This answer suggests that, like the Eldar, the Dwarves grow weary of Middle-earth. I had never considered that notion before. The passage is:

Also, the Noldor's purpose was to prevent the decay of time which only affected the dwarves and eldar.

Or perhaps I'm simply misinterpreting that wording and it was intending to say something else.

Anyway, is there any support for this idea in canon -- for any interpretation? How does the "decay of time" affect the dwarves?

As far as I know, except for Gimli, none of the Dwarves are permitted to travel to the West -- at least prior to death -- no matter how weary they might be.


3 Answers 3


I think there's evidence on this. From the Appendices:

We have heard tell that Legolas took Gimli Glóin's son with him because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf. If this is true, then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love, or that the Eldar should receive him, or that the Lords of the West should permit it. But it is said that Gimli went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him. More cannot be said of this matter.

I think that "then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love" makes it clear that Dwarves do not weary of Middle Earth, at least not in the way that Elves do.

As far as I can see, Dwarves are pretty much like Men in their ageing. (Though greed is the besetting failing of Dwarves, while fear of death is that of Men, so Dwarves may approach old age with greater serenity than Men.)

  • Are Dwarves mortal? It is the defining difference between Elves and Men (humans can go beyond middle earth whereas elves are fated to become as old as Arda) But dwarves are outside that spectrum as they are the creations of another valar. But tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Dwarves#Religion suggests that they go to the halls of mandros (which is not the same death as mankind) and stay therer untill the end of the world, possibly on some kind of shelving.
    – Borgh
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 8:52
  • 1
    @Borgh yes Dwarves are mortal. The wiki says this is what the Dwarves believed, but the elves disagreed. Upon death, men did go to the Halls of Mandos, where they would wait before passing through to the Void.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 11:32
  • Does "Lords of the West" here refer to the Valar?
    – TylerH
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 15:04
  • @TylerH Yes, exactly.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 19:31

The Dwarves are decaying because they reproduce slowly.

While Mark Olson does an excellent job at proving the Dwarves aren't "fading" he doesn't quite look at the text that inspired the question, so lets look at that closer.

The quote says the Noldor were preventing the decay of time that "only affected the Dwarves and the Eldar". While there is a mistake in this sentiment1, it's not that the Dwarves are decaying. The decay of the Dwarves has nothing to do with their power or interest in Middle-earth fading, but to do with the low reproduction rates and general lack of women in Dwarven populations. This caused the decay of the Dwarves in the later ages, they also became more secluded which is "why" we don't see them today.

Dís was the daughter of Thráin II. She is the only dwarf-woman named in these histories. It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people.
The Lord of the Rings - Appendix A, III: Durin's Folk

The number of dwarf-men that marry is actually less than one-third. For not all the women take husbands: some desire none; some desire one that they cannot get, and so will have no other. As for the men, very many also do not desire marriage, being engrossed in their crafts.

On top of the lack of Dwarven women, the population of Dwarves rarely rose quickly, this was because it was rare to see a Dwarf-woman bear up to 4 children. This low replacement ratio combined with the low amount of females marrying makes population growth and only happened in peace time in the recorded histories.

It is then said that Dwarves marry late, seldom before they are ninety or more,18 that they have few children (so many as four being rare)
History of Middle-earth - Volume XII: People's of Middle-earth, IX: The Making of Appendix A, (iv) Durin's Folk

You are right, Dwarves weren't permitted to sail the Straight-Road to Valinor. They were mortal and it is unclear what happens to them upon death. They believed they go to the Halls of Mandos to be cared for by Aule, but whether this is true is unclear.

1 It wasn't only the Eldar that faded but all Elves, while this is just a naming convention, the Eldar were only those that had seen the light of the two trees, the Calaquendi.

  • 3
    I'd never pulled all this information together, so I'd missed a key point: The available data says that the Dwarf population not only can't grow, but it must shrink fairly rapidly. Consider a generation of 1000 Dwarves. 660 are male and 340 are female. Of the 340 females, maybe 250 or 300 have children. They average between 2 and 3 children (an average of 3 is undoubtedly high, since anyone having 4 is rare). So those 250-300 females would have 500-900 children, which are too few to replace the population. The number of Dwarves would drop by 10% to 50% each generation.
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 19:28
  • This suggests that this is one of those areas which if he had live Tolkien, wonderfully obsessive tinkerer that he was, sooner or later would have revised. Thanks for pointing this out!
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 19:30
  • It can grow, the amount of women marrying varies based on war time and peace time. But, Tolkien strongly insinuates that, in the Fourth Age, as they became more secluded, their numbers began to dwindle. It's high fantasy, you shouldn't look too much into the details of the "numbers"
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 19:30

No, I don't believe there is any support in cannon for the idea that Dwarves grow weary of Middle-earth in the way that Elves do. If that is what WOPR meant in the answer that you linked to, I think that was a mistake.

This answer to a question about Gimli's age provides evidence that the Dwarves we know the most about lived for about 250 years. Durin the Deathless was an exception and probably lived much longer as described in this answer.

All kinds of people are subject to weariness, but even though Dwarves live long lives, their lifespan does not approach the age of the Elves who were born in the first age.

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