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In The Hobbit, the Dwarves' beards are described quite explicitly. The convoluted history of how Tolkien thought about Dwarf women and their facial hair over is not something I want to raise here, but I realised I don't know if Dwarf culture is a monolith as far as beard styling among males goes. The Longbeards/Durin's folk are somewhat self-explanatory, and this explains Thorin and Co. There's the passage that Dwarves never shave their own beards off. But I really don't know what else was written about the other Dwarven kingdoms and cultures. We get the Firebeards, but that is only about colouration.

I'm thinking that in principle, there could be beard fashions through time, and indeed cultural markers between the different kingdoms. Our imaginations may be somewhat coloured by adaptations and the general fantasy genre always giving Dwarves big long beards.

(I'm not sure I buy Kili's designer stubble in the Jackson Hobbit films, or Thorin's well-groomed look, but that's a separate issue.)

This is not meant to be fuel for the current debate, I'm really curious now that I think about it.

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So far as I know, the only thing Tolkien specified about other dwarves' beards was in the description of Dain's army as they arrive at the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit. (Certainly, this is the only description in the published novels.)

Each one of his folk was clad in a hauberk of steel mail that hung to his knees, and his legs were covered with hose of a fine and flexible metal mesh, the secret of whose making was possessed by Dain's people

The dwarves are exceedingly strong for their height, but most of these were strong even for dwarves. In battle they wielded heavy two-handed mattocks; but each of them had also a short broad sword at his side and a round shield slung at his back. Their beards were forked and plaited and thrust into their belts. Their caps were of iron and they were shod with iron, and their faces were grim.

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    The trope that fantasy races are a bit of a monoculture is an unfortunate one, and I really don't think it applies to Tolkien: he was literally trying to set up things leading to different languages among his elvish peoples to experiment with/demonstrate language development. He just didn't describe material culture in much detail in the Legendarium in the first age. And for some peoples we just get narrow glimpses (like Thorin and co.) and the fantasy genre has taken that as indicative of everyone from that race. May 27, 2022 at 12:52

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