Lindar, 'the Singers';|
'the Last-comers', 'the Hindmost',
'the Third Clan'
|Founder||Enel and Enelyë|
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.
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 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.
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 set 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.
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. 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.
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 were tall and strong and had mostly dark hair and grey eyes, but their royal family and perhaps some other individuals had silver hair. They were most likely, like all Elves, of pale complexion.
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 Fëanor.
The Teleri value silver more than gold and have a love for pearls, boats and shorebirds such as swans.
- Eärwen, princess of Alqualondë, wife of Finarfin, mother to Finrod, Angrod, Aegnor and Galadriel.
- Celeborn and Celebrimbor were, in one account, two of the four Falmari to leave Valinor with Galadriel.
- Celebrían is three-quarters Telerin descent, and probably had the silver hair of the royal family of the Teleri.
- Thranduil, king of the Elves of Mirkwood, father of Legolas.
- Círdan, mariner and shipwright, Lord of the Falas, former bearer of the Great Ring Narya.
Other versions of the legendarium
In the early versions of Tolkien's mythology (see: The History of Middle-earth), they were known as Solosimpi ("Pipers of the Shores"), while the name Teleri was given to the clan of Elves known in the published version of The Silmarillion as Vanyar.
Notes and references
- The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "Quendi and Eldar," p. 384: "The Loremasters also supposed that reference was made to the hair of the Sindar. Elwe himself had long and beautiful hair of silver hue, but this does not seem to have been a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally especially in the nearer or remoter kin of Elwe (as in the case of Cirdan). In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe."
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1996), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Peoples of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Of Dwarves and Men, ISBN 0-395-82760-4: "The famous Celebrimbor, heroic defender of Eregion in the Second Age war against Sauron, was a Teler, one of the three Teleri who accompanied Celeborn into exile."