Were the Fellowship’s Brooches Unique?

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Were the Fellowship’s Brooches Unique?

Post by Manveruon »

A question popped into my head yesterday fully formed, and I realized that I had never actually thought about it before:
Do we think the leaf-shaped brooches given to the Fellowship in Lorien were made SOLELY for members of the Fellowship itself? Or could it be that the design was a cultural motif shared by the Galadrhrim?
In other words, if one were to wander into Lothlorien in the late 3rd Age, would one see many elves there wearing brooches of a similar make? Or were the 8 leaf-pins a totally unique and special gift, given only to Frodo and Company, denoting them as members of the Fellowship of the Ring?
I personally suspect they were unique to the 8 surviving members of the Fellowship, having been made specially for the occasion, but it occurred to me that they might be a common style of brooch worn by other elves in Lothlorien, and only given to outsiders on this rare and fateful quest.
Last edited by Manveruon on Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Were the Fellowship’s Brooches Unique?

Post by Elleth »


I had always assumed those particular brooches were unique to the Fellowship, but the artistic style to be typical of the Galadhrim.
I don't see any textual support one way or the other however.

Also, I hadn't remembered that - just as with Dwarves and men - we're quite possibly talking about cloak and hood as distinct garments -
The Elves next unwrapped and gave to each of the Company the clothes they had brought. For each they had provided a hood and cloak, made according to his size, of the light but warm silken stuff that the Galadhrim wove. It was hard to say of what colour they were: grey with the hue of twilight under the trees they seemed to be; and yet if they were moved, or set in another light, they were green as shadowed leaves, or brown as fallow fields by night, dusk-silver as water under the stars. Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.

`Are these magic cloaks? ' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.

`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves. `They are fair garments, and the web is good, for it was made in this land. They are elvish robes certainly, if that is what you mean. Leaf and branch, water and stone: they have the hue and beauty of all these things under the twilight of Lórien that we love; for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make. Yet they are garments, not armour, and they will not turn shaft or blade. But they should serve you well: they are light to wear, and warm enough or cool enough at need. And you will find them a great aid in keeping out of the sight of unfriendly eyes, whether you walk among the stones or the trees. You are indeed high in the favour of the Lady! For she herself and her maidens wove this stuff; and never before have we clad strangers in the garb of our own people.'
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Re: Were the Fellowship’s Brooches Unique?

Post by Greg »

‘Garb of our own people’ sounds like it was stuff they already had on hand. Why, after all, would a brooch of their beloved Mallorn trees be unique to the strangers? I mean...thousands of years of living in them, and they just now had the idea to make these pins?

It does seem like the cloaks might have been made-to-order, given that they were made each according to their size, but surely the fabric was already woven when they arrived.
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Re: Were the Fellowship’s Brooches Unique?

Post by Cimrandir »

Because I was intrigued by Greg's comment on having the cloth already at hand, I looked up the average length of time it takes to hand-weave cloth for garment use. I found this *very* interesting article detailing the experimental archaeological construction of a Viking Age linen shirt. I figured it would be close enough in method and material to get a rough estimate for the construction of the Fellowship's cloaks.

From Flax to Linen - Experiments with Flax at Ribe Viking Centre

Amidst a bunch of cool experiments with growing flax and yarn spinning, there is a table detailing the length of time to make enough fabric for a tunic, specifically the Viborg tunic. Cumulatively, they estimate 354:45 hours to make a shirt. No wonder they were so expensive back then and why people repaired them so much to extend the life! Now, it's not a perfect comparison as cloak can be simpler to sew but it'll do.

Now, the Fellowship was in Lothlórien for almost exactly one month, entering on January 15th, meeting Galadriel on January 17th, and then departing on February 16th. If we multiply 354 times 8, we get 2,832 hours total. That's about 116 days (24 hour days of course.) Clearly impossible. However, if we consider the discussion from the Elven Spinning thread HERE, we might be able to assume that they would be constantly spinning and might already have plenty of skeins prepared. Plus, the text does only mention weaving, not spinning. Now we need only to weave and sew! Estimated weaving and sewing time is approximately 123 hours. Much more reasonable! 123 x 8 = 984 hours = 41 days. Still too long.

Obviously, the elves are better at and have much more practice than humans but even then that seems to be a stretch.

But then it does say that:
You are indeed high in the favour of the Lady! For she herself and her maidens wove this stuff
So Galadriel wasn't alone. A quick check to Wikpedia for the "Lady-in-waiting" article reveals that
In the Middle Ages, Margaret of France, Queen of England is noted to have had seven ladies-in-waiting: three married ones, who were called Domina, and four unmarried Maids of Honour, but no principal lady-in-waiting is mentioned,
So that seems good to me! Let's say 7 plus Galadriel makes 8. Perfect for 8 cloaks! Easy enough to break it down then. 123 hours per person for one cloak. 123 hours is about 5 days. Naturally, Galadriel would be busy with matters of state frequently and despite the endurance of the elves, I find it unlikely that they would weave for 5 days straight. But that's quite simple to spread that around in the period of a month. So I'd say with a few allowances and a bit of assuming, it's quite possible that the Elvish ladies created the cloaks whole-cloth and bespoke before the Fellowship departed.

What was the question again?!? Oh yes, the brooch design haha. Got a bit sidetracked. I find it likely that the Fellowship's brooches were unique in the sense that they were custom-made for the Fellowship in the month's time but they shared broad cultural motifs with the rest of Lothlórien's art styles. From a meta-sense, I'd say make a brooch according to the description and due the natural variance in artistic craftsmanship, it would be perfectly acceptable to claim it as "Elvish make" and not a direct copy of the Fellowship's.
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Re: Were the Fellowship’s Brooches Unique?

Post by Harper »

Greg wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:17 pm ‘Garb of our own people’ sounds like it was stuff they already had on hand. Why, after all, would a brooch of their beloved Mallorn trees be unique to the strangers? I mean...thousands of years of living in them, and they just now had the idea to make these pins?
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Re: Were the Fellowship’s Brooches Unique?

Post by RangerofAngmar »

Also did they stay there long enough for the craftsman to make them and have them ready in that short amount of time?

i say they would have been an "in Stock" item and then handed out, as for the cloaks its quicker and easier to trim them down to the size of a hobbit then make one of the size, so they might have been cloaks they had and the just trimmed them
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Re: Were the Fellowship’s Brooches Unique?

Post by Charlotte »

I have always personally imagined the scene in my head as 'galadriel and her handmaids spinning and weaving beneath the trees during the fellowship's stay' but agree the text could be seen as ambiguous
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