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« le: 27 Juillet 2006, 15:05:32 »


This is a myth (among many ones) particularly deep-rooted when we speak about the dwarves of J.R.R. Tolkien. In fact, everything is tied to a single fact : the dwarf woman can’t be visually distinguished from her masculine counter-part. Voice, beard, clothing, everything is contributing to make them similar to "non-dwarves" eyes.

The only example of dwarf woman in J.R.R. Tolkien’s works is Dís (a nordic name) : mother of Fili and Kili and Thorin II’s sister, we know her only through the bravery and the tragical fate of her relatives at the time of the Battle of the Five Armies (T.A. 2941).
Nevertheless, it is written that the Dwarves women represent almost one-third of the whole population, this fact explains the poor birthrate which characterizes the dwarves.

In the current life, the women never leave their deep dwellings, except in case of extreme necessity. They never go to war. They stay at home, unless in case of migrations or forced exodus, in order to secure the future of the race and to avoid to endanger the poor birthrate by these exits.

Envy (or jealousy) is a shortcoming of the dwarves’ character often described in the works of Tolkien which can also explain the conjugal life among the Dwarves. Thus, a Dwarf (man or woman) will have only a single companion during the whole life. Contrary to the commun belief, it would be impossible and unthinkable for a woman to take a husband against his will. Nevertheless, and despite the sexual rate, they  don’t take necessarily a husband ; some of them by choice, others because the man they love doesn’t want it (or cannot do it).

When we go back to their origin and to the Awakening of the Seven Fathers, we see that Aulë, their Creator, put a wife to each Father’s side, except for Durin, Father of the Longbeards, who slept alone ; although, in older versions of this legend, it was Eru Himself who thought of the wives, Aulë thinking of his children only in masculines terms.

The marriage comes rarely before the age of 90, and it seems accepted that children are not born before their father reaches the age of 100. These datas are largely based on the available family trees, as these latters never mentioned any woman (except for Dís, cited below), it is possible for a dwarf, who is born 110 years after his father’s birth, to have an elder sister, not mentioned. We can add that, in a couple of dwarves, there are very few possibilities to have many children ; indeed, it’s very rare to have more than four children.

About the education, which lasts about 30 years, the age of reason at the dwarves, we can say that they are completely devoted to their children. They can seems rude, but, for them, life is hard, and it’s necessary to be physically, as well as mentally, strong, robust and tough. The parents would nonetheless defend their children at all costs, even more than their own existence. The opposite is also valid (a dwarf can spend his entire life to avenge an insult made for his father), keeping in mind that, for any dwarf, the King of his House is like a father. It is thus very frequent that the life of a Dwarf is partially dictated by some « duty of vengeance».

The Lord of the Rings
Appendix A, Section III : Durin’s folk :
« Dís was the daughter of Thráin II. She is the only dwarf-woman named in these histories. It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need, They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish opinion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and that the Dwarves 'grow out of stone'.
It is because of the fewness of women among them that the kind of the Dwarves increases slowly, and is in peril when they have no secure dwellings. For Dwarves take only one wife or husband each in their lives, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights. The number of dwarf-men that marry is actually less than one-third. For not all the women take husbands: some desire none; some desire one that they cannot get, and so will have no other. As for the men, very many also do not desire marriage, being engrossed in their crafts.

History of the Middle-Earth (HoME).

Book XI, Chap. XIII : Of the Naugrim and the Edain :
(a). « But it is said that to each  Dwarf Iluvatar added a mate of female kind, yet because he would not amend the work of Aule, and Aule had yet made only things of male form,therefore the women of the Dwarves resemble their  men more than all other [? speaking] races. »

(b). « . …he made first one Dwarf, the eldest of all, and after he made six others, the fathers of their race; and then he began to make others again, like to them but of female kind to be their mates. But he wearied, and when he [had]  made six more he rested,… ».

(c). « Aule made one, and then six, and he began to make mates for them of female form, and he made six, and then  he wearied. Thus he buried six pairs, but one (Durin) the eldest he laid alone. »

(d). « And Aule took the  Seven Dwarves and laid them to rest under stone in far-sundered places, and beside each [of] them he laid a mate as the Voice bade him,… ».

(e). « Then Aule took the  Seven Dwarves and laid them to rest under stone in far-sundered places, and beside each he laid his mate, save only beside the Eldest, and he lay  alone. »

Book XI, Chap. XIII : Of the Naugrim and the Edain :
« For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male and female alike; nor indeed can their womenkind be discerned by those of other race, be it in feature or in gait or in voice, nor in any  wise save this : that they  go  not  to war, and seldom save at direst need issue from their deep bowers and halls. It is said, also,  that their
 womenkind are few, and that save their kings and chieftains few Dwarves ever  wed; wherefore their race multiplied slowly, and now is dwindling.

Book XII, Chap. IX, Section 4 : Durin’s folk :
« They are seldom named in genealogies. They join their husbands' families. But if a son is seen to be 110 or so years younger than his father, this usually indicates an elder daughter. Thorin's sister Dis is named simply because of the gallant death of her sons Fili and Kili in defence of Thorin II. The sentiment of affection for sister's children was strong among all peoples of the Third Age, but less so among Dwarves than Men or Elves among whom it was strongest ».

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