Andvari the Dwarf and the Cursed Gold

In Norse mythology, there was a dwarf named Andvari whose family background was a mystery. What the myth told us about him was his precious gold that gave him more and more treasure everyday. Andvari the dwarf loved his treasure so much that he couldn’t leave it for a second. Things started to go wrong when Loki took the gold away from Andvari.

The journey of the gods to Svartalfheim

Svartalfheim was the homeland of the dwarves who were the most talented craftsmen in the cosmos. There was a dwarf king whose name was Hreidmarr (Hreiðmarr). The dwarf king had many sons Regin, Ótr, Lyngheiðr, Lofnheiðr, and Fafnir.

Dwarf King in Norse mythology. The story of Andvari the Dwarf and his cursed gold
Dwarf King in Norse mythology

Odin, Hoenir, and Loki who lived up in Asgard land of gods once travelled to Svartalfheim. Whatever their reason for the journey, it didn’t go on really well. Along the way, they happened to see an otter whose skin was so beautiful that they wanted to have it badly. Loki picked up a stone along the way and threw it toward the otter. The hit was so hard that the otter couldn’t survive and the gods took his skin off as a prize.

When they entered the hall of Hreidmarr, they showed the king what they had achieved – the beautiful otter skin. Realizing that the otter was actually a son of his, the King got angry and seized the gods. Blood by blood, the king made them pay for what they had done. He demanded a compensatory payment for the loss.

Loki was the one that had to bear the responsibility and he had to turn back to find a ransom. Somehow he learnt of Andvari and the precious treasure of this dwarf.

Andvari in fact wasn’t easy to get caught as he could shapeshift himself into a pike at will. That made Loki have to borrow the magical net from Ran giantess of the ocean to catch the dwarf. Of course, the little dwarf was no match for Loki who could annoy Thor God of Thunder to the point that Thor had to kill someone. Loki threatened to kill the dwarf if he didn’t give out the gold. Andvari did give out but he cursed that gold that whoever possessed it would meet their demise.

The collapse of King’s family

Of course, Loki wouldn’t be the one that possessed the gold. It was the dwarf king Hreidmarr that took the gold as a ransom. Loki brought the gold to the king and asked him to release Odin and Hoenir.

As the gold started to give Hreidmarr with more and more treasure, he had to have someone to guard the hoard. No one could he trust rather than his own sons. Among the sons, he chose Fafnir who was the bravest and strongest among them. But greed started to implant inside Fafnir as he wanted to possess the hoard for himself only.

To possess the hoard, he had to kill the owner of the hoard. And then the son Fafnir killed the father Hreidmarr to possess the gold for himself. Fafnir then brought the gold and went into the forest. He become greedy and very ill-natured. He guarded the hoard inside the woods and gradually turned himself into a dragon.

Sigurd the foster son of Regin killed Fafnir

The strory of the cursed gold went on when Regin the brother of Fafnir planned to kill Fafnir under the blade of Regin’s foster son, Sigurd. The gold then became the treasure of Regin who planned to kill Sigurd his foster son. But Sigurd was quicker and he killed Regin when knowing this foster fathe was about to slay him.

Sigurd who now possessed the gold also quickly met his demise.

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