Dwarf Hair Meaning
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Dwarf Hair Meaning

dedicatedfollower467 11th Oct 2013, 8:00 AM edit delete
Time for an explanation of dwarf beards!

Once upon a time, dwarf braids and hair had very specific meanings and were awarded or chosen because of those meanings, almost like titles. Nowadays, however, it's more common to simply choose one's braids based on aesthetics, rather than meaning.

There are seven areas where braids and other adornments may be found: the nose, chin, sides, fore, front, shoulder, and back. There are several ways in which the hair there may be styled, including a single braid, a double braid, a triple braid, a plume, a tie, trimmed hair, and unbraided hair. These may also be either a 'patch' or 'full' hair.

Nose braids are traditionally associated with one's love life. In patch nose braids, the area around the braid has been shaved. In full nose braids, the hair connects up with the rest of the beard. Alfdis's singe patch braid signifies devotion/passion, while Lord Frey's unbraided patch nose signifies eternal love.

The chin area is traditionally associated with the family and home. Alfdis's single patch chin means family pride. Gunnora's double full chin means nurturer/provider.

The sides are the area just below the cheek, and signify one's future. Alfdis's trimmed sides signify victory, while Fulla's double full sides mean good fortune.

The fore is the bang area, and is associated with physical characteristics. There is no difference between patch or full fore braids. Gunnora's fringed fore means strength and stamina.

Front braids hang in front of the ear and in front of the shoulder. Traditionally, they are associated with aspects of one's social life. There is no difference between patch and full front braids. Alfdis and Gunnora's matching front braids signify friendship and loyalty.

Shoulder braids hang in front of the shoulder but behind the ear, which distinguishes them from front or back braids. There is no difference between patch or full shoulder braids, but they are associated with one's character. Frey's unbraided shoulder signifies wisdom.

Back braids are anything behind that, and are traditionally associated with one's role in society. Full back braids are French-braided. Alfdis's single plume back signifies a healer. Gunnora's double back signifies a defender or a guardian.

Dwarf children's beards and hair are usually long enough to braid around the age of five or six. At that time, they usually choose to style their hair after the manner of their parents or grandparents.

Braid changes are always significant. Dwarves may change the way their braids are styled when they fall in love, change careers, have a life-changing moment, or at other significant times in their life. One of the most significant is the matched braid - when a dwarf falls in love, they will mimic one of the braids of their beloved.

Tied braids, anywhere they occur, have a special significance. Dwarves will switch from a normal braid, plume, or unbraided area to a tied braid when they have lost a love. Generally, they untie the braid that they first changed to match their beloved, or that their lover changed to match theirs. Lord Frey has a tied back braid, signifying that he has lost his spouse.

Braids are so distinct that they are commonly used as identifiers, and it is in fact more common to be asked to record one's braid-descriptor than to be asked one's gender.

A braid-descriptor is a stylized, legal description of one's braids. Alfdis's braid descriptor is: single patch nose, single patch chin, trimmed side, single front, single plume back. Gunnora's is: double full chin, single front, fringe fore, double back.

If you pay attention to the braids of new characters coming up, you might notice some family-related braids and some widows.


illusionoftheworld 15th Nov 2013, 11:13 AM edit delete reply
Details like this make your world so much richer and more believable. Good job!
dedicatedfollower467 12th Dec 2013, 5:07 PM edit delete reply
Thank you! I'm sorry I didn't reply earlier - I didn't see this comment until just now!
RyGuy 30th Jan 2014, 2:59 AM edit delete reply
How do dwarfs with really curly, uncooperative hair manage? And do you have the outcast class Tolkien called Petty Dwarfs? I had a notion that they are ratty, unwashed dread locks.
dedicatedfollower467 9th Feb 2014, 6:19 PM edit delete reply
Curly hair is pretty common among northwestern dwarves, and southern and southeastern dwarves have extremely thick, curly hair.

Northwestern dwarves use various methods of heat and water to straighten or put perms in their hair, and many of them do not take their braids out at night so that they don't tangle. Some curly-haired dwarves choose to leave part of their hair unbraided.

Certain groups of southern dwarves do wear their hair in dreadlocks - the meanings of dreadlocks and their positions are roughly analogous to straightened braids. However, dreadlocks add an additional ethnic meaning - one of rebellion and freedom-fighting. Historically, southern dwarves were oppressed by both humans and some northern dwarves, and they were forbidden from braiding their hair. So instead of braiding, these dwarves twisted their hair into dreadlocks as a sign of defiance. To this day, their descendants wear the dreadlocks both as a method of identification with their people, and as a sign to others that they will not allow their freedoms and rights to be curtailed.

As for Petty Dwarves - no, this comic does not have them. Although this comic does draw from Tolkien's inspiration, it's not a direct Middle-Earth fancomic!

Thanks for the questions!
Jarvi 9th Apr 2014, 1:49 PM edit delete reply
That was informative :)
dedicatedfollower467 9th Apr 2014, 5:10 PM edit delete reply
Thanks! :)