Tolkien Gateway

Fëanorian lamps

Fëanorean lamps
Object
Ted Nasmith - Tuor, Gelmir, and Arminas.jpg
"Tuor, Gelmir, and Arminas" by Ted Nasmith
LocationValinor, later Middle-earth
OwnerNoldor
AppearanceBlue flame in a white crystal
CreatorFëanor (inventor)
"...they were made of old in Valinor, and neither wind nor water could quench them, and when they were unhooded they sent forth a clear blue light from a flame imprisoned in white crystal."
Unfinished Tales, Of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin

Fëanorian lamps were lamps which emitted a blue light from a flame from within a white crystal. They are described as "crystals hung in a fine chain net, the crystals being ever shining with an inner blue radiance". The lamps were created in Valinor and the flame could not be extinguished by wind or water. The Noldor were famous for the flames, but unfortunately the craft was lost with them. Gelmir possessed one of these lamps when he met Tuor.[1]

Some of the Noldor who had been captured by Morgoth and put to work in his mines had Fëanorian lamps with them. Gwindor was one of these enslaved Elves, and when he escaped he took with him one of these lamps.[2]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

The lamps were part of the legendarium from very early stages, but Christopher Tolkien did not mention them in the published Silmarillion. For example, in one version of the story, Túrin Turambar recognised the face of Beleg whom he had slain by the light of Gwindor's lamp;[3] yet in the version included in the Silmarillion, it was lightning which revealed Beleg's face to Túrin.[2]

A detailed description of the nature of the lamps is described in the early Lay of the Children of Húrin, when Belegs finds Gwindor in the forest of Taur-nu-Fuin after seeing his lamp shining in the distance:

But little lanterns of lucent crystal
and silver cold with subtlest cunning
they strangely fashioned, and steadfast a flame
burnt unblinking there blue and pale,
unquenched for ever. The craft that lit them
was the jewel-makers' most jealous secret.
Not Morgoth's might, nor meed nor torment
them vowed, availed to reveal that lore;
yet lights and lamps of living radiance,
many and magical, they made for him.
No dark could dim them the deeps wandering;
whose lode they lit was lost seldom
in groundless grot, or gulfs far under.
The Lay of the Children of Húrin, II. Beleg, vv. 787-799

This scene of Beleg finding Gwindor with one of these lamps was painted by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien (1979), no. 37.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Children of Húrin, "The Death of Beleg"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", p. 51, note 2