Middle Earth has basically 2 types of Elves, the "High Elves" (Noldor, Vanyar) and the "Wood Elves" (Lotholrien)
But all of them have similar characteristics of
- Long face
- Sharp face cut
- Fair-Bronze Skin
- Skilled with Archery/horse-riding
Now my question is, what real world/mythological parallel were these inspired from? I have 3 basic options
- Celtic mythology has the Tuatha Dé Danann, druids, Arthurian legends, Camelot and Summer Isles of the Divine, things associated with wood elves.
- Germanic mythology has light elves (Ljósálfar) who although not described much are very similar to how Tolkien depicted his elves and the usual high elves (DnD, Warhammer etc) in their behavior/the granduer associated with them.
- Another theory is that the invading Indo-Europeans, the source of the long faced race in Old Europe (full of Cro-Magnons and alpinids) were seen as beautiful elves by the inhabitants.
Iam ruling out the English/Germanic fairy tales as they had the gnomesque/pixie type elves.