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Ted Nasmith - At Lake Cuiviénen
Background Information
Type Bay
Location Far East of Middle-earth
Other Information
Summary Lake where the Elves awoke
Other names Water of Awakening
Inhabitants Quendi, Avari
Spoken Languages

Cuiviénen (Quenya IPA: [kuɪviˈeːnen] [kuɪviˈjeːnen]) was the location where the Quendi or the Elves awoke.


Location of Cuiviénen

The location of Cuiviénen

Cuiviénen was said to have been on the shore of a large gulf in the inland Sea of Helcar in the far east of Middle-earth.[1] It was an eastern bay of the Inland Sea of Helcar, formed by the meltwaters of the pillar of Illuin.[2]

After the First Age and the War of Wrath, the Sea of Helcar (and Cuiviénen with it) was drained, leaving behind only the Sea of Núrnen and the Sea of Rhûn, prompting the Elvish adage "and to Cuiviénen there is no returning"; both a reference to physical geography and a metaphor for the Sundering. While never confirmed, there is a small chance that it survives in a much truncated form.


In YT 1050, the Awakening of the Elves took place.[3] The Elves dwelt here for a long time in bliss under the starlight and were content.[1] Here the elves were divided into their three basic groups: the Minyar (Vanyar), Tatyar (Ñoldor), and Nelyar (Teleri), here they learned and developed the basic skills of survival, culture, and language.[4]

Unfortunately, Melkor discovered this land first before the other Valar. Many elves feared him and they were forced to hide, and those unfortunate enough to be left behind or overwhelmed by fear and unhappiness were taken or slain. Then, years later, Oromë discovered Cuiviénen on his travels throughout Middle-earth. Oromé reported his discovery back to the Valar in Valinor and after some debate they decided that the Elves would be safer living in The Undying Lands, in the peace and protection of the Valar. Oromé returned to Cuiviénen and there spoke with the Elves regarding their removal to Valinor. The first Sundering of the Elves then took place when the Eldar, who Oromé named the Elves using their own tongue departed from Cuiviénen to Valinor. Some of these Elves refused to leave through fear of the unknown, turned back after reaching the huge range of The Misty Mountains, or simply decided to stay in Arda through choice.

It is unknown how long the remaining Avari remained at Cuiviénen during the First Age, but they were there when Men awoke at the first rising of the Sun in the nearby land of Hildórien, and its elven residents befriended early Men and apparently taught them the basic skills of survival.[5]

Other mentionsEdit

In his attempt to sway the Ñoldor to join him in pursuit of Melkor to Middle-earth, Fëanor spoke of the "sweet waters" of Cuiviénen that they had left in vain to travel to Aman.[6]

Translations around the WorldEdit

Foreign Language Translated name
Chinese (Hong Kong) 庫維因恩
Russian Куйвиэнен


Cuiviénen is a Quenya word that means "Water of Awakening"[7] from cuivié ("awakening") and nen ("water").[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter III: "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  2. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "Introduction"
  3. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 10: Morgoth's Ring, The Annals of Aman
  4. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 11: The War of the Jewels, Part Four: Quendi and Eldar, Appendix: The legend of the Awaking of the Quendi (Cuivienyarna)
  5. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XII: "Of Men"
  6. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter IX: "Of the Flight of the Noldor"
  7. The Silmarillion, Index of Names
  8. The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin names

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