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« le: 27 Juillet 2006, 15:09:13 »

Of Dwarves and Death
By  Stéphane Grignon.

Dwarves lives quite a long time (from 250 to 400 years), but are not immortal in the elve-fashion (the First-Borns). What’s happening to them after their death ? It is a question that one may reasonably ask regarding the mythology created by J.R.R. Tolkien.

First signs and false beliefs.

Chronologically, the first sign can be found in The Hobbit. It comes from Thorin’s words adressed to Bilbo upon his death-bed. He said that he’s «going to sit » in the «Halls of Waiting » until the world « is renewed ». In only one sentence, Thorin II make a summary of dwarves beliefs concerning their death.
From this passage, he’s contradicting clearly the elves beliefs regarding the dwarves’death. Indeed, for elves, and particularly for Noldor, « returned to the earth and the stone of which they were made »(Silmarillon, Of Aulë and Yavanna). Now, the belief of the dwarves made out of stone can be refuted by a better approach of the dwarves women.This belief could be discarded, for there is no clear indication of the use of stone by Aulë to create dwarves. All that is known leads to the same clear meaning : Aulë, who the dwarves called Mahal, desired them so much that he created them with his power of divine creation, in his pride of doing so by himself. About the how, and from what « material », nothing is clearly written down. The fact is : Aulë is the father of dwarves. On the other hand, if we read the word «stone » as referring to a place and not as a material, we could imply that the dwarves are born in a cave, under the Middle-Earth, and that they are waiting in a cave too after their death.

But where are these « Halls of Wainting » ?
Farther, in the excerpt of the Silmarillion cited above, these caves are given to be placed in Mandos. Now, Mandos is supposed to be the place where elves and dwarves rests after their death. For reminder, although they’re eternal or « immortal », elves may die of violent death or by giving up their desire for life. This apparently nearness is not exactly true : the caves where the dwarves rest are clearly separeted from those of the elves.

Why did they separated ?

To answer, we should take a new look at the dwarves’creation. Eru gave his divine agreement to Aulë only after the creation. Although it is himself who gave will and voice to his disciple’s people, Eru doesn’t regard the dwarves as his own children. To quote him, they are his « adopted ones ». In fact, dwarves must awake after the elves, and they should waiting for Eru’s benediction to really become his chidren, as Elves or Men are.

But when will this benediction come ?

Myths are saying that there will be a final battle and then Arda will be destroyed. Hence, Dwarves believes that Eru will bless them at the end of time and will make them space among his owns.

Are they waiting without doing anything ?

No. Because Aulë is master of all crafts, including smith-work, and was responsible for the original shaping of  the lands, dwarves will serve him in the rebuilding of Arda. We can find a complement of information about this waiting in a less known passage of  J.R.R. Tolkien works, commented by his son Christopher, in History of Middle Earth tome 11. We learn there that dwarves are not so inactive during this waiting. In fact, Aulë not only take care of them and gather them, but also teach them greater knowledges (relatives to magic/creation ?) in the exercise of much powerful arts. And it’s because of, or at least after, this learning that they will serve Aulë et will take part of the rebuilding of Arda.

A last notion can complete this essay : spirit or body ?

There are two elements that could lead us to think about a « physical » presence of dwarves in Mandos :
- Thorin speaks of « sitting » in the halls of waiting, give us to understand that he is incarnated in a body that could sitting.;
- dwarves are not waiting without doing anything : they’re practising arts. Once again, we find the idea of a dwarve owning a physical form and not just appearing as an etheral spirit.

Note : the Seven Fathers or Dwarves Ancestors, possess a power close to reincarnation, which is different to that of their descendants.

Bibliography :
The Hobbit, Chapter XVIII.
The Silmarillion, Chapter II, "Of Aulë and Yavanna".
HoME 11, Chap. 13, "Of the Naugrim and the Edain", §2.

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