D is for Dwarf

D stands for Dwarf

Dwarf is the topic I have chosen for today’s post. I am reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ for my daughter and ‘Gimli’ is one of her favourite characters. Dwarfs have a prominent mention in many mythological stories and they are often described as the ugly, fat not so good looking creatures often admired for their craftsmanship.  J.R.R.Tolkien borrowed many of his concepts and names for his characters from ancient Norse mythology. The famous Gandalf is supposed to be a Norse dwarf in Norse mythology. Norse mythology refers to the collection of the sagas of Scandinavia. In these sagas, Elves are often described as radiant and beautiful whereas dwarfs often act as earthen smiths.

Simonside dwarfs are also mentioned in various legends. These are the dwarfs of Simonside hills in the North Cumberland region and are infamous as the dark and mischievous pests that attack travellers in the night. These dwarves, also referred to as Brownmen, Bogles and Duergar have legends of a leader by the name of Roarie. They are known to lead hikers astray, usually after dark with lit torches, and into dark bogs.

Greek mythology also mentions dwarfs and calls them Pygmies. In the ancient epic Iliad they were involved in constant war with the cranes. The Pygmies were often portrayed as pudgy, comical dwarfs.

Native American folklore mentions a race of magical little people called Black Imps. Black Imps are known to make their home on the slopes of sacred Mount Shasta and use their magic to punish people who disrespect the mountain or violate taboos. This folklore also mentions many other dwarf tribes one of them being the cannibal dwarfs known to be dangerous man-eaters. They are believed to be destroyed in an ancient war with the Arapahos and other allied Native American tribes.

Apasmara is a dwarf in Hindu folklore. He represented ignorance and epilepsy in Hindu mythology. There is a need of balance between knowledge and ignorance hence Apasmara could not be killed. Killing Apasmara would mean that one can attain knowledge without effort, dedication and hard work. Apasmara hence had to be subdued. For this reason, Lord Siva adopted his Nataraja form and crushed Apasmara under his right foot. Many bronze statues of Nataraja depict Nataraja in this pose performing Tandava while Apasmara is depicted under his foot in Anjali Mudra.

The other famous dwarf account in Hindu mythology is that of Vamana the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Bhagavat Purana describes this avatar of Vishnu which he takes in order to kill Asura king Mahabali and restore the power of heavens back to Indra.

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