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Sundering of the Elves

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The Elves are a sundered people. They awoke at Cuiviénen on the continent of Middle-earth (see: Awakening of the Elves), where they were divided into three tribes: the Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Teleri. After some time, they were summoned by Oromë to live with the Valar in Aman. That summons and the Great Journey that followed split the Elves into two main groups (and many minor ones), which were never fully reunited.

The name Quendi refers to all elves.

A chart of the Sundering of the Elves


The Avari, the "Unwilling", are those who refused the summons of Oromë. Half of the original Avari were of the Tatyar and the other half were of the Nelyar.[1] Those of the Tatyar and Nelyar who embarked on the Great Journey would come to be known as the Noldor and Teleri respectively.

The Teleri were subject to multiple sunderings along the Great Journey, unlike the Vanyar and Noldor, which resulted in the offshoot tribes of the Nandor and Sindar. Collectively, the Avari, Nandor, and Sindar are called Moriquendi ("Elves of Darkness") in recognition of the fact that they did not see the light of the Two Trees. The largest part of the Moriquendi were Nelyarin, since half of the original Avari were so, as were all of the Nandor and Sindar.[2] While all of the Eldar departed Middle-earth by the early Fourth Age, it appears that the Avari mostly stayed or died out: there is no account of their passage Westward.[source?]


The Eldar are those who accepted the summons. Their name, "People of the Stars", was given to them by Oromë in their own language. Those of the Lindar who undertook the Great Journey were called the Teleri.

  • Those of the Teleri who refused to cross the Misty Mountains, and stayed in the valley of the Anduin River, are called the Nandor ("Valley People").
    • Those of the Nandor who left the Anduin under the leadership of Denethor and came to Beleriand are called the Laiquendi ("Green-elves").
    • The other Nandor became known as the Silvan Elves, living in the forests of Wilderland. They were joined there by some of the Avari.
  • Those of the Teleri who reached Beleriand by the Great Sea but did not make the crossing to Aman were called the Sindar ("Grey-elves").
    • Many of the Teleri chose to remain behind in order to look for their lord Thingol, who disappeared near the end of the journey. These were known as the Eglath ("Forsaken"), because they were left behind when their kindred crossed the Sea.
    • Those of the Teleri who came to the shores of the Great Sea but decided to stay there or, like Nowë, intended to cross to Aman but arrived too late to board the island ferry, are called the Falathrim ("People of the Shore").
  • The Teleri under the lordship of Olwë who made the crossing across Belegaer to Aman are known as the Falmari ("Wave-folk").
  • The Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Falmari are called the Calaquendi ("Elves of the Light") because they saw the Two Trees.
    • Most of the Noldor returned with Fëanor to Middle-earth, and at least some of these remained there through the Third Age. These became known as the Exiles.
    • Those Noldor that remained behind or returned under Finarfin became known as the Aulendur ("Servants of Aulë").
(Quendi · People of the Stars · Firstborn · Elder Kindred)
Three Kindreds:
(Eldar · Eldalië · Edhil)
 Vanyar (Fair-elves · Minyar) · Noldor (Deep-elves · Tatyar) · Teleri (Lindar · Nelyar)
(High-elves · Amanyar)
 Vanyar · Noldor · Falmari
Úmanyar:  Sindar (Grey-elves · Eglath · Falathrim) · Nandor (Green-elves · Silvan Elves)
 Moriquendi:  Úmanyar · Avari (Dark Elves · The Unwilling)
See also:  Awakening of the Elves · Sundering of the Elves · Great Journey


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: C. The Clan-names, with notes on other names for divisions of the Eldar", pp. 380-83
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"