Thread: Vanyar
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Old 06-27-2002, 11:09 PM   #2
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At Greenbooks, in the recent Q&A update, a question was asked about Legolas' hair, and the hair of his father Thranduil. In response to the answer given by Anwyn (which I thought to be insufficient), I emailed the following:

There was no strict rule as to hair color among the Elves. In general, however, the golden hair came from the Vanyar, while the Noldor had dark hair. As for the hair of the Sindar, Tolkien writes this in "Quendi and Eldar," WOTJ:

"The Loremasters also supposed that reference was made [in the name 'Sindar', which means 'grey, pale or silvery grey'] to the hair of the Sindar. Elwe himself had indeed long and beautiful hair of silver hue, but this does not seem to have been a common feature of the Sindar, though it was found among them occasionally, especially in the nearer or remoter kin of Elwe (as in the case of Círdan). In general the Sindar appear to have very closely resembled the Exiles, being dark-haired, strong and tall, but lithe. Indeed they could hardly be told apart except by their eyes; for the eyes of all the Elves that had dwelt in Aman impressed those of Middle-earth by their piercing brightness."

Text in brackets is mine.

According to The Shibboleth of Fëanor, three of Fëanor's sons apparently had red hair!

So hair color really isn't as indicative as many people believe. Because the Elven tribes were defined by who followed whom, and not necessarily who fathered whom; and since intermarriage between tribes was not forbidden, it would not be inconceivable for Legolas, although Sindarin, to have light hair.
In answer to your first question, I would say it's actually possible that some of the Avari were from the light-haired families that originally made up the Vanyar. Unless it specifically says somewhere that all of the Vanyar stuck to the journey from Cuivienen to the end, I would assume that there were an odd few who, for one reason or another, stuck around in Middle-earth. Maybe one of them married Thranduil's father, and that's how he inherited golden hair? Galadriel is actually only part Vanya, though, being the granddaughter of Finwe and his second wife, Indis of the Vanyar.
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