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Member No.: 1
Joined: 20-October 04
===From The Peoples of Middle Earth===
This food the Eldar alone knew how to make. It was made for the comfort of those who had need to go on a long journey in the wild, or of the hurt whose life was in peril. Only these were permitted to use it. The Eldar did not give it to Men, save only to a few whom they loved, if they were in great need.*
The Eldar say that they first received this food from the Valar in the beginning of their days in the Great Journey. For it was made of a kind of grain which Yavanna brought forth in the fields of Aman, and some she sent to them by the hand of Oromë for their succour upon the long march.
Since it came from Yavanna; the queen or highest among the elven-women of any people, great or small, had the keeping and gift of the lembas, for which reason she was called massánie or besain: the Lady, or breadgiver.1
Now this grain had in it the strong life of Aman, which it could impart to those who had the need and the right to use the bread. If it was sown at any season, save in frost, it soon sprouted and grew swiftly, though it did not thrive in the shadow of plants of Middle-earth and would not endure winds that came out of the North while Morgoth dwelt there. Else it needed only a little sunlight to ripen; for it took swiftly and multiplied all the vigour of any light that fell on it.
The Eldar grew it in guarded lands and sunlit glades; and they gathered its great golden ears, each one, by hand, and set no blade of metal to it. The white haulm was drawn from the earth in like manner, and woven into leeps2 for the storing of the grain; no worm or gnawing beast would touch that gleaming straw, and rot and mould and other evils of Middle-earth did not assail it.
From the kernel to the wafer none were permitted to handle this grain, save those elven-women who were called Yavannildi (or by the Sindar the Ivonwin),3 the maidens of Yavanna; and the art of the making of the lembas, which they learned of the Valar, was a secret among them, and so ever has remained.
Lembas is the Sindarin name, and comes from the older form lenn-mbass 'journey bread'. In Quenya it was most often named coimas which is 'life-bread'.4
*This was not done out of greed or jealousy, although at no time in Middle-earth was there great store of this food; but because the Eldar had been commanded to keep this gift in their own power, and not to make it common to the dwellers in mortal lands. For it is said that, if mortals eat often of this bread, they become weary of their mortality, desiring to abide among the Elves, and longing for the fields of Aman, to which they cannot come.
1 In the story of Túrin it is said of Melian's gift of lembas to Beleg the Bowman (The Silmarillion p. 202) that it was 'wrapped in leaves of silver, and the threads that bound it were sealed at the knots with the seal of the Queen, a wafer of white wax shaped as a single flower of Telperion; for according to the customs of the Eldalië the keeping and giving of lembas belonged to the Queen alone. In nothing did Melian show greater favor to Túrin than in this gift; for the Eldar had never before allowed Men to use this waybread, and seldom did so again.' 2haulm: the stalks of cultivated plants left when the grains have been gathered; leeps: leep (leap) is an old dialect word for a basket (Old English leap). 3Ivonwin: the Noldorin (i.e. later Sindarin) form Ivann for Yavanna appears in the Etymologies, V.399, stem YAB 'fruit'. 4 This was written at the same time as the rest of the manuscript, but set in as printed, and was excluded from the quotation marks added later to the body of the text. The words Quente Quengoldo ('Thus spoke Pengolod') also belong to the time of writing.
Glorfindel was tall and straight; his hair was of shining gold, his face fair and young and fearless and full of joy; his eyes were bright and keen, and his voice like music; on his brow sat wisdom, and in his hand was strength.
Member No.: 349
Joined: 11-September 06
Glorfindel asked that I add my notes on lembas to his:
Waybread of the Elves, lembas, was used for long journeys. It gave strength to travelers and could also help bring healing to the wounded or sick. One cake was enough for a full day's march. Lembas remained fresh for many days if unbroken and kept wrapped in mallorn leaves. The thin cakes were a crisp, light-brown on the outside and cream-colored on the inside. They were exceptionally tasty.
Lembas was originally given to the Elves by Yavanna. She sent Oromë to give the Elves lembas for their Great Journey to Eldamar. Yavanna made the lembas from corn (an archaic word for grain) that she grew in the fields of Aman and the cakes imparted the strength of that land to those who ate it.
The Elves learned to grow this corn in Middle-earth. The secret of making lembas was kept by Elven women called Yavannildi (Ivonwen in Sindarin), the maidens of Yavanna. Only they were permitted to handle the corn and bake it into cakes. The highest-ranked woman was called massánië or besain: the Lady, or bread giver.
The Elves rarely shared lembas with mortals because it would cause them to become weary of their mortality and to long for Aman, where they could not go. Mélian showed great favor to Turin when she gave Beleg lembas to bring to his friend in the wild. This was the first time the Elves had provided lembas for the use of Men.
Galadriel gave lembas to the Fellowship when they left Lothlorien in February of 3019. The lembas sustained the travelers on their quest. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli ate lembas as they ran 45 leagues in less than 4 days in pursuit of the Uruk-hai who had taken Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took captive. Merry and Pippin ate some lembas to revive their strength when they escaped captivity near Fangorn Forest. "Lembas does put heart into you!" said Merry. (TTT, p. 61) Aragorn was able to discern what became of the Hobbits in part because of the crumbs of lembas and discarded mallorn leaf found at the edge of the woods.
On the way to Mordor, Sam Gamgee carefully rationed the lembas, but he worried that the supply might not last for a return journey. Frodo offered some lembas to Gollum, but Gollum spit it out calling it "dust and ashes." (TTT, p. 229) The Orcs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol also disliked the look and smell of lembas, so they left Frodo's supply when they stripped him of his possessions. This was fortunate, for without lembas Frodo and Sam would not have made it to Mount Doom.
The lembas had a virtue without which they would long ago have lain down to die. It did not satisfy desire, and at times Sam's mind was filled with the memories of food, and the longing for simple bread and meats. And yet this waybread of the Elves had a potency that increased as travelers relied on it alone and did not mingle it with other foods. It fed the will, and it gave strength to endure, and to master sinew and limb beyond the measure of mortal kind. The Return of the King: "Mount Doom," p. 213
Etymology: Lembas is Sindarin. The older form was lenn-mbass meaning "journey-bread." The Quenya word is coimas meaning "life-bread." The word massánië is derived from masta which is Quenya meaning "bread." The word besain is derived from the Noldorin bast also meaning "bread." The Yavannildi were called Ivonwin in Sindarin because Ivann is the Sindarin for Yavanna. Both words are from the stem yab meaning "fruit."
Sources: The Fellowship of the Ring: "Farewell to Lorien," p. 385-86 The Two Towers: "The Riders of Rohan," p. 29; "The Uruk-hai," p. 61; "The White Rider," p. 92-93; "The Taming of Smeagol," p. 210; "The Passage of the Marshes," p. 229 The Return of the King: "The Tower of Cirith Ungol," p. 190-91; "Mount Doom," p. 213 The Silmarillion: "Of Turin Turambar," p. 247, 251, 256 The History of Middle-earth, vol. V, The Lost Road and Other Writings: "The Etymologies," entries for mbas and yab. The History of Middle-earth, vol. XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: "Of Lembas," p. 403-405
Radiance lies on her face and enmeshed in her bright hair capturing the light of the Blessed Realm.
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