Tuesday, June 2, 2009


This is a bit of a spoiler, as I carved these two images for an upcoming swap. I have never been much of a Tolkien fan, but I have seen the most recent movies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (well done, by the way). It has been interesting to do a little bit of research about my chosen subject matter.

J. R. R. Tolkien was an artist in pictures as well as in words. Though he often remarked that he had no talent for drawing, his art has charmed readers and has been exhibited to large and appreciative audiences. In fact, his talent was far more than he admitted, and his sense of design was natural and keen. Portraits are conspicuously absent from his work.

Below are two illustrations by Tolkien, both are Luthien devices. (Both stamps are 2" in diameter.)

Luthien Tinuviel I

So, what is a device?

A heraldic device (informally, your "coat of arms") is essentially a personal "logo," and identifies you the way a company's logo identifies the company. On a shield, it tells who's on the field fighting, on tableware it tells whose place, or on clothing it tells who's in the clothing. The heraldic device originated in war; during the chaos of battle, you had to decide within seconds whether someone approaching was friend or enemy. The device would be painted on a shield to tell who was behind that shield. It was so helpful for identification during war that it soon spread into peacetime use as well. Since a device identified the man who displayed it, it was very important that no two men had the same device. Colleges of Arms came into being to resolve conflicting claims on a device, and the heralds gradually assumed the job of keeping track of who owned which device.

Luthien Tinuviel II

The Tale of Beren and Lúthien is the story of the love and adventures of the mortal Man Beren and the immortal Elf-maiden Lúthien, as told in several works of Tolkien. It takes place during the First Age of Middle-earth, about 6500 years before the events of his most famous book, The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien wrote several versions of their story, the latest written in The Silmarillion. Beren and Lúthien are also mentioned in The Lord of the Rings.

When Tolkien was stationed at Kingston upon Hull, he and Edith, his wife, went walking in the woods at nearby Roos, and Edith began to dance for him in a clearing among the flowering hemlock:

"We walked in a wood where hemlock was growing, a sea of white flowers."

This incident inspired the account of the meeting of Beren and Lúthien, and Tolkien often referred to Edith as "my Lúthien.


Mama Cache said...

Vibrant. Stunning. These are absolutely beautiful. That had to feel so satisfying.

Ari C'rona said...

Wow! I didn't know all that about Tolkien, devices, and Luthien - I haven't read the Silmarillion. Those images are awesome! :o)

Dawn said...

I've been a Rings nerd since the 8th grade
I actually tried to write my own Elvish/English dictionary then. (I still remember that Celeborn means Silver Foot)

Thank you for your comment on my quilt and my blog. I'd like my blog to look more like yours!
I set up a slide show of some of my favorite photos. But I can't figure out how to get it at the bottom of the page

GreyCrazy said...

OHhhhh, I am SO glad I wrote you that email!! (laughing) These are absolutely beautiful.

The tombstones for Tolkien and his wife are marked Beren and Luthien. Even in death, they are linked immortal.

Draygonflies said...

Wow! These are beautiful! I love the vibrant colors and the fine details!


Nitrocat said...

I've tried several times to get through The Silmarillion on audio book with no success.
These carves are stunning.


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