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Dwarf Myths and Legends
Dwarves are traditionally found in mythology in northern
Europe. They are small and stocky in size, and live in dark underground places, such as caves or inside mountains. Possessing excellent night vision, they are usually ill at ease in the full light of day, and in some traditions they will turn to stone if the morning sunlight falls upon them.
They spend much of their day excavating the caves in which they live, and extracting the precious stones and metals. Rather than hoarding and protecting their wealth, they are more interested in fashioning beautiful armaments. These armaments are highly prized items with powerful magical properties.
The gods of mythology greatly admired the craftsmanship of the dwarves, and asked them to forge special weapons, such as Odin’s spear called Grungir. The weapon was supposed to be so perfectly crafted that it would never miss its target. The Dwarves also created beautiful and delicate pieces of jewellery using the silver and gold they found.
There are many different types of Dwarves identified in European folklore, and some of them include:
The German Dwarves, consisting of; The White Dwarves, who were pleasant, gentle and particularly good at working with precious metals like gold and silver; The Brown Dwarves who played tricks and were known to steal babies, and possessed excellent metal work; The Black Dwarves who lured ships on to rocks, tricked people into falling down mine shafts, and were skilled at heavy ironwork
Scandinavian Dwarves were skilled craftsmen, capable of replicating natural forms using artificial materials, such as replacing the hair of the goddess Sif. One of their most remarkable achievements was the creation of a full sized ship, which was changed into the size of a handkerchief using magic
In one Norse legend, the Dwarves were asked by the gods to forge a chain to assist them in restraining a monster wolf. Apparently it was prophesised that this wolf, named Fenrir, would destroy the world one day. The gods had come up with the idea of trapping him within a cage, but despite this being achieved, the wolf had always managed to escape.
The Dwarves agreed and offered the gods a chain which was very light. The gods were sceptical, but the Dwarves explained that the chain was made from; a cat’s footfall, a mountain’s roots, a woman’s beard, the breath of fishes, the sinews of a bear, and a bird’s spittle. Most importantly, they had woven their magic into the links of the chain. The chain was used successfully to bind the wolf, Fenrir.
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