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|Men hur kommer man in i berget,|
("But how do I get into the mountain?"
the young dwarf asked.) by John Bauer.
|First reported:||In folklore|
The original concept of dwarves is very difficult to determine. The sources closest to the original Germanic mythology come from Norse Mythology, but even these are scarce and varied. Sources have gradually given dwarves more comical and superstitious roles.Dwarves were certainly humanoid, but sources differ over their height, their lifestyles, and their similarity to elves. Considering early sources, and considering the dwarves' nature, original dwarves seem fully human height. They had strong associations with death: paled skin; dark hair; connections with the earth; their role in mythology. They followedanimistic traditions, showing similarities to such concepts of the dead. They were similar to others from the 'Vættir' family, such as elves.
As their mythology evolved, the most notable changes have had them become more comical and more mysterious. They adopted the modern image of short height and ugliness. Their associations with the underground became more predominant. Dwarves were magical creatures with huge skill at metallurgy, taking fame for making great artifacts of legend. Late Norse concepts of dwarves became quite different from the early ones. The Legendary sagashows the new trend. The remnants of the original dwarf formed later fairy tales and folklore(see German folklore, and Dutch folklore). They had become unseen magical creatures like fairies; users of charms, curses, and deceit.
Modern fantasy and literature have formed an intriguing web of concepts, from that of the original dwarf, to the dwarf of later Norse mythology, the dwarf of folk-tales, and of other mythology. The typical modern dwarf has distinctive features such as short stature, excessive hair, and skill at mining and metallurgy. However, modern literature draws from a wide range, and dwarves vary in fidelity to historical notions. Many fantasists devise new powers or images for dwarves. Modern dwarves have no strict definition.
The conception of dwarves as short is probably the most tenacious, and the term 'dwarf' can now describe short humans, regardless of its mythical origins. The universal modern description of a dwarf is something short, usually associated with magic, fantasy, and fairy tales.
"Soon, their cave of golden treasures will turn into a solid stone, as if it was never there."---S.W. Chronicles