There were originally seven Dwarf kingdoms, founded by each of the seven Dwarf “Fathers.” The most common to show up in stories were “Durin’s Folk” (also called “Longbeards”) which consisted of guys like Thorin and Gimli. Durin’s Folk were the friendliest with Elves & Men, and were also the ones who founded kingdoms like Moria. Dwarves are largely very secretive and reclusive, so it’s mostly Durin’s Folk, given their relative openness, who appear in Tolkien’s stories.
There are others like the Broadbeams and the Firebeards, who hail from the Blue Mountains and have a large role in the First Age. The other Dwarf kingdoms are place further East, and I don’t believe they have significant appearances in any stories.
I think most of the Dwarves in The Hobbit are part of Durin’s Folk, but by the time of the 3rd Age that ethnic group expanded into several kingdoms, like the Grey Mountains, Iron Mountains, Blue Mountains, Iron Hills and Erebor.
I have a theory that Durin’s Folk are really just the Dwarf race that looks more like what humans would call “Dwarves,” while the others had different appearances.
Tolkien Dark Lord Chart (Revised)
A little personal guide I use for the various incarnations of Dark Lords when I’m illustrating the Silmarillion Project. While Sauron and Morgoth are the only *official* Dark Lords, I included the Witch-King of Angmar, because 1000+ years of being the chief antagonist in Middle-Earth deserves an honorable mention.
Left to Right:
- Morgoth in the First Age- essentially a rogue god, I wanted him to come off as an imposing demon, indestructible and primal.
- Sauron (as Gorthaur the Cruel)- Morgoth’s number two, ruling over an island fortress of werewolves. He needs to look like the sort of guy who can turn into a bat.
- Sauron (as Annatar, Giver of Gifts)- this is the “fair” form he took to give out his Rings of Power. I have him in a more nordic style, as to better mingle with the Elves, Men and Dwarves of the West. He’s also the only one here of normal Elf/Man stature, as his goal wasn’t to intimidate.
- Sauron after the Fall of Numenor- at this point he ruled through “terror and might,” so his stature is greatly emphasized. Given that he spent much of his time dominating eastern and unknown realms, I went with more exotic stylings, bordering on Frazetta.
- The Necromancer of Dol Guldur- a dark sorcerer, hiding in the shadows until he could regain his strength and openly declare himself as Sauron once more. I decided to make him almost the visual foil of Gandalf, who was also wandering the wilderness at this time.
- The Witch-King of Angmar - while also a sorcerer like Sauron, the Witch-King is much more hands-on, and is a seasoned military commander. He’s also a Numenorean king, so I put him in traditional Numenorean battle armor.
- Sauron during the War of the Ring- although Sauron did indeed have a corporeal form during Lord of the Rings (don’t believe the movies), I went with something more visually abstract, as only Pippin really ever sees him (through the Palantir) and was too shocked to describe what he saw.
Anyway, I hope you like them!
Although he’s rarely described in Tolkien’s work, Sauron’s appearance frequently changes throughout the history of Middle-Earth. One of his defining features in The Silmarillion is that he is a shapeshifter, and often will use this to deceive or overpower his enemies. While I’m certain there were times where Sauron would wear military gear like armor, I think for the most part those types of things wouldn’t be necessary, given his abilities.
Sauron is very much hands-off unless cornered into a fight, so a general depiction of him, in my view, shouldn’t be one of a heavily-armored “black knight,” which is an image more appropriate for, say, the Witch-King. That said, it seems likely that during his battle of the Last Alliance with Elendil and Gil-Galad, Sauron would certainly be wearing armor. With this in mind, Peter Jackson is completely justified in portraying him as such, and given the need to simplify for the film, is also justified in keeping him in that armor for all of his on-screen depictions.
For me, however, I’m more of a fan of portraying him as a sorcerer who’s into fancier dress, or, with The Necromancer, almost a dark version of a wizard like Saruman or Gandalf.