Dwarf Stars

As I indicated here, the modern concept of dwarfs seems to largely derive from the dark elves of Norse mythology, although they’ve diverged in modern fantasy and fairy tales. These creatures were said to dwell underground in the world of Svartalfheim, where they forged Thor‘s hammer and several other treasures for the gods. I’m not sure they were especially associated with mining, but since they had to get the raw material from somewhere, it makes sense. Snow White’s seven dwarfs lived in a tiny house in the forest, but they worked in a mine for ore and minerals in the mountains. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Dwarves are both miners and craftsmen. But what about dwarfs in the Oz series? No, Munchkins don’t count as dwarfs, as much as MGM might have led people to think otherwise. L. Frank Baum’s Nomes (as he spelled it) bear some resemblance to the dwarfs of folklore, in that they mine for and work with gems and metals.

Baum didn’t use the word “dwarf” all that much that I can recall. He does refer to trying to eliminate “the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy” in his introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Woot asks if Nimmie Amee is a dwarf in The Tin Woodman of Oz. And in The Enchanted Island of Yew, some of the subjects of King Terribus of Spor are dwarfs, including a troop of poisoned dart throwers. Ruth Plumly Thompson used dwarfs more often, but seemed to have the idea that they lived in trees. Her poem “An Ozzy Adventure” tells of “a mischievous dwarf, blown clear out of his tree” who cuts off the Cowardly Lion’s mane. “The Enchanted Tree of Oz” is an unfinished story about about a dwarf called Whutter Wee, who lives in a tree that magically traps people. There was a contest to finish this tale back in 1927, but none of the submissions are known to survive. The International Wizard of Oz Club printed it again in 1965, and the winning ending that time was Bill Eubank’s, which explained that the tree had been enchanted by the Wicked Witch of the West.

Then there’s the King of the Snow Dwarfs in Ojo in Oz, whose tale I recounted here.

Poor guy could use some Compound W.
He lives in an “underground ice palace,” presumably beneath Snow Mountain, but reaches it “between the roots of an oak tree.” So maybe the trees are portals to the dwarfs’ underground homes. In the same book, the unicorns of Unicorners are attended by dwarfs with long blue beards. Their leader Pat has the title of Prime Patter, and Ojo says that Pat “reminds me of the old Gnome King, only he’s much pleasanter.”

They have superhuman strength, and when they’re not tending the unicorns, they work in the nearby mines to find jewels for Queen Roganda’s Treasure Tree. While the unicorns do live in trees, there’s no indication as to where the dwarfs dwell.

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This entry was posted in Authors, Characters, Fairy Tales, J.R.R. Tolkien, L. Frank Baum, Mythology, Norse, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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