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Ted Nasmith - Hundreds of Butterflies

Butterflies were insects with large wings, often colorful.


[edit] History

A legend says that all kinds of butterflies appeared in the Land of Willows.[1]

In Mirkwood, like other creatures, some butterflies were infected by the Shadow of Dol Guldur, and turned completely black in color. Bilbo Baggins found some at the treetops and he imagined them as 'black emperors'.[2][note 1]

Some of Gandalf's fireworks fluttered like butterflies.[3]

In Quenya, the buttefly is Wilwarin, which is also a name the Elves gave to a constellation of stars.[note 2]

[edit] Etymology

In Quenya, the word for "butterfly" is wilwarin (pl. wilwarindi). Cognates of the same meaning are Telerin vilverin, Noldorin gwilwileth, and Ilkorin gwilwering.[4]

Wilwarin also appears in earlier Qenya, and also the word wilwarindon ("like a butterfly").[5] In Gnomish, "butterfly" is gwilbrin (or -vrin).[6]


  1. This is a pun on the purple emperor type of butterfly.
  2. Christopher Tolkien associates it with Cassiopeia


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin", p. 154
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniv. Ed.), The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party", p. 27
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", p. 398 (root WIL-)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Early Elvish Poetry and Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets", in Parma Eldalamberon XVI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, Carl F. Hostetter and Bill Welden), p. 63
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 45