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. It was an eastern bay of the Inland Sea of Helcar, formed by the meltwaters of the pillar of Illuin.
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. The Elves dwelt here for a long time in bliss under the starlight and were content. Here the elves were divided into their three basic groups: the Minyar (Vanyar), Tatyar (Ñoldor), and Nelyar (Teleri), and learned and developed the basic skills of survival, culture, and language.
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. The first Sundering of the Elves then took place when the Eldar departed from Cuiviénen to Valinor, leaving behind the Avari, who refused to leave, and those who turned back to Cuiviénen after a few hundred miles, before even completing the journey.
It is unknown how long the tribes of the Avari remained at Cuiviénen during the First Age, but they were still 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.
|Elven Realms of Middle-earth throughout the Ages|
|Years of the Trees:||Cuiviénen | Eglador | Havens of the Falas|
|First Age:||Doriath | Dorthonion | Gondolin | Havens of Sirion | Havens of the Falas | Himlad & Pass of Aglon | Hithlum | Maglor's Gap | March of Maedhros | Nargothrond | Nevrast | Ossiriand | Pass of Sirion | Thargelion|
|Second Age:||Eregion | Greenwood the Great | Lindon | Rivendell|
|Third Age:||Lindon | Lothlórien | Northern Mirkwood | Rivendell|
|Fourth Age:||Lindon | Lothlórien & East Lórien | Rivendell | Wood of Greenleaves|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter III: "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
- ↑ The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "Introduction"
- ↑ The History of Middle-earth, Vol. 10: Morgoth's Ring, The Annals of Aman
- ↑ 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)
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XII: "Of Men"
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter IX: "Of the Flight of the Noldor"
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Index of Names
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin names