DWARFS

In the myths belonging to the traditional pre-Christian religion of Scandinavian communities, the Dwarfs are described as a specific breed. Similar to humans, but of smaller stature, Dwarfs emerged from the earth like worms after the creation of the world. They were born spontaneously from petrified bones, from the blood that became water and the rotting flesh of the prehistoric giant Ymir, who was killed by Odin and his brothers; Odin and his brothers gave to the Dwarfs, or Dvengar, an anthropomorphic aspect and endowed them with intelligence. So it was that the industrious people of the subsurface were born. The Dwarfs’ skilled hands created many of the most famous objects of Norse mythology. Among them we can mention: Mjollnir, Thor's hammer, Gullimbursti, the battle boar with gold bristle that belongs to the god Freyr, his ship named Skioblaonir, Draupnir, the gold ring of Odin and his spear named Gungnir, Sif’s gold hair, and the collar Brisingamen owned by Freya.

The Dwarfs do not live in a particular place; in fact, the various sub-races, in which they developed themselves, populated forests, hills, and ditches. Most frequently we can encounter the Dwarfs of the mountains; they dig tunnels and galleries, where they established their kingdom; the main reason for their prosperity and wealth lies in metals and rocks they are used to extract from the mountains. In these mountains, the Dwarfs built high and spacious rooms and galleries to make this a great place to live and to impress visitors (as an example we can mention the rooms of the Dwarfs kingdom in "The Hobbit" movie). Generally, a Dwarfs kingdom is structured around a monarchy or an oligarchy; in the second case, a king and a council of wise men, or a small number of elders, usually descendants of the kingdom’s founders, make the decisions.

Their height (between one meter and one meter and a half) did not prevent them to be the strongest race in hand-to-hand combat; in fact, the Dwarfs are brawny and compact enough to weigh as much as a human being or even more (according to some legends the Dwarfs can weigh up to 250 kg). They have developed muscles, thanks to the work in the mines and forges, they have brown or reddish hair and beard gathered in long braids adorned with rings and jewellery of all kinds; the beard is an important element in the Dwarf’s personality, because it symbolizes strength and wisdom. If a Dwarf is guilty of serious crimes, the beard is cut and the skin is burned so as to prevent the beard from growing back. The Dwarfs are described as extremely long-lived, perhaps immortal; in some legends, which tell of their birth from the rock, the females are absent. In others, the Dwarfs describe the females as beautiful, although some of them had beard and a deep voice. The Dwarfs were fearless warriors: they loved to fight hand-to-hand, using weapons such as axes, hammers, picks, and urgrosh (a spear-axe). Although most of the Dwarfs had a negative perception of the mystery, as it was considered the fruit of evil and bringer of misfortune, some of them were devoted to magic, especially in the runes doctrines; for this reason, these Dwarfs were called Runesmiths. The Dwarfs wore heavy armours that did not prevent them from agile movements due to the fact that they were physically very strong. You only need to read a story where they are protagonists to understand that they are sociable people, cheerful, especially in front of a glass of beer, but also suspicious of foreigners. Dwarfs can also be greedy, but they are never violent; in fact, they dig mountains in search of valuables, they trade, but they do not attack other people to steal their wealth. Dwarfs are also proud of their race and they consider it the best. They never fight each other because they consider themselves as brothers and sisters, linked by a single-family tie. If they quarrelled among themselves, they will be banished from the group. Dwarfs are very stubborn; in fact, they would never change a decision, once it has been taken, unless it is a respectable person or a person that belongs to the upper hierarchy to ask for it; they are also loyal like no other race. With the end of the epic Viking and with the complete Christianization of the land of the North, Elves and Dwarfs ceased to play a central role in mythology, so that they only survived in folklore and fairy tales. Nowadays, thanks to literature and fantasy games, they enjoy good health. For this reason, it is easy to “physically” represent them. In folk tales, such as Snow White, the Dwarfs kept their character of industrious and greedy lords of the subsoil, while the Tolkien novels ennoble their image and representation, stripping them of their supernatural character, giving us a more authentic description. It remains difficult to understand who or what the Dvergar exactly were in Nordic myth.

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