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In COS, Lockhart has a bunch of Cupid-like dwarves:

Lockhart clapped his hands and through the doors to the entrance hall marched a dozen surly-looking dwarfs. Not just any dwarfs, however. Lockhart had them all wearing golden wings and carrying harps.

Are these dwarves regular short humans, or some sort of magical creature like house-elves?

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    hp-lexicon.org/creature/sentient/dwarf - Short answer (pun intended), we don't know. Apparently they're quite grumpy.
    – Valorum
    Nov 18 '17 at 21:24
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    I think that, unless otherwise specified, we should assume that words in a fictional universe mean the same thing that they do in our own universe. I see no reason to assume they are somehow special, other than their attire and musical instruments.
    – Misha R
    Nov 19 '17 at 0:58
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    ... besides, while in general I would agree with your logic, in the fantasy genre mythological dwarfs are far more common than the real-world sort. In fact, I can't think of any exceptions. If JKR's dwarfs are human, that would perhaps make them unique! Nov 19 '17 at 20:23
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    Good question. This is one of those in-passing things from the early books that are never explained later. Therefore, I would assume they are humans. Wizards do suffer from dwarfism, as seen in Professor Flitwick, however, I think there was something on Pottermore suggesting he might be part goblin. Maybe the cupid dwarves are also part goblins or another smaller sentient creature? Hagrid and Flitwick are clearly considered human, so these dwarves would be as well.
    – Pwassonne
    Nov 19 '17 at 20:43
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    Also, I was always under the impression that the normal plural was "dwarfs", and "dwarves" was originally Tolkien-specific, then used by other authors and fans to refer to similar fantasy races. Is it possible that the use of the regular plural "dwarfs" would significantly suggest that these are simply men with dwarfism?
    – Pwassonne
    Nov 19 '17 at 20:46
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We can't be sure.

This appears to be one of those loose ends that was never really cleared up. We're not really given any description in the books - they're essentially just described as 'surly'. And they're not ever described - or mentioned again - in the books ever again. So... we can't know.

While searching through Pottermore, though, for some information regarding dwarfs, I found this interesting bit about Red Caps:

These dwarf–like creatures live in holes on old battlegrounds or wherever human blood has been spilled. Although easily repelled by charms and hexes, they are very dangerous to solitary Muggles, whom they will attempt to bludgeon to death on dark nights. Red Caps are most prevalent in northern Europe.
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, courtesy of Pottermore (emphasis added)

The Red Caps are described as being 'dwarf-like'. Now, this may be just a coincidence, and it just means short, but it could also be interpreted as being that they're similar to the dwarf species.

Interestingly, the Red Cap looks very similar to a house-elf:

Red Cap

House Elf

(and also bear a resemblance to Goblins)

So there's a slight possibility that all those small, humanoid, pointy-eared species are related, and that dwarfs are actually a part of that family, given that they all look so similar, and that the Red Caps are described as being dwarf-like.

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  • I wouldn't put much weight on Atomhawk's illustrations. They're just that artists interpretation of the source texts. All of the interviews with the designers stressed that their goal was to adhere to the source material, and so they aren't a primary source in themselves.
    – ibid
    Dec 15 '17 at 0:36
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    Also, red caps are part of the unseely court among the sidhe, and are usually reputed to be on the evil side of that line. Bludgeoning travelers would be light for them.
    – JohnP
    Dec 15 '17 at 3:40
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Rowling has said that there are no "little people" in the Harry Potter universe, so it's probably not that

Alfonso Cuarón: Once I remember having little people in some story boards, playing some keyboards and an organ in the great hall and Jo said "No, there are not little people in this universe", and I say "yes but it's like lilliputs kind of" and she says "yes lovely image, but they don't make sense in this universe"

"Creating the Vision", Prisoner of Azkaban DVD bonus features (2004) [5:10 - 5:30].

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  • From my interpretation of this quote, she's referring to truly tiny people, a few inches or shorter, as opposed to creatures a few feet tall.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Jan 10 '19 at 3:59
  • @RogueJedi - That's my interpretation as well. We still don't know what these dwarves are, but we at least know they're not tiny people.
    – ibid
    Jan 10 '19 at 12:33
  • Wow! Great find!
    – TheAsh
    Jan 10 '19 at 15:42

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