Human Innovations That Might Surprise/Puzzle the Elves

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I was wrong btw:

"Then said Tinuviel, "Go now to my mother and say to her that her daughter desires a spinning wheel to pass her weary hours,"

Blessed be Eru for PDFs and full text search!
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Maybe not on a flet, but what about High-elves in Tirion or Formenos, or Vinyamar.I believe the Noldor would be the most likely "technical-elves" to have such things, in contrast to the Sindar or Silvan.
I do think so. But still one with treadles seems too technical. A charka, which is a wheel moved by hand (the kind Mahatma Ghandi used) is still a wheel but does not make much noise and it has no flyer and is responsive to one's movements directly.
A flyer on a spinning wheel works with ratios - which means for the thread to wind up on the bobbin the flyer has either to go faster or slower than the bobbin itself. So such a setup often needs breaks or two driving bands. And due to ratios the movements of the spinner is not directly transferred onto the flyer, the spinner has to adjust herself to the tool, not the tool to the spinner - as it was before with the spindle or the charka - which is much simpler - before. Not very elvish imho, for the spinner to be reduced to be only the motor and the feeder of the spinning wheel, and the actual action itself being made by the tool itself - with only partial, delayed and not direct control over the spinning process by the spinner. There the spinner is on the verge of becoming a worker only and not an artist anymore.

I was wrong btw:

"Then said Tinuviel, "Go now to my mother and say to her that her daughter desires a spinning wheel to pass her weary hours,"

Blessed be Eru for PDFs and full text search!
Hey, but Melian is an Ainu. She does not need to have a "technology allergy" that the elves seem to have ;) . (She actually might be the one using the tambourines you have mentioned before).
She acctually might have fun inventing a spinning wheel herself, fiddling out the ratios necessary for it to work etc. etc.
Melian also lives in a cave with a flat stable floor.
And Luthien is in dire need of time at that moment, so her asking her mother to provide one makes sense. Her mother propably taught her daughter how to use one before.
But note that Luthien does not have one of her own or she would order that one to be brought to her.

If read this way asking for a spinning wheel of her mother would be a marker of Luthien's moving beyond the scope of "pure" elvishness, embracing her mother's heritage and using technology - which would signal Luthien moving into the realm of human / mortal experience of being pressed for time and starting to value efficiency above artistry. In so much it could be read as a step on her journey towards mortality.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
I was wrong btw:

"Then said Tinuviel, "Go now to my mother and say to her that her daughter desires a spinning wheel to pass her weary hours,"

Blessed be Eru for PDFs and full text search!
Hey, but Melian is an Ainu. She does not need to have a "technology allergy" that the elves seem to have ;) . (She actually might be the one using the tambourines you have mentioned before).
She acctually might have fun inventing one herself, fiddeling out the ratios etc. etc.
Melian also lives in a cave with a flat stable floor.
Luthien is also in dire need of time at that moment, so her asking her mother to provide one makes sense. Her mother propably taught her daughter how to use one before.
But note that Luthien does not have one of her own or she would order that one to be brought to her.

If read this way asking for a spinning wheel of her mother would be a marker of Luthien's moving beyond the scope of "pure" elvishness, embracing her mother's heritage and using technology - which would signal her moving into the realm of human / mortal experience of being pressed for time and valuing efficiency. In so much it could be read as a step on her journey towards mortality. By asking for the spinning wheel Luthien stops being reactive only- she starts to act, emancipates herself from her father's elvish frame set for her - so to speak the spinning-wheel becomes Luthien's own "industrial revolution" ;) .

[Actually Thingol's lack of understanding for Melian's lack of prejudices againts a worldview which - among others - lead to developing technology might be one of the reasons for their alienation.]

If so, I could imagine Galadriel having one herself - inherited from Melian, even if not necessary using it for work - but just to remember her. But not high on a flet, but in some pavillion on the ground in Galadriel's orchand.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
*shrugs*

I won't put my heart into that issue.It is just... there are many kinds of spinning wheels, a charkha is already quite sophisticated, i don't have a problem with a charkha or an early european model either. I never thought of Melian as an inventor or technical type, quite the opposite. Now i know industrialized spinning was a factor in the beginning of industrialization and capitalism... but i don't necessarily see that happen just because of a spinning wheel. After all... we still do not know how elven spinning wheels exactly looked like or how they functioned.Just the Sindar of Doriath obviously knew they existed and did not have to just invent them as an eccentric hobby for their queen or princess - wherever they got them from.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
*shrugs*

I won't put my heart into that issue.It is just... there are many kinds of spinning wheels, a charkha is already quite sophisticated, i don't have a problem with a charkha or an early european model either. I never thought of Melian as an inventor or technical type, quite the opposite. Now i know industrialized spinning was a factor in the beginning of industrialization and capitalism... but i don't necessarily see that happen just because of a spinning wheel. After all... we still do not know how elven spinning wheels exactly looked like or how they functioned.Just the Sindar of Doriath obviously knew they existed and did not have to just invent them as an eccentric hobby for their queen or princess - wherever they got them from.
Early Europen model - do you mean a so called "Great wheel "?
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- A great wheel is basically a big charkha - but it is huge - it has been used in Europe for spinning flax. - A charkha is basically a spindle which is put horizontally and moved by a driving band coming from a big wheel onto the spindle whorl thus extending the spin motion of the spindle. "Real" spinning-wheels are complex machines where the thread is created between the orifice, the movement of the flyer and the bobbin, which either rotates slower or faster than the flyer - without any of those three elements there would be no thread created. Acording to Britannica anything above a charkha type is not proper for before the 16th century. https://www.britannica.com/technology/spinning-wheel

But I cannot imagine a great wheel on a tree flet.

[The advantage of a spinning-wheel is that you done not have two steps - spinning and winding up alternately (like with a hand spindle or a charkha type great wheel) - but that you do spin and wind up simultaneously.]
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Why are you so fixed on the flet? I am human... i would restrain from a lot of things when on a "flet".

I wasn't talking about a 19th century spinning wheel...

 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Why are you so fixed on the flet? I am human... i would restrain from a lot of things when on a "flet".

I wasn't talking about a 19th century spinning wheel...

[Strange source there - does not differenciate between the distaff and the spindle - competely confused which is which.]

But as stated even there the "primitive" spinning wheels -

(nowadays as "real" spinning-wheels are considered those with "mother-of-all" - the combination of flyer, bobbin and orifice
"
1625741250407.png
)
The mother-of-all is the business end of the spinning wheel. This is the piece that holds the maidens, which in turn hold the flyer, bobbin and brake system. The flyer is a U-shaped piece with a metal shaft through the middle to hold the bobbin and whorls, if necessary.
)

- in the form of a great wheel (=charkha type) arrived in Europe in the late Middle Ages/ Renaissance and were then developped later around the 16th century to into the "real" spinning-wheel type that Tolkien could heave seen used or just standing there neglected in the country side. But still anything before the 16th century has to be a great wheel/ charkha type at most as also stated in your own source:

"Around the year 1533, a spinning wheel featuring a stationary vertical rod and bobbin mechanism with the addition of a foot pedal debuted in the Saxony region of Germany. Foot power freed up the hands for spinning, making the process much faster. The flyer, which twisted the yarn as it was spun was another 16th-century advancement that increased the rate of yarn and thread production dramatically. " = 16th century - before that only great wheel = charkha type wheels.

Edit: And why a flet? Because Luthien is imprisoned in a house build on one, or not?

And as I thought it all originates from silk reeling - which is and ancient skill both in Chin and India and uses "reeling wheel"
"The early Chinese spindle-wheel was originally invented in conjunction with silk-technology and was linked to silk production, as pictured in some Han stone reliefs. It is concluded that the spindle-wheel is a Chinese invention which may be dated to the early years of the Warring States period. In the course of time people realized the advantages of the spindle-wheel and it was adopted for plant fiber production. The spindle-wheel may have been brought to Europe at the same time as silk-technology was introduced, most probably in the second half of the first millenium A.D. Only when the continuously working spinning-wheel with flyer was invented in fifteenth century Europe did a better and more efficient spinning device become available. "
(https://www.jstor.org/stable/23351629

Here they distinguish between a "spindle-wheel" = charkha = great wheel and a "spinning-wheel with flyer" which follows the modern use of the word "spinning-wheel" - which is known only form 16th century Europe upwards.

Edit:

"In modern times, the word "spinning" is almost always associated with "wheel." And the Great Wheel certainly existed in the Middle Ages—it is pictured in the Lutterel Psalter c. 1330 (Figure 1), and was certainly known by 1224 [Munro 2003]. It was also banned from use for spinning at least warp threads for commercial use for quite some time—from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, depending on country. Why was this? Well, the Great Wheel produced thread inferior in strength and evenness to rock-spun thread. The spinner at the Great Wheel had to use one hand to spin it, while holding a distaff (stick about the length and thickness of a broomstick with a wool mass bound onto the top end) under the other arm or a wool mass in the other hand, which meant she had far less control of the drafting process and thus the thickness of the thread so produced. By contrast, while the rock spinner typically also had a distaff tucked under her left arm or a wool mass held in her left hand, she was still able to use the fingers of both left and right hands for drafting, providing much finer control.

Until well into the 1500s most spinning, whether of wool, flax, hemp, or ramie (stinging nettle fibres), domestic or commercial, was done on the rock. Cotton fibre, known in southern Europe from the 13th century or so, may well have been rock-spun there, but was only common in northern Europe sufficiently late for it to have been mostly spun on the wheel. [...]

1625748245386.png

[...]
The modern spinning wheel was not invented until the late 1400s, when it was known as the Saxony Wheel. Winding the wool onto the spindle is done automatically on the Saxony Wheel, whereas when using the Great Wheel this still had to be done by hand at frequent intervals. The Saxony Wheel itself is also turned by a foot treadle, thus freeing up both hands to control drafting. This wheel was also much more productive; while the Great Wheel provided as much as a threefold increase over spinning on the rock, the Saxony Wheel provided twice that again [Munro 2003]. By the 1600s it was used extensively for both domestic and commercial spinning, and although like the Great Wheel it was initially banned by commercial wool producers on the grounds of quality control, these bans were soon lifted once its operation was fully understood.

While using a wheel is more productive, it is not particularly portable. A drop spindle can be tucked through a belt or into a pouch, and distaffs were typically held under one arm, enabling women to spin almost anywhere— [...]



As such there were no "old European spinning-wheels" - "spindle-wheels" originate in Asia as derivates/support tool of ancient silk reels and and were later adapted to be used in plant fibre production and at their arrival in Europe used here as such and were only later developed into "spinning-wheels" in the 15-16th centuries in Europe. But the idea and technology is not "native" to Europe, it is Asian, here if was only developed further at a later stage. So "spinning-wheels" in Doriath are as much an anachronism as are potatoes and tabacco in the Shire. To make them not feel "out of place" one has to look at ancient Asian silk production, which is their natural context.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
So where do we wish to go? Completely dismiss any spinningwheels because... we do not "like" some historic models?
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
So where do we wish to go? Completely dismiss any spinningwheels because... we do not "like" some historic models?
I would go with a "spindle-wheel", this is simple enough to be believable in an elvish context and ancient enough in Asia imho. And can be small enough as a simple charkha.

And I would love elves being into wild silk production actually. There hints ancient Greeks or Minoans were into wild silk production from wild moths untill Chineses silk became available and it is completely doable - http://www.wormspit.com/polyspin.htm
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
So spindle-wheel instead of spinning-wheel. Fair enough.In general or do we give Melian and Tinuviel Chakhrahs?

Elves have silk sure.I always wondered what kind of silk that could be, wild moths i like best so far.

And men? Just wool, bast, skins, what about flax?
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
So spindle-wheel instead of spinning-wheel. Fair enough.In general or do we give Melian and Tinuviel Chakhrahs?
If you do not want to go with Melian the misunderstood inventor idea - (I do like that idea - she is one of the Ainur and as suach an insider into the "gears of the world" after all) - then it would have to be chakhrahs - which are small compact spindle-wheels - for all.
Nice ornamental ones:
1625758225066.png
1625758251207.png
1625758357909.png
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I do indeed dislike the idea of Melian the misunderstood inventor.In all the Ainur do not strike me as a very technical folk.Aules people seem to be the exception.Melian is pretty much a nature fairy, she has all the properties of a typical fairy queen.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
I do indeed dislike the idea of Melian the misunderstood inventor.In all the Ainur do not strike me as a very technical folk.Aules people seem to be the exception.Melian is pretty much a nature fairy, she has all the properties of a typical fairy queen.
Bur she is not only that, reducing her to it is doing her a disservice imho - that is how Thingol views her now, but she wasn't that when he did fall in love with her - she was a far mighter and stranger being. And it would be nice to see somehow that she herself has not forgotten it.

But fine
1625762751900.png

charkhas for all it can be imho, just the ornaments adjusted to whatever Doriath style you do propose.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Sure.My point was i do not see her as an inventor and craftswoman, i do not see her as a technical person at all.And i don't see any connections of her with crafty or technical things... other than her daughter ordering a spinning-wheel for herself!

What does she do? She dances, enchants, protects, counsels, watches.Rules... possibly, teaches.

I don't see her in a workshop or laboratory developing ideas or making things. Nothing we know of her even vaguely hints to that direction.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Sure.My point was i do not see her as an inventor and craftswoman, i do not see her as a technical person at all.And i don't see any connections of her with crafty or technical things... other than her daughter ordering a spinning-wheel for herself!

What does she do? She dances, enchants, protects, counsels, watches.Rules... possibly, teaches.

I don't see her in a workshop or laboratory developing ideas or making things. Nothing we know of her even vaguely hints to that direction.
Sings - when she sings even the Valar stop what they are doing just to listen to her. How could you forget that?

But still, she is an ancient being from beyond Arda itself, from beyond time. And Arda is not her only perspective even if choose to limit herself to it, her origin is not in it. Her embodiement into an elvish body for Thingol does limit her in a way she wasn't before, it would not wonder me to see her playing around with those restrictions by exploring some physics.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Ok, so we've spent a ton of time with Melian by now on SilmFilm, and at no point have we shown her to be a technological inventor. To do so during the Beren and Luthien would be a departure from how we have portrayed her thus far. It's also wildly off of the topic of this thread.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Ok, so we've spent a ton of time with Melian by now on SilmFilm, and at no point have we shown her to be a technological inventor. To do so during the Beren and Luthien would be a departure from how we have portrayed her thus far. It's also wildly off of the topic of this thread.
So, human inventions that might puzzle elves could be antler arrors and spear heads meant to break of at impact to stay in the animal while one pulls the shaft out to let the animal bleed out and just insert a new spear head into the shaft. Not Neolithic but older technology, but could be still in use.
7:54 minute here
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
[Not to belabor the Melian conversation, but the reason Lúthien requests a spinning wheel from her mother at that time is because she is imprisoned and cannot fetch one herself. So, it's not like Melian is the only person who has a spinning wheel or anything - it's simply that Lúthien doesn't have one in her treehouse and needs to ask for one to be provided for her at this time.]
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
They knew flintstones... and they lit fires, they knew beacons , fireplaces, hearths and ovens.
But , maybe elves just quietly sung or spoke to dry wood to convince it start burning.

We also know Elves have a curious dislike for wheels, or at last wheeled vehicles. They know quite some technology, they are smart enough to understand it... but they seem to be near-autistic when it comes to actually inventing or using anything more sophisticated than a watermill, loom, spinning-wheel, crane or a big wooden or stone structure. They'd never get into finemechanics or electronics. I was actually surprised to see Tolkien once thought they had some kind of organ or maybe water-pipe instrument (a hydraulis?).

I wonder... do they have wood-lathe machines?

Tolkien has an obsolete Quenya word for "lathe", "terendl", but i am not convinced it refers to woodturning.
So they've never had to move large amounts of supplies at once? I can't believe that (which is why I fail), they've never used pulleys before to construct their cities?
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
So they've never had to move large amounts of supplies at once? I can't believe that (which is why I fail), they've never used pulleys before to construct their cities?
Right, the objection to wheels can't be a hard line they won't cross. Much of what they do is impossible without wheels. Though ... carts they can get away without. Native Americans did for millenia.
 
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