Of Aulë and Yavanna: I (Origins of the Dwarves)

I was going to do this whole thing in one, but Aulë's part ended up being longer than I had anticipated, so I shall split them up. Refresher on Aulë:
"[Aulë's] lordship is over all the substances of which Arda is made. In the beginning he wrought much in fellowship with Manwë and Ulmo; and the fashioning of all lands was his labour." He is a master of crafts and loves 'works of skill.' He was a friend to the Noldor, and they learned more from him than any of the other Elves.

The Silmarillion, Chapter 2: Of Aulë and Yavanna
         Aulë greatly desired the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar, and because of his impatience he made in secret the first of the dwarves. But Ilúvatar knew what was done, and was displeased, for the dwarves had not free will and were servants to Aulë's thought. 
        But Aulë was humble and desired no lordship, wishing only for children to love and teach. Seeing this, Ilúvatar gave the dwarves wills of their own. But he would not allow the dwarves to walk in Arda before his own children, so they were put to sleep to wait.
       All this was secret from the other Vala, but Aulë finally told Yavanna (his spouse). He also told her that the Children, when they came, would have dominion over her works. Fearing for the things she had made, she went to speak with Manwë.                           
       Eru then spoke to Manwë, explaining that great spirits would come to dwell among the things of Yavanna's making. Their anger would be feared, and they would help protect her work from wanton destruction and disrespect, though the Children of Ilúvatar would still have need of wood and meat. 


"...for so greatly did Aulë desire the coming of the Children, to have learners to whom he could teach his lore and his crafts" he created the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves and taught them a speech he had made for them. Ilúvater, of course, knew what he had done and said "Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond thy power and thy authority? For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire?"

Aulë responds that he desired nothing of the sort, only to have things other than himself to love and teach. He is humble and asks for forgiveness, repenting of his folly and taking up a hammer to destroy his beloved work. But Ilúvatar has pity on him, giving the dwarves wills of their own, and they cry out in fear and beg for mercy. Ilúvatar stops Aulë, saying, "Dost thou not see that these things have no a life of their own, and speak with their own voices? Else they would not have flinched from thy blow, nor from any command of thy will.

Ilúvatar is unwilling that Aulë should be rewarded for his impatience, or that the Dwarves should come before the Firstborn, and they are laid to rest to await the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar. "But when the time comes I will awaken them, and they shall be to thee as children; and often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my will."

"Since they were to come in the days of the power of Melkor, Aulë made the Dwarves strong to endue. Therefore they are stone-hard, stubborn, fast in friendship and in enmity, and they suffer toil and hunger and hurt of body more hardily than all other speaking peoples.

All of this remained secret from the rest of the Valar, but Aulë at last told Yavanna who said "Eru is merciful. Now I see that thy heart rejoiceth, as indeed it may; for thou hast received not only forgiveness but bounty. Yet because thou hiddest this thought from me until its achievement, thy children will have little love for the things of my love [...] Many a tree shall feel the bite of their iron without pity."

It was the belief of the Elves that when the dwarves died they 'returned to the earth and stone of which they were made'. But the Dwarves believe that their maker, Aulë (their name for him is Mahal) brings them to the Halls of Mandos; and that Aulë taught the first dwarves that they would eventually join the Children of Ilúvatar. 

"They say also that the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves return to live again in their own kin and to bear once more their ancient names: of whom During was the most renowned in after ages, father of that kindred most friendly to the Elves, whose mansions were at Khazad-dûm."


  • You could say that Aulë is lonely. One can create many things, and follow one's passions, but ultimately, what is the point of making things if there is no one to receive them? A proper love of something is accompanied by a desire to share it. I'm sure the other Valar are appreciative of his work, but they have no real interest in it beyond the finished product. Yavanna has her own realm to manage. Of course he yearns for "things other than I am, to love and to teach them, so that they too might perceive the beauty of Eä"*. Those who amass knowledge only for themselves and hoard it (ahem, Saruman) become isolated. Keeping secrets can be fun for a little while, but they become burdens that one longs to share. Passions are meant to be talked of with others, knowledge to be shared, and skills to be taught. 
  • Aulë's willingness to destroy his 'children' cannot help but remind one of Abraham in the bible. 
  • It is interesting that 'free will' is a gift that only Ilúvatar can give. The valar can create living, breathing creatures, but they cannot give them life, or 'being' as Ilúvatar called it. It made me think of the modern day fascination with Artificial Intelligence. 
  • The disconnect between the dwarves and basically anything other than their mountains is explained here. At first glance, Yavanna can seem like she is being petty, but that is not at all true. If you think about the origins of the Children of Ilúvatar, though the Valar had no real part in their creation, the Children were still woven into a theme which included the Valar. An understanding/appreciation for the work of each Valar is part of them. The dwarves were created in secret and apart from all of this, they lack integration with the rest of Arda and it's inhabitants. Yavanna is merely stating an unfortunate fact. 
  • I hold with the Dwarvish beliefs because A) the elves are rather proud and prejudiced; B) Aulë talked with Ilúvatar about the dwarves, and he probably knows their fate better than anyone. That the dwarves have, over time, completely twisted what he taught them is possible, but I'm not inclined to believe it; C) I reject any reality in which the entire Fellowship is not reunited at the end of time.
  • That last quote suggest some sort of weird reincarnation vibe? 

*: Basically, the created universe.
"Ilúvatar called to them, and said '[...] Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it.' And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Ilúvatar had made a new thing: Eä, the World that Is"

See also:

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Lest there should be any confusion or matter of rights and whatnot, all quotes in this post are from the works of JRR Tolkien, unless otherwise mentioned. There may be slight errors, misspellings, or alternate punctuation in the quotes, and if you notice such, please inform me so that I can speedily remedy them.

Header image by Brandon Moore: http://www.artofbrandonmoore.com/blog/?page_id=359
Aulë by Janka Lateckova: http://jankalateckova.deviantart.com/
The Seven Dwarf Lords: Property of New Line

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