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This question was inspired by another one about who owns the Sword of Gryffindor. My question is not about that particular sword, but about goblin culture, tradition, and rules regarding ownership.

In the Harry Potter magical world, Goblins believe that objects belong to the original maker(s).

So let's say a goblin made a chair, a table, a house, a suit of armor, and many other objects.

Who owns those objects if/when its maker dies?

Does that particular goblin still own the object today? His or her descendants? Which descendants? Do they share ownership?

What if the owner died without children? (Or died after his or her children died?)

Can somebody provide a description of ownership and inheritance rules in goblin culture? Please provide answers based on canon sources.

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Making something means that you are connected with that object in Goblin culture, that it belongs to you and your people. If you should sell it to someone else, they get to borrow it for their lifetime.

Now, goblins have to shift along with wizarding society, so most of them don't strictly adhere to this.

Bill Weasley : "To a goblin, the rightful and true master of any object is the maker, not the purchaser. All goblin-made objects are, in goblin eyes, rightfully theirs."

Harry Potter: "But if it was bought —"

Bill Weasley : "— then they would consider it rented by the one who had paid the money. They have, however, great difficulty with the idea of goblin-made objects passing from wizard to wizard. You saw Griphook's face when the tiara passed under his eyes. He disapproves. I believe he thinks, as do the fiercest of his kind, that it ought to have been returned to the goblins once the original purchaser died. They consider our habit of keeping goblin-made objects, passing them from wizard to wizard without further payment, little more than theft."

You have very specific questions about the exact way that it works, but it simply isn't covered in that exact way.

The intricacies of who owns it (if you made it and you died, does your son now own it?) aren't precisely outlined.

However, there is a cultural touchstone that is analogous. A native American makes a blanket or artifact. This is bought by a white person and passed down in their family. When it is donated to a Sioux museum the natives say that they are glad to have it back, as though by their ancestors making it, even though they sold it, it still "belongs" to them. From the way goblin culture is described, they have the same sort of sense of cultural ownership, albeit in a stricter, more fungible manner.

It's hard to answer the question because there's really nothing more out there. Goblin culture is covered in broad strokes, by Bill, who really only has an outsider's perspective.

We don't know how much longer if (at all) goblins live than wizards. If they lived for a thousand years each, then direct passage would be understandable, as would the desire for payment from later generations.

But, for all we know, they do have a traditional system of payment for an object that was made by a grandfather through the bloodline. Or after the maker dies, it goes to all goblins/is held by the society of goblins to be sold again or it is owned by a single person...we just don't have those answers.

It's hard for me to prove the absence of canon sources.

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J.K. says this about the subject (related to the Sword of Gryffindor):

Within the magical world, physical possession is not necessarily a guarantee of ownership. This concept applies to the three Deathly Hallows, and also to Gryffindor's sword.

I am interested in what happens when cultural beliefs collide. In the Harry Potter books, the most militant of the goblin race consider all goblin-made objects to be theirs by right

Of special note is her use of the phrase "most militant" - this implies that goblin culture is not a monoculture and that different sects may have different ideas.

Additionally, given the use of the term 'goblin' here to denote the culture/race, there seems to be no indication that there wouldn't be the common sense ancestral passing down at play in militant goblin society. The distinction then is not just goblin/wizard but militant-goblin / goblin/wizard and how they view objects: rentals or owned.

Additionally, it could be that the sword itself is a special case that initiated this type of thinking and this is what the 'militant' goblins divide themselves over. Some goblins initially considered the sword stolen and this story became a legend that was passed down to the point that it was a cause of the Goblin Rebellions (1)(2):

(1) http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Ragnuk#cite_note-1

(2) What were the W.O.M.B.A.T questions on Rowling's old site?

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  • I asked who owns objects made by a Goblin if the maker dies, not whether some Goblins consider all objects made by Goblins to always be owned by Goblins. – RichS Aug 17 '17 at 18:54

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