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Petty-dwarves

Other Names: Noegyth Nibin, Nibin-Nogrim, Nibin-noeg, (Levain) Tad-dail

Location(s): Beleriand, Nargothrond, Amon Rûdh

Race/Species: Dwarf

Dates: First Age

Description:
Dwarves that were banished in ancient days from the great Dwarf-cities of the east, and long before the return of Morgoth they wandered westward into Beleriand; but they became diminished in stature and in smith-craft, and they took to lives of stealth, walking with bowed shoulders and furtive steps. Before the Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost came west over the mountains the Elves of Beleriand knew not what these others were, and they hunted them, and slew them; but afterwards they let them alone, and they were called Noegyth Nibin, the Petty-Dwarves, in the Sindarin tongue. They loved none but themselves, and if they feared and hated the Orcs, they hated the Eldar no less, and the Exiles most of all; for the Noldor, they said, had stolen their lands and their homes. Long ere King Finrod Felagund came over the Sea, the caves of Nargothrond were discovered by them, and by them its delving was begun; and beneath the crown of Amon Rûdh, the Bald Hill, the slow hands of the Petty-Dwarves had bored and deepened the caves through the long years that they dwelt there, untroubled by the Grey-elves of the woods. But now at last they had dwindled and died out of Middle-earth, all save Mîm and his two sons; and Mîm was old even in the reckoning of Dwarves, old and forgotten. And in his halls the smithies were idle, and the axes rusted, and their name was remembered only in ancient tales of Doriath and Nargothrond.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 21, Of Túrin Turambar

The Eldar did not at first recognize [the Petty-dwarves] as Incarnates, for they seldom caught sight of them in clear light. They only became aware of their existence indeed when they attacked the Eldar by stealth at night, or if they caught them alone in wild places. The Eldar therefore thought that they were a kind of cunning two-legged animals living in caves, and they called them Levain tad-dail [1], or simply Tad-dail, and they hunted them. But after the Eldar had made the acquaintance of the Naugrim, the Tad-dail were recognized as a variety of Dwarves and were left alone. There were then few of them surviving, and they were very wary, and too fearful to attack any Elf, unless their hiding-places were approached too nearly. The Sindar gave them the names Nogotheg 'Dwarf-let', or Nogoth niben 'Petty Dwarf'.

The great Dwarves despised the Petty-dwarves, who were (it is said) the descendants of Dwarves who had left or been driven out from the Communities, being deformed or undersized, or slothful and rebellious. But they still acknowledged their kinship and resented any injuries done to them. Indeed it was one of their grievances against the Eldar that they had hunted and slain their lesser kin, who had settled in Beleriand before the Elves came there. This grievance was set aside, when treaties were made between the Dwarves and the Sindar, in consideration of the plea that the Petty-dwarves had never declared themselves to the Eldar, nor presented any claims to land or habitations, but had at once attacked the newcomers in darkness and ambush. But the grievance still smouldered, as was later seen in the case of Mim, the only Petty-dwarf who played a memorable part in the Annals of Beleriand. The Noldor, for use in Quenya, translated these Sindarin names for the Petty-dwarves by Attalyar 'Bipeds', and Pikinau-kor or Pitya-naukor.

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar: Appendix B: Elvish names for the Dwarves

The Dwarves were in a special position. They claimed to have known Beleriand before even the Eldar first came there; and there do appear to have been small groups dwelling furtively in the highlands west of Sirion from a very early date: they attacked and waylaid the Elves by stealth, and the Elves did not at first recognize them as Incarnates, but thought them to be some kind of cunning animal, and hunted them. By their own account they were fugitives, driven into the wilderness by their own kin further east, and later they were called the Noegyth Nibin or Petty-dwarves, for they had become smaller than the norm of their kind, and filled with hate for all other creatures.

When the Elves met the powerful Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost, in the eastern side of the Mountains, they recognized them as Incarnates, for they had skill in many crafts, and learned the Elvish speech readily for purposes of traffic.

The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar: Author's Notes to Quendi and Eldar, Note 7

[Three] hooded shapes, grey-clad, going stealthily among the stones. They were burdened each with a great sack, but they went swiftly for all that

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Of Mîm the Dwarf

[Turin describes Mîm:] It is old and small, […] it is bearded. […] Poor you seem, Mîm, though that is strange in a Dwarf.

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Of Mîm the Dwarf

[Mîm is described as] sitting […] silent and still as stone, save for his sleepless eyes that glinted as they roved in the dark… [The] heavy lids of his eyes were closed, and the morning-light showed him withered and shrunken with age.

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Of Mîm the Dwarf

[Mîm:] "Do not put bonds on a Dwarf! He will not forgive it.”

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Of Mîm the Dwarf

Skills

[In Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Of Mîm the Dwarf, Mîm reveals that Petty-dwarves know how to find earth-bread, edible roots that other races, including Elves, do not know about.]

In storage Mîm had more arts than they, and he had many vessels and chests of stone and wood that looked to be of great age.

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Appendix

A small room that led out of the inner hall and had a hearth […] There Mîm would work a times, but would not allow others to be with him.

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Appendix

[Mîm mourns for his son:] "Khîm, Khîm, Khîm!" the old Dwarf wailed, tearing at his beard… [They] slept uneasily for the wailing of Mîm and of Ibun, his other son. When that ceased they could not tell; but when they woke at last the Dwarves were gone, and the chamber was closed by a stone.

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Of Mîm the Dwarf

Language

[Mîm] muttered in a strange tongue that seemed harsh with ancient hatred.

Unfinished Tales, Part 1, Ch 2, Narn I Hîn Húrin: Of Mîm the Dwarf

[Note: while there appears to be no specific information on the language of the Petty-dwarves, it seems likely, in light of the texts cited above regarding the Petty-dwarves having been exiled from other dwarf communities, that they spoke Khuzdul (Dwarvish) or a dialect of it.]


Note on Etymology

Levain tad-dail means, broadly speaking, “biped animals”

From The Lost Road and Other Writings, HoME Vol 5, Part 3 The Etymologies, tad means ‘two’ and teil (dail) means feet; in The War of the Jewels, HoME Vol 11, Part 4, Quendi and Eldar: Author's Notes to Quendi and Eldar Note 33, it states: S lavan, pl. levain, 'animal', usually only applied to four-footed beasts, and never to reptiles or birds.

Contributors:
Tanaqui 11.13.04, UT quotations added 11.15.04, skills added 11.16.04, information from HoMe added 11.22.04

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