Norse Dwarves: From Maggots to Creators of Thor Hammer

Among all of the Norse creatures, dwarves were overshadowed by the glory of gods and the darkness of giant. Though Norse mythology didn’r revolve around the dwarves, they played an important role in myth. Indeed, the Norse dwarves were not only the creators of Norse gods’ weapons but they also held up the sky. This blog post will give you a vivid and brief description of the Norse dwarves.

Where did the Norse dwarves came from?

A dwarf talking to a mysterious one-eyed stranger wearing a hood and holding a spear in his hand

No one knows what “dwarf” means and we cannot explain why the image of small man with beard becomes the common sight of the dwarves.

According to Norse mythology, Odin and brothers fought to kill Ymir the first giant of the cosmos. When Ymir died, gods used his body to fashion the world. Maggots crawled out from Ymir’s body and became the dwarves. Then the dwarves came into the Nine Worlds. Their kingdom was in Svartalfheim which always appeared to be dark and dull. And the dwarves lived inside the caves within the rocks where they would forge the most powerful weapons for the gods.

The first four dwarves were supposed to hold up the sky. When gods finished fashioning the world, they needed someone to hold up the sky. And this responsibility fell to four dwarves: Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri (North, South, East, and West respectively).

Dwarves were the creators of gods’ weapons

The dwarves in Norse mythology were famous for being the most skillful craftsmen in the Nine Worlds. Nearly all of the powerful Norse weapons originated in Svartalfheim of the dwarves.

The mighty Norse weapons made by dwarves included: Mjolnir hammer of Thor, Gungnir Spear of Odin, Draupnir Ring of Odin, Gullinbursti Boar of Freyr, Gleipnir the chain that bound Fenrir, Skidbladnir Ship of Freyr, Brisingamen Necklace of Freya, and Beautiful Golden Hair of Sif Thor’s Wife.

Norse dwarves were the creators of many powerful weapons of gods
Norse dwarves were the creators of many powerful weapons of gods

But not all dwarves were nice

There were two Norse tales that made the dwarves despicable.

The first time was when two sibling dwarves killed Kvasir the wisest being in the cosmos. Kvasir was the product of gods presenting the peace treaty among the Vanir and the Aesir gods. He was the most benevolent creature in Nine Worlds. Taking up a life of a traveler, Kvasir traveled Nine Worlds to spread his knowledge. He happened to knock at the door of the dwarves’ house. These dwarves were Fjalar and Galar who knew that Kvasir’s blood could create the best mead in the world. Killing Kvasir, they brewed the famous Mead of Poetry and told gods that Kvasir was dead because of knowledge overload.

The second time was when gods were carrying out Baldur’s funeral. Upon hearing the news that Baldur the shining and beloved god passed away, everyone in the cosmos mourned for his death, especially the gods. The funeral was carried out and everyone was feeling sorry for the loss of Odin and Frigg (Baldur’s parents). And a dwarf whose name was Litr crossed across the funeral and laughed. Without a second, Thor standing by the pyre of Baldur kicked Litr into the pyre to accompany Baldur into his afterlife.

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