Elven Hair Colour: The Data

On one old internet forum I used to frequent, I once made an attempt at compiling available information about that most important of subjects – the hair colours of Tolkien’s Elves. It’s a surprisingly contentious issue – in fact, one of the great unanswered questions of the Tolkien fandom concerns the colour of Legolas’ hair, which is never specified in the books.

In the interests of posterity, this is that grand compilation of Elven hair colour information. In case you ever need it.

Abbreviations used:

  • HoME = History of Middle-earth series (the number refers to the relevant volume)
  • Sil = The Silmarillion (1977)
  • UT = Unfinished Tales (1980)
  • LOTR = Lord of the Rings (1954-1955)
  • Pic = Pictures by JRR Tolkien (1979)

Section I: Individual Elves:

  • This is a list of those individual Elves for whom I think we have sufficiently ‘specific’ information. Where I feel the evidence is not completely definitive (Amroth, Daeron, and Turgon), I have put a question mark next to the proposed colour.
  • There is an the issue of canon here – Tolkien describes Celegorm as having golden hair in his earlier work, but later seems to imply that he had dark hair. There are also problems with the relevance of obsolete references (Rumil).
  • In categorising by People, I have put Elves under their father’s grouping (so Maeglin goes under Teleri/Sindar, rather than Noldor). I have put Elrond’s family under the “Peredhil” category.
  • In categorising parentage and children, I have used Tolkien’s later ideas about Orodreth’s and Gil-galad’s parentage (i.e. that Gil-galad was the son of Orodreth, son of Angrod), rather than the published Silmarillion, where Gil-galad is the son of Fingon.

Name: Aegnor
People: Noldor
Hair: Golden
Parents: Finarfin/Earwen
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.347.
Notes: Aegnor’s hair was “‘strong and stiff’, rising above his head like flames”” (XII p.347.)

Name: Amras
People: Noldor
Hair: Red-Brown
Parents: Feanor/Nerdanel
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.353.

Name: Amrod
People: Noldor
Hair: Red-Brown
Parents: Feanor/Nerdanel
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.353.
Notes: Amrod’s hair grew darker with age (XII p.355.)

Name: Amroth
People: Sindar
Hair: Golden?
Parents: Amdir/Unknown
Children: None
Reference: U.T., p.313.
Notes: “… the rising sun… lit his bright hair like a spark of gold.” (UT, p.313.). Amroth is a Sindarin Elf (UT p.540.).

Name: Angrod
People: Noldor
Hair: Golden
Parents: Finarfin/Earwen
Children: Orodreth
Reference: HoME XII p.347.

Name: Aredhel
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Fingolfin/Anaire
Children: Maeglin
Reference: Sil p.71.

Name: Arwen
People: Peredhil
Hair: Dark
Parents: Elrond/Celebrian
Children: Eldarion
Reference: LOTR p.243.

Name: Beleg
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Dark
Parents: Unknown
Children: None
Reference: Pic no.37

Name: Caranthir
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Feanor/Nerdanel
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.353.
Notes: Black-haired as his grandfather (XII p.353.). Dark (brown) hair (XII p.353.)

Name: Celeborn
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Silver
Parents: Galadhon/Unknown
Children: Celebrian
Reference: LOTR p.373.
Notes: Great-nephew of Elwe (UT p.301.)

Name: Celegorm
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark or Golden (a matter of canon)
Parents: Feanor/Nerdanel
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.353.
Notes: His hair was golden in the 1937 Silmarillion (hence Celegorm the Fair). Edited from the published Silmarillion (see V pp.299-300.)

Name: Cirdan
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Silver/grey
Parents: Unknown
Children: None
Reference: HoME XI p.384.
Notes: Related to Elwe (XI p.384.)

Name: Curufin
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Feanor/Nerdanel
Children: Celebrimbor
Reference: HoME XII p.353.

Name: Daeron
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Dark?
Parents: Unknown
Children: None
Reference: HoME III p.174.
Notes: This is a reference to “Dairon the dark”. However, given the context – the poem then refers to his “ferny crown” – I suspect this refers to his hair colour.

Name: Earwen
People: Teleri
Hair: Silver
Parents: Olwe/Unknown
Children: Aegnor, Angrod, Finrod, Galadriel
Reference: HoME XII p.337.

Name: Elenwe
People: Vanyar
Hair: Golden
Parents: Unknown
Children: Idril
Reference: Sil p.164.

Name: Elladan
People: Peredhil
Hair: Dark
Parents: Elrond/Celebrian
Children: None
Reference: LOTR p.809.

Name: Elrohir
People: Peredhil
Hair: Dark
Parents: Elrond/Celebrian
Children: None
Reference: LOTR p.809.

Name: Elrond
People: Peredhil
Hair: Dark
Parents: Earendil/Elwing
Children: Arwen, Elladan, Elrohir
Reference: LOTR p.243.

Name: Elwe (Thingol)
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Silver
Parents: Unknown
Children: Luthien
Reference: HoME XI p.384.
Notes: Olwe’s brother (X p.257.)

Name: Eol
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Dark
Parents: Unknown
Children: Maeglin
Reference: Sil p.164.

Name: Feanor
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Finwe/Miriel
Children: Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Curufin, Caranthir, Amrod, Amras
Reference: Sil p.74.
Notes: Hair “raven dark” (Sil p.74.)

Name: Finarfin
People: Noldor
Hair: Golden
Parents: Finwe/Indis
Children: Aegnor, Angrod, Finrod, Galadriel
Reference: HoME XII p.336.

Name: Finduilas
People: Noldor
Hair: Golden
Parents: Orodreth/Unknown
Children: None
Reference: UT p.202.
Notes: Her mother was Sindarin (XII p.350.)

Name: Fingolfin
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Finwe/Indis
Children: Fingon, Turgon, Aredhel, Arakano
Reference: HoME XII p.336.

Name: Fingon
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Fingolfin/Anarie
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.345.
Notes: He wore his long dark hair in great plaits braided with gold (XII p.345.)

Name: Finrod
People: Noldor
Hair: Golden
Parents: Finarfin/Earwen
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.337.

Name: Finwe
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Unknown
Children: Feanor, Fingolfin, Finarfin, Findis, Lalwen
Reference: HoME XII p.357.
Notes: Tolkien writes “there is no reference to Finwe having hair of exceptional length or abundance” (XII pp.340-341.)

Name: Galadriel
People: Noldor
Hair: Golden
Parents: Finarfin/Earwen
Children: Celebrian
Reference: HoME XII p.337.
Notes: Her hair had traces of silver (XII p.337.)

Name: Glorfindel
People: Noldor
Hair: Golden
Parents: Unknown
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.243.
Notes: A Noldo (XII p.379.). Of the House of the Golden Flower (Sil p.293.)

Name: Gwindor
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Guilin/Unknown
Children: None
Reference: Pic no.37

Name: Idril
People: Noldor
Hair: Golden
Parents: Turgon/Elenwe
Children: Earendil
Reference: Sil p.151.

Name: Indis
People: Vanyar
Hair: Golden
Parents: Unknown
Children: Fingolfin, Finarfin, Findis, Lalwen
Reference: Sil p.75.
Notes: She was Ingwe’s niece (XII p.343.)

Name: Luthien
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Dark
Parents: Elwe/Melian
Children: Dior
Reference: Sil p.198.

Name: Maedhros
People: Noldor
Hair: Red-Brown
Parents: Feanor/Nerdanel
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.353.
Notes: He was nicknamed Russandol, ‘copper top’ (XII p.353.)

Name: Maeglin
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Dark
Parents: Eol/Aredhel
Children: None
Reference: Sil p.160.

Name: Maglor
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark
Parents: Feanor/Nerdanel
Children: None
Reference: HoME XII p.353.

Name: Mahtan
People: Noldor
Hair: Red-Brown
Parents: Unknown
Children: Nerdanel
Reference: HoME XII p.366.
Notes: His hair was brown with coppery glints. (XII p.366.). Maedhros, Amrod, amd Amras “had hair of this kind” (XII p.366.)

Name: Miriel
People: Noldor
Hair: Silver
Parents: Unknown
Children: Feanor
Reference: HoME X p.163.

Name: Nerdanel
People: Noldor
Hair: Brown
Parents: Mahtan/Unknown
Children: Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Curufin, Caranthir, Amrod, Amras
Reference: Vinyar Tengwar. Edited by Carl F. Hostetter. Volume 41.
Notes: See here for further discussion. Nerdanel’s hair is not explicitly red like her father’s or her sons’.

Name: Olwe
People: Teleri
Hair: White
Parents: Unknown
Children: Earwen
Reference: HoME X p.257.
Notes: Elwe’s brother (X p.257.)

Name: Rumil
People: Noldor
Hair: Grey
Parents: Unknown
Children: None
Reference: HoME I p.47.
Notes: Rumil’s hair was grey with age (I p.46.). However, this represents Tolkien’s very early ideas.

Name: Thranduil
People: Teleri/Sindar
Hair: Golden
Parents: Oropher/Unknown
Children: Legolas
Reference: The Hobbit p.134.

Name: Turgon
People: Noldor
Hair: Dark?
Parents: Fingolfin/Anaire
Children: Idril
Reference: Sil p.164.
Note: Idril inherited her golden hair from her mother, which arguably implies that Turgon (her father) is dark haired. A debatable point, however.

Section II: Generalisations

Vanyar:

  • ‘Nearly all’ had yellow or deep golden hair. (XI, p.382.)

Noldor:

  • “Mostly dark haired” (XI, p.382.) . This is before the Finwe/Indis marriage.
  • At least 36 of the original 56 Tata companions (i.e. the future Noldor) were dark haired (XI, p.422.). This, however, depends on taking a particular reference literally.
  • Red-brown hair was rare (XII p.353.)

Sindar:

  • “In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark haired…” (XI, p.384.)
  • Silver hair was not common among the Sindar, but was occasionally found among Elwe’s relatives (XI, p.384.)

From LOTR, Appendix F:

“they were a race high and beautiful, and among them the Eldar were as kings, who are now gone: the People of the Great Journey, the People of the Stars. They were tall, fair of skin, and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finrod…”

However Christopher Tolkien notes:

In the last paragraph of Appendix F as published the reference to ‘Gnomes’ [Noldor] was removed, and replaced by a passage explaining the use of the word Elves to translate Quendi and Eldar despite the diminishing of the English word. This passage – referring to the Quendi as a whole – continues however with the same words as in the draft: “they were a race high and beautiful, and among them the Eldar were as kings, who are now gone: the People of the Great Journey, the People of the Stars. They were tall, fair of skin, and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finrod…” Thus these words describing characters of face and hair were actually written of the Noldor only, and not of all the Eldar…
(Book of Lost Tales Volume I, p.44.)

Section III: Miscellaneous Notes

  • An anonymous Elf in Lothlorien has golden hair (LOTR p.365.)
  • Thranduil’s people have ‘gleaming hair’ (The Hobbit, p.134.). However, this description is used of both dark-haired and golden-haired Elves.
  • Tolkien says that “Humans and Elves are evidently one people biologically” (Letter 153). This is a reference to the fact that humans and Elves can intermarry.
  • There is a reference to Legolas’ “dark head” (LOTR p.407.), but the scene was at night and Legolas may have been wearing a hood.
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