Traditional Dwarven Map of Middle-Earth

This has been a work in progress for some time now… in between other items whenever I had a moment to spare.

This might be a bit odd to look at, at first, but as is traditional among the Dwarves, the map is drawn with East at the top.

Meaning that the mountains, trees and rivers have been hand-drawn by myself, so apologies for that, as I’m anything but an artist.




About The Dwarrow Scholar

The Dwarrow Scholar first experienced the brilliance of Tolkien when he received a copy of The Hobbit from his uncle as a kid, reading it feverishly again and again. Some years on, when he got his very own walk-man (aye forget about tiny phones, this thing was a brick and played cassette tapes) he made his own little audiotape of The Hobbit, so he could listen to it on his bike on his way to school. Between reenacting the Battle of Five armies with 4 of his school friends (still feel sorry for the kid that had to be the Orc) and before the days of the internet, you would find Roy frequently in libraries trying to find all he could about Tolkien and his beloved dwarves. When Roy isn’t delving into Neo-Khuzdul or searching for lost dwarvish treasures on the net he’s enjoying time with his wife and son, re-reading his tormented Tolkien paperbacks, watching a good movie, learning new languages or playing a game of LoTRO or other dwarf related games.
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8 Responses to Traditional Dwarven Map of Middle-Earth

  1. tricksy says:

    I think the map is pretty darn good for someone who claims to not be an artist. And why do dwarves have East at the top of maps, by the way? I know next to nothing about dwarves.


    • The first two versions Tolkien made of Thror’s map had North at the top of the map. Only when the map was redrawn as a landscaped endleaf did it acquire the “east at the top” arrangement.

      Tolkien later noted that this layout was the traditional way Dwarven maps were drawn – it in fact was the typical manner of medieval topographical maps (Jerusalem being made more prominent in this manner).

      The choice Tolkien made to copy this format would indicate the importance of the East for the dwarves, as the place of their first awakening.

      I do not believe it has anything to do with the Sun though. The moon is far more important for dwarves than the sun. Main reason though is that in Arda, the Sun first arose in the West:

      ~ The Silmarillion, “Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor”
      quote: At the first rising of the Sun the Younger Children of Ilúvatar awoke in the land of Hildórien in the eastward regions of Middle-earth; but the first Sun arose in the West, and the opening eyes of Men were turned towards it, and their feet as they wandered over the Earth for the most part strayed that way.


    • Cillendor says:

      Tolkien based the Dwarves heavily on the Hebrews. Their language is “Semitic”, and much of their culture is also very “Hebrew”. In Hebrew maps, East was to the top. I think this is why Tolkien oriented their maps that way.


      • Tolkien indeed based his Dwarves chiefly on the Jews, both in customs as in language. However, some of the earliest Judaic maps were meant to illustrate the Holy Scriptures and reflected ancient traditions of mapping such as that of Ptolemy; where North was on top of the map. This is why many cultures including the Romans and even the Hebrews chiefly adopted the same tradition of mapping, placing North at the top of the map. In the West it wasn’t until medieval times, at the time of the crusades, that Jerusalem was given a more prominent place on the map, placing East at the top. Hence my reasoning here, that I believe Tolkien wished to indicate the East as a place of importance for the Dwarves. – Which he writes as being the home of their eldest halls.


  2. Nick says:

    It makes sense.. where the Sun comes out in the mornings… I’ve seen pre-columbian petroglyphs where maps are oriented like that 😉


  3. tricksy says:

    Thanks for explaining. Had no clue there was that much thought behind it. After learning this I had to check my Thorin map to see if it had East at the top as well and I was surprised to see that it does! Can’t believe I never even noticed that before. Now I have a bit of lore to go along with the map. Thanks. 😀


  4. Given the similarity to medieval mapping, perhaps world maps would have been centred on Gundabad? admittedly its relatively northerly position makes it kinda poor as a centre-point, but thematically it could make a lot of sense.


    • That indeed would be a possibility, and I would agree completely with that, especially for world maps. As Gundabad has such a profound importance for all seven clans. I have started on a similar map in the past, with Gundabad centered, however I never found the time to finish it. Your post makes me want to pick that up again. 🙂


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