14 October 2013

The Divisions of Tolkien's Elves (Quendi)

Following the defeat of Melkor in the Battle of the Powers, the Valar decided to bring the Elves back to Valinor to be kept directly under their protection. They sent Oromë to Cuiviénen to summon them.

But upon his return, he discovered that the Elves were reluctant to make the journey, as they were in fear of the Valar. Three ambassadors were sent with Oromë to help coax the Elves – Ingwë, Finwë, and Elwë. These three had seen the light of the Two Trees and were so overcome with awe that they counselled their people to follow the summons and undertake the Great Journey back to Valinor.

However, not all of the Elves accepted the summons, and this separation led to numerous branches, all of which stem from the decision to undertake or reject the Great Journey. 


The Avari, or the Unwilling, were those who refused the summons of Oromë and remained in the wilds of Middle-earth. It is said that some of the Avari were corrupted by Melkor in ancient days and became the precursors to Orcs. The Avari are counted among the Moriquendi, the Dark Elves who did not see the Light of the Two Trees.


The Eldar were those who accepted the summons of Oromë and completed the Great Journey to Valinor and are counted among the Caliquendi, those who did see the Light of the Two Trees. The Eldar are comprised of Three Kindreds:
  • The Vanyar (Light Elves) were the first of the Elves to undertake the journey from Cuiviénen to Valinor, and they are accounted the highest of the High Elves. Ingwë is their leader, High King of the Elves, and his dwelling is on Taniquetil beneath the halls of Manwë.
  • The Noldor (Deep-Elves) are those Elves who followed Finwë as their lord. They were the second great host of those marching from Cuiviénen to the shores of Middle-earth; after arriving in Valinor, they learned much from Aulë and were accounted the greatest Elves of lore and craft. After the Darkening of Valinor, in which the Two Trees were poisoned, Finwë slain, and the Silmarils stolen, many of the Noldor forsook Valinor and in exile returned to Middle-earth in pursuit of Melkor.
  • The Teleri (The Third Clan) were the last comers to Aman, and made their homes in Alqualondë on the western shores of the Great Sea. Twice a host of this people turned away from the Journey; they are collectively known as the Úmanyar, the Eldar not of Aman, and are further broken into two main groups: the Nandor, those who turned away east of the Misty Mountains, and the Sindar, those who tarried in Beleriand seeking their lord, Elwë Singollo.
    • The Nandor are those of the Teleri who forsook the Great Journey east of the Misty Mountains and journeyed down the River Anduin; some came into Beleriand and made their dwelling in Ossiriand (these were known as the Laiquendi), while others founded realms of their own. (The Elves of Lórien and the Wood-elves of Mirkwood were of this kind, known as Silvan Elves.)
    • The Sindar (Grey-Elves) are those of the Teleri who remained in Beleriand; some to await the return of their lord Elwë, and others who had been persuaded by Ossë to stay. When Elwë returned to them, they made their home with him in Doriath (which he ruled with his wife, Melian); the other main country of the Sindar was the Falas (under the rule of Círdan the Shipwright).
    • The Falmari (Sea-Elves) are those of the Teleri who became enamoured with the sea and made their dwelling near the shores of Aman. 
    • The Eglath (Forsaken Ones) are those of the Teleri who remained in Beleriand seeking the return of their lord Elwë and were left behind by those Teleri who refused to wait any longer to depart for Aman.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Melkor used only Avari as stock to produce Orc-Kind, or if he used Elves of all the branches, which would help explain the wide variance in Orc-Kind from Goblin to Uruk.

    Avari became goblins, Eldar became Uruks, etc.

    I also wonder why female orcs are never mentioned. Surely they must have existed. Were they, like female Dwarves, indistinguishable from males? Have we seen female female goblins and orcs without knowing it? Orc and Goblin Queens?