I Finally Settle the Great Hair Debate!: 1. I Finally Settle the Great Hair Debate!

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1. I Finally Settle the Great Hair Debate!

Author’s note

The Oropher referred to so often is Legolas’ grandfather and Thranduil’s father; High King of the Wood-Elves during the second age of the world.

And be warned that if you didn’t know that already, the following is likely to be lost on you.

*******

Tolkien scholars have spent more than enough time debating whether Legolas is blonde or brunette; so I, the Evil Old Woman, have decided to put a stop to it! Therefore I have assembled all the pertinent facts and run them through my evil old brain, and come up with the only answer to the hair- color question that fits *all* the facts!

Thus in the Canon is it written: In thousands of pages of trilogy, appendices thereof, Silmarillion, and ancillary writing The Immortal Professor never bothered to mention Legolas’ hair color, but did state that all Telerin Elves such as he are all brunette. Yet in “The Hobbit” he describes Legolas’ father Thranduil as having “golden hair”! So for years fans with sufficient time on their hands have been arguing over the hair color of a fictional Elf; and the politer fans have said “Nobody knows”; and the less polite say “Brunette, duh!” and rant about Canon errors in “The Hobbit”. (“That book calls Elrond an ‘Elf-Friend’ and not a Half-Elf! And uses the first draft of the Fall of Doriath! You can’t trust it blah blah blah!”)

To which the only reply is: “Bah! Canon is Canon!” If ‘The Hobbit’ says Thranduil is blonde, he IS blonde and Legolas could have inherited his father’s hair color!

In “The Silmarillion” and the various other posthumous writings The Professor went into some detail about Elvish ethnography, saying that of all the Eldar only the tribe of the Vanyar are blonde, and they did not leave descendants in Middle-Earth; having gone to Valinor well before the First Age and stayed there, except for the final battle against Morgoth and mopping up afterwards. Therefore the only way the House of Oropher could have Vanyarin blood is through intermarriage with the Noldor, but I must argue against that possibility.

There was obviously some intermarriage between the Vanyar and the Noldor in Valinor, and certainly some of the Noldorin Rebels that came to Middle- Earth had Vanyarin blood – such as Galadriel and her brothers, and Glorfindel. Could the Mirkwood Royals be descended from a Noldorin exile with Vanyarin blood?

I think not. The House of Oropher seems to have its origin in the nobility of Doriath, a group who developed strong anti-Noldorin sentiments at the first sight of Feanor’s stolen ships and held them as long as there were any Noldor available to resent. And who avoided contact with the Noldor for long stretches of time during the first and second ages, which was probably when Thranduil was born. And Oropher himself seems to have particularly disliked the Noldor, so it’s highly unlikely he had Noldorin ancestry or would have been willing to marry a Noldorin lady.

But if Legolas and Thranduil can’t be part Noldor or part Vanyar, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re pure Sindarin. Could one or both be part wood-elf? After all, there’s at least one blonde wood-elf, that nameless border guard of Lorien whose hair “glinted like gold in the morning sun”. There’s no reason that Oropher or Thranduil couldn’t have taken a Wood- Elven wife (in fact I think the latter more likely than not, the way Legolas refers to himself as an Wood-Elf and not a Grey-Elf).

But likely though that is, it couldn’t have been a source of blonde-hair genes - Wood-Elves can’t be blonde, either. In the “Unfinished Tales” the Wood-Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien are defined as being Nandor; Telerin Eldar like the Sindar, Green-Elves of Ossiriand, and Telerin Elves in Valinor - and therefore necessarily dark-haired. So the entire population of Mirkwood and Lorien *should* be dark-haired, except for Celeborn and Galadriel!

Which leaves Thranduil as a whopping big anomaly and his son as an unanswerable question. They both must be a full-blooded Telerin Elves, and by the professor’s own rules they logically must be brunette, yet Thranduil just isn’t…

* * *

So! I’ve been over ALL the facts and only one explanation for the “golden hair” seen by Thorin & Co. that fits in with everything the Professor told us about the ethnography of the elves, and it’s this:

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The whole House of Oropher dyes their hair blonde. They are of course are natural brunettes.

I can see how it all started… (flashback effect)…

* * *

Scene: The Vale of the Anduin, circa S.A. 500. A tall Elf with bleached- blonde hair rides in from the west, planning to con the ignorant natives.

Oropher: “I am Ingwe, King of the Vanyar and High King of all the elves! I have returned! Bring me all your gold and your most beautiful Elf- maidens!”

Nandorin Elves: “Ooooh! Him have golden hair, him be King…”

The scam is so successful that Oropher and his descendants have to spend the next 6000 years hiding the peroxide from the servants and pretending not to notice that nobodies like that Lorien border guard are bleaching too…

* * *

Of course the only piece of evidence I have to back up this theory is that Legolas son of Thranduil showed up in a certain recent movie with platinum blonde hair and jet-black eyebrows, but it’s undeniably the *only* explanation that fits ALL the facts!

So BOW BEFORE ME, Tolkien scholars - for the Evil Old Woman has put Ye all to shame by definitively answering a question that has stymied the rest of you for fifty-odd years! Find some other impossibility to occupy your minds – such as why Cirdan has a beard that’s long when the Immortal Professor repeatedly stated that elves can’t grow beards!

*******

Author’s note

Ingwe is the King of the Vanyar and is High King of all the Elves everywhere. I warned you about having to know Tolkien esoterica to get the jokes herein!


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: The Evil Old Woman

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: Humor

Rating: General

Last Updated: 11/05/02

Original Post: 08/14/02

Go to I Finally Settle the Great Hair Debate! overview

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