The sentimental and intimate life of the Dwarves of Dùrin
The sentimental and intimate life of the Dwarves of Dùrin.
A motley troupe of Dwarves and Dunedain, plus a hobbit, gather around a wizard in an improbable quest. Durin vigil, everyone talks about his hopes and dreams around a beer. But the conversation escapes the intentions of the wizard and takes a licentious turn...
- "... And what is the secret dream of our skilled Fràr? ".
The archer's cheeks reddened with a carmine almost as dark as his cap. Nudged by his older brother, he replied:
- "That is to say... it seems crucial to convince young dwarven lasses to join us to populate our colony. Mîm may be the first to bloom again our sacred dome...
- You're so good to devote yourself to the common cause!, cried Frerin, with a philosopher and not so mocking tone. But can you clarify whether you call her as a wife or as a queen of inspiration? "
The Dunedain exchanged surprised looks.
- "To be precise, she agreed to marry both of us, Gràr and me, as long as one of us makes a fortune!"
The dwarves' loud and guttural laughter rang out. Not that the dwarves of Dùrin were unrepentant saucy fellows, but the confused Dúnedain puzzled air was enough to trigger their hilarity. The rangers, attentive not to raise any issue that could excite the susceptibility of their allies, dared not to ask the yet many questions they had in mind, beyond the prospect of a double wedding, a new concept in their own culture.
Legends relating to the dwarves' love life or even reproduction were numerous. The absurd fable that the Dwarves were born spontaneously among rose-gems was still widely believed. That was obviously absurd, but it could not be avoided that the most outlandish interpretations would try to explain the apparent lack of dwarven females. For on this matter, every idle observers from the inns of the Great East Road agreed: nobody had ever seen a dwarf woman.
The most prosaic - consumers numb with their pint of beer - generally rallied to the hypothesis that the uninitiated just could not distinguish dwarven lasses from their male counterparts. Of course they were imagined wearing mustache, beard, armor, cape and leather helmet.
The most reasonable observers - often traders or innkeeper - assumed a practical reason, like the burden of a large family. After all, Marlowan Butterbur, the boss of the Prancing Pony in Bree, was surprised neither by lack of dwarven women, nor by the scarcity of female rangers in his establishment!
The boldest theorists - the most sustainably drunk bar pillars - were convinced that the dwarves lived two ages: the individuals were all born female; they grew up and could bear children until a natural transformation, usually occurring about the age of a hundred years, allowing them in turn to have their offspring carried by younger companions. By the way it was true that dwarves, generally at this age, lost any remaining youthful appearance, their voices went down into the grave, their muscles grew stronger and their nose especially, acquired a noble and evocative prominence. Thus were explained some exclusive manly friendships that sometimes united two dwarves, after the youngest had also reached ripe age.
The popular imagination sometimes granted them surprising or wrong physical incongruities. It provided short and ugly dwarves with intimate benefits that offset their appearance. Folktales took advantage of the legendary dwarven endurance to lead to satiety the forty girls of the ogre, and then flee the monster's lair with their blessing. As for the dwarf lady, she accumulated the flaws and popular fantasies, fairly inconsistent and contradictory. She was in turn the Queen under the Mountain who ensured the continuity of her clan with lust and liberality, and the unlikely bearded lady that no male did ever wish to meet.
But the dwarven folk, secretive and undemonstrative, did not seem to be offended by these rants. Few indeed were those who dared to mock a dwarf's face - nobody wished to learn politeness, under the redeeming strokes of a Dwarf who felt hurt by an inappropriate remark to the body hair of his old mommy!
But in this case our Dwarves were playing a lot of the obvious discomfort of their fellow rangers. Bafur, a young dwarf resourceful enough, painted for them an exaggerated picture, to tease his two cousins Gràr and Fràr, as well as to mock their vigil companions:
- "Mîm is the sixth child of her family, after five brothers, none of which seems to plan for wedding. She inherited the instinct her elders are lacking, and gathers all the desire for children of her lineage. Can you imagine the pressure on Mîm after all these disclaimers... This means that two spouses will probably not satisfy her! "
Fràr and Gràr protested with conviction:
- "Mîm suffers no pressure, apart from being embarrassed to choose between us, his favorites till ever! Why do you want us to force her make a choice, all three of us would feel like being torn apart?"
Bafur took a false serious air:
- "What could be nobler, as a matter of fact, than this reasonable agreement that would benefit everyone?"
Aghast Fràr assured the stunned Dúnedain that the sweet feelings of both brothers for the dwarf lass were untainted and the appetites of the beautiful one, though shared, did not exceed their siblings. Rangers looked at each other with worried looks, but Bafur persisted, while holding forth a hidden smile in his beard:
- "So Dwarf women are sometimes called upon to marry several dwarves. However this practice is tolerated rather than encouraged. For paternity can obviously present some difficulties, starting with uncertainty. For this reason, this custom has never been allowed in the direct royal line, as far as I know, at least officially... However, if both male spouses are brothers - which is the case of our dear Gràr and Fràr - succession hassles are thereby smoothed..."
The Dúnedain perceived they were played, but they struggled to disentangle fact from fiction in the contradictory statements of the jester, under the mocking eye of the dwarves' troop. Seeing the Gerry's scared face, Bafur insisted:
- "The dwarven females are very few. Valuable to our community, they are closely guarded, both to ensure their protection and to increase the chances of pregnancy. According to the arcane calendar of Dùrin, a reproductive is periodically assigned to the mother of the tribe, whose role is to ensure numerous offspring. To select the best parent, games are organized with physical challenges, legal and cunning. But it frequently happens that the winner withdraws by deference and in favor of the husband of the dwarf-woman, or one of her favorites."
This was too much for Thràin, who stood up and intervened with authority:
- "You should know that dwarf women are not as rare as you think. In Dùrin's tribe, we have just over two dwarves for a dwarf-woman. Of course, there is no requirement on anyone, neither dwarf nor dwarf-woman, to unite against their will. Besides, some dwarf-women do not marry. Of course most bear many children, without which our people may not survive! But I disapprove strongly that our youth indulge in such nonsense, especially to mock our allies!"
Bafur sat back, grumbling that he had not invented everything and that in the past, real tournaments had to be organized to ensure the sustainability of Iron-Fists.
Hirgon the ranger searched his captain's look to obtain Arathorn's consent. Since that was granted with a slight nod, he asked why he had never met any dwarf woman. Thràin sighed and answered:
- "It would be vain to imagine that dwarf-women hide deliberately under their cloaks or in our travel carts when traveling in Eriador. They would hardly honor the dignity of their prominent role! It is true, however, they rarely travel. Of course wearing beards, which suits them yet strong, can confuse men - or Hobbits! "
Gandalf, wrapped in enigmatic smokes, spotted some reluctance in the dwarf chief's speech. But the wizard had great fun about the Dúnedain's now free curiosity. Hirgon insisted:
- "But why do your women travel so rarely?
- Dwarf women are the backbone of our society, they are the weft of our lives before we were born. They embody the unchanging core of domestic intimacy, the epicenter of family and the hearth of education. That's why they rarely leave their homes for long trips.
- So dwarf women are entrusted with educating young dwarves? "
Thrain winced - he felt as deeply immoral to expose the immanent principles of dwarf privacy. His uncle Màr took over:
- "At home, the values of loyalty, honor, self-sacrifice and greatness are taught by the example of dwarf women in all areas of excellence of our ancestors: the kitchen stands near the forge, our runes study follows music in our halls. Stonecutting is a vital ability for families that grow. And tribal hunting leads to the art of war. Indeed our mothers put us on the path of work and perseverance. Only later fathers and uncles, or sometimes mothers' suitors, manage the young dwarves' entrance to the outer world."
Ingold ventured to ask: "In addition to several husbands, a dwarf woman may also have suitors?"
- "Do not get me wrong. Dwarves are not rampant voluptuous, Nàr said with a slippery knowing look to the hobbit. You must understand that few are dwarves to contract the marriage covenant. More than half of us are satisfied with a life of travel or work. Hammers or chisels gratify Dwarves with the joys of creation, better than would the passion of love. Our people stresses beauty and dedicated its flame. It is rare that we are seized with a desire to share a few fleeting moments of fervor with a dwarven lass. Most of the time, dwarves consider it a duty to toil for the posterity of their clan. For us Dwarves, the error of pleasure is nothing. The dwarf's passion is slow and deep, it is expressed by the creative sublimation of the need to leave his mark in the world. The bonds of affection between dwarf and dwarf-woman live in mutual understanding with the work of the other. Dwarves live most of their passion in processing and mastering what rock bestows - minerals and gems. Most single dwarves therefore dedicate their works to the dwarf-lady of their heart, whether married or not1 . And so our dwarf-women are chaste inspirers for us. "
Thus Màr managed somewhat to give back some peace of mind to the Dúnedain. Against all odds the dwarven concept of love reminded of some songs of men - the suitor dedicated his life and work of his warlike arm to the inaccessible queen of his heart, who bore him affection and protection.
Then Gandalf, surprising even Thrain, told them the memory of the most famous dwarf inspirer in history, that was the wife of Durin VI. Of great charisma, she ruled hearts with a deep intimacy with the mountain, its peaks and roots. Many dwarves of the royal family were deeply in a chaste love with her. She inspired both by the grace of her hieratic demeanor, and by the depth of her gaze. They competed in showering her with achievements that still increased her luster, and excelled in their art on behalf of their inspirer. The wizard concluded while observing the reactions of his companions:
- "The dwarf woman, especially of high rank, holds thaumaturgic powers which are key to Dwarf heritage: her presence transcends the dwarf's vital desire by invigorating the world with its unique creativity."
Gerry was content to listen to the debates and Gandalf's high conclusions left him puzzled. Chastity, passion for works of the hand and mind, sublimation, all this sang like a carousel of antique and outdated values conveyed by tales. He closed his mouth, that had been hanging for a long time out of amazement, and warmly welcoming to be a young hobbit, green and healthy, he smiled at the thought that he probably accounted, for his conquests - proved or to come – as a sort of merry thaumaturge of intimate teasing.
Old Màr, who hoped to resume the conversation on the topic of expectations and dreams of each and to include step by step the Dúnedain in the conversation, spotted this self-indulging smile smirk of his and bounced:
- "And you, Mr. Took, are you getting married?"
This text is a variant and development of a passage in chapter « Golds and Flames » of the Greenbook of Tuckborough.
1 That is how, in the Lord of the Rings, Galadriel, a Noldo queen, who understands Dùrin dwarves' heart, plays the role of this muse. He surpasses himself in battle as in the works of his hands and thought, for the love of her.