Dwarfs and manufacturers

'Dwarf' too is a Germanic word: Norse dvergr, Old English dweorh, Old High German twerg. In principle the Dwarfs and the Elves are separate peoples. In the Alvissmal, for example, each item listed is assigned a different term in their two vocabularies. But in practice the boundary is fluid. Snorri's Dark Elves in

54 Ishkol-Kerovpian (1986), 135.

55 Grimm (1883-8), 449, 469, 1421 f.; Mannhardt (1905), i. 62.

56 Grimm (1883-8), 443, 463-9, 1418-22; Mannhardt (1905), i. 62 f.; Turville-Petre (1964), 232. On elves in general cf. Grimm, 442-72; de Vries (1956), i. 257-60; Turville-Petre, 230-2.

particular are not distinguished from dwarfs (Gylf. 34, Skaldsk. 35). Dwarfs are often credited with the same kinds of antisocial behaviour as elves.

Dwarfs, however, are more especially associated with living underground, beneath rocks, and with magical craftsmanship. In Nordic myth they make all kinds of wonderful things, sometimes commissioned by the gods.57 They can make things for men too. German legends tell of a dwarf smith or smiths who would work by night under his hill and leave finished ploughshares or other articles to be found in the morning.58 A parallel story from the Mediterranean was recorded by Pytheas of Massalia in the fourth century bce: Hephaestus was believed to live under Stromboli, where the roar of his furnace and the clanging of his hammers could be heard; in former days a man could leave unworked iron at the place, and the next day he would collect the sword or whatever it was that he required, and pay for the work (sch. Ap. Rhod. 4. 761—5a).

'Hephaestus' here must stand for a local smith figure, who may or may not have been a dwarf in the sense of being small of physique. Certainly there is a wider association between dwarfs and secret manufacturing or creative labour. In Latvian folklore there is a dwarf Rukis who lives under mountains or tree roots and who comes out at night to advance the works of men.59 The Idaean Dactyls of Greek myth were conceived as wizards who lived on the Phrygian or Cretan Mt Ida and invented iron-working ('Hes.' fr. 282, Phoronis fr. 2). But these mountains took their name from a word for 'timber forest', and the ISaun AaKrvXoi must originally have been the 'forest Finger-people', dwarfs no bigger than a finger who lived in the wooded hills and worked with metals.60 Analogous names are borne by the Pygmaioi, 'Fist-sized folk', and by the Tom Thumb and Däumling of folk-tale. The Lithuanian Barzdukai, dwarfs who lived underground or under elders, were according to Praetorius 'about a finger tall'.61

The artificer function is not altogether foreign to elves. Snorri, as we saw, regarded the dwarfs as a category of elf. The mythical smith Volund (Weland) is called 'prince of elves', as noted in Chapter 3, and the fact that one of the

57 A¡víeemd¡ 3, cf. Voluspa 48; Ynglinga saga 12; Gylf. 34, Skaldsk. 35; de Vries (1956), i. 254; Turville-Petre (1964), 233-5.

58 A. Kuhn, ZVS 4 (1855), 96-8. A similar legend, cited by Kuhn, attached to Wayland's Smithy on the Ridgeway above the Vale of the White Horse. Someone whose horse had lost a shoe would take it there, put down some money, and withdraw for a while. When he returned the money would be gone and the horse re-shod.

59 Biezais-Balys (1973), 438.

60 U. von Wilamowitz, Kl. Schr. v(2) (Berlin 1937), 31.

61 Cf. Grimm (1883-8), 449-51, 1412; Mannhardt (1936), 542. Albanian dwarfs too live under mountains: Lambertz (1973), 507 f.

poetic terms for the sun is alfrgdull, 'elf-halo', could be taken to imply that elves made it. There is a long-standing theory that the name of the Vedic Rbhus, whose marvellous craftsmanship was also mentioned in Chapter 3, is cognate with elf.62 The phonological equivalence is not perfect, however, as the Germanic word is an o-stem, not a u-stem, and different Ablaut grades have to be assumed in the root, *h2elbh-l*h2\bh-. The alternative connection of Rbhu- with Greek Orpheus is easier linguistically (if we posit dialect transmission), though the figures have next to nothing in common.63

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