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Lady Galadriel (and her husband) gave the Fellowship members gifts.

On the other hand, the others got *drumroll* fashion accessories. Belts.

She nibbled his ear in an affectionate sort of way, which was a far better present than the one which she had brought him, which turned out to be from the Dursleys. They had sent Harry a toothpick and a note telling him to find out whether he'd be able to stay at Hogwarts for the summer holidays, too. ... sorry, wrong book

Harry's presents included a sweater with a large Golden Snitch worked onto the front, hand-knitted by Mrs. Weasley, a large box of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes products from the twins, and a slightly damp, mouldy-smelling package that came with a label reading 'To Master, From Kreacher'. ... A moment later, Harry had given a loud yell and leapt out of his camp bed; the package contained a large number of maggots. Oups... wrong book again.

The Lady bowed her head, and she turned then to Boromir, and to him she gave a belt of gold; and to Merry and Pippin she gave small silver belts, each with a clasp wrought like a golden flower. ("LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring", Chapter VII, "Farewell to Lórien")

What exactly was the significance or special benefit of those belts given to Boromir, Merry and Pippin? Were they magical or meaningful or special in some way? If not, why such a discrepancy from the unique/special gifts everyone else got?

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    Other than holding up their pants, the belts don't have any special powers. – Joe L. Dec 8 '15 at 14:44
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    @MikeEdenfield: Gimli didn't find a belt in the book (he found the knife, and Aragorn found a leaf brooch). And they didn't get belts in the movie. – Plutor Dec 8 '15 at 14:59
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    Were the Orcs taking their pants off?? – Matt Gutting Dec 8 '15 at 17:17
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    To me, belts seem like symbols both of motherhood and fatherhood. For the former, it's a strong embrace, a constant comfort in times of turmoil (and for a Tolkien example, see the Girdle of Melian). For the latter, it's a implement of discipline, and restraint. Merry and Pippin are the young children who need to be protected, whereas Boromir is the rebellious teenager who needs strong guidance before he does something he's going to regret. They all need a constant reminder that Galadriel has their back. – DaaaahWhoosh Apr 27 '17 at 21:08
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    @DVK-on-Ahch-To: About belts being anachronistic, it's quite the opposite. Back in the olden day, clothing was not fitted well. By modern standards, we would consider them to be unshapely sacks with holes in them. Belts were more important, because the clothes were not fitted to a human body and were much looser than today's clothing. While belt buckles haven't always been around (but they were in the Medieval period, which LOTR is loosely based on), belts themselves have existed for ages. The belts in LOTR are consistent with the contemporary smithing skills that are displayed. – Flater Aug 1 '17 at 13:37
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I can find nothing in "The History of the Lord of the Rings" - so, here be conjecture: -

Since there appears to be no inherent purpose, one may presume they hold just basic literary symbolism of strength and unity. This is important to Boromir since she perceives the internal conflict at work in him and is encouraging to the hobbits Merry and Pippin since they doubt their usefulness and ability. It's basically a 'be strong and stay together' - and, that is indeed what happens. Those three do share a special bond at the end of FoTR.

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From a literary perspective, I would suggest that the non-magical belts were an intentional contrast to highlight the power and specific significance of the magical devices.

The entire Fellowship received cloaks, which were useful in helping them hide. Beyond that, each of those who was doing the most difficult work in the quest received a gift that aided that work.

Frodo received the phial, which was a light in the darkness to help in the fight against Shelob.

Aragorn received the sheath, and the unsheathing of Anduril is a powerful act - Aragorn is one who is fated, and cannot be beaten in battle. He also received (not as a gift, but as a return of something rightly his) the green stone of his Kingship.

Sam received the dust and the seed of a mallorn tree to help with his lifework, the restoration of the Shire.

Both Frodo's and Sam's gifts were related to what they saw in Galadriel's mirror, and Galadriel said she saw their visions with them. Aragorn's fate she already foresaw, since she was fated to be his grandmother-in-law. The others did not receive such visions in Galadriel's presence, and so she could not have a particular gift for them.

In literary terms, the highest members of the Fellowship received gifts from the Elven queen: Gandalf (rescue & rebirth); Aragorn (tools of kingship); Frodo (a light in the darkness); Sam (a gift that would help restore the Shire, where he would rule for his whole life.

Legolas, as an elf, received a gift from Elf to Elf.

Merry and Pippin received their gifts from the Ents (greater height) and from the Kings of Men (stewardship), and this translated into their "lordly" roles in their lives in the Shire after their return.

  • 1
    Gandalf was saved by Eru. Not Galadriel :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 10 '15 at 19:17
  • I agree, Gandalf was resurrected and sent back by Eru. He was left on a lonely mountaintop, naked and with no food and no water. Galadriel, perhaps through Mandos or Elbereth, sensed this, arranged for Gwaihir to pick him up, fed him, and clothed him. Those are the gifts to which I was referring. – Sid Kemp Dec 11 '15 at 14:44
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Boromir: so that he could be recognised.

Boromir was killed and set in a cairn-boat by Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. This boat was drifted down Rauros.

But in Gondor in after-days it long was said that the elven-boat rode the falls and the foaming pool, and bore him down through Osgiliath, and past the many mouths of Anduin, out into the Great Sea at night under the stars.

The Two Towers - The Departure of Boromir

Later on, this belt identified Boromir when Faramir talks to Frodo about his death...

'Alas!' said Frodo. 'That was indeed Boromir as I knew him. For the golden belt was given to him in Lothlorien by the Lady Galadriel.

The Two Towers - The Window of the West

...which saves Frodo a heck ton of an explanation of how he knew Boromir.

Merry and Pippin: no physical significance.

For Merry and Pippin, these 2 belts were not of much physical significance. They were merely souvenirs and were the smaller (and silver) version of Boromir's belt. NKCampbell's answer suggests psychological significance, which is plausible as well.


In the movies

In the film The Two Towers however, Merry and Pippin's belts do show some significance. There's a scene where The Three Hunters find their belts in the smouldering pile of Orc bodies.

Upon seeing and recognising the belts, Aragorn begans to wail in despair. Coincidentally, while he kneels down in defeat, he spots a trail on the ground. To whom does this trail belong to? Merry and Pippin!

[Gimli starts to go through pile and pulls out a charred belt.] Gimli: "It's one of their little belts."

Script for LOTR: The Two Towers

We later find out that Pippin loosed his belt so that he could escape Grishnák. Thus the belt served its purpose in the film.

Merry: "The belt! Run!" [Pippin undoes his belt and the hobbits run off into the trees.]

Script for LOTR: The Two Towers

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    +1 for the reason for Boromir. Incidentally, Viggo Mortensen broke his toe when kicking the orc helmet, after already doing several unsatisfactory takes. Without interruption he worked his cry of pain into the scene and that turned out to be kept for the movie. – David Roberts Aug 27 '17 at 12:39

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