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TurnerMohan's avatar

Green Elves

Some inhabitants of first-age Ossiriand; the Nandor or "green elves" as they are called, ancestors to the silvan elves of the third age (who comprise the majority of the population of both mirkwood and lothlorien) are a step or two down in terms of cultural advancement from the Sindar of Doriath and the Falathrim under Cirdan, and quite a few down from the returning Noldor.

When considering the two broadest categories of Tolkienian elves, the Caliquendi "light elves" who went to valinor and the moriquendi "dark elves" who remained in middle-earth, I generally tend to think of the light elves - especially as represented by the noldor, who we get to know best of the three branches of caliquendi - as being like the Old Norse concept of the "Alfir;" these tall, fierce, regal super-human beings, mighty kings and warriors, great craftsmen and all around an "apollonian" people, whereas the dark elves I see as more illusory, mercurial and mysterious, less relateable to human (or dwarvish) sensibilities than the noldor; generally more like the Celtic conception of the "Fair Folk" (the Teleri have a foot in both worlds). Following from this, within the class of moriquendi, I visualize the Sindar as drawing from the more settled "civilized" end of celtic culture; they wear beautiful clothes and make beautiful things, whereas the Nandor of Ossiriand (like the Avari, with whom I expect they are more or less indistinguishable) are almost like white indians, very much like the early Roman recountings of celtic folk in Britain as these mysterious, near-magical, not-benign people; swift and sure as deer in the woods, and feral, maybe even painting their bodies and going partially naked. Tolkien had a very mixed relationship with all things celtic, and I guess you could say that the catholic Irish (of whom he was apparently very fond and thought represented the best of "celticness") are like the Sindar, having been "brought up" a little, spiritually, by the presence of Melian and the rule of Thingol (who is not himself a "dark elf") whereas the green elves are more that untamed, un-enlightened and (in Tolkien's veiw, inwhich "enlightenment" is generally a good thing) less "good" end of the celtic spectrum; dangerous and alien, equal parts Peter Pan and Magua. I imagine them looking down - unseen in the high boughs, arrows knocked - at some armored dwarven caravan transporting treasure under lock and key from Tumunzahar (the elves are remarked to have hunted the dwarves at this time, thinking them to be either animals or creatures of morgoth and, all tolkien's exhaustively blatant elf-favoritism aside, it seems the elves definitely had more than an even hand in starting that feud ;))

a note on costumery: like the native americans, the Green Elves of Ossiriand (prior to trade with the dwarves) seem to be  basically a stone age people technologically, not even possessing metal weapons. they are however Elves, and therefore natural artists when it comes to working with the materials of the earth, and I wanted their garments (which look like they could very well be constructed out of leaves, but by sure methods unknown to man) to reflect that; are they really sophisticated or really primitive? I think even up close you'd have a hard time saying for sure.

Part of the Weekly Tolkien Sketchblog
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scheepken's avatar

omg this is epic!

Izvin's avatar

Stunning. I adore that Native American or eneolit look (not that NA were at stage of eneolit, there were cities comparable to medieval London). Peter Pan (Puer aeternus? Really? Clever and bold connection...) and Magua comparison for the win too. And the picture really does sophistication and artfullness in what seems also savage. Slithering decoration on the arm is my favourite element of this, but everything about this is gorgeous.

Ghiznuk's avatar

Hello, Master artist, I used your stunning art to illustrate some background text on our Ninth Age French Facebook page, giving you due credits of course ! (link :

The text in question is about the biology of elves in our universe.

The Ninth Age : Fantasy Battles is a community wargame project, 100% made by the work of dedicated volunteers. You can learn more about it on the website

We are always on the lookout for new artists to help us craft our new universe, would be really glad to see you join our team ! Thanks again for your amazing work !

jubah's avatar
I absolutely love how they sort of blend in with the trees, and how the hair and adornments you've come up with seem really very original and different from the elves we're familiar with... it looks very interesting, i think they translate perfectly the feeling you seem to have describe in the comment of something "dangerous and alien, equal parts Peter Pan and Magua", while still having that sort of lithe beauty of their race... wonderful!
JeantineHobbit's avatar
This actually how I pictured the Quendi when Orome first encountered them, having developed methods of defense against Morgoth's shadow. ;)
ThreeLittleGirls's avatar
Wow! I love your art and the description below; the details to both are incredible!
Artigas's avatar

Another one that is spot on!

I love the equipment and clothes. It sums up the idea of primitive yet masterfully crafted things, simple materials turned into things of beauty and function. Japanese of old where masters of such things. They turned poor and simple objects into dignified artworks. I love this idea and think it matches perfectly the elven concept I have in my mind.

The colors here are also very nice and functional. No excess and no mistakes.

The only thing that upsets me a little is the composition, maybe that could be made differently but the rest is just flawless!

I love the way you draw the hair, specially the one of the crouched dude.

I am curious about two things:

-What kind of material do you imagine the outfits are made of? Fabric? Leather? Specially the leaves we see on the fringes of the skirt.

- What is this object on the hips of the tall dude? Antlers? Is it used as a weapon?

TurnerMohan's avatar
Yes! the ancient japanese were great at that refining, by skill and patience, of mundane working materials into art objects. It's definitely something I wanted to convey with the green elves.

as for the materials, different materials i would assume. I think it's safe to say something like silk would be an elven invention, along with alot of weaves and materials never used and largely unknown by men. I would think that some woven leaves and grasses found their way into woodelf garmentry.

righto, I was thinking an antler, used as a weapon (or possibly a weapon/tool for other, unknown purposes, as with some native american articles)
A bit late to respond, but weren't the Green-elves of Ossiriand vegetarians?

Maybe they scavenge for dropped antlers?
TurnerMohan's avatar
to the best of my knowledge they are never remarked to be vegetarian, and in fact their is  evidence that the sylvan (nandor) elves hunt and kill animals; thranduil (probably a sindar himself, but a king of a largely sylvan population) and his people hunt the deer in the woods, the elves of lorien offer the fellowship "skins" to sleep in for warmth, and the green elves of ossiriand used to kill dwarves, thinking them possibly beasts (although given elven eyesight, i don't really buy that last one ;) )

it's strange because it seems fitting that people like the elves, especially the woodelves, who live in such a close harmony with nature, seem like they would be vegetarians, and tolkien seems to have ascribed a certain wisdom and enlightenment to vegetarianism; several of his "wise" characters, bombadil, beorn, beren, the ents, don't eat the meat of yavanna's creatures (or her plants in the ents' case) and yet it doesnt seem that the elves are. i think of them as living in harmony with nature the way perhaps big predatory cats might be said to, still part of the foodchain and the natural order of things (rather than abusing the shit out of nature through industrialization, as tolkien seems to have a consistent beef with modern humanity for doing) but still basically apex predators.
Ragnarok6664's avatar
Like their wilder appearance, while still sophisticated 
Saraais's avatar
oh wow wonderful work! I love the textures and all the details!
Also very nice use of colours, I really like them! It's such a beautiful drawing, great job! (:
TurnerMohan's avatar
thank you. i liked how this one came out, glad to hear you do too :)
Nerdanel14's avatar
I love this! They look almost Native American - it's a great touch!
TurnerMohan's avatar
thank you, I was hoping that would pay off, and I'm glad to hear that you think it did!
045-lucky's avatar
yes yes yes i love this so much! very beautiful :)
deviantwin15's avatar
Wonderful! :) I love it! :)
TurnerMohan's avatar
thanks so much!
deviantwin15's avatar
No poroblem, you are simply a master artist :)
Jakegothicsnake's avatar
You know, if these guys had leaves in their hair, they would be very much like how I imagined C.S. Lewis' wood gods from The Chronicles of Narnia. :)
TurnerMohan's avatar
i should have put some more leaves in their hair, i was considering it
Jakegothicsnake's avatar
Maybe that's something you can do if/when you do Thranduil or his subjects? ;D
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