Here is my first report. I have read The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring and made note of every time hair color or an Elven kindred is mentioned. I figured I should pay close attention to how Elven kindreds are named and defined in author published material since it bears on the question. My goals were 1. what impression do author published books give of who the Elven kindreds are? 2. what impression of corresponding hair color do they give?
3. how does this impression match up with Appendix F? The constructed Silmarillion?

I am approaching this like a first time reader. I will not consider historical development of the story or information from sources not published by JRRT, except in brackets. Does this approach have value? Maybe we will know when I am done. Is it interesting? I hope so. It was to me at least.

Elthir noted: At the time Tolkien wrote The Hobbit the Elven-king was not yet named Thranduil, and not really the father of Legolas, as Legolas son of Thranduil did not yet exist.

Important to know, but I will take all author published statements at face value for the purposes of my “study.”


Results

Light-Elves, Deep-Elves, and Sea-Elves went over the Great Sea into the West, but some returned to Middle Earth. (The Hobbit)

The Exiles are from over the Great Sea. The Exiles are High Elves. Some Exiles live in Rivendell. Elrond of Rivendell is kin to the High Elves. The House of Finrod are High Elves. Glorfindel is kin to House of Finrod. The Elves of Eregion and Gondolin were High Elves. The House of Fëanor are High Elves. High Elves are very different from Silvan. (FOTR)

Glorfindel has golden hair.
Elrond and his daughter Arwen have black hair.
Luthien is an ancestor of Elrond, and she had “shadowy” hair.

Conclusion: High Elves may have black or golden hair. Golden hair may be restricted to or dominant among Finrod’s kin, or it may not.


Silvan are Wood-Elves. They never went over the Great Sea. The Elves of Lorien and Mirkwood are Silvan. Thranduil is king of the Elves of Mirkwood. Elves of Lorien also called Galadhrim. Galadriel is the Lady of the Galadhrim and Celeborn is Lord. Nimrodel is Silvan.

Thranduil has “golden” hair.
Celeborn has “silver” hair.
An unamed Silvan male of Lorien had blonde hair. “His hair glinted like gold in the morning sun.” (FOTR 440)
Nimrodel may have been blonde, since the Lay of Nimrodel says the light on her hair was like “sun upon the golden boughs.” (FOTR 449)
Galadriel has golden hair.

Conclusion: Wood Elves may have silver or golden hair, with all examples but one having golden hair. There is no reason to think that all golden haired examples are members of one family.

Discussion

The problem here is that Luthien is not a High Elf, and Galadriel is not a Wood Elf, although their hair color deceptively matches those respective categories. Until I read The Silmarillion, I had no idea that was the case. As long as we know Tolkien’s intentions, these confusions do not matter. But I am strictly limiting myself to information from FOTR and The Hobbit here, and these books do have some evidence about Galadriel and Luthien’s true backgrounds, so I’ll present it.
The only evidence that I can find that Luthien is a Wood Elf (actually half Sindar half Maiar) comes from the statement that she lived “in the hidden Kingdom of Thingol in the forest of Neldoreth.” (Since Luthien inherited her dark hair from her mother, who was not an Elf, this is not good evidence that it is usual for Wood Elves to have dark hair.)
FOTR has more hints that Galadriel is a High Elf from over the sea. In her song “I Sang of Leaves” she says “too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore” and “What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?”(FOTR 482) A first time reader could not be sure that her song was autobiographical, but we know that it is. In the translation of her song “Ai Laurie Lantar,” it notes that she sings of Varda, “whom the Elves in these lands of exile name Elbereth.” (489) This also links her with the Exile High Elves.
We also learn in FOTR that Celeborn is Arwen’s maternal grandfather. This is a reminder of how intermarriage complicates things.

Preliminary Conclusions

1.There are at least two distinct Elf kindreds in Middle Earth at this time, most commonly called High Elves and Silvan/Wood Elves.
2.The kindreds sometimes intermarry.
3. High Elves: There are 2 examples of black haired, and 2 examples of golden haired people in this kindred.
4. Wood Elves: There are examples of 3 golden haired people, 1 silver haired person, and 1 dark haired person in this kindred.

References
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit: There and Back Again (Revised Edition). Ballantine Books: New York, 1966

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 1996 (Said to contain “all corrections and revisions that have been made since the original publication.)

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. Ballantine Books: New York, 1965.
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
Elthir
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on: October 04, 2015 12:12
Nice work Elfeawen! I think it's always interesting to only look at what Tolkien himself published. And some of us were alive back in a time when that's all we could look at.



And I not only agree that the external details of Thranduil's clan and relationship to Legolas shouldn't matter for your study of course, but in my opinion they really don't matter that much outside of "interesting background".

In other words, if we may speak of fact with respect to Tolkien's world, not matter how all the details were arrived at, in my opinion even Tolkien must deal with the "fact" (given everything he published) that Thranduil, father of Legolas, is a golden haired Sindarin Elf.


One of my favorite books is Robert Foster's Guide to Middle-Earth, the version made before even Christopher Tolkien's Silmarillion was published (the price on the cover is one US dollar and fifty cents).

In my opinion Foster is generally reliable and tries to makes it clear when he is speculating a bit, based on the "evidence" from the books. Your post inspired me to look up the entries for Galadriel and Celeborn again, in this version, and I noticed that RF described Galadriel as the founder of Lorien and its Queen (Gimli calls her a Queen at one point in the story at least)...

... here though, I think Foster might be being too reluctant. In his entry for Amroth he describes Amroth as a King, but at least here he doesn't refer to him as a King of Lorien, although he notes that Amroth had a house in Lorien. But I think given certain description in the poem that Legolas relates, and certain words from Haldir when the Company arrives at Cerin Amroth, the natural enough assumption is that Amroth was once a King of Lorien, in the Lorien of old.

Anyway back to your post: one thing I'll add is that I don't think we can push Glorfindel's use of "kindred" too far with respect to Gildor and Comapany and the House of Finrod. Unless there is another example, if I recall correctly Glorfindel uses this word when speaking to Aragorn, a Man (or at least not to other Elves in any case)...

... so, so far anyway, I think the options of interpreting "kindred" remain open, even including the rather sweeping interpretation that he might more simply mean "Elves" in this instance, although I could easily be wrong about this.

Of course he is an Elf-lord from beyond the Sea in any event, that is, even Tolkien himself had to admit that this much was already in print when he considered whether or not Glorfindel of Imladris was Glorfindel of Gondolin.

Anyway, looking forward to more!

[Edited on 10/04/2015 by Elthir]
Elthir
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on: October 24, 2015 01:16
Hmm, just wondering what might be found in The Two Towers to add to this matter...

Back in Fellowship we also have the description of Legolas' dark head just before he shoots at a Nazgul, but I realize why this is not real evidence, as unfortunately, especially given the full context and time of day there...

... the passage does not reveal his hair colour!

Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: October 26, 2015 04:36
So you think Glorfindel might use kindred to mean that he is generally the same kind of Elf, but not a blood relative? I was thinking about it, and the only way I can see that Glorfindel could be related to Finrod is through his grandmother or mother's side. Does that sound correct? Anyway, the most important thing to me is that Glorfindel is from across the sea and so could be part Vanyarin.
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
Elthir
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on: October 27, 2015 01:32
Hmm, if I had to guess I think Glorfindel means kindred there as in the Noldor [and perhaps less possibly, even "Elves"]...

... but then again I'm not sure if I'm reading this correctly. Looking up the word, used as a noun kindred does appear to refer a group of related individuals, including by marriage according to meaning number three below. Plucking some meanings out of at least one dictionary on line:

kindred noun

1. a person's relatives collectively; kinfolk; kin.

2. a group of persons related to another; family, tribe, or clan.

3. relationship by birth or descent, or sometimes by marriage; kinship.

4. natural relationship; affinity.


And perhaps I'm confusing myself here with such terms like Tolkien's High Kindred and Elder Kindred? And Glorfindel's golden hair would make sense for the House of Finrod (Finarfin)...

... but that said, then there is the following from one of the (very) late Glorfindel essays:

"... and it can be assumed that, though he left Valinor in the host of Turgon, and so incurred the ban, he did so reluctantly because of kinship with Turgon and allegiance to him, and had no part in the kinslaying of Alqualonde."

JRRT, Glorfindel II, The Peoples of Middle-Earth


As far as that goes anyway, although we know Idril also had golden hair for example, in any case.

[Edited on 10/27/2015 by Elthir]
Elfeawen Lomiondil
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on: November 02, 2015 04:00
That's very interesting. You know, I can't remember why I thought Glorfindel was related to Finrod. I thought it was established. Here's an interesting quote about Glorfindel. Gandalf tells Frodo that “He is an Elf-lord of a house of princes.”
(FOTR, "Many Meetings" That house of princes could be Finwe or Finarfin.

I think Tolkien uses "kindred" as a relative term. It means a group of people that are more related to each other than to another group. Sometimes it means all Elves as in:
“So it is that Luthien Tinuviel alone of the Elf-kindred has died indeed and left the world”
FOTR, "A Knife in the Dark"

Sometimes it refers to the three tribes of the Elves, for example, as it probably did when Glorfindel told the Hobbits that:
“So it is that Luthien Tinuviel alone of the Elf-kindred has died indeed and left the world”
FOTR, "Flight to the Ford"

And it certainly meant one of the three tribes, in this case the Noldor, when Gildor told the Hobbits:
Gildor says: “We are Exiles, and most of our kindred have long ago departed”
FOTR, "Three is Company"

There are other cases where "kin" means a blood relative of someone, like when it says that Elrond is kin to Luthien.
"There shall be war between the Children of Iluvatar and the Ainu Melko. What if we perish in our quest? The dark halls of Vê be little worse than this bright prison" ~ Fëanor
Elthir
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on: May 26, 2018 07:45
Are we ready yet for The Two Towers and Return of the King?

I know it's been a while... just wondering.

Bueller? Bueller?
Gandolorin
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on: May 27, 2018 02:11
I don't remember those two books being very helpful about Elven hair color. Image
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Elthir
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on: June 11, 2018 12:10
Well, in the Appendices to The Return of the King anyway, there's a description that often rocks the world of Elven hair discussion!

I have to admit I can't recall anything "hair-raising" in The Two Towers about this.

Cough.
Gandolorin
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on: June 11, 2018 01:58
There’s one point nobody may have considered: The Elves are extremely artistic. And some at least (and the Avari probably more than the Eldar) also extremely knowledgeable about organic, mostly plant-derived, “potions” of all kinds. So maybe they were also creative with hair coloring? And come to think of it, Elves at least in the movies are always portrayed as being long-tressed. I would think that this to be an annoying hindrance to Elves living in forests, especially with denser underbrush. Wouldn’t a crew cut, or at least more close-cropped hair be more practical for them? Like what the Hobbits had in the movies (though all of these were in Beatles territory, though more tousled, when I think of it …)
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