Thorin Oakenshield is, as Tolkien himself wrote, “an enormously important Dwarf” in the mythology of his Legendarium. The leader of the group of Dwarves whom Bilbo Baggins accompanied in The Hobbit was a great warrior and a noble ruler, although he was not without his flaws. While he is not one of the more mysterious characters from Tolkien’s mythology, some of his actions and traits are certainly interesting, which is why we have decided to make him the topic of today’s article. Today, we are going to tell you what exactly Thorin wore to distinguish himself from the other Dwarves and to support his importance in the group. If you’re interested, keep reading to find out!
In the first chapter of The Hobbit, Tolkien describes Thorin’s importance, stating that he wore “a sky-blue one with a long silver tassel”. This was ultimately a distinction that also proved that he was an “enormously important dwarf“, which further positioned him within the narrative.
Today’s article is going to be all about Thorin. We are going to tell you a little bit about the character himself and then describe what he actually wore to distinguish himself from the other Dwarves and to demonstrate – visually – his importance within the group.
Who is Thorin Oakenshield?
Thorin Oakenshield is a fictional character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, who appeared in The Hobbit and plays a very important role in Tolkien’s Legendarium and the stories of Middle-Earth. He leads the group of Dwarves that arrives at Bilbo’s house in the Shire and is actually a king.
Thorin was born in the year 2746 of the Third Age. A direct descendant of Durin, one of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves, he is the son of Thráin and the grandson of Thrór, ruler of the kingdom of Erebor which was experiencing a period of great prosperity at the time. He bears the same name as his ancestor Thorin I. His brother Frerin was born in 2751 and his sister Dís in 2760. In 2770, the dragon Smaug, attracted by rumours of the wealth of the kingdom, attacked the Lonely Mountain. Taken by surprise, the Dwarves offered no resistance and were slaughtered by the dragon. Few of them survived, among them Thorin, his father and his grandfather. Forced to flee, the survivors of Erebor are reduced to wandering and misery.
A few years later, the murder of Thrór by the Orc Azog ignites a long vendetta war between the Dwarves and the Orcs in the Misty Mountains. In the final confrontation of this war, the Battle of Azanulbizar (2799), Thorin fights valiantly in the front ranks, and his younger brother Frerin is killed. When his shield is split in half, Thorin grabs an oak branch and uses it as a shield and club, earning his nickname “Oakblade”. After Azanulbizar, Thráin and his people move west and settle in the Blue Mountains, west of Eriador. After the disappearance of his father, in 2841, Thorin becomes the lord of the exiles of Erebor. Even if they do not find their former glory, the Dwarves nevertheless know a certain prosperity; but the memory of the Lonely Mountain and the duty of vengeance on Smaug he inherited is still present in Thorin’s heart. He draws up plans for the reconquest of his kingdom.
In March 2941, returning from a trip, Thorin passed through Bree where he met by chance the wizard Gandalf. He explains his plans to him and asks for his help. Gandalf is rightly worried about the resurgent power of Sauron, the Dark Lord, and the use he might make of Smaug to wreak havoc on northern Middle-Earth. He hardly convinces Thorin to abandon his grandiose plans and leave for the Mountain in secret, with only twelve companions, among which his young nephews Fíli and Kíli (his sister’s sons), and imposes the hobbit Bilbo Baggins on him as their fourteenth member of the expedition. The company led by Thorin left Bilbo’s house on April 27. Heading east, they narrowly escapes three trolls. Thorin discovers the Elven sword Orcrist in their hiding place and appropriates it. While crossing the forest of Mirkwood, Thorin is captured by the Elves. Having refused to tell them the purpose of their trip, he is imprisoned in their underground jails.
His companions are soon captured as well, but Bilbo frees them and they arrive at the human city of Lake-town, where they receive a warm welcome and where Thorin claims his title of the King Under the Mountain. After a few twists and turns, Smaug attacks Lake-town, but he is killed by Bard the Bowman. Thorin then regains possession of Erebor and its treasures. Out of avarice (the “dragon’s evil”) and pride, he refuses to help rebuild the lakeside city, even when the elves and men besiege him in the Mountain. Hoping to force Thorin to negotiate, Bilbo steals the Arkenstone, a precious gem he particularly covets, but the imminent arrival of a Dwarf army led by his cousin Dáin Ironfoot prompts Thorin to hold on tight.
As confrontation seems inevitable, an unexpected offensive of goblins and wargs pushes Dwarves, Men and Elves to unite against this new scourge. During the battle, Thorin and his companions break through the Mountain towards the goblin leader, Bolg, but fail to reach him. Despite the courage of his nephews, who make him a rampart with their bodies and lose their lives, Thorin is mortally wounded. Beorn’s unexpected intervention allows the battle to end well: he kills Bolg, causing disarray among the goblins, and carries the dwarf out of the fray. Before dying, Thorin has the opportunity to reconcile with Bilbo:
“There indeed lay Thorin Oakenshield, wounded with many wounds, and his rent armour and notched axe were cast upon the floor. He looked up as Bilbo came beside him.
‘Farewell, good thief,’ he said. ‘I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go where it is of little worth, I wish to part in friendship from you, and I would take back my words and deeds at the Gate.’
Bilbo knelt on one knee filled with sorrow. ‘Farewell, King under the Mountain!’ he said. ‘This is a bitter adventure, if it must end so; and not a mountain of gold can amend it. Yet I am glad that I have shared in your perils-that has been more than any Baggins deserves.’
‘No!’ said Thorin. ‘There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell!'”– The Hobbit, Chapter XVIII, The Return Journey
Thorin is laid to rest in the depths of the Lonely Mountain, with the Arkenstone on his lap and the Orcrist sword by his side. His cousin Dáin Ironfoot succeeds him as sovereign of the people of Durin and King Under the Mountain.
What does Thorin wear to distinguish himself from the other Dwarves?
Tolkien was quite explicit as to Thorin’s wardrobe, which he used to distinguish himself from the other Dwarves that arrived a Bilbo’s house in the Shire. This is what he wrote in The Hobbit:
“‘At your service!’ said Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur standing in a row. Then they hung up two yellow hoods and a pale green one; and also a sky-blue one with a long silver tassel. This last belonged to Thorin, an enormously important dwarf, in fact no other than the great Thorin Oakenshield himself, who was not at all pleased at falling flat on Bilbo’s mat with Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur on top of him. For one thing Bombur was immensely fat and heavy. Thorin indeed was very haughty, and said nothing about service; but poor Mr. Baggins said he was sorry so many times, that at last he grunted ‘pray don’t mention it,’ and stopped frowning.”– The Hobbit, Chapter I, An Unexpected Party
So, as states, Thorin wore a a sky-blue hood with a long silver tassel and that is also the answer to the main question our article.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!