Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

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Stormcrow
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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Stormcrow » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:11 pm

There are no democracies in Middle-earth! We know little about dwarf society. I would not at all be surprised if it had some kind of caste system.

We do know that dwarves have been made outcasts: the Petty-dwarves. The "petty" means "doesn't belong to a clan," but they are looked on with derision by other dwarves. They have a sense of clannishness. We know some dwarves are more important than others: Thorin is a king, not Bofur. I can't imagine that the only layers of dwarven society are "king" and "everyone else."

Also remember that most of the characters we meet in Middle-earth are aristocrats. Sam and his peers are the notable exceptions, along with the folk of Bree. Of dwarves, Thorin and his family are all in the ruling class, Mim and his sons are petty-dwarves and outcasts, and we have no solid information about the rest. They're certainly mostly rich, though.

I also wouldn't expect dwarf beards to be legally or socially mandated to be a certain length. A dwarf would want to grow his beard as long as possible while still looking good (i.e., trim it where necessary). HAVING the beard is a sign of good dwarfishness. DECORATING the beard is a sign of status as a dwarf.

Again, this is just speculation with no data. I just find this more likely than dwarves being proud because their hair happens to grow faster than someone else's. Beard-growth is not an achievement. It just happens. Rather, it is a sign, a symbol.

Stormcrow
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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Stormcrow » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:19 pm

Majestic wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:05 pm
One entire subclass was known as the Longbeards, too. Did they get that name because they already had the highest status? Or was it more that they got to grow their beards longer than the others because of their place in society?
The Longbeards aren't a subclass; they're a clan. Each clan lives in a separate city, originally, and don't mix all that much, so it wouldn't be "their place in society." All the dwarves of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are Longbeards.

Whether the length of the Longbeards' beards is significant, I don't know. Maybe they're snooty because theirs is the House of Durin. Maybe they're genetically predisposed to grow longer beards. Maybe it's just their style. Maybe each dwarf house has its own status symbols, and the length of a dwarf's beard is the symbol of the Longbeards. I dunno.

Glorelendil
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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Glorelendil » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:02 am

There are no Centauri in Middle-earth, either. I believe both are what are known as "illustrative examples".

And certainly there might, in the absence of specific evidence to the contrary, be a caste system among the Dwarves, just like there could be a flourishing secret theocracy of Yavanna-worshippers in the Blue Mountains.

You then immediately discard the legally/socially mandated beard concept, so I'm not sure why you were defending a caste system in the first place. It's not even clear to me what we disagree on.

I think we're both saying that the simplest explanation is that rich, full, well-tended beards are simply expressions of 'Dwarfliness', and that there is no deeper symbology behind them. Not so different from some human sub-cultures, both current and former. It's a 'status' symbol in the sense that, in some human subcultures, having a big pickup is: it doesn't denote rank or caste or really even wealth. It's just a signaling of priorities, shared values, and group membership.

And if Balin's beard grew by only "several inches" in 8 years then I can only dream of such a slow growth rate. Shaving once a month!
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Stormcrow
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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Stormcrow » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:11 am

Glorelendil wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:02 am
It's not even clear to me what we disagree on.
Who says we're disagreeing on anything here? I thought we were exploring the possibilities.

Glorelendil
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Re: Frár's Beard (...or Lack Thereof.)

Post by Glorelendil » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:29 am

Stormcrow wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:11 am
Glorelendil wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:02 am
It's not even clear to me what we disagree on.
Who says we're disagreeing on anything here? I thought we were exploring the possibilities.
Excellent!
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