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Huinesoron 01-28-2021 04:16 AM

Unlucky Thirteen

Originally Posted by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Party
"You asked me to find the fourteenth man for your expedition, and I chose Mr. Baggins. Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal.

There are a number of theories as to why 13 is considered an unlucky number in our world (my street actually skips it, which is somewhat hilarious), but none of them seem to hold up for the dwarves: they all depend on Primary World events, or in one case, on the idea that thirteen full moons in a year would be bad (but for the dwarves, I think this would make their New Year a Durin's Day, and therefore be a positive thing!).

Looking back to the origin of the dwarves, though, I think I've found a plausible explanation. There are several accounts of their creation: some (as in the Silmarillion) saying they were originally seven, some that the Fathers were put to sleep each with a group of kin - and one recurring story which talks about their wives.


Originally Posted by Letter 212
When [Aule] had made thirteen*, God spoke to him in anger...

*One, the eldest, alone, and six more with six mates.


Originally Posted by HoME XI: Concerning the Dwarves (draft passages)
(b) There [Aule] made first one Dwarf, the eldest of all, and after he made six others, the fathers of their race; and then he began to make others again, like to them but of female kind to be their mates. But he wearied, and when he [had] made six more he rested...

In this account (dated by C.T. to the late '50s), there were originally thirteen dwarves - and the only reason there weren't fourteen was that Aule got worn out before he finished the job! Thirteen is the reason Durin awoke alone; it's a number that marks an incomplete task that never will be completed. I think that's a pretty plausible origin for 'unlucky thirteen' among the Longbeards, at least.

Interestingly, an alternate passage in HoME suggests that Iluvatar made the six Mothers of the Dwarves. It seems to have been quickly dropped, but if retained would make this even stronger: thirteen is a punishment by the One specifically on Durin and his folk!


Kuruharan 01-28-2021 03:00 PM

Works for me. :D

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