Teleri


In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Teleri, Those who come last in Quenya (singular Teler) were the third of the Elf clans who came to Aman. Those who came to Aman became known as the Falmari or „sea elves” and these are the Elves who are generally known as Teleri, though the term also includes their Middle-earth cousins the Sindar, Laiquendi, and Nandor of Middle-earth.

The third clan was the largest of the three houses of the Elves, and most of the Avari originally belonged to this clan.

Ancient history

In ancient times they named themselves Lindar, or „Singers”, because they were known for their fair voices. They were also called Nelyar („Thirds”). The Sindar of Beleriand called themselves simply Edhil, which means Elves, and is related to the Quenya word Eldar of the same meaning.

According to legend, the Teleri were descended from Enel, the third Elf to awake in Cuiviénen, his spouse Enelyë and their 72 companions, but it was Elwë, the first of the Teleri to come to Valinor, who became their king.

The Teleri were sundered from the first two clans, the Vanyar and the Noldor, first because some, after seeing the Hithaeglir (Misty Mountains), dispersed from the journey; these elves would become known as the Nandor and/or Silvan Elves. Of those who did pass through Eriador and over the Ered Luin, many would tarry behind in the east of Beleriand searching for their lost king Elwë (later known as Elu Thingol), and the first two clans were ferried across to Valinor on a huge island. The Maia Ossë kept them company while they waited, and became their friend.

In Valinor

Later when Ulmo returned with the island ferry, the Teleri had grown to love the sea. Ossë convinced Ulmo to anchor the island in the Bay of Eldamar, off the shores of Aman, and persuaded many of the Teleri to remain in Middle-earth. The Teleri long remained on this Lonely Isle, and their language changed in different ways from that of the Vanyar and Noldor (Quenya), becoming a somewhat different language known as Telerin. Much later the Teleri learned to build ships, and finally made it to Aman.

When the Noldor decided to leave Valinor and asked for their ships, the Teleri refused to join, and even tried to talk them out of leaving. As a result, many of them were cruelly slain in the Kinslaying at their chief city of Alqualondë, or Swan Harbour. This was the first of three Kinslayings that were committed by Fëanor‘s people against their fellow Elves. For this reason few or none of the Teleri joined the host of the Valar which set out to capture Morgoth for good; they did sail the soldiers to Middle earth, but refused to fight in the war or even step foot on Middle earth. It is however recounted that the Teleri eventually forgave the Noldor for the Kinslaying, and the two kindreds were at peace again.

Language

Their tongue, known as Telerin or Lindalambë (tongue of the Lindar), was considered by some to be a dialect of Quenya, but the Teleri themselves considered it to be an independent language, which seems more reasonable considering that Quenya and Telerin are about as far apart as Italian and Spanish. Telerin is also said to resemble the Italian language in some regards, and the swan ships of Alqualondë bear some resemblance to the gondolas of Venice. It was much more conservative than Quenya, and was the closest to Common Telerin (from which Sindarin and Nandorin were also derived), and even to Common Eldarin of the later Elvish languages.

Physical appearance

The Teleri were more slender and perhaps slightly shorter on average than the Noldor and Vanyar, though Thingol was recounted as the tallest of all Men and Elves. Physically they were similar to the Noldor; they had mostly dark hair and grey/brown eyes, but their royal family and perhaps some other individuals had silver hair. Their skin colour was probably pale to light brown.

Kings

  1. Enel & Enelyë
  2. Elwë First True King
  3. Dior, grandson of Elwë
  4. Olwë King of the Falmari, brother of Elwë.

Culture

All Telerin peoples, from Valinor to the Silvan Elves, share a love for music and song and for water. While the Noldor built great cities, the Teleri lived in simple dwellings such as the ‘flets’ of Doriath and Lothlorien. Fëanor insulted the Teleri for this prior to the Kinslaying, saying to Olwë they lived in „huts on the beach” before Alqualondë was built by the Noldor as a gift to the Telerin people.

The Teleri have a strong connection to nature and its cycles and have far less interest in the Valar than the Noldor and Vanyar, preferring the company of their own people and other Elven cultures. They had an especially strong tie with the Noldor which was strained by the Kinslaying and other actions done by the sons of Feanor.

The Teleri value silver more than gold and have a love for pearls, boats and shorebirds such as swans.

Notable Teleri

Whitte ships of Teleri

Teleri elf

Thingol king of Teleri and maya Melian

 

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