I (Ariel) have been listening over and over to Durin’s Song as composed & sung by Clamavi de Profundis and wishing (yet again) that JRR Tolkien had been able to write more on the matter of the Dwarves. I find their origins so fascinating and I suppose in part my interest with their history is precisely because Tolkien left so much unsaid. The Silmarillion, after all, is written from the perspective of Elves and so the only mention of Dwarves is naturally when they come in to the tale via trade relations or that whole miserable Nauglamir business. Or wait also if you happen to be a petty Dwarf, which sucks because woodland elves literally hunted them for sport. If anyone has any assumptions that Tolkien’s elves are supposed to be all ethereal and know/act better than humans, read the Silm. It is full of kneejerk reactions, racist assumptions, shitty behaviour, and complete lack of understanding of a people who operate according to a very different values system. The elves are down in the muck with everyone else, though some tend to have clearer vision when it’s not muddled by anger or jealousy.
Anyway. Were I a director or content-creator or simply had money that I didn’t know what to do with, I would look into the creation of a TV series focused on Durin’s folk, because I think there’s real potential. I was thinking specifically of dwarf women, actually, esp how at the beginning there were the Seven Fathers of the dwarves (mothers, too?)* and then there’s that line from Gimli in The Two Towers about female dwarves having beards and outsiders not being able to tell the genders apart (this particular discomfort with being unable to sort gender is hilarious to me and I enjoy whenever it crops up). Makes sense to me that it is interpreted as seven male parents when actually there were a few female parents as well, but everybody except the Dwarves a) lacks understanding of a non-patriarchal social structure and thus the word “Father” connotes differently than “Mother” so dwarves just kind of adopted that translation to save bother and b) non-dwarves can’t really tell the difference between male and female dwarves since they’re mostly trained on facial hair = male. Or at least, humans have that experience. The vast majority of male elves are beardless.
But think of the potential for cool wardrobing decisions! For example, it makes sense to me that it would be the dwarves who go out to interact with others and make trading agreements, etc. to have the intricate beard-braids and decorations to show off cultural prestige and skill, and for those who stay in the mines to have more utilitarian braids that get that hair out of the way while they’re working at the forge. These roles can be gendered but really don’t have to be – more like if a society were split between extroverts and introverts, instead of into male/female. It so happens a majority of amab** dwarves are extroverts who go out to do business with other peoples of Middle Earth and a majority of afab** dwarves are introverts who prefer to stay home BUT it’s not like if a dwarf is more dudely they MUST fare forth or if a dwarf is more feminine she MUST stay home (not to mention nb dwarves who just don’t really comply with either category because it takes more to run a society than tradmasc and tradfem roles). I get the feeling Dwarves are fairly chill and generally go along with the assumptions made by Humans and Elves because it is too complicated to explain cultural things to them and gets in the way of doing actual trade that they are there to do.
I think there’s certainly enough hinted at in Tolkien for several seasons’ worth of plot material. It’d be so cool to watch Feanorian family drama fallout from an outside perspective and to get to know some dwarven individuals from the 1st and 2nd age. Someone take this idea and go make art with it (but maybe also tip me at the ko-fi link in the sidebar or link back to the blog or put my name in the credits after the makeup artists or something).
This is kind of an odd first post topic but hey, go hard or go home, I guess.
*I don’t want to research this; someone else come out and tell me if it says that and where
**amab = assigned male at birth; afab = assigned female at birth