The Elves are the Firstborn Children of Ilúvatar (Q: The Father of All) and He gave them being and life within the Halls of Eä, specifically in Arda, the World. The Firstborn were created closer in semblance to the Valar, which is to say their spirits and bodies are immortal and bound to the Earth to thrive or decline as it does. This virtue can be either a blessing or a curse, for though the Elves are immune to disease, poison and old age, they can be killed by physical means or simply live so long; they become exhausted by the burden of life. But, in dying at last, they are not permitted to leave Arda, as the Edain may, but instead, are eventually reincarnated to live again. So, true rest and peace after a hard existence isn't their Fate, according to the will of Ilúvatar.
By the shores of Cuiviénen (Q: Waters of Awakening), the Elves first woke from the sleep Ilúvatar placed on them. At this time, there was no Sun or Moon, but only the Stars created by Varda, the Vala of Light. Therefore, the first thing the newly wakened Elves saw were the stars shining above in the darkened sky. For this reason, among others, they are called the Eldar, or People of the Stars and they revere Varda above all other Valar. But, as the first of living things with a speaking voice, they called themselves, Quendi, or, the Speakers. This is the general name for Elves on Beleriand, the Species name, which can be further divided as will be explained.
The name 'Eldar', though first given to the whole Species of Elves, later came to mean only those who followed the Vala Oromë as he led the new people on the Great Journey into the West. The History of the Valar and their first meeting with the Elves is noted in other NEWS files. For now, we will concentrate on the Sundering of the Elves, the reason there are Sub-species and the differences between them.
As noted, the first division of the Elves occurred when the majority followed Oromë into the West and they retained the name Eldar. It is from this group that the characters for role-play on Beleriand are available. The remaining group were called 'Avari', meaning, 'the Unwilling' and they, so far, are not available for role-play. The Eldar, to add to the confusion, are further divided into the Sub-species: Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri. Let's take a look at them.
The Eldar are sub-divided as follows:
Vanyar: The followers of Ingwë. Also called the Fair Elves. They are most loved by Manwë Súlimo. This is the smallest tribe, all of them having gone to Aman. None of the Vanyar are in Middle-earth, so, are not available for role- play in Beleriand.
Noldor: The followers of Finwë. Also called the Deep Elves and the High Elves. Their love for gems and beautiful things crafted by their own skill eventually led them on the road to pride and arrogance. They are most hated by Morgoth, the Dark Enemy of the World.
Teleri: the followers of Elwë and Olwë. Also called the Sea Elves and the Singers. They were the largest tribe of Elves and are even further divided.
See 'Sundering' for more information.
The Quendi are similar to the Edain in appearance, though they are usually taller and less bulky than the Secondborn. Since their bodies and spirits were made closer in nature to the Valar, they are usually more hardy and stronger, as well, though on an individual basis, these qualities might vary. Even among the Quendi, there are differences. Elves who went to Aman and lived under the influence of the Two Trees, the Light that was before Sun or Moon, are even taller than those Elves who never came to Valinor. Generally, elves have the normal range of hair and eye color, though these hues would be richer and more vibrant than these same traits among Humans or Dwarves. Elvish ears vary in form, but generally are more 'leaf-shaped' than Human ears. Their eyes are more 'almond' shaped, though not completely, and tend to be of the normal colors, as well. Remember, however, that those Elves who lived in Aman could have more unique eye color, due to the influence of the Light of the Trees. Perhaps brighter colors than those who did not see this Light.
A more specific description for each Sub-species of Elves can be found under the topics: Noldor, Sindar and Laiquendi. Keep in mind when you are considering your description that in all cases, a description that is within the boundaries of the theme of the Silmarillion is preferred. For example, to describe a Laiquendë, one should choose the normal ranges of hair color, such as brown, to sandy brown, while avoiding 'green'. Though Laiquendi are a type of 'Wood Elves', they never had green hair.
Please take note of the following table. It shows the breakdown of the Sundering of the Elves:
QUENDI / \ ELDAR AVARI / | \ VANYAR NOLDOR TELERI / \ SINDAR NANDOR \ LAIQUENDIThe Calaquendi, or 'Elves of the Light', were the Vanyar, Noldor and those Teleri who actually journeyed to Aman. These Quendi lived in the Light of the Two Trees and prospered from this radiance. The Moriquendi, or 'Elves of the Darkness', never dwelt in Aman, receiving none of this beneficence. This group of Quendi included the Nandor, and the Laiquendi; and, they, along with the Sindar, also were called, Úmanyar, or 'Not of Aman'.
The Noldor are called the Deep Elves and they love all things made by hand with skill. They prefer to live in halls of stone that have been designed according to their own desires, and to dwell in highlands or hills. They were friends and students of the Vala, Aulë, and they learned much from him concerning crafting and lore. They take delight in languages and scripts, embroidery, drawing and sculpting. The Noldor were the first to discover how to create gems and are master smiths unsurpassed save by their teacher, Aulë. In appearance, the Noldor are tall, have intense, shining eyes and usually have dark or even raven hair. The Silmarillion index states of Finarfin, "Alone among the Noldorin princes he and his descendants had golden hair, derived from his mother Indis, who was a Vanyarin Elf." (Of course Fingolfin was also Indis's son - apparently, however, golden hair, at least among Noldorin 'princes' was peculiar to only Vanyar Elves and some of their descendants.). They tend to dress in a courtly manner, or at least in an elegant, noble style and are fond of wearing jewelry and gemstones of many kinds.
The Sindar are called the Grey Elves or the Elves of the Twilight, since they never came to Aman, yet, they have seen the Light of the Trees in the persons of Thingol, their King, and Melian the Maia, their Queen. They are remnants of the Teleri who lingered on the shores of Beleriand and are further divided as those who dwell still on the shores at the Falas, and those who live in Doriath. They prefer to live in forests or along the coasts in structures made from the surrounding region, some of which may actually be up in the trees. They were most loved by Ossë, a Maia of the oceans and they learned shipbuilding and watercrafting and singing from him. Of all the Eldar, they have the fairest voices. Under the tutelage of Melian and Thingol, they soon surpassed all the Elves that yet remained in Middle-earth in skill and wisdom, until the return of the Noldor. The Sindar are tall and have a wide range of hair and eye color. They tend to dress in a practical manner and are not overly concerned with possessions or appearances.
The Laiquendi are called the Green Elves of Ossiriand and are a remnant of the Nandor, who were themselves, a sundered tribe of Teleri who turned aside from the Great Journey into the west. They chose to go no farther and populated the Vales of the Anduin in the East. After many long years, a part of these people chose to continue the journey and they came west into Beleriand and settled the Land of Seven Rivers. They were welcomed as kin by Thingol and they acknowledged his rule over Beleriand. In appearance, they are similar to the Sindar, but less tall and less 'wise'. They are indeed, Moriquendi, meaning they have never seen the Light of the Trees. Their homes are usually in the trees and hidden. Of all the Eldar, they seem to be closest in harmony with the natural world, and their attire and possessions have a more 'rustic' appearance as a result.
The Laiquendi are renowned archers and hunters, their skills easily surpassing even the more aggressive Noldor in this regard.
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