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Welcome to the Quenta Silmarillion, sit yourself down by the fire and hear the stories of old.

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Remember of our Art Submission Guidelines silmarillion-club.deviantart.c…

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Tolkien Illustrator’s First Aid Kit: Elves

Tolkien’s texts are notable for their abundance of characters, many of them mentioned perhaps only once, other playing very important parts in the stories. However, it is often very difficult to find any description of how those characters look, and this is what we, artists and illustrators, are usually most concerned with.:)
So here it is – Tolkien Illustrator’s First Aid Kit:woohoo: – a list of all those characters, whose physical appearance is mentioned in the texts, including The Silmarillion and The History of the Middle-earth.
To start with, the Elves. As we know, during the march from Cuiviënén they were divided into three hosts. Sindar were part of Teleri, so I decided to treat them along with them.

Vanyar:
The name referred to the hair of the Minyar, which was in nearly all members of the clan yellow or deep golden. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels: “Quendi and Eldar”

Noldor:
This <the golden hair of Vanyar> was regarded as a beautiful feature by the Noldor (who loved gold), though   they  were themselves mostly dark-haired. Owing to intermarriage the golden hair of the Vanyar sometimes later appeared among the Noldor: notably in the case of Finarfin, and in his children Finrod and Galadriel, in whom it came from King Finwë’s second wife, Indis of the Vanyar. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels: “Quendi and Eldar”
'They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finarfin. - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth

Teleri:
The Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe. Indeed they could hardly be told apart except by their eyes; for the eyes of all the Elves that had dwelt in  Aman impressed  those of Middle-earth by their piercing brightness. For which reason the Sindar often called them Lachend, pl. Lechind 'flame-eyed'. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels, “Quendi and Eldar”
Elwe himself had long and beautiful hair of silver hue, but this does not seem to have been a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally especially in the nearer or remoter kin of Elwe (as in the case of Cirdan). – J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels, “Quendi and Eldar”    

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Now, the specific characters, in alphabetical order:

Aegnor:
But in early youth the fiery light could be observed; while his hair was notable: golden like his brothers and sister, but strong and stiff, rising upon his head like flames. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Ambarussa:
The twins remained alike, but the elder grew darker in hair – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”
First and last of Nerdanel's children had the reddish hair of her kin – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Aredhel:
Ar-Feiniel she was called, the White Lady of the Noldor, for she was pale though her hair was dark, and she was never arrayed but in silver and white. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 5: “Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië”
She was younger in the years of the Eldar than her brethren; and when she was grown to full stature and beauty she was greater and stronger than woman's wont (...) – J.R.R. Tolkien, Morgoth's Ring.

Argon:
Arakano was the tallest of  the brothers - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Caranthir:
Carnistir 'red-face' - he was dark (brown) haired, but had the ruddy complexion of his mother.                – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”
Morifinwe 'dark' - he was black-haired as his grandfather. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Celegorm:
Then Celegorm arose amid  the throng  (p. 169).  In QS  this is  followed by 'golden was his long hair'. In the Lay at this point (line 1844) Celegorm has 'gleaming  hair'; his Old English name was Cynegrim Faegerfeax ('Fair-hair'), IV. 213. The phrase was removed in The Silmarillion text on account of the dark hair of the Noldorin princes other than in 'the golden house of Finarfin' (see I. 44); but he remains 'Celegorm the fair' in The Silmarillion p. 60. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lost Road and Other Writings: the Commentary to “On Beren and Tinúviel”

Círdan:
But this does not seem to have been a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally, especially in the nearer or remoter kin of Elwë (as in the case of Círdan) – J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels: “Quendi and Eldar”
Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Chapter: “The Grey Havens”

Curufin:
Atarinke 'little father' - referring to his physical likeness to Feanor, later found to be also seen in his mind – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”
He also resembled Feanor very much in face – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Eärendil:
Now this babe was of greatest beauty; his skin of a shining white and his eyes of a blue surpassing that of the sky in southern lands - bluer than the sapphires of the raiment of Manwë – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Book of the Lost Tales II: “The Fall of Gondolin”
As both Idril and Tuor were fair-haired, we can guess, that their child also had golden hair.

Elrond:
The face of Elrond was ageless neither old nor young, though in it was written the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars. Venerable he seemed as a king crowned with many winters, and yet hale as a tried warrior in the fullness of his strength. - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter: “Many Meetings”
Please note: this is a description of Elrond in the Third Age. In the Second Age, in his youth, he would probably look a little different, as there would be not as much “memory of many things both glad and sorrowful”.

Elwë:
Elwe himself had long and beautiful hair of silver hue, – J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels, “Quendi and Eldar”   
For fair and noble as he had been, now he appeared as it were a lord of the Maiar, tallest of all the Children of Iluvatar, his hair as grey silver, and his eyes like unto stars. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels: “The Grey Annals”
now he appeared as it were a lord of the Maiar, his hair as grey silver, tallest of all the Children of Ilúvatar – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 5: “Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië”

Eöl:
But Eöl, though stooped by his smithwork, was no Dwarf, but a tall Elf of a high kin of the Teleri, noble though grim of face; and his eyes could see deep into shadows and dark places. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 16: “Of Maeglin”

Fëanor:
He was tall, and fair of face, and masterful, his eyes piercingly bright and his hair raven-dark – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 6: “Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor”

Finarfin:
He was of his mother's kind in mind and body, having the golden hair of the Vanyar, their noble and gentle temper – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Finarfin’s children:
It was from  Finarfin's Vanyarin mother Indis that he, and Finrod Felagund and Galadriel his children, had their golden hair'- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth, Note on an Unpublished Letter

Finduilas:
Finduilas ther Daughter of Orodreth was golden-haired after the manner of the house of Finarfin - J. R. R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales, Appendix to Narn I Hîn Húrin.

Fingolfin:
Fingolfin was his father's son, tall, dark, and proud, as were most of the Noldor – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Fingon:
He wore his long dark hair in great plaits braided with gold. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”       

Finrod:
Finrod was like his father in his fair face and golden hair – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Finwë:
He had black hair, but brilliant grey-blue eyes. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: “The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Galadriel:
Galadriel, most beautiful of all the house of Finwë; her hair was lit with gold as though it had caught in a mesh the radiance of Laurelin – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 5: “Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië”

Her  mother-name  was  Nerwen  'man-maiden', and  she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor;… she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold was touched by some memory of the star- like silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”

Gil-Galad:
His sword was long, his lance was keen,
His shining helm afar was seen;
The countless stars of heaven’s field
Were mirrored in his silver shield
- J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter: “A Knife in the Dark”

Glorfindel:
Glorfindel was tall and straight; his hair was of shining gold, his face fair and young and fearless and full of joy; his eyes were bright and keen, and his voice like music; on his brow sat wisdom, and in his hand was strength. - J. R. R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter “Many Meetings”

Idril:
But fairer   than   all   the   wonders   of   Gondolin  was   Idril  Turgon's daughter,  she  that  was  called  Celebrindal  the  Silver-foot  for  the whiteness  of  her  unshod  feet,  but  her  hair  was  as  the   gold  of Laurelin ere  the   coming  of   Melkor – J.R.R. Tolkien, The War of the Jewels, The Later Quenta Silmarillion: “Of Turgon and the Building of Gondolin”

Indis:
She was golden-haired, and tall,  and exceedingly swift of foot. – J.R.R. Tolkien, Morgoth’s Ring: “Of the Severance of Marriage”
She was a Vanya, close kin of Ingwë the High King, golden-haired and tall, and in all ways unlike Míriel. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 6: “Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor”

Lúthien:
Lúthien was the most beautiful of all the Children of Ilúvatar. Blue was her raiment as the unclouded heaven, but her eyes were grey as the starlit evening; her mantle was sewn with golden flowers, but her hair was dark as the shadows of twilight. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 19: “Of Beren and Lúthien”

Maedhros:
Maitimo  'well-shaped  one':  he  was of  beautiful bodily form. But he, and the youngest, inherited the rare red-brown hair of Nerdanel's kin. … So Maitimo had as an epesse given by his brothers and other kin Russandol 'copper-top' – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”
The eldest also wore a copper circlet. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: „The Shibboleth of Fëanor”     

Maeglin:
He was tall and black-haired; his eyes were dark, yet bright and keen as the eyes of the Noldor, and his skin was white. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 16: “Of Maeglin”

Mahtan:
He usually  wore a band of copper about his head. His hair was not as dark or black as was that of most of the Noldor, but brown, and had glints of coppery-red in it - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth, Notes to “The Shibboleth of Fëanor”
Elves did not have beards until they entered their third cycle of life. Nerdanel's father was exceptional, being only early in his second. - Vinyar Tengwar #41

Míriel:
Silver was her hair and dark were her eyes, but her hands were more skilled to fineness than any hands even of the Noldor. (...) Her hair was like silver; and she was slender as a white flower in the grass. Soft and sweet was her voice, and she sang as she worked, like rippling water, in music without words. – J.R.R. Tolkien, Morgoth’s Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion

Nerdanel:
She was not among the fairest of her people. But she was strong (…) – J.R.R. Tolkien, Morgoth’s Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion, “Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor”
'the  first and last of Nerdanel's children had the reddish hair of her  kin'- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Peoples of the Middle-earth: "The Shibboleth of Fëanor”.
(...) herself had brown hair and a ruddy complexion(VT41)

Olwë:
The hair of Olwë was long and white, and his eyes were blue– J.R.R. Tolkien, Morgoth's Ring, The Later Quenta Silmarillion: “Of the Coming of the Elves".

Voronwë:
Then the Elf turned and looked up, and Tuor met the piercing glance of his sea-grey eyes, and knew that he was of the high folk of the Noldor.- J. R. R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales, “Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin”
As Noldor generally had dark hair, we can assume that Voronwë was no exception to this rule.


If you know any other descriptions, please let us now (comment below or send us a note), and we’ll add it to the list.:)

Edited by Breogán (28/4/12) & Sirielle (23/11/13)

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The Silmarillion-Club is a group on deviantART centred around the early events from the world created by J. R. R. Tolkien: from the beginning of time up to the ending of the II Age of Sun, described in The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales, The Children of Húrin and The History of Middle-Earth
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:iconanharaggadh:
Anharaggadh Featured By Owner May 9, 2014

I found something about Melian. A visual description of her is given in the Lay of Leithian:

There Melian came, the Lady grey,

and dark and long her tresses lay,
beneath her silver girdle seat

and down unto her silver feet.

The Lay of Leithian Recommenced p. 346

She have dark eyes:

"O! mother Melian, tell to me
some part of what thy dark eyes see!"

And old description from "The tale of Tinuviel":

"'What then was Queen Melian like,' quoth Eriol, 'if thou hast seen her, o Veanne?' 'Slender and very dark of hair,' said she, 'and her skin was white and pale, but her eyes shone seeming to hold great depths. Clad she was in filmy garments most lovely yet of the hue of night, jet-spangled and girt with silver."
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:iconsirielle:
Sirielle Featured By Owner May 10, 2014   Digital Artist
Thank you so much for the quotations! We'll add it to the set :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconelrondperedhel:
ElrondPeredhel Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013
Really, really nice work :D
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:iconsirielle:
Sirielle Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013   Digital Artist
Thank yiu, in the name of all people who completed this set :thanks:
Reply
:iconerzsebet91:
erzsebet91 Featured By Owner May 9, 2013
Ok, one more question about Elven appearance ( you knew you were going to get caught in your own labour, didn't you? ;) ). I've discovered only recently that the so frequently cited quote about Maedhros as being similar to Mahtan " in mood and face " may have been extracted from Vinyar Tengwar's essay " from the Shibboleth of Feanor ", vol. #41, which collects some previously unpublished bits from the Shibboleth. Does anyone own this old volume of the Vinyar? Is this quote about Maedhros appearance and mood really existing, or it is just fan-lore? Thank you!
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:iconbreogan:
Breogan Featured By Owner May 9, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Yes, that information appears in VT41 and it is indeed from "The Shibboleth of FŽanor". It states Maedhros was alike his maternal grandfather in face and disposition.
Reply
:iconerzsebet91:
erzsebet91 Featured By Owner May 9, 2013
Very interesting, thank you! I'm going to purchase this volume then, these bits of news found on the internet have made me eager for more! :-)
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:iconbreogan:
Breogan Featured By Owner May 9, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Well, unless you're really into linguistics (and have a strong background in the subject), VT will likely be a total bore for you. However, information such the one discussed is always published in other places, so you don't really need to buy VT to find out about it.
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:iconerzsebet91:
erzsebet91 Featured By Owner May 9, 2013
Thank you! I've read some extracts from VT and found them difficult indeed, but quite interesting... Sure I've not any strong linguistic background, though! Thank you for the informations!
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:icongold-seven:
Gold-Seven Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Wow, this is GREAT! I'd filed away most of these in my mind (or drawigns, but it's so good to have them all in one place and so well researched! Thank you so much for this.

Ah, and Aegnor's anime hair. :giggle: I've read that so many times now, but my brain refuses to remember that. I wonder about it anew every time I see it.
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