Dwarves

Introductory video

Physical appearance

Both genders of Dwarves are short (only about 4.5 feet tall) and stocky. Male Dwarves have long, bushy beards. While female Dwarf avatars can’t have beards, there is offhand reference in the lore to some famous bearded Dwarf women. [4. I have to wonder if this is an oblique reference to the scene in P. Jackson’s The Two Towers in which Gimli explains that Dwarf women do exist, even if humans think they don’t, and Aragorn says, “It’s the beards.”]

Dwarf femaleDwarf male

The males perform a Cossack folkdance, and the females perform an Irish step-dance like the one in Riverdance.

Language

Scottish English. There are a lot of Celtic influences in the Dwarves (especially their architecture), but I suspect that the Scottish accent in WoW‘s Dwarves has its roots in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, in which Gimli, played by John Rhys-Davies, speaks with one.

Architecture

Ironforge, the Dwarves’ capital city, largely expresses industrialism through a lot of raw steel and ironwork. There are also some ancient, pre-industrial details, such as the Norse and Celtic inscriptions in these columns:

IF pic: The outside column contains Celtic patterns, and the inner column contains Nordic runes. The prominent horizontal band around the tops of the columns, and at their plinths, is the heavy steelwork that expresses industrialism.

The outside column contains Celtic patterns, and the inner column contains Nordic runes. The prominent horizontal band around the tops of the columns, and at their plinths, is the heavy steelwork that expresses industrialism.

The scale and form of a lot of the Dwarves’ buildings is influenced by ancient Egyptian styles:

Ironforge facade

Lore

They’re western Europeans. Like most high fantasy dwarves, WoW’s generally follow the stereotype of the beer-swilling Scottish/Irish galoot. If we look closely, they’re a semiotic mix of Norse, Celtic, and German signs, in roughly that order of amount. The conception of stocky, mountain-dwelling creatures called Dwarves comes from Norse myth (the word dwarf coming from Old Norse dvergar). Their gods are called Titans, and their two divisions, Æsir and Vanir, are also the names of the pantheon of Norse gods. [5. Tolkien went to the Norse too – he got his Dwarves’ names from the Icelandic Poetic Edda.] As I’ve shown, the Celtic influences are in the Dwarves’ language and architecture, and in the females’ dances. The primary German influence is their yearly holiday, Brewfest, which is clearly based on Oktoberfest (it takes place in early October, there’s a lot of polka, etc.

They’re hardy. The galoot connotation (see above) necessarily involves a certain toughness, which the Dwarves display plenty of. Their lore actually presents them as almost golem-type figures: they’re descendants of the Earthen, an ancient people crafted out of stone by the Titans.  An ancient calamity made the Earthen lose their stone skin and turn to flesh, but the playable Dwarves have a racial ability called Stoneform that lets them turn into stone temporarily.

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