Tolkien Gateway


Revision as of 20:08, 3 February 2018 by Dillonn241 (Talk | contribs)
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 and the wife of Fëanor.



Early life

Nerdanel was a skilful sculptor. She made statues so lifelike that people thought they were real at first, and if they did not know her art, tried to speak to them.[1] She also created sculptures from her own imaginings, which were "strong and strange but beautiful."[2] In her youth, Nerdanel loved to wander along the shore or in the hills of Aman. Whilst wandering, she met Fëanor, and they "were companions in many journeys."[2]

Though her father, whose nickname meant 'fox',[3]:353 was specifically noted as having an unusual hair colour for a Noldo, auburn or brown hair mixed with copper, her own hair colour is implied as brown or similar to her father's, but it is not explicitly stated in The Silmarillion. However, the reddish hair of Nerdanel's kin was passed down to her children.

Marriage and Motherhood

When Nerdanel married Fëanor, others wondered at his choice for she was not considered among "the fairest of her people."[2]:272 But Nerdanel was strong, free of mind, and filled with the desire for knowledge.[2] Though she was strong-willed, she was more patient than her husband. She would seek to understand others instead of master them. For a time, since Fëanor would seek the counsel of none save her, she was able to influence and restrain her prideful husband.[1] However, Fëanor's later deeds deeply grieved her. She was advised not to become involved in the rebellion. In the end, Nerdanel and her husband became estranged from one another, and she did not follow him to Middle-earth.[1]

Nerdanel bore Fëanor seven sons: Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod, and Amras (see Sons of Fëanor). Elves typically have four children or fewer, so the size of their family was particularly noteworthy.[4]:Note 4 Nerdanel's calmer temperament had passed to some of her sons while others were fiery more like their father.[1] Only her eldest son Maedhros and her youngest sons, Amrod and Amras, inherited the reddish-brown hair from her line.[3]

Other versions of the legendarium

Nerdanel was described as having a ruddy complexion and brown hair in Vinyar Tengwar.[5]

When Fëanor was banished from Túna for drawing a sword against his brother, Nerdanel did not join her family in banishment, which was not specified in The Silmarillion. In Morgoth's Ring, she asked for leave to abide with Indis during that time.[6]:279

When Nerdanel, who had since returned to her father's house, learned that her husband and sons were planning to go into exile to Middle-earth, she begged Fëanor to leave with her their youngest sons, Amrod and Amras, or at least one of them. Fëanor's response was that, if she would not follow him, she was an untrue wife for deserting both her husband and her children.[2]:354

Regardless, Nerdanel refused to follow because she heeded the warning of Aulë that: "'It [the rebellion] will in the end only lead Fëanor and all your children to death.'"[2] All perished, as predicted, in Middle-earth, and she survived her husband and her children in Aman.[1]


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.[2]:273

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'".[7]

She was known as Nerdanel the wise.[1]


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. F.A. 538
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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Fëanor and the Unchaining of Melkor"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 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"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Shibboleth of Fëanor", "The names of the Sons of Fëanor"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Laws and Customs among the Eldar, Notes [to Text B]"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "From The Shibboleth of Fëanor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 41, July 2000
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor"
  7. 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