Before the Quendi had circlets, or even clothes, they had beautiful hair.
Imin, the first to awaken by the waters of Cuiviénen, and his mate, Iminyë, had hair of spun gold, and wherever they went, a halo of light shone around them.
Tata, next among the Quendi, and Tatië his spouse, had hair of bluish-black, the colour of the night sky and the sheen of the waters by which they awoke.
Third to wake was Enel, whose mate was Enelyë, and they had hair of silver, like the stars that twinkled above them.
Now, of their people, and of their division into Minyar, Tatyar and Nelyar, is not the story told elsewhere? But wakened from their slumber, the Quendi saw their reflections in the waters of Cuiviénen and cried, Phindë! Phindë! in wonder at their beautiful hair. Time moved forward and more Elves were begotten. The Nelyar learnt to fish, the Tatyar began to hew tools from stone and the Minyar composed the first poems. (This last was somewhat unsuccessful, for the Tatyar had only invented a few words at this time.)
Perhaps a generation or two had passed when a Nelyarin maid came running to Enel and Enelyë. "See what I have made!" She shook out a great swatch of material. "It is a cloak. When worn, you will blend into tree and shadow, and so be invisible to Orcs."
"This is wonderful!" Enelyë exclaimed. "But what are Orcs?"
"I am not sure - the Tatyar have not yet made a meaning for the word yet."
Imin, standing nearby, felt rather sad. "The Nelyar and Tatyar have given many new things to the Quendi, but the Minyar only make poems - which are not terribly useful."
"Let us hold a contest," Iminyë suggested.
"Excellent! Surely our people, the most beautiful and wise of all the Quendi, will create many great works." Therefore, he gathered his folk and announced that he would bestow great honours upon the elf with the most clever invention. "And useful," he added. "It must be useful."
The Minyar set to work, and at the appointed time, returned to Imin and Iminyë to display their crafts. First among their people was their son, Ingwë, who proudly unrolled what he called a parchment.
"But how is this useful, my son?"
Ingwë conceded that the Tatyar had not yet invented writing. "But it will be thought most ingenious, this parchment," he promised.
Next was their daughter, Indis, who set before them a harp. "The Nelyar have not yet composed music for it, but it will be a wondrous thing to hear!"
"Can we make nothing save with the arts of the Tatyar and the Minyar?" Imin lamented.
Imin turned to a young elf named Vidalwë. "Please tell me that you have invented something useful."
"Oh, yes!" Vidalwë cast back his hood with a flourish, and all marvelled at his hair. "They are called braids, my lord. They will keep your hair from tangling in the trees and falling into your eyes."
Imin clapped his hands in delight. "This is exactly what I wished to see!" He took Vidalwë's arm. "Come! We must show these miraculous braids to the others."
Tata and Enel expressed great awe. "Show us how this is done," Tata said.
"Olwë, my son! Come hither and let this elf make magical braids of your hair!" Enel called.
Vidalwë wove many braids into Olwë's hair, and afterward, Olwë stood by the water admiring his reflection. Meanwhile, the others converged upon Vidalwë, for all the Quendi desired to have braids in their hair.
Just then, Finwë came hasting to speak with his father. "I have made the most remarkable thing." With great pride, he drew a long piece of metal from his belt. "I call it a sword."
"But what can you do with it?" Tata questioned.
Finwë looked upon Olwë. "Great stars! Are those snakes on your head?" With a valiant leap, Finwë came to his side, snatched up a braid and sliced it off with the sword.
Olwë was wroth. "That was my hair, you boil on a warg's behind!"
"What is a warg?" voiced several of the Quendi.
"Oh dear," Finwë said, dismayed. "A thousand pardons."
"Bloody pits of Utumno! I thought we had decided upon the duodecimal system," Enel groaned.
"What is Utumno?" Tatië wondered.
"Tata, would it be too much to ask that your linguists confine themselves to inventing words for things we already have?" Imin asked. "We are rather in need of pronouns."
Tata shifted uncomfortably. "A quarrel has arisen in the language-making committee between the pro-lispers and the anti-lispers. The elves who make words are not, at the moment, speaking to the elves who make meanings."
"Could they not, at the least, make a name for him?" Enel asked.
"For the fell rider of the black horse behind you."
Tata's response, alas, was lost, as was the unhappy Tata. Following a period of pandemonium and spontaneous poetry, the Quendi came to three conclusions: first, Finwë's sword was 'useful'; second, the Tatyarin language-making committee should be left in the woods for the nameless rider's return; and third, no misfortune or distress was too great to bear so long as one had beautiful hair.
Seeing its peril, the Tatyarin language-making committee immediately released twelve dozen words to describe hair, much improving the state of Minyarin poetry. The Nelyar invented the custom of mutual grooming, which soon led to other mutual pastimes that greatly increased their number. As for Vidalwë, he would one day plait the tresses of the Valië most beloved by the Quendi, Varda (or Fínbereth, as she was afterward known). Pronouns, alas, remain insufficient to this day.