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Avari

Meaning: The Refusers

Other Names: The Unwilling, the Moriquendi, Dark Elves, Elves of Darkness, East-elves, Eastern Elves, Mornedhel (Sindarin term), Abari (Telerin form of Avari)

Race/Species: Elf

Description:

Table of Contents:

Summary
Description
— Relations With Outside Groups
Origins
History
— Time of the Trees
— First Age
— Second Age
Language
Etymology
Notes
Summary

The Avari were the group of Elves that declined to journey to Aman when summoned by the Valar. In early versions they were of the kindreds of Morwë and Nurwë, (an idea which Christopher Tolkien says "had been abandoned,"1) while in other versions it is specified that there were Avari of both the Noldor and Teleri.

1. The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar: Editorial Notes Note #12


Description

"Those Elves the Calaquendi call the Úmanyar, since they came never to the land of Aman and the Blessed Realm; but the Úmanyar and the Avari alike they call the Moriquendi, Elves of the Darkness, for they never beheld the Light that was before the Sun and Moon."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 3, Of The Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor


Descriptions of the Avari are mostly unflattering - one of the nicer things said of them is that they weren't allied with or at all sympathetic to Morgoth, as some might think:

"* kala-kwendi and *mori-kwendi, the Light-folk and the Dark-folk. These terms appear to go back to the period before the Separation, or rather to the time of the debate among the Quendi concerning the invitation of the Valar. They were evidently made by the party favourable to Oromë, and referred originally to those who desired the Light of Valinor (where the ambassadors of the Elves reported that there was no darkness), and those who did not wish for a place in which there was no night. But already before the final separation *mori-kwendi may have referred to the glooms and the clouds dimming the sun and the stars during the War of the Valar and Melkor,(6) so that the term from the beginning had a tinge of scorn, implying that such folk were not averse to the shadows of Melkor upon Middle-earth."

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar


"The implication that … the Moerbin [the Sindar name for non-Sindar, whether Elves or Men] were allies of Morgoth, or at least of dubious loyalty, was, however, untrue with regard to the Avari. No Elf of any kind ever sided with Morgoth of free will, though under torture or the stress of great fear, or deluded by lies, they might obey his commands... The 'Dark-elves', however, often were hostile, and even treacherous, in their dealings with the Sindar and Noldor; and if they fought, as they did when themselves assailed by the Orcs, they never took any open part in the War on the side of the Celbin [non-Avari elves]. They were, it seems, filled with an inherited bitterness against the Eldar, whom they regarded as deserters of their kin, and in Beleriand this feeling was increased by envy (especially of the Amanyar), and by resentment of their lordliness. The belief … that, at the least, they were weaker in resistance to the pressures or lies of Morgoth, if this grievance was concerned, may have been justified…"

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar: Author's Notes Note #9

" … but the Avari in general remained secretive, hostile to the Eldar, and untrustworthy; and they dwelt in hidden places in the deeper woods, or in caves. …"

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar


Description: Relations with Outside Groups

Tolkien has contradictions, in some places indicating that the Avari are "hostile to the Eldar" (all non-Avari elves), in others indicating otherwise, especially with regard to Sindar and Nandor:

"How far the descriptive Clan-names, *wanja, *ngolodo, and *linda were preserved among the Avari is not now known; but the existence of the old clans was remembered, and a special kinship between those of the same original clan, whether they had gone away or remained, was still recognized. The first Avari that the Eldar met again in Beleriand seem to have claimed to be Tatyar, who acknowledged their kinship with the Exiles, though there is no record of their using the name Noldo in any recognizable Avarin form. They were actually unfriendly to the Noldor, and jealous of their more exalted kin, whom they accused of arrogance."

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar

"For in contrast the Lindarin elements in the western Avari were friendly to the Eldar, and willing to learn from them; and so close was the feeling of kinship between the remnants of the Sindar, the Nandor, and the Lindarin Avari, that later in Eriador and the Vale of Anduin they often became merged together."

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar

There are equally contradictions as to whether some of the Avari may have been corrupted by Morgoth into Orcs. Tolkien never clarified this entirely, and in other writings suggested different origins for Orcs. Here he hints at the possiblility:

"…there now came forth in hosts beyond count the fell race of the Orkor, that had grown and multiplied in the bowels of the earth like a plague. These creatures Morgoth bred in envy and mockery of the Eldar. …Yet they were not of demon kind, but children of earth corrupted by Morgoth… But indeed a darker tale some yet tell in Eressëa, saying that the Orcs were verily in their beginning of the Quendi themselves, a kindred of the Avari unhappy whom Morgoth cozened, and then made captive, and so enslaved them, and so brought them utterly to ruin. ..."

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 2, The Annals of Aman Fifth section

"The first Elves that Men met in the world were Avari, some of whom were friendly to them, but the most avoided them or were hostile (according to the tales of Men). …"

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar

"It is said also that these Men [of Bëor] had long had dealings with the Dark Elves east of the mountains, and from them had learned much of their speech…"

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 17, Of the Coming of Men into the West


Origins

"Then befell the first sundering of the Elves. For the kindred of Ingwë, and the most part of the kindreds of Finwë and Elwë, were swayed by the words of their lords, and were willing to depart and follow Oromë; and these were known ever after as the Eldar, by the name that Oromë gave to the Elves in the beginning, in their own tongue. But many refused the summons, preferring the starlight and the wide spaces of Middle-earth to the rumour of the Trees; and these are the Avari, the Unwilling, and they were sundered in that time from the Eldar, and met never again until many ages were past."

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 3, Of The Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor

There are various versions of which groups made up the Avari:

"But the kindreds of Morwë and Nurwë were unwilling and refused the summons, preferring the starlight and the wide spaces of the Earth to the rumour of the Trees. Now these dwelt furthest from the waters of Kuiviénen, [ Cuiviénen ] and wandered in the hills, and they had not seen Orome at his first coming, and of the Valar they knew no more than shapes and rumours of wrath and power as they marched to war. And mayhap the lies of Melkor concerning Oromë and Nahar (that above were recalled) lived still among them, so that they feared him as a demon that would devour them…."

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 2, The Annals of Aman Section 3, "The Chaining of Melkor" §57

However Christopher Tolkien writes:

"The story found in the Annals of Aman of the kindreds of Morwë and Nurwë, who refused the summons of the Valar and became the Avari (X.81-2, 88, 168), had been abandoned."

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar: Editorial Notes Note #12

Tolkien's later version:

"It is said that of the small clan of the Minyar [Vanyar] none became Avari. The Tatyar [Noldor] were evenly divided. The Nelyar [Teleri] were most reluctant to leave their lakeside homes; but they were very cohesive, and very conscious of the separate unity of their Clan (as they continued to be), so that when it became clear that their chieftains Elwë and Olwë were resolved to depart and would have a large following, many of those among them who had at first joined the Avari went over to the Eldar rather than be separated from their kin. The Noldor indeed asserted that most of the 'Teleri' were at heart Avari, and that only the Eglain really regretted being left in Beleriand.

"According to the Noldorin historians the proportions, out of 144, that when the March began became Avari or Eldar were approximately so:
Minyar [Vanyar] 14: Avari 0, Eldar 14
Tatyar [Noldor] 56: Avari 28, Eldar 28
Nelyar [Teleri] 74: Avari 28, Eldar 46; of which Amanyar Teleri 20, Sindar and Nandor 26"
The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar, C. "The Clan-names"


History

History: Time of the Trees

1105
The Separation
Some refuse the Summons of the Valar, and remain behind when their kindred set out from Cuiviénen.

1495 - 1500
The Making of the Sun and Moon
"These things the Valar did, recalling in their twilight the darkness of the lands of Arda; and they resolved now to illumine Middle-earth and with light to hinder the deeds of Morgoth. For they remembered the Quendi, the Avari that had remained by the waters of their awakening, and did not utterly forsake the Noldor in exile; and Manwë knew also that the hour of the coming of Men was drawn nigh."

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 2, The Annals of Aman, Sixth section, §169


History: First Age

Between 1 and 310
Avari enter Beleriand
"Somewhat later [After Morgoth returned to Middle-earth] the Sindar became aware of Avari, who had crept in small and secret groups into Beleriand from the South. Later came the Men of the Three Houses … Any individual Avar who joined with or was admitted among the Sindar (it rarely happened) …"1

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar

Also in this time period between the awakening of Men and their meeting with Finrod:

"The first Elves that Men met in the world were Avari…"

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar


History: Second Age

"Elsewhere in Middle-earth there was peace for many years; yet the lands were for the most part savage and desolate, save only where the people of Beleriand came. Many Elves dwelt there indeed, as they had dwelt through the countless years, wandering free in the wide lands far from the Sea; but they were Avari, to whom the deeds of Beleriand were but a rumour and Valinor only a distant name. And in the south and in the further east Men multiplied; and most of them turned to evil, for Sauron was at work."

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

750
"Remnants of the Telerian Elves (of Doriath in ancient Beleriand) establish realms in the woodlands far eastward, but most of these peoples are Avari or East-elves."

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 6, The Tale of Years of the Second Age

"For there were other Elves of various kind in the world; and many were Eastern Elves that had hearkened to no summons to the Sea, but being content with Middle-earth remained there, and remained long after, fading in fastnesses of the woods and hills, as Men usurped the lands. Of that kind were the Elves of Greenwood the Great; yet among them also were many lords of Sindarin race. …"

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 2, The Appendix on Languages: Commentary


Language

We know that the Avari had many dialects:

"According to Elvish historians the Elven-folk, by themselves called the Quendi, and Elven-speech were originally one. The primary division was into Eldar and Avari. The Avari were those Elves who remained content with Middle-earth [struck out:] and refused the summons of the powers; but they and their many secret tongues do not concern this book. …"

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 2, The Appendix on Languages: The Languages at the end of the Third Age, §3

"… *kwendi. This word, as has been shown, did not survive in the Telerin languages of Middle-earth, and was almost forgotten even in the Telerin of Aman. But the Loremasters of later days, when more friendly relations had been established with Avari of various kinds in Eriador and the Vale of Anduin, record that it was frequently to be found in Avarin dialects. These were numerous, and often as widely sundered from one another as they were from the Eldarin forms of Elvish speech, but wherever the descendants of *kwendi were found, they meant not 'Elves in general', but were the names that the Avari gave to themselves. They had evidently continued to call themselves *kwendi, the People, regarding those who went away as deserters - though according to Eldarin tradition the numbers of the Eldar at the time of the Separation were in the approximate proportion of 3:2, as compared with the Avari (see p. 381). The Avarin forms cited by the Loremasters were: kindi, cuind, hwenti, windan, kinn-lai, penni. The last is interesting as showing the change kw > p. This might be independent of the Common Telerin change; but it suggests that it had already occurred among the Lindar before the Separation. The form penni is cited as coming from the 'Wood-elven' speech of the Vale of Anduin, and these Elves were among the most friendly to the fugitives from Beleriand, and held themselves akin to the remnants of the Sindar."

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar: Author's Notes Note #9


Etymology

"AB-, ABAR- refuse, deny, * abaro refuser, one who does not go forth: Q Avar (or Avaro), pl. Avari = Elves who never left Middle-earth or began the march; N Afor, pl. Efuir, Efyr (ON aboro). Cf. AWA.
[This entry as first written gave the root-meaning as 'go away, depart', translated * abaro as 'departer, one who goes forth', and defined Avri as 'Elves who left Middle-earth' (see p. 344). An additional entry seems to allow for both developments from the root-meaning: 'AB- retreat, move back, refuse'.]"

The Lost Road and Other Writings, HoME Vol 5, Part 3, The Etymologies

Notes

1. This is another area of contradiction. Despite other mentions of Avari in Beleriand, here Tolkien said:
"It is doubtful if any of the Avari ever reached Beleriand (62) or were actually known to the Numenoreans."

The Peoples of Middle-Earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 2, Ch 10, Of Dwarves and Men: The Atani and their Languages

Contributors:
Lyllyn 23Jan05

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