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Jenny Dolfen - Nerdanel.jpg
Nerdanel by Jenny Dolfen
Biographical Information
Other names"the Wise"
AffiliationNot Oath of Fëanor
LanguageCommon Eldarin and
BirthDuring the Years of the Trees
ChildrenMaedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod, and Amras
Physical Description
Hair colorBrown [note 1]
GalleryImages of Nerdanel

Nerdanel (Q, pron. [ˈnerdanel]) was the daughter of the Noldorin smith Mahtan of the people of the lord Aulë, and the wife of Fëanor who was the eldest son of Finwë king of the Ñoldor.



Nerdanel of the Ńoldor was described as having a ruddy complexion and reddish brown hair which she took after from her father Mahtan. In fact, Nerdanel's family is interesting as the only known Elves with red hair. This was described as a trait "of Nerdanel's kin".[1] Nerdanel was a noted sculptor of images. She is said to have made statues so lifelike that people thought them real.[2] In her youth, Nerdanel loved to wander far away from the dwellings of her people going to the shores or the hills in Aman. Eventually, Nerdanel met the Noldorin Prince Fëanor in one of her wanderings and they then became companions on many journeys together.[3]

Marriage and Motherhood

Later when Nerdanel married Fëanor, many of the Ñoldor wondered why for Nerdanel was not among the fairest of their people. But Nerdanel was strong and free of mind being filled with the desire for knowledge.[3] Nerdanel was strong of will but more patient than her husband, desiring to understand minds rather than to master them. Nerdanel, unlike Fëanor, was of a peaceful nature and sought to moderate his fiery temper and pride with her wisdom. For a time, she was able to influence and restrain her husband. However, Fëanor in his later deeds that he had committed grieved Nerdanel deeply. Shortly, Nerdanel and her husband became estranged from one another here after. In the earlier part of her marriage to Fëanor is was said: "Fëanor never sought the aid and council of anyone that dwelt in Aman, great or small, save only a little while of Nerdanel the Wise his wife."[2]

Nerdanel bore Fëanor seven sons: Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod, and Amras (see Sons of Fëanor). Of her mood, Nerdanel had passed in part to some of her sons.[2] Only Nerdanel's eldest son Maedhros and her youngest twin sons, Amrod and Amras, had inherited the reddish brown hair from their mother. As for her fifth son Caranthir, he inherited his mother's ruddy complexion.[4]

The Unrest and Flight of the Ñoldor

Soon after, Fëanor was banished from Valinor for a time by the Valar for causing the unrest of the Ñoldor. So with Nerdanel's husband went all of their sons as well as her father-in-law Finwë. In spite of that, Nerdanel did not join Fëanor and their sons into banishment, but instead asked for leave to abide with Indis of the Vanyar (the second wife and queen of Finwë) whom Nerdanel apparently had ever esteemed though little to the liking of Nerdanel's husband.[3]

Ultimately, Nerdanel returned back to her father's house. Shortly, Nerdanel learned that Fëanor and all of their sons were planning to go into exile for Middle-earth permanently, along with the largest host of the Ñoldor. Nerdanel then came to her husband before the flight of the Ñoldor and she begged Fëanor to leave with her their youngest twin-sons Amrod and Amras, or atleast one of them. Then Nerdanel's husband simply spoke that if she wished to keep all their sons then she should join him and their sons to leave Valinor for Middle-earth. But Nerdanel refused to follow Fëanor being warned by her father the advice that Aulë gave him; thus Mahtan said to his daughter: "It would in the end, only lead your husband and all your children to death." However, Nerdanel's sons were determined to leave with their father and hence Nerdanel was parted from her sons never to see them again.[4] Regardless, Nerdanel ended up alone first, and then a widow, while all of her seven sons perished one by one in Middle-earth. Further, it was said that Nerdanel apparently still lives in Aman.[2]


The name Nerdanel is given no clear meaning or etymology in the published writings of Tolkien. The original (rejected) version of her name was Istarnië.[5]

Editor and linguist Patrick H. Wynne has suggested that the element nerd- in Nerdanel perhaps derives from nerdo ("large, strong man"), noting that the name "might refer to her strength of body and mind, and her pursuits of crafts more commonly practiced by men." Wynne also suggests that Istarnië derives from Quenya ista- ("know"), apparently "referring to her 'desire for knowledge'".[6]


b. Y.T.
d. Y.T. 1170
d. Y.T. 1495
b. Y.T.
b. Y.T.
Y.T. 1169 - 1497
b. Y.T.
Y.T. 1190 - F.A. 456
b. Y.T.
b. Y.T. 1230
d. F.A. 587
b. Y.T.
d. F.A. 506
d. F.A. 506
d. F.A. 506
d. Y.T. 1497
d. F.A. 538
d. S.A. 1697


  1. See J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Shibboleth of Fëanor" pp. 353 & 365-6


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, "From The Shibboleth of Fëanor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 41, July 2000, p. 9
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Shibboleth of Fëanor", "The names of the Sons of Fëanor"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor", p. 273
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, p. 33-4

See Also