The first section chronicles the life of Durin the Deathless, eldest of the seven dwarf-fathers, and the founding of his kingdom in Khazad-Dum. Rather than show Durin as an a flesh-and-blood character, it seemed more fitting to present him as archetype; this great all-father, founder and moses-like lawgiver who returns from the dead at intervals to lead his children; Durin as he exists in the dwarvish collective imagination. I can picture this grand, ferocious effigy carved at monumental scale into some deep, long lost cavern in moria; the face of a god.
I was reading the Hobbit again these days, and was surprised to see that Tolkien actually depicts them as a petty scheming and even egoistic race, much like the bad stereotypes about Jews. I assume that later he changed his speeching a good deal, but as for the hobbit, the vibe was all different.
Great work here my frind, I am looking forward to see more!
That makes me wonder if the opening by which the gold-greed insinuated itself into his heart was the thought that, with all the heirlooms and other treasures of his forefathers assembled about him he had acquired in one fell stroke all the tangible proofs of the dignities he had for so long been denied - and would risk being broken into small pieces himself rather than break up such a mighty status symbol (an attitude which I would think helps explain his particular fixation on the Arkenstone - I suspect that the intrinsic value of the Hoard is far from meaningless to him, but that it is the symbolic value of this mighty treasure that means still more to him).
This is true, at least by the dwarves point of view. But you can see how much they are self centered at an extreme, egoistical and even coward at many points in the story.
Dont take me wrong, I like Thorin a lot too, and when I say he is not inspirational I mean as a role model, to his own he is very inspirational of course. Hahhah I love your description of Thorin
I never heard about this book before (things like this don't come by easily here) but it got me very interested!
It is no secret that dwarves are my favorite and that I consider your renditions of the subject the absolute best around, and that this costume book project is the best Tolkien related project I ever seen, so you can imagine how much I am looking forward to see it coming to be.
This comparison of all different social classes in just one panel will be so great! And you have the rare combo of deep knowledge of history and human nature as well as a sensitive and keen eye to detail and hidden between the lines information to make another masterpiece for sure!
It is great to see you working a lot and so motivated and growing! Keep up the inspirational work my friend!
You'll note that quite a number of Dwarf-families escaped Erebor even as their treasures were seized, which to me would seem to indicate that a dwarf prizes his kin and his fellows over mere profit - after all, family members are valuable and most importantly MOVEABLE financial assets in their own right!
The idea of Durin the Deathless as an ever-present force in his descendants' lives is a powerful one. Even with the threat of pursuit from Moria, Gimli had to behold Durin's Crown in the Mirrormere, and take Frodo (and Sam) to see it. I can well imagine the Longbeards in Khazad-Dum feeling the presence of Durin I in their surroundings as you have depicted it. The loss of Moria not only sundered the Dwarves from the shiny mithril, it also separated them from their ancient lord and his legacy of an underworld home founded by him for all his followers for posterity. On a more technical level, you chosen medium works well for an underground scene, with good stone textures and the dim lighting of an underground chamber with remote illumination.
I see durin as existing for the dwarves as very much this god-the-father type of figure (perhaps often conflated even, in dwarven mythology, with aule, like how jesus accounted as the son of god, but also god hmself depending on who you talk to); the first of their species, this totally larger than life character who walked the practically still unformed earth completely alone for hundreds if not thousands of years, recieved this divine sign of his mission and his place as the father of a people, and began to build his kingdom (presumably without even tools) slowly joined by other members of his spieces, finally dying after about ten times the normal dwarven lifespan, and then seeming to reappear in his line throughout their history.
I've always seen the dwarves as a very semetic people. many obvious parralels have been drawn - some affirmed point blank by tolkien himself - between the dwarves and the jews; their language, their history as a dispersed and often diaspora'd people of several tribes, their wealth, their role as merchants and traders and their position relative to the humans alongside whom they have been obliged to live as this culture-within-the-culture, taking mannish names and speaking men's languages, but holding on to their own beliefs and customs. Nowhere do the dwarves remind me more of an abrahamic people than in the way they seem to reckon their own history, mythology, and you might even say religion; their's is a history of these great old testament-style patriarchs, starting with durin, who lead their people to new wealth or prosperity, begin great works and so on (I've often liked to think that perhaps the tendency of dwarven kings to set out, solo or in only very small companies, to find either a new home or new opportunities for their people - we see thorin I, gror, Thror, and Thrain all do this, the last despite the horrible failure and very costly aftermath of his father's attempt to do so - is perhaps kind of a tradition and responsibility upon the kings of durin's line in a time of need, harkening back to durin's long time alone in the wilderness, which culminated in the founding of khazad dum)
The idea of the Dwarves as having Semitic social characteristics is still a new idea for me, for it wasn't until a few years ago that I read the citations fro Tolkien's personal writings where he described it. having been so informed though, the parallels all stood out and showed the Dwarves in a new light. (Part of the fun of being a Middle-Earth fan, the journey of exploration never ends. ) Ans like the Israelites/Jews, the Dwarves are a people apart, following their own way of life towards their own goal. And like the people of the First Covenant, they have found their Promised Land, abandoned it, found it again, lost it again, and longed for it from afar while struggling to live among strangers who do not share their values. To paraphrase the prophet, "By the waters of Anduin and Greyflood we sat, and sang of Kahazad-Dum." Elves and Men and Halflings sometimes engaged in a given-and-take of culture and language and understanding, but the Dwarves remained apart, and their dealings were always based in the needs of trade and war rather than any voluntary actions. So the Dwarves remained loyal to their own back story, and remembered it, and treasured the memory. "Next year in Erebor..."
as to the jewishness of the dwarves, as I mention to artigas above, tolkien wasn't the first person to depict the dwarves of norse mythology as a sort of fairy tale analogy for the jews. Alberich, the evil dwarf in Wagner's Rings Cycles was intended as a veiled analogy of the stereotypical negative jewish traits, and arguably the conflation of jews and dwarves - these secretive, greedy, devious creatures - had already been a thing in european folklore and fairy tale for centuries before wagner's time; certainly Rumpelstiltskin seems very much like a dwarf and a jew, in the medieval estimation, at once (that devious jewish dwarf trope in folklore is kind of what i was going for in this piece) I wouldn't be surprised if tolkien was very familiar with the conflation (by wagner and others) of dwarves with jewish stereotypes, and liked the general outline it provided for the dwarves and their culture as this secretive, patriarchal "people apart," but then sought to go deeper and, by his work, to at once redeem the dwaves of norse mythology from the mostly villainous roles they were relegated to, and turn around the anti-semitism of wagner and others by having his dwarves embody alot of the positive stereotypical jewish traits aswell; the dwarves in tolkien's writing are industrious, hard working, brilliant artisans, manage to hold on to their culture and legacy through a long history of adversity.
I think this side of dwarves has been largely missed by the forty-odd years of pseudo-tolkien fantasy world building begun with knock off high fantasy novels and games like dungeons and dragons, which tend (most annoyingly in my mind) to recast dwarves as these roudy, beer swilling viking types with a hearty, shreck-like scottish brogue (a trope which has in turn spilled over into the portrayal of tolkien's dwarves in the jackson films) but they don't really seem that way at all in tolkien's writing. they come off as grave and serious, and I particularly love how, as a people, they are very close with eachother and have eachother's back, moreso than men or even elves (it's easy - and understandable - to see the dwarves as thinking that men are mostly just drunks and barbarians; it's worth nothing to them that they are of the same race, a king of men like Helm will beat a kinsman to death over basically nothing, that'd be like a longbeard killing a broadbeam to dwarves, unthinkable, no wonder they hold men in contempt. And elves are just a pack of holier-than-thou hypocrites with their three kinslayings and all) that their shared history and heritage is more important to them than pretty much anything else.
The terrible event of Thingol and the Dwarf-smiths that leads to the sacking of Megoroth, a tragedy that poisons relation between Elf and Dwarf for many an era, is another consequence of the Silmarils, and one that shows how the Jewels got everyone in Beleriand caught up in their nets regardless of background or intentions. The Silmaril of Beren & Luthien married to the Nauglamir was simply too beautiful for the Dwarves not to covet it according to their nature. The deep significance of the Silmaril to Thingol for personal reasons akin to its beauty made him unwilling to yield it, so there could be no compromise. Murder, war, and ruin followed, with the Sons of Feanor only contributing the final act of Doriath's fall. Tolkien makes sure we all know the Dwarves are at fault, but at earlier stages he contributed the unearthly Silmaril cut from the Iron Crown, and the Nauglamir taken from Glaurung's hoard. So there is a lot working under the surface when Thingol tells the Dwarves to go to Udun. Something for your future projects, no doubt!
For me the true friendship between Elf and Dwarf is the ill-fated realm of Eregion. Despite the awkward period of the temporary residence of Thranduil and the former residents of Doriath, there was genuine friendship between the Noldor elf-smiths and the Dwarves. I suppose the audio book will have some recognition of it. It does seem like Celebrimbor and his followers could relate to the Dwarves on that basic love for crafting that was a genuine pleasure on both sides. Galadriel intitated the friendly contact as a matter of policy, but Celebrimbor made it authentic, as the design of the West-Gate shows for all time. The end of Eregion separated the elven realms from Khazad-Dum, so Sauron scored a win there. Indeed, the sacking of Menegroth and the re-labeling of Khazad-Dum as "Dark/Black Pit" show that the Dark Lords' strategy of "divide and conquer" at the most successful.
*I must admit I was about to leave things there, but for the sake of honesty I should also admit that this particular parting of the ways can probably be dated from my quick look-through of THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD - JUDGEMENT DAY and my first experience of Miss Marjorie Dawes, a librarian whose mis-categorisation of The Bible infuriates me.
As one who sees Religion and Science as two different faces of the same coin (one side saying "Why?" and the other "How?"), I do tend to see the sort of scientist who can entitle their work 'The God Delusion' as being quite as objectionable as the more aggressive schools of Creationism.
Master Mohan, if you wish me to edit or delete this post, please ask me and I shall do so - my opinion stands as written, but I would not wish to see a Commentary go to waste (or worse yet fall into controversy).
On the other hand I would like to point out that it's as unfair to lump a majority of the pious (not to mention the very idea of Religion) in with our fellows out there on the Lunatic Fringe as it would be to ascribe to all believers in Empiricist Truth the misdeeds of the Black Sheep in the Scientific Community (the length and breadth of Medical Science can produce more than it's share of Bad Ideas practiced with excessive enthusiasm for a start); I like to think that the wise man who wrote "Bad reason makes for poor Theology" is closer to the truth of my fellow believers than he he who barked "Kill them all, God shall know his own!" (the latter in my mind being sound tactics but extremely poor Theology - God will indeed know his own and be VERY unhappy with your mistreatment of them).
Might I please be so bold as to ask what the other nine illustrations for this feature will depict?
If not, I shall be forced to guess and risk embarrassment! (my bet would be that the Cold Drake that drove Durin's Folk out of the North, Fram the Northman, The War of the Dwarves and the Goblins, possibly even the Desolation of Erebor and the life of Dain Ironfoot stand out as the most likely subjects for such a series - although this still falls short of the full Nine, for it's been some little while since I read The Appendices).
I hope that you stay well and that your work flourishes as it deserves to Master Mohan!
try this on instead, was my personal soundtrack for durin's folk long before howard shore's recent attempt www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WKN0X…
Thanks man, and i hope you're well also