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Author Topic: Red Hair in Elves?
Eledhsúle
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Watching the Desolation of Smaug, I paid attention to Tauriel's red hair, didn't think much of it until I heard whispers online that Red Hair in elves indicated family blood to the Noldor, The High Elves.

I started looking into this because she's belittled in the movie by Thranduil, to say it shortly, she gives noble ideas to Legolas about not necessarily following in his father footsteps and staying away from the matters of the rest of the Middle-Earth.

Which caused me to think maybe her lineage to the Noldor explains her rebellions streak in Mirkwood.

quote:
In Valinor "great became their knowledge and their skill; yet even greater was their thirst for more knowledge, and in many things they soon surpassed their teachers. They were changeful in speech, for they had great love of words, and sought ever to find names more fit for all things they knew or imagined." ~The Silmarillion
quote:
"The Noldor led by Fëanor demanded that the Teleri let them use their ships. When the Teleri refused, they took the ships by force, committing the first kinslaying." ~The Silmarillion
quote:
"But Melkor had yet other designs to accomplish. Soon after with the aid of Ungoliant he slew the Two Trees, and coming to Formenos he killed Finwë, stole the Silmarils and departed from Aman. Fëanor then, driven by the desire of vengeance, rebelled against the Valar and made a speech before the Noldor, persuading them to leave Valinor, follow Melkor to Middle-earth and wage war against him for the recovery of the Silmarils." ~Wikipedia
All this sounds like Tauriel with her plea to follow the orcs and make a difference in the world they (dwarves, men and elves) shared.

But this is all grasping at straws if I can't find the link to the red hair... anyone remember anything of the sort, of defining hair color among the Elves?

( I know Tauriel is Peter Jackson’s movie creation – but I wanted to place the thread here because pros rarely visit those parts of the forum, I would think. [] And because it’s really about the hair color and if red hair has ties to just one group of Elves. )

(Edit) P.S: With the character Thranduil has in the books (and in the movie) it would make sense that he would be somewhat vengeful person, so it would add to the assumption that he would hold a grudge (and discriminate) based on hair color. As his Silvan Elves are described less wise than other elves, so if one elf (like Tauriel) has a constant reminder (red hair) of her "superiority" it might annoy him enough to be condescending?

[ 12-31-2013, 10:27 PM: Message edited by: Eledhsúle ]

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Galin
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Hi! Tolkien described that red-brown, or red, or hair with coppery highlights [depending upon the description one chooses to cite], was found in the kin of Nerdanel. Of Feanor's sons, Maitimo [Maedros) had red brown hair [he had a name Russandol or 'copper top' too], and the two youngest were red-haired, both named Ambarussa [Sindarin Amros] -- although the hair of one of the 'Amros brothers' grew darker with time.

Tolkien altered the names in a late text to reflect this colour, but that can get complicated [edit: but see below for my take on that, and possibly for a good sleep aid]....

... anyway the Noldor in general were dark-haired, although with obvious exceptions like Finarfin and so on.

I thought Tauriel was intended to be a Silvan Elf? If so maybe her hair colour was chosen to help make her stand out visually. I don't really know what they had in mind.

[ 01-02-2014, 02:33 PM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Galin
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Another possibly interesting thing is that Tauriel was once named Itaril, which is Quenya [Idril being Grey-elven].

That doesn't mean she was imagined as a Noldo but the Noldor did bring Quenya to Middle-earth at least. However, that said, I don't remember 'Itaril' being characterized as a Noldo either, in any early character descriptions. Anyway I thought that was a bit of a strange choice for a Silvan Elf, but I don't know who chose it, and then 'they' changed the name anyway.

Well, maybe it's not that interesting after all []

Possibly the filmmakers just needed an Elvish name, picked one from somewhere, and were told later that it wouldn't do for some reason.

__________

Edit: might as well add the nomenclature changes with respect to the reddish hair element, to really confuse things. Regarding the 1st, 6th and 7th sons of Feanor we have:

Silmarillion as constructed by Christopher Tolkien and published in 1977: [1st] Maedhros, [6th] Amrod, [7th] Amras

Shibboleth of Feanor, JRRT, dated 1968 or later: [1st] Maedros, [6th] Amros, [7th] Amros Amarthan -- and if Amarthan had lived, [in this conception still the 7th son of course] Amrod.

Shibboleth spoiler alert!


Here the 6th child and 7th child are both named Amros -- or, since the Feanorians speak Quenya at the point when they arrive in Middle-earth, both are named Quenya Ambarussa rather.

However Feanor did not want both sons to have the same Mother-name and called his 7th son Ambarto instead of Ambarussa* -- but with the death of the 7th son in the fires of Losgar Nerdanel's Umbarto 'the Fated' was revealed as the true form.

quote:
'The two twins were both red-haired. Nerdanel gave them both the name Ambarussa -- for they were much alike and remained so while they lived. When Feanor begged that their names should be at least different Nerdanel looked strange and after a while said: 'Then let one be called [Ambarto >] Umbarto, but which, time will decide. Feanor was disturbed by this ominous name ('Fated'), and changed it to Ambarto -- or in some versions thought Nerdanel had said Ambarto, using the same first element as in Ambarussa. But Nerdanel said, 'Umbarto I spoke; yet do as you wish. It will make no difference.'
So when dealing with the Sindarin names, in this conception the name Amrod is noted as referring to the 7th son if he had lived -- in other words, he would have continued being Ambarto according to Feanor, and the implication appears to be that this probably would have been rendered in Sindarin as Amrod. But again, as he died and Umbarto was revealed as 'correct', in Sindarin he was referred to as Amarthan 'Fated one'

quote:
'... of Feanor's seven sons only six were to be found. Then Ambarussa went pale with fear. 'Did you not then rouse Ambarussa my brother (whom you called Ambarto)?' (...) 'Then rightly you gave the name to the youngest of your children,' said Ambarussa, 'And Umbarto 'the Fated' was its true form. Fell and fey are you become.' And after that no one dared to speak again to Feanor of this matter.'
The 1977 Silmarillion doesn't incorporate the death of Amros Amarthan at Losgar, nor the name changes, and the names Amrod (6th) and Amras (7th) there reflect an earlier phase.

_______

*Others called the Ambarussa brothers Minyarussa 'First-russa' and Atyarussa 'Second-russa'

Russa, ros, is the 'red-brown' element in the Q. and S. names. Not to be confused with the -ros in Elros however. In this context Maedros is the correct spelling, compared to Maedhros.

[ 01-02-2014, 02:43 PM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Galin
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Or for the short answer, from a late text [sorry for the 'triple' here]:

Concerning Urundil [Nerdanel's father, also known as Mahtan]: '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.'

So it seems that reddish hair connects to a family within the Noldorin clan, but not generally to the Noldor I would say.

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Snöwdog
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Thanks for all the good information Galin!

[]

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Matoro
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I don't see any problem with Tauriel's red hair. After all, she's silvan elf, and Tolkien hasn't really told us much about hair colors of silvan elves. There was even a blond silvan elf in Lotlórien, if I remember correctly. It seems that some elves from every clan (Vanyar, Noldor, Teleri) didn't want to come to the West, so it's certainly possible that there is blond or red-haired silvan elves, too.

I don't believe that red hair is something unique for Nerdanel's clan. Why would it be? Silver hair doesen't follow basic "clans". Probably any noldo or teleri (or avari) could have red hair, just like humans can. It's just rare.

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Galin
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quote:
I don't see any problem with Tauriel's red hair. After all, she's silvan elf, and Tolkien hasn't really told us much about hair colors of silvan elves. There was even a blond silvan elf in Lotlórien, if I remember correctly.
You do recall correctly about the golden haired Elf in Lorien, but I would say Tolkien both [generally speaking now] has, and hasn't, told us something about the hair colour of the Silvan Elves. It depends on how you break it down in my opinion: A) author-published description versus B) posthumously published text.

A) author-published description [The Lord of the Rings Appendix F] generally tells the reader that the Eldar were dark-haired, excepting the golden House of Finarfin.

A1) coupled with this is that the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien were not Eldar according to The Lord of the Rings [note: this is not the idea presented in the posthumously published Silmarillion however], thus Tolkien does not even generally state what colour one might imagine for these Silvan Elves.

So according to author-published text, to my mind the hair colour of the Silvan Elves is quite open.


B) posthumously published text [Quendi And Eldar, The War of the Jewels] describes the Vanyar as mostly golden or yellow-haired, and it is from this seeming uniqueness among Elves that they come to be known as the Vanyar, which name refers to hair. The numerical names of the three clans were Minyar 'Firsts', Tatyar 'Seconds', Nelyar 'Thirds'.

B1) the reader is told that later through intermarriage this blond Vanyarin trait appeared among the Noldor, notably Finarfin's house. Concerning the name Vanyar, JRRT describes [Quendi And Eldar]:

'This name was probably given to the First Clan by the Ñoldor. They accepted it, but continued to call themselves most often by their old numerical name Minyar (since the whole of this clan had joined the Eldar and reached Aman). The name referred to the hair of the Minyar, which was in nearly all members of the clan yellow or deep golden. This was regarded as a beautiful feature by the Ñoldor (who loved gold), though they were themselves mostly dark-haired. Owing to intermarriage the golden hair of the Vanyar sometimes later appeared among the Ñoldor: notably in the case of Finarfin, and in his children Finrod and Galadriel, in whom it came from King Finwe's second wife, Indis of the Vanyar.'

B2) the Sindar generally resemble the Noldor, being [again generally speaking] dark-haired. Silver-hair is noted as a relatively rare trait among them. JRRT describes:

'The Loremasters also supposed that reference was made to the hair of the Sindar. Elwe himself had indeed 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 Círdan). In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe.'

B3) the Noldor were generally dark-haired and they hailed from the second clan, and the Sindar were generally dark-haired and they hailed from the third clan -- so I think we seem to have support that the Vanyar were named Vanyar due to being notably different in hair colour from the rest.

B4) in a late text the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien are said to be, or to hail from, Telerin Elves.


In short, in my opinion, from posthumously published description I think we can tentatively 'deduce' that the Silvan Elves hailed from dark-haired Elves, as we had a lot of dark-haired Elves in seeming contrast to the Vanyar.

Again, all this generally speaking. Exceptions can occur, and do.


quote:
It seems that some elves from every clan (Vanyar, Noldor, Teleri) didn't want to come to the West, so it's certainly possible that there is blond or red-haired silvan elves, too.
In posthumously published texts it was said that the first clan contributed no Avari. That is, all the Minyar/Vanyar went West; again who were mostly golden-haired. Thus we end up with Tatyarin Avari [Avari from the second clan distinct from the Noldor], and Nelyarin Avari [Avari from the Third Clan], but no Minyarin/Vanyarin Avari.

I think this works well enough with the description of dark-haired Eldar in Appendix F, if we think of the Eldar 'of Middle-earth' here, as the Vanyar had left Middle-earth long ago.

quote:
I don't believe that red hair is something unique for Nerdanel's clan. Why would it be? Silver hair doesen't follow basic "clans". Probably any noldo or teleri (or avari) could have red hair, just like humans can. It's just rare.
While it's true Tolkien never says reddish hair is unique to Nerdanel's kin [if seemingly rare among Elves], so far it's the only 'positive' connection we can draw, and by positive I mean something other than the general assumption that other Elves might be red-haired simply because it's a reasonable enough assumption when looking at the variation in the Primary World.

Especially given only the description Tolkien himself published, red hair can certainly be possible among the Silvan folk, but Eledhsúle was looking for the link in Tolkien's work, and Nerdanel's kin is the only known link to date...

... that I'm aware of anyway []

[ 02-19-2014, 09:28 AM: Message edited by: Galin ]

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Galin
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By the way thanks Snowdog...

... but where is [the reddish-haired] Eledhsúle? Not that I am looking for thanks or more positives [nor that I think that I deserve them for such pedantry, even if correct], but I just expected the thread leader back by now.

Also, fishing for opinions myself about the phrasing here...

'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. Her father had the epesse of rusco 'fox'. So Maitimo had as an epesse given by his brothers and other kin Russandol 'copper top'.

'... the first and last of Nerdanel's children had the reddish hair of her kin.' JRRT, both quotes from The Shibboleth of Feanor, late text, from notes on the names of Feanor's sons.


So does anyone interpret this 'rare' mention differently. I take it to mean it was rare among Elves, thus even among the Noldor, but found among Nerdanel's kin [as I say], but maybe others might read it differently?

If so...

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