🧙 The Tolkien Forum 🧝

Welcome to our forum! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox! Plus you won't see ads ;)

Uncertain hair colors: Celegorm and Legolas

Elaini

Lost in Eä
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
Messages
113
Reaction score
94
Location
Finland
I don't think the hair color of Legolas of Celegorm were ever mentioned. But my analysis is this...

Celegorm:

Also called "the Fair". Now, it can mean three things: light colored, beautiful or likeable personality. In Celegorm's case it's certainly not the last one which leaves the two first.

I have seen fan art that often depicts him as Arafinwean golden blonde, but I've seen a few fans argue this, and I see why: the color is supposed to be unique to Arafinwions. Overall the Noldor are dark haired or with some exceptions – Mahtan red or Míriel silver.

So there is a chance that Celegorm's hair color might be lighter-than-average colored within Noldor through his grandmother (genes may sleep and then wake up generations later), but not fully golden. That probably leaves the ashy or fawn shades at the lightest. Fairness may also refer only to his face, so he may be just as dark haired as many of his brothers.

Legolas:

Thranduil is said to be blonde, and I do believe it might have been the shade which the Hobbit movies display him with, though it's rare with the Sindar. There's only one passage in Lord of the Rings that might describe it though it's unclear whether it refers to himself or his silhouette:

His head was dark, crowned with sharp white stars that glittered in the black pools of the sky behind.
So there is also a chance with Legolas that he's not at least fully blonde, which leaves similar shades to Celegorm.

But tell what you think...
 

Galin

Registered User
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
888
Reaction score
360
"golden was his long hair" (Quenta Silmarillion, HoMe vol 5), refers to Celegorm.

I recall Christopher Tolkien noting that, despite Appendix F (quoted below), he kept "the fair" in the constructed Silmarillion with respect to Celegorm -- I assume CJRT thought this could be interpreted as not necessarily referring to hair.

"They were a race high and beautiful, the older Children of the world, and among them the Eldar were as kings, who are now gone: the People of the Great Journey, the People of the Stars. They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finarfin." JRRT, Appendix F

I picture Legolas as dark-haired :)
 
Last edited:

Alcuin

Registered User
Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Messages
838
Reaction score
413
Location
Consigned to the salt mines of Núrnen…
"golden was his long hair" (Quenta Silmarillion, HoMe vol 5), refers to Celegorm.

I recall Christopher Tolkien noting that, despite Appendix F (quoted below), he kept "the fair" in the constructed Silmarillion with respect to Celegorm -- I assume CJRT thought this could be interpreted as not necessarily referring to hair.

"They were a race high and beautiful, the older Children of the world, and among them the Eldar were as kings, who are now gone: the People of the Great Journey, the People of the Stars. They were tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finarfin." JRRT, Appendix F

I picture Legolas as dark-haired :)
Thank you, Galin. I could remember the quote but could not find it.

I also believe most Elves had dark hair. The Vanyar were most renowned for their lighter hair: the reason given for Finrod’s and Galadriel’s beautiful blond hair was their grandmother’s gold hair, Indis of the Vanyar, second wife of Finwë, was inherited by their son Finarfin and his children.

Thranduil father of Legolas, and Thranduil’s father Oropher, were originally Sindar of Doriath. When Celeborn refers to Legolas as his kin, he might indeed be referring to some near relationship (cousin), and not merely a polite reference to general kinship as Elves or even as Eldar of Doriath.

Olwë; his brother Elu Thingol; Olwë’s daughter Eärwen, who married Finarfin and so was the mother of Finrod and Galadriel; and Celeborn, presumably son of Olwë and Elwë’s brother Elmo; and Celebrían (“silver-crown”, I believe), daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn, all had “silver” hair. The mix of gold and silver in Galadriel’s hair is supposed to have inspired Fëanor to mix the light of the Two Trees in the Silmarils.

Oropher is supposed to have been kin to Elu, Olwë (and Elmo). Perhaps he also had “silver” hair, but there is no mention of it. But probably not: he seems to have been dark-haired.

Most of the artwork of Legolas I saw in the decades before Peter Jackson’s films were of a dark-haired Legolas. Blond-haired Elves in Lórien are, I think, Jackson’s invention.

One more item in this vein. In The Book of Lost Tales, Part II, Christopher Tolkien wrote,
[M]y father would write, in a wrathful comment on a “pretty” or “ladylike” pictorial rendering of Legolas:

He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgul, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship.
But where did Celegorm get his “golden” hair? His mother, grandfather, and some of his brothers were red-headed; and didn’t Maglor have silver hair?
 

Elaini

Lost in Eä
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
Messages
113
Reaction score
94
Location
Finland
I never heard of Maglor having a silver hair before... what is the source?
 

Galin

Registered User
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
888
Reaction score
360
(…) But where did Celegorm get his “golden” hair? His mother, grandfather, and some of his brothers were red-headed; and didn’t Maglor have silver hair?

I'm going to guess that Tolkien imagined Celegorm as golden-haired in an earlier phase, before his published description concerning the dark-haired Eldar and any later 1950s descriptions of the Noldor, as well as late descriptions that go with the alteration of names to Maedros, Amros and Amros (just to note it, these forms go with the "coppery, reddish, red-brown," hair details), and also before this bit, published in Vinyar Tengwar, about Nerdanel: "herself had brown hair and a ruddy complexion"

The version of QS in question, and the OE Annal names, are generally speaking, pre-Lord of the Rings, and the Lay description referred to below refers to the earlier version.

"Then Celegorm arose amid the throng (p. 169). In Quenta Silmarillion this is followed by 'golden was his long hair'. In the Lay at this point (line 1844) Celegorm has 'gleaming hair'; his Old English name was Cynegrim Faegerfeax ('Fair-hair'), IV. 213. The phrase was removed in The Silmarillion text on account of the dark hair of the Noldorin princes other than in 'the golden house of Finarfin' (see I. 44); but he remains 'Celegorm the fair' in The Silmarillion p. 60."
CJRT, The Lost Road and Other Writings: Commentary to On Beren and Tinúviel, page 299.

Although it must be said (or must it?), again in general, with respect to The Lay Recommenced, there is no later recasting of the whole canto with the Celegorm description, canto VI.

So . . .

. . . well, for myself, I'm guessing Tolkien would have eventually darkened up Celegorm's locks in the 1950s and later . . .

. . . to match the locks of Legolas ;)
 
Last edited:

Miguel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2018
Messages
433
Reaction score
287
Location
Under a blankie
I always thought Fingolfin was blond because the first time i saw him in artwork he was "blond", but then i read he was dark haired, though i'm not sure if this is definitive or not. In my mind he's always blond.
 

Elaini

Lost in Eä
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
Messages
113
Reaction score
94
Location
Finland
I always thought Fingolfin was blond because the first time i saw him in artwork he was "blond", but then i read he was dark haired, though i'm not sure if this is definitive or not. In my mind he's always blond.
This might tell you why Fingolfin is dark haired.

It's specified under the Silmarillion appendix.
 

Galin

Registered User
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
888
Reaction score
360
In the Silmarillion index it is said of Finarfin: "Alone among the Noldorin princes he and his descendants had golden hair, . . ." And this had already been suggested in something Tolkien himself published (Appendix F, The Return of the King) that the Eldar had dark locks "save in the golden house of Finarfin"

Which I would characterize as a generally true statement, allowing for exceptions. And in my opinion, given that the very house of Finarfin is the noted exception, I think it would be a bit strange if Fingolfin himself had golden locks.

Or something.
 

Galin

Registered User
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
888
Reaction score
360
I was going to note Idril, but my approach to Tolkien canon made me pause and wonder: when was the last known time (in a text) Tolkien referred to Idril as golden-haired . . . which I gave up trying to track down, again considering my approach to canon with respect to the matter of the hair of the "so called" Vanyar.

But that madness aside :D

In any case, I consider Celeborn and Thranduil as exceptions among the generally described dark-haired Eldar (Appendix F), as both are noted as Sindarin in author-published texts, and both don't seem to have what I would call dark locks.
 

Elaini

Lost in Eä
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
Messages
113
Reaction score
94
Location
Finland
This one?

Yet to none were his eyes more often drawn than Idril the King's daughter, who sat beside him; for she was golden as the Vanyar, her mother's kindred, and she seemed to him as the sun from which all the King's hall drew its light.
From "Of Maeglin" in The Silmarillion. Actually when the math is done she turns out to be mostly a Vanya (5/8) because she had Indis as an ancestor besides Elenwë. Not even Finarfin had the blood in such high amounts.
 

Galin

Registered User
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
888
Reaction score
360
That one, or any description like it; but what I meant was, I gave up trying to date the "latest" reference to Idril's hair as golden, by sifting through the posthumously published texts.

This description from Of Maeglin originally hails from 1951-ish, but Tolkien had a later typescript made, and if I read the runes correctly, made late revisions to the 1951-ish text, and the typed copy (typed by someone else), and the carbon copy of the later typed copy.

Christopher compares these texts to the version printed in his constructed Silmarillion, and basically, any notable revision stops before Idril's description of being golden-haired, with only one revision noted after it (with respect to the rest of the text that is, aside from a number of associated notes).

So Tolkien did not rewrite or retype the 1951 text, he made late comments, notes, revisions to the earlier text and to the two late copies. Question: does the fact that he did not revise Idril's hair as he went through these texts mean he re-authorized the idea much later that 1951?

Maybe. Arguably so even . . . but if so, hold on (or run away) . . .

. . . as, for the second edition of The Lord of the Rings (1960s) Tolkien revised a name in the very sentence in which he published that the Eldar were dark-haired save for the golden house of Finarfin. The "Vanyar" are not mentioned, but it appears clear enough to me that the meaning is: the Eldar who crossed the Sea, and the Sindarin Eldar (who did not cross the Sea), were predominantly dark-haired.

It's clear enough, anyway, that Christopher Tolkien himself objected to this statement due to the golden Vanyar, but nonetheless, his father did not amend the description for the revised version, despite revising Finrod > Finarfin in the same sentence!

So back to Idril . . .

I told you it was madness ;)
 
Last edited:

Miguel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2018
Messages
433
Reaction score
287
Location
Under a blankie
I like this point of view, it's a comment from the link:

For a while I actually imagined Fingolfin as brown haired (just something between Fëanor and Finarfin). I just wanted to (in my mind) set him apart from his brothers
 

Galin

Registered User
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
888
Reaction score
360
So the thread is aptly named uncertain, although perhaps colour confusion will do too :D

A) Celegorm's golden hair is removed from the constructed Silmarillion by Christopher Tolkien, due to the statement concerning the dark haired Eldar in Appendix F.

B) Idril's golden hair is not removed from the constructed Silmarillion however (granted there are differing circumstances between the two cases, ignored here for brevity).

3) Christopher Tolkien objects to the Appendix F statement, given that the description "dark" locks appears to refer in general even to the Vanyar (although the name Vanyar is not used in Appendix F in any case).

92) New-ish editions of The Return of the King now contain a note (not written or added by JRRT himself of course) explaining that this Appendix F reference refers to the Noldor only, not the Eldar.

π) As said, the new note reads Noldor "only" despite that we read (from posthumously published sources, where we also find the golden haired Vanyar, which produces the objection in the first place!) that the Sindar were also generally dark of hair like the Noldor.

In other words, dark locks does not accurately reflect only Noldorin hair colour in any case, despite that the meaning of the note is arguably correct from an external perspective (meaning that the description in question once did refer to the Noldor only, before Tolkien's own revision however, which broadened the meaning to Eldar, correctly including the Sindar at least, as the Sindar are Eldar.


Or to say it another way, given where the Vanyar (golden haired or not) have generally abided since very early in history, Tolkien's own published revision accurately describes the Eldar of Middle-earth.


Anyway, if I say Idril's case was retained because Tolkien introduced another Vanyarin element, and/or there are perhaps even later references to Idril's hair than in the 1951 text (or if I argue Tolkien revised this text late in life and left Idril's description in on purpose) . . .

. . . still, Tolkien did not revise his published (published by himself) description that the Eldar should be mostly dark haired save the House of Finarfin, arguably making the "Vanyar" predominantly dark haired in general > and thus, raising the question, why should more Vanyarin ancestry explain Idril's golden hair, if the Vanyar themselves are mostly dark haired!

Another thought (and more confusion)

And if we take Appendix F as published, the description arguably leaves golden, yellow or light coloured hair generally available for "non-eldarin" Elves. The golden haired Elf met in Lorien can be non-Eldarin, then. . . considering Tolkien's characterization of the Eldar in The Return of the King, once again, itself never revised for the second edition, despite that it appears to disagree with posthumously published characterizations of the term Eldar.

Ah, my head swims beneath Rauros . . . where incidentally, -ros does not refer to red, reddish, or coppery hair.

:D
 
Last edited:

CirdanLinweilin

The Wandering Wastrel
Joined
May 13, 2016
Messages
777
Reaction score
396
Location
Mission Viejo, California
So the thread is aptly named uncertain, although perhaps colour confusion will do too :D

A) Celegorm's golden hair is removed from the constructed Silmarillion by Christopher Tolkien, due to the statement concerning the dark haired Eldar in Appendix F.

B) Idril's golden hair is not removed from the constructed Silmarillion however (granted there are differing circumstances between the two cases, ignored here for brevity).

3) Christopher Tolkien objects to the Appendix F statement, given that the description "dark" locks appears to refer in general even to the Vanyar (although the name Vanyar is not used in Appendix F in any case).

92) New-ish editions of The Return of the King now contain a note (not written or added by JRRT himself of course) explaining that this Appendix F reference refers to the Noldor only, not the Eldar.

π) As said, the new note reads Noldor "only" despite that we read (from posthumously published sources, where we also find the golden haired Vanyar, which produces the objection in the first place!) that the Sindar were also generally dark of hair like the Noldor.

In other words, dark locks does not accurately reflect only Noldorin hair colour in any case, despite that the meaning of the note is arguably correct from an external perspective (meaning that the description in question once did refer to the Noldor only, before Tolkien's own revision however, which broadened the meaning to Eldar, correctly including the Sindar at least, as the Sindar are Eldar.


Or to say it another way, given where the Vanyar (golden haired or not) have generally abided since very early in history, Tolkien's own published revision accurately describes the Eldar of Middle-earth.


Anyway, if I say Idril's case was retained because Tolkien introduced another Vanyarin element, and/or there are perhaps even later references to Idril's hair than in the 1951 text (or if I argue Tolkien revised this text late in life and left Idril's description in on purpose) . . .

. . . still, Tolkien did not revise his published (published by himself) description that the Eldar should be mostly dark haired save the House of Finarfin, arguably making the "Vanyar" predominantly dark haired in general > and thus, raising the question, why should more Vanyarin ancestry explain Idril's golden hair, if the Vanyar themselves are mostly dark haired!

Another thought (and more confusion)

And if we take Appendix F as published, the description arguably leaves golden, yellow or light coloured hair generally available for "non-eldarin" Elves. The golden haired Elf met in Lorien can be non-Eldarin, then. . . considering Tolkien's characterization of the Eldar in The Return of the King, once again, itself never revised for the second edition, despite that it appears to disagree with posthumously published characterizations of the term Eldar.

Ah, my head swims beneath Rauros . . . where incidentally, -ros does not refer to red, reddish, or coppery hair.

:D
So...is this a long-winded finally definitive answer to that long debated topic of a certain Woodland Prince's hair color?!?

I jest. I have no intention of necro-posting THAT topic. (Thanks for the terminology Squint-Eyed Southerner! I had no idea that was a thing until you happened along, or should I say, shadily came around into the tavern seeking a certain halfling?)


I jest AGAIN.


I know, you all hate me now.


CL
 

Thread suggestions

Top