Although the Prose Edda refers to dwarfs as being a kind of elf race, a clear distinction is made in folklore. Dwarfs appear in numerous adventures and chivalric tales. They are excellent craftsmen, dependable and loyal to their friends but extremely vengeful if crossed. Great benefits can be reaped from their friendship.
They are mainly distinguished from true elves by their shape and build. They have very short legs, a bulky body, no beard and a large head. They seem to manifest themselves as either human figures or spirits, and they always dwell in rocks. They don’t have the physical strength of elves, humans or trolls but compensate with their wisdom and craftsmanship.
They avoid humans, and men must earn their friendship with gifts or persistence. There are few tales of dwarfs told in Iceland, so they must be few in number compared to creatures of other kinds, such as elves and trolls.
Our Monster of the Month comes from the project Duldýrasafnið (“Hidden Beings Museum”) by Arngrimur Sigurðsson. He takes firsthand accounts of creature sightings, like the one above, from Icelandic historical texts, and creates a painting of each one. An Icelandic book is out now, and an English language book is coming soon. Read our interview with the artist here.
See more monsters here.