The New Notion Club Archives
The New Notion Club Archives


Western Elves: Quenya, Sindarin, Nandorin, Westron (limited) Eastern Elves: Various Avarin Dialects, limited local Easterling or Haradrim tongues
Average Height & Weight
6'44" & 170 lbs (for the Eldar)
Average Lifespan
Renowned individuals

The Elves, or Firstborn, were the eldest of the Eruhini and the first to awaken. Born under the stars before the ascension of the Moon and the Sun, they held a sacred love for light and all that was holy, and all possessed an overwhelmingly potent spirit, an ingenious and wise mind, and a strong body endowed with unique gifts. They called themselves the Quendi, or "Speakers" in their own tongues, for they were the first living creatures to utter words and order their lives; even in latter days, when Men and lesser peoples usurped the sunlight and became prominent, no race understood language, lore, art and craft like the Firstborn. Fair and youthful, brilliant and proud, immortal and tall, strong and agile, they were the most gifted of all the Free Peoples. Yet despite their gifts, in Middle-Earth they were a sorrowful race— one burdened by the hand of fate.

An Overview of Elves

As with all of the Speaking Peoples, such as Men and Dwarves, the Elves were a diverse people affected greatly by the lands in which they dwelt. Their tale is one of long migrations, prideful wars, and grand achievements, and includes many great figures of historical importance. Their history was tied to that of Middle-Earth itself, and the histories of the other races would be different indeed, or may have not occured, without their influence.

Elven History

The divisions and sub-divisions of the various Elven kindreds are complex,and at times even convoluted.In this section the basic migrations and divisions will be described ,as well as the actual kindreds as they existed in the Second and Third Ages of Middle-earth

The Awakening of the Firstborn


In the early years of the world, before the Sun and the

Moon first rose, the Elves awoke under the stars on the shores of Cuivienen, a large bay in the inland sea of Helcar in eastern Middle-earth. They lived in the twilight lands, far from the light of Valinor, for many years before one of the ValarOromë the Hunter—discovered them. The Valar loved Eru's new born creations and wished to bring them to the light of Aman, the Undying Lands, to save them from Morgoth and the evil that he was already bringing into Middle-earth. Morgoth, the greatest of the Valar who had turned away from his brethren before the beginning of creation, now hated the Elves because they were cherished by the others. He sent out his shadowy servants and captured many of them in the darkness. Unable to create life himself, he tortured and perverted the Elves he imprisoned, and from this corrupt stock bred Orcs.

The First Sundering

It was at the summons of the Valar that the Elves first divided. Initially, they were afraid to leave their home under the stars, but three of their kind journeyed to Valinor with Orome to see for themselves the glory of the Undying Lands.These were Ingwë IngweronFinwë Ñoldóran, and Elu Thingol, who later became Kings. When they returned, filled with the light of Aman, many of the Elves heeded their stirring words and followed the Vala Huntsman west.

But not all the Elves wished to leave their native land. Some had come to love the starlight of Middle-earth and chose to stay behind. Those Elves who declined to follow the Valar became known as the Avari (Q."Unwilling"), and they became the lesser East-Elves. They were by far the most plentiful of the Elves and, despite harassment by the Black Enemy, spread through eastern as well as much of southern Middle-earth. Those who followed the summons of the Valar and undertook the Great Journey westward to Aman became known as the Eldar. And yet, still some lingered along the road or turned back, or were lost. But those Elves who completed the long and difficult journey were made greater by their stay in the Undying Lands, and forever after their descendants held the pure light of Aman in their eyes.

The Great Journey

The Eldar were those who made the great journey to live in the blessed land of Aman. There were three kindreds:  the VanyarNoldor, and Teleri. The Eldar came to the Uttermost West via an unusual mode of transportation: the island Tol Eressea which, moved by the power of the sea-Vala Ulmo, made two trips from Middle-earth to the Undying Lands. The first carried the Vanyar and Noldor; the second carried the Teleri (Q. "Hindmost") who had lingered on the long road and missed the first island voyage. The Teleri themselves did not remain undivided, however.

There were three groups, led by the brothers Olwë and Elu Thingol, and another Teler, Lenwë. When they reached the Anduin Vales, Lenwe and his people turned away from the journey and remained in Middle-earth. They became the Nandor and vanished from the histories for many years. West of the Blue Mountains, Elwe (one of the original ambassadors to the Undying Lands) encountered Melian the Maia and fell into a trance of love. While he was lost, most of his kindred (but not all) went over the sea with Olwe's people.Elwe at last awoke and founded a realm in Beleriand with his Maia wife Melian.As ruler of Doriath he went by the name Elu Thingol (S."King Greycloak"). His people were known as the Sindar. The rest of the Teleri achieved the West; there they dwelt on the isle of Tol Eressea ,in sight of Valinor. The Maia Gaerys taught them the art of shipbuilding, and they were ever after the greatest shipwrights and sailors in all Arda. They sailed to the coast of Aman where they built the beautiful city and wharves of Alqualondë. The Teleri were considered the fairest singers in all Middle-earth (rivalling the Vanyar) and called themselves the Lindar.


The Nandor (Q."Those who turn back"), though

technically of the Teleri and so the Eldar, are an exception, since they never travelled to the Undying Lands and so did not see the light of the Trees. Therefore, they were referred to as Moriquendi (Q."Dark Elves"). Some eventually went on to settle in Ossiriand, but most remained east of the Misty Mountains, spreading through the forested lands there. These later came under the rulership of the Sinda King Thranduil in Mirkwood and Galadriel in Lothlórien.

Of Tirion and the Vanyar

Fairest of the Eldar, and known as the Fair Elves, the Vanyar were the most beloved by the Valar. They were the first of the three kindreds to set forth on the Great Journey and the first to arrive in the Undying Lands, led by their King, Ingwë Ingweron. Together with the Noldor, they built and lived for a long time in the fair city of Tirion upon Túna. Sometime later, however, they moved further westward through the gap in the Pelori (Q."Mountains of Defense"), and there they made their permanent home. Only once did the Vanyar ever depart Valinor: to aid the Ainur in battle against the Black Enemy in the War of Wrath. When the evil Vala was at last defeated, the Fair Elves marched back to their home in victory. There is no record of any Vanya ever again leaving the Blessed Land.

Of Feanor and the Noldor


The Second Kindred of the Calaquendi, both in numbers and order of arrival in Aman, the Noldor were also

called the Deep ElvesFinwë Ñoldóran was their King. They were the most skilled of the immortals in crafts and lore, the most fiery of spirit, proud and curious. It was the Noldo Feanor who made the Silmarils and, because of his unwillingness to surrender them, doomed his kindred to a hopeless war against Morgoth to recover the stolen gems, and later to exile from Aman. When the Black Enemy took the Silmarils and fled with them to Middle-Earth, the Noldor attempted to pursue him over the water by stealing the great vessels of the Teleri. The Teleri resisted, and the Noldor, in their desperation, slew a great many of the defending shipbuilders to win the boats. Great was the anger of the Valar that Elf would slay Elf. A storm swallowed many of the stolen ships, and the surviving Noldor came to the wastes of Araman only to be met by the Vala Mandos, who doomed them to exile from Aman forever for their hideous crime - the Kinslaying of Alqualonde. The Noldor had seen the light of the Two Trees, but lived out their days in Middle-earth as exiles. It is sadly ironic that Feanor's grandson Celebrimbor was seduced by Morgoth's servant Sauron as Feanor was corrupted by the evil Vala's deceptive words. Twice did the Noldor put all of Middle-earth in peril because of their insatiable desire for knowledge.

Of Doriath and the Sindar


Ruled by Lenwë, the Nandor dwelt many years in the

woods along the Anduin. Some spread to the river's mouths and lived there beside the sea. Others passed by the Ered Nimrais and then came north again, settling in the wide lands of Eriador. These latter Nandor enjoyed peace until the third era of Morgoth's captivity, when at last the fell beasts of the Black Enemy departed their lairs and ravaged the lands. Then, led by Lenwe's son Danitharo, the Eriadoran Nandor fled into Beleriand. There they were welcomed by Thingol and his Sindar. The Eriadoran Nandor intermarried with their hosts and ceased to retain a separate cultural identity. Although the Sindar were more noble than the Avari, they were yet Moriquendi, never having reached the shores of Aman. Their homeland was the realm of Doriath in Beleriand, ruled by Thingol and Melian. The Sindar gained great wisdom under the tutelage of Melian the Maia and her husband, who was counted a Calaquende, and so they became known as the Grey Elves. They spoke Sindarin, and originated Runes, or Cirth, for the keeping of records. With the fall of Beleriand, the surviving Sindar migrated eastward, some remaining in , while others travelled to live with the Noldor in Eregion or east of the Misty Mountains in Lorien and Mirkwood.

Elven Nature


Before natural Elven physiology can be described, it is crucial to comment on the sociology of this advanced race, and how they are sometimes erroneously perceived. Though the mists of time may eventually blur understanding of the nature of the Firstborn into absolute myth, it remains clear during to all scholars that they were not a distant superhuman species of ethereal beings, dwelling in utopian societies with no law, social structures or other such organizational divisions. Indeed, it seems that most shunned and rejected this lifestyle, considering it lawless and uncouth. All kindreds of the Quendi possessed governments (varying from tribal chieftaincies to well-organized absolute monarchies) and frequently elaborate guilds and brotherhoods. Family and dynasty was the core unit of Elvish hirearchy, and not only realms but the guilds within them were handed down from father to son, or mother to daughter, in dynastic fashion. The tribal Avari, wild by the standard of their higher kin, nonetheless organized in tight-knit tribes of a few families, inheriting their positions and intermingling as necessary, under the guidance of a sole wise chieftain. The Nandor and Silvan-folk lived similarly, and in later days most in fact lived as citizens of Sinda or Elda monarchs in confederate kingdoms. The Sindar of Beleriand, under their great High-King Elu Thingol, established a great and prosperous empire in their homeland, and organized as a strong people under the absolute rule of their king, and maintained always the professions of their fathers. Yet, above all of their earthly kin, it was the High-Elves of the Undying West who more than any other kindred who sought order and design in all facets of their lives; and in this seeking, under the tutelage and administration of the Ainur of Aman, they established the most advanced society in Arda, diverse in crafts, clannish and artistic in culture, passing down their traditions unbroken to their many children, under the rule of the High-Kings of their respective cultures; The scientists and philosophers of the Vanyar, the craftsmen and warriors of the Noldor, and the artists and spiritualists of the Teleri. But in one trait above all others were the Elves united, as an organized society and as a great religion: they prized faith above all other practices, and all were devout followers of Eru Iluvatar, forming the faith of Eruism which they celebrated in many forms, from the tribal rituals of the Avari and Nandor to the great ceremonies of the Sindar and Eldar, all cherished the deities of the world, and the spiritual world, and from it and its teachings, they drew all the tenets of their society.

Familial and Social Values

Blood was the core organizational and social factor of Elvish society. Families not only fostered social growth and interaction, they also played a logistical role in the enterprises and professions of the Quendi: an Elf's family was his social refuge, the source of his education in youth, and the center of his career in adulthood, for heredity and inheritance was a core trait of Elvish communities and guilds within. Elves, as a rule, trained in the craft of their fathers from youth and inherited them when capable, in youth or older, or otherwise either established families and enterprises of their own through marriage and skill or remained apprentices to their elders.

Naturally, therefore, the relationships between close kin were of utmost importance to the Quendi, and the fostering of their children was considered a cornerstone of their society, as important as maintaining the standards of law and faith. Elves almost always married, and bachelors were usually quite young, focused on their crafts for a brief time before "settling," as it were. They bore usually only a few children at a time, but to these children they paid special attention and gave concentrated care. Juvenile Elves, referred to as Elf-Children or “Elflings,” were raised jointly by their blood parents and other older relatives, and often by all the local community. Noble Elf-children in particular would be educated in the history of Arda and in the ways of its governance, and trained to occupy the roles of governors, artists and healers, while common Elf-children were often trained, albiet gently, to inherit their family's respective trade. A young Elf of any class was raised under the providence of love, beauty, unity, and other nurturing values, and they were encouraged to these emotions themselves. The Elves neither regarded themselves as superior to their children, nor regarded their children as creatures of less worth, as Men often did, but regarded both parent and child as necessary parts of their society. In no other race was such diligent and calculated fertility to be found.

Beyond the simple family unit, there can be reckoned two general hierarchies among the Elven peoples: that of familial dynasty, and that of cultural allegiance based on geographical location. Individual Elvish cultures were generally clannish within themselves and passed their traditions from parent to child, but what these traditons were varied with environment and location. At the time of their awakening, the Elves had already developed semi-independent cultures based on the lifestyle of their people and their general preferences, and afterwards others developed and evolved with their many migrations and histories. The accompanying chart is designed to clarify these divisions. The Calaquendi (Q."Light Elves") travelled to the Undying Lands and witnessed the radiance of Aman, and the light of the Two Trees. Their kindred includes all tribes into which they were divided, Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri, for the blissful environment and light of the land permeated the very being of the Firstborn and left with them an internal sacred fire which they carried with them forever, as well as a socially refined and technologically advanced culture, with complex religious and interpersonal structures. Sometimes, a visible aura shone about a Light Elf, and he was more skilled in language and in song than any lesser Elf. The Moriquendi (Q."Dark Elves") never made the journey to Aman, or stopped along the way, failing to achieve their destination, and thus lacking the advanced development of their kin. Of the Dark Elves, the Sindar ("Grey Ones") started toward the Undying Lands and travelled as far as the western shores of Middle-earth before halting. They lived in Doriath and the realm of Beleriand under King Thingol (Elwe) and the Maia Melian. Thus they achieved greater wisdom and prosperity than most Moriquendi, and achieved many advancements and cultural successes, becoming skilled warriors and artists; yet they did not personally witness the Light as did the Calaquendi, and did not recieve the teaching and administration of the Valar. Their traditions were neither dark nor light; they were the Elves of Twilight. This geographic distinction parallels that of individual races amongst other peoples, such as Men and Dwarves. All of the Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri were considered Eldar (Q."People of the Stars"), which included those tribes that lingered on the Western March (specifically the Sindar and Nandor) for they shared at least a reverance for the divine powers, and similarity in societies. Those Elves who were not Eldar were, by definition, Avari, and were simpler and more wild than other Elvish peoples; yet they too possessed an advanced people of sorts, and though they remained tribal peoples skilled mostly in woodcraft and worshipful solely of Eru and not of his viceroy powers, Elves they were and remained, and all Elves were good and wise people, especially by the standard of other races.



When the Firstborn awoke on the shores of Cuivienen,

with them awoke language in Middle-earth. It is the Elves—or,appropriately, the Quendi (Q."Speakers") as they called themselves—who taught all other races and creatures language, each after its fashion. When the Eldar went West, however, they encountered the Valinorean Tongue of Aman, and adopted it for their own. Indeed, this may have occurred as early as the return of Ingwe,  Elwe, and Finwe from Aman with Orome the Vala. This became the pure tongue Quenya. The many Silvan tribes still in Middle-earth, though influenced by Quenya initially, diverged and changed with the flows of the world, and the original Elven-speech became fractured and rusticated by myriad dialects. By the Second and Third Ages, the Silvan and Eldarin tongues had become so divergent that the two had no common ground. Where Silvan Elves lived with Sindar or Noldor, they invariably learned Sindarin and used it except when exclusively among their own kind. The Silvan Elves of Lorien, for example, spoke Sindarin, but with an accent, harkening to their Greenwood Silvan origins. The Sindar knew Quenya, but adapted it for their own use, creating a language less formal and more practical for everyday writing and conversation - a language that became known as Sindarin. Thingol banned the use of Quenya among his people after the Kinslaying of Alqualonde, and with the passing of the years even the Noldor came to use Sindarin as their common tongue, reserving Quenya as a formal, ritualistic language.

The Tengwar were the first written letters ever devised, invented by the Noldo Loremaster Rúmil of Tirion. The pure version of the Tengwar was known and used only in the Undying Lands. Feanor later adapted and revised this alphabet, and the Feanorean Tengwar attained much more widespread use, both in the Undying Lands and in Middle-earth. Both of these written alphabets were cursive, meaning that they were designed to be joined, written in flowing strokes as with a pen. They were somewhat impractical for engraving, but the Great Smiths in Eregion—and Sauron himself—were up to the task. Sauron's inscription inside the One Ring was engraved in cursive Tengwar. Much later the Sinda Minstrel Daeron of Doriath invented the runes called the Certhas Daeron ("Cirth"or"Letters"of Daeron). These were much more angular and suited to stonework. The Dwarves of Moria particularly loved this writingstyle and adopted it as their own.



Religion in the organized sense was crucial and central to the lives of the Elves, especially of the Eldar, who knew the Valar as more than mere deities, but as personal figures of authority and esteemed and revered teachers. Virtually all Elves worshiped Eru Iluvatar (Q."The One") as

the creator of all things: the earth, the Valar, Elves, and Men (Dwarves, created by Aulë, are thought of differently, although they were adopted by Eru).  In this way they saw themselves on equal, though perhaps different, standing with all other beings.  Worship of Eru varied in nature; that of the lesser tribes of Middle-Earth worshiped informally, establishing no temple or fane more elaborate than an open garden. These lesser Elves, and to a degree their higher relatives, worshipped Eru through celebrating the beauty of his creation. They sang and wrote of the light of the stars or the sound of falling water, the sweetness of fruit or the luminescence of gems from deep within the earth. With music most of all they rejoiced in the magnificence of , for music was the Essence of Arda.

To the High-Elven societies ritual occupied a greater importance. From the simple oath, to them a promise to the Valar themselves, to great celebrations, rich in song, prayer, and feasting, of the seasons and sacred events of history, ritual was central to the society of the Western Elves. With song and chant the Elves could tangibly harness the Secret Fire itself, and with it they wrought spells of great power and subtlety more advanced and useful than any mortal technology, and so religious ritual extended even into the industries of the Eldar. Within their guilds and other enterprises, ceremony was present on every level, and amongst them social formalities applied to even the most basic of daily tasks.

Economic Practices

Elven communities, like any community, required economic support; as stated previously, their ways, while advanced and enriched by divine instructors, their communities were not so idyllic that within them there was no need or want to necessitate work or craft. All Elves gardened and cooked, lesser Elves hunted and gathered, twilight-Elves traded and crafted, and greater Elves mined, crafted, built, and wrought, and all generally labored even as did mortals in their society.

It is true, though, that the Elves had different mental and physical capabilities, and for two reasons their labors and works were superior to those of men. For one thing, their industries were almost always more advanced than those of men; with their vast intelligence and superior physiology, all of their crafts, from tribal woodcraft designed for hunting and gathering amongst the lesser kindreds to advanced technologies and magic to light and heat their communities, put those of men to shame. The most advanced High-Elves had already developed basic energy systems and manufacturing techniques ages before men had even thought to do so. Also of note was their physical capacity for work; even the most odious labor seemed not to weigh on them at all. With their extraordinary physical talents, and near-inability to fatigue, they could work for many hours even after centuries of doing so each day. Mortals thought that they "walked as if in a dream," and labor though they may, they sang and laughed as they worked and wrought. Even Elvish children, once again outclassing their mannish brethren, enjoyed and excelled at tedious tasks which would drive a mannish youth mad.

Physical characteristics

Body and spirit

Related closest to Men in physical form, the Elves were nonetheless a more advanced and developed race than any other, and in several areas they exceeded Men with unique features. For one thing, they were both taller and stronger than most Men (save the high Edain), yet they remained slender and lithe as Men were in youth. High-Eldarin males ranged in height from 6' to 8' (the tallest Elves, such as Thingol, Turgon or Penlodh however were almost 9' tall), and in weight from 140 to 250 pounds, respectively. The women of the Eldar were usually between 5'8" and 6'4", and were also quite slim (130-160 lbs), while the Avari were usually about 6' or even smaller. Even the children of the Elves were tall compared to Men; by teenhood of 50 years, most were already the size of the tallest Men. Although to the unfamiliar this race appeared fragile, the great warriors of the eldar were as strong or even stronger as the strongest among men. They were resilient enough to survive the temperatures of the frozen north to the searing depth of Angband's prisons, and yet not to break in body, if so in mind. Those of the Blessed Realm, under the administration and infrastructure of the Valar, were muscular in build from birth onwards, resistant naturally to nearly all blight from disease to poison, and at full stature were unquestionably the most physically powerful individuals in Middle-Earth. Once more, even the children of the Elves outclassed even the heartiest men in physical prowess; they could climb trees with more skill than squirrels, could endure the presence of beasts from which mannish children would flee, and could even survive decimation in the wild, alone from their parents. Elves healed quickly, and showed no scars, although they could not, of course, regenerate severely damaged organs or bodyparts, as some men believed. Their bodies were immune to all disease and infection, and were practically invincible, unless slain by extreme means. Should an Elf perish, by hurt or mischance, his soul, more potent and tied to the material world than that of Men, was transported to dedicated chambers in the Halls of Mandos in Valinor where, after a period of recollection, his body was reincarnated and was free to live in the Undying Lands- unlike the mysterious fate of Men, who, after death natural or otherwise, withdrew from the world in the fashion of beasts, to enter the company of Iluvatar and dwell in bliss by him, or worse remained in Middle-Earth to walk as wraiths.

Elves generally lacked the body hair of men, having not even a downy layer on their supple skins, though the hair of their heads was long and flowing, and was lighter and less fibrous than that of Men; always well-groomed, their hair was often grown to great lengths and trimmed only as necessary-- some could even personally influence the growth of their own locks, though long hair was often seen as a sign of pride and short hair as a sacrifice and sign of piety and modesty. Cirdan the Shipwright, Mahtan, Beleg Cúthalion and Tinfang Gelion were the only known Elves ever actually recorded to have had grown beards. These extraordinary individuals were indeed counted amongst the oldest Elves, possibly the first in existence for some, as well as some aged more quickly due to great sorrow and burden. Resistant even without it to extremes of natural heat and cold, the clothing of the Quendi was worn mostly for fashion, camouflage, and of course modesty. Their senses were extremely keen, with sight stretching over the curves of the earth itself over distances of countless miles, smell which could detect a wood fire through many barriers, and hearing which could percieve a voice from a deep lowland from as high as a mountain. Elves were able to see on a clear starlit night as well as if it were full daylight. Only in what a Man would have called "pitch blackness" would an Elf begin to struggle, and then still he could still see for many yards. Nonetheless, the infamous Quendian ears were not quite as sharply pointed as men often believed; they were more leaf-shaped, and this funneled sound deep into their ear canals. The most advanced of the Elves, especially the Eldar, could read one another in mind without the necessity of speech, and all Elves greater or less could discern sounds that humans could not; from deep underground, from high above, or from far around a barrier of land, for example, or the sounds of the unseen as well as the seen. They did not need sleep, in the traditonal sense, to rest their bodies as did Men and Dwarves; instead, for a few hours each night, they entered a sort of trance, a waking dream during which they meditated upon the beauty of Ea or in which they recalled happy times earlier in their long lives. Gimli son of Glóin made this observation as the The Red Book of Westmarch recorded: "...Elves may see things otherwise. Indeed I have heard that for them memory is more like to the waking world than to a dream. Not so for Dwarves." This is not to say that an Elf could not fall asleep, however; especially if alcohol was involved. For though the Quendi did not suffer trauma or endure psychological pain as did men, they were not entirely immune to the remorseful reflectivity of sorrow, and did not shun the chance to dim such feelings with a strong beverage. Wine especially they favored, being its first brewers, and while it took a potent draught indeed to addle their wits, a sufficient amount would induce merriness of a remarkable kind, and an Elf in this position could, in fact, fall deeply asleep; as was modeled by Galion of Mirkwood before Bilbo Baggins. The most subtle of all the characteristics of the Elves was the aura that bathed each of the Calaquendi. Those who had seen the light of the Two Trees in Aman carried with them a reflection of that splendor, like an afterglow of that first illumination, now forever darkened through the evil of Morgoth. This aura was not necessarily obvious, but the lesser beings of Middle-earth could sense it - a shimmer dancing on the edge of their vision.

Youth and Age : the Cycles of life

Perhaps the most remarkable trait of the Elves was their juvenilism and immortality; for they did not age beyond childhood or grow extremely old, and they retained even in later life the fair features of childhood. They were physically more akin to mannish children than to grown men, or rather men resembled them in childhood. From birth they had fine features and perfect, unmarred skin which did not weather, and their hair grew quickly and did not thin or discolor. In childhood Elves were invariably more handsome in appearance than their mortal brethren, and this handsomeness and beauty did not tarnish or grow dim, though wisdom and long life may enrich it. This was engrained into their physical nature; for their lives were far longer than those of men, and they were in fact immortal, lasting as long as Middle-Earth itself, and so their aging was as long and slow as that of the hills.

The Quendi were born a full year after their conception. Elvish infants were somewhat underdeveloped, but were not weak and helpless as the infants of men were; they learned quickly and with proper care developed strength within months, and most could speak, walk, and dance by their first year. Their bodies nevertheless matured slower than mortals, for Elvish childhood was long and gentle; they were young children until reaching 50 years, at which age they were equivalent to mortal teenagers, and only at the age of 100, equivalent to a man of 20 years, were they were considered grown to full stature. To men this seemed preposterous, but it was in fact a gift to the Elves and their children; for during their long childhoods, under the care of loving and gentle families and with much time for education and refinement of skill, preteen Elves outclassed even grown men in mind. After this long period of youth, they entered a second circle of life, and while matured in strength, their features appeared as ageless. Only in the depths of their eyes, or the immeasurable wisdom of their minds, could one perhaps catch a gleam of the ancientry of a venerable Elf, and then only for those such upon whom the weight of time lay heavy, such as the exiled Noldor and their monarchs. Many common Elves, even after thousands of years, still resembled and acted as beautiful, carefree youths. But this eternal life did not remain utterly youthful forever. While it was exemplified by only the most ancient of their kind, Elves became truely venerable only after many ages of existence, and through countless millenia. At this stage, an old and weary Elf finally entered his third life-circle, and at last became aged and bent; though their skins did not wrinkle, nor did their sinews weaken, their faces fell and became long, their hair lengthened and slackened, and at last males grew beards, though usually short save in extreme circumstances.After this they entered a stage they knew as "the Fading" in which they became more and more incorporeal until they remained purely spiritual beings, this however the Elves also attributed to the marring of Arda and while the Avari and a few of the lingerers embraced this fate, the Eldar believed their kindred in Aman were spared from this and remained in their second or third circle as corporeal immortal beings.

Elves and Men

Although early in the First Age the Wild Elves had been allies and advisers to the first young Men, only a few Men, let alone kindreds of them, were considered true Elf-friends throughout history. Many of the Wild Men and Men of Darkness were suspicious, opposed to, or openly hostile towards the Elves whom they knew by such slang-names as the White Furies, White Devils, and Pale Demons.

Elven Kindreds and Cultures

The Vanyar

The Vanyar were the greatest and most advanced of all the Eldar, and of all the Quendi. In form, they had golden hair and ivory-white, ruddy-gold, or silken-silvery skin, with eyes of clear blue or violet. They were the tallest and most beautiful of the Elves, beloved of the Valar. Ingwe was their King, under Manwë himself, and as such he was Monarch of all the Elves. Their musical and artistic skills were unsurpassed, except perhaps by the Lindar (Teleri) who learned arts and song from the Maia Osse. They were also unparalleled philosophers and scientists, and their culture represented the most prosperous and peaceful society ever to grace the Kingdom of Arda. No blight or conflict, from a child being scolded, to strife between dynasties, to any form of civil war or cultural conflict, beset these people, who were the citizens of Valinor under the law and teaching of the Valar. While their crafts and technologies may have been somewhat less remarkable than those of their Noldor kin, their magic was absolutely insurpassable, which their lords learned from Ainur themselves. The Vanyar spoke the Vanyarin dialect of Valinorean-Quenya, which was in fact the Elvish version of Valarin, the psychic language of the Valar, ancientmost in the world.

The Noldor

In appearance, the Noldor had hair of dark brown to raven-black or more rare copper-red.Ivory-, silken-,reddish or sometimes dark skin, and dark brown or grey eyes were common—with one exception:  the children of Finwe, King of the Noldor, and Indis the Fair. Their sons, Fingolfin and Finarfin, both possessed hair of gold like their mother, and the trait was passed to their offspring as well. This included, of course, Galadriel (the daughter of Finarfin). The Noldor were a noble and courageous race, who behaved with dignity and heroism, even under their Doom. Most of this kindred were of substantial build. Some of the greatest warriors of the First Age were Noldo lords, some of whom were able to hold their own in single combat with a Balrog, a great demon of Morgoth. Fingolfin was accounted the greatest warrior in all of Endor, surpassing all the other Elves and Men. Another one of the great Noldo warriors was Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower, of the house of Finarfin, who lived in Elrond's House in the Third Age. Below is an excerpt from The Red Book where Gandalf, in Rivendell, is explaining to Frodo Baggins what happened at the Ford when the Hobbit briefly put on the One Ring, and Glorfindel stood against the Riders: "'...those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and Unseen they have great power.' 'I thought that I saw a white figure that shone and did not grow dim like the others. Was that Glorfindel then?' 'Yes, you saw him for a moment as he is upon the other side: one of the mighty of the First-born. He is an Elf-lord of a house of princes.'"

The Noldor spoke Noldorin-Quenya amongst themselves and with the Vanyar in Aman, but the vast majority in Middle-earth adopted Sindarin as their everyday tongue, preserving Quenya as muchas possible as a ritual language for specific occasions. Many were also able to communicate in most of the western Umanya-dialects.

The Falmari

The third group of the Calaquendi had silvery white, sandy blond, or light brown hair, fair or darker skin and grey or hazel eyes. In general they were more of a mix of types than the Noldor or Vanyar. They were also a more numerous kindred, with greater opportunity for diversity. The true Falmari, who lived on Eressea, tended to be taller and stronger, with the distinctive High Elven bearing and aura.

The Umanyar

Less tall and lordly than the Elda kindreds, the Sindar and Nandor were never the less more noble than the Avari. All tended to be slender, possessing a wiry strength and great agility. Physically they resembled the Falmari, being an offshoot of that group, though they lacked the aura of the Calaquendi, having not seen the Light of Aman. Most, because of their preference for spending extended periods of time outdoors, had darker, lightly tanned skin. Not surprisingly, this group spoke Sindarin almost exclusively.

The Avari

These were the East-Elves, most rustic of the Kindreds, and most numerous.They were similar in appearance to the Noldor and Umanyar, but slightly lesser in stature, with darker hair (generally chestnut to dark brown or blueish-black, more seldomly also silver-white, sandy blond or copper-red) and dark grey or brown, sometimes also green eyes and often darker complexion. Spread throughout Middle-earth,they spoke their own tongues, amongst themselves, but when living with the higher kindreds invariably adopted Sindarin.

Genealogy of the Quendi

The Elven Kindreds

There are two ways to classify the noble Quendi, for their history states that they were twice sundered. The first separation of their people produced the Eldar and Avari:  the "People of the Stars" who made the Great Journey toward the Light of Aman, and the "Refusers" who remained in the East of Middle-earth. From the Avari,came the East-Elves of lore, who constitute most of Middle-earth's Elven peoples.

The Eldar produced the three great kindreds of the Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri, many of whom now reside in the Undying Lands. It was the Eldar who produced the Second Sundering.

Dividing before they left the shores of Middle-earth, the Teleri produced three sub-groups that never emigrated to Aman and never saw the enchanted light of the Valar's Blessed Realm. They, like the Avari, are called Moriquendi, "DarkElves". Their brothers who went west into Aman are called Calaquendi, or "LightElves". The Calaquendi include the Vanyar, Noldor, and Falmari (Teleri) of the Undying Lands—together with the Noldor who returned to Middle-earth—while the Sindar and Avari of Middle-earth are counted as Moriquendi. Thus,as noted, there are two ways to classify the Quendi:  (I) the Avari versus the Eldar; and (II) the Moriquendi versus the Calaquendi.The tree illustrates their relationship.


"'It is not easy for us to tell the difference between two mortals' "

"It is old, very old. So old that I almost feel young again, as I have not felt since I travelled with you children. It is old and full of memory. I could have been happy here, if I had come in days of peace."

“Farewell, and may the blessing of Elves and Men and all Free Folk go with you.May the stars shine upon your faces!” 

"the Elves of this land were of a race strange to us of the silvan folk, and the trees and the grass do not now remember them. Only I hear the stones lament them: deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone. They are gone. They sought the Havens long ago."

"Men multiply and the Firstborn decrease, and the two kindreds are estranged."

“It is said that the skill of the Dwarves is in their hands rather than in their tongues"

"That what should be shall be"

"Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod. We are Exiles, and most of our kindred have long ago departed and we too are now only tarrying here awhile, ere we return over the sea"

“Here’s the old villain with his head on a jug! He’s been having a little feast all to himself and his friend the captain.”

“I will not give you counsel, saying do this, or do that. For not in doing or contriving, nor in choosing between this course and another, can I avail; but only in knowing what was and is, and in part also what shall be.” 

"I have seen three ages in the West of the world, and many defeats, and many fruitless victories."

"Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in m home since then, and but a little while does that seem to us."

"A plague upon the stiff necks of dwarves."

"I say : Let the ploughman plough, but choose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf, or over snow - an Elf."

"Yes, they are elves, and they say that you breathe so loud they could shoot you in the dark"

"To the sea, to the sea! The white gulls are crying, The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying. West, west away, the round sun is falling,  Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,  The voices of my people that have gone before me?" 

"I go to find the Sun"