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The Petty-dwarves (named in Sindarin Noegyth Nibin or Nibin-Noeg, part of an older and longer word Bar-en-Nibin-noeg) were a diminutive race of dwarves that lived in the Beleriand in Middle-earth during the First Age. They differed from normal dwarves in various ways: they were smaller, far more unsociable, and they freely gave away their names; other dwarves kept their Khuzdul names and language a secret.
The Petty-dwarves were dwarves of several houses, which had been exiled for reasons unknown in very ancient times during the Peace of Arda. They were the first to cross the Blue Mountains (Ered Luin) in the First Age, and established strongholds in Beleriand before the building of Nogrod and Belegost in the Blue Mountains, and before the elves arrived. They delved the very ancient settlements of Nulukkizdin (Nargothrond) and Amon Rûdh but they dwindled before the Ñoldor returned to Middle-earth.
The Sindar, not yet acquainted with dwarves, thought the Petty-dwarves were animals, and hunted them. Not until the dwarves of the Ered Luin established contact with the Sindar did the latter realize what the Petty-dwarves were. Afterwards they were mostly left alone, but not before the Petty-dwarves came to hate all elves with a passion.
By the time of the War of the Jewels, after the Return of the Ñoldor, the Petty-dwarves had nearly died out. By the fifth Century of the First Age, the last remnant of their people were Mîm and his two sons, who lived at Amon Rûdh. Túrin and his men shot at the dwarves, mistaking them for animals or orcs. Mim survived, but an arrow had killed one of his sons, Khîm. Mim's other son had been killed by orcs, leaving Mim the last of his kind. Mîm was killed by Húrin after the latter's release from Angband, and the Petty-dwarves were no more.
Origin in Tolkien's writings Edit
The Petty-dwarves were created from remnant ideas based on the Nauglath in Tolkien's earliest writings in the The Book of Lost Tales. They were more or less created to explain the difference between the dwarves later writings such as The Hobbit in comparison to the wicked dwarves from his earlier stories which he hadn't yet completely abandoned. However, some of the ideas of the Nauglath were reincorporated into the Naugrim (Dwarves) by J.R.R. Tolkien or his son in the published Silmarillion and separate from the Petty-dwarves (such as the history of Belegost and Nogrod, and the Sack of Doriath events).
Niwennog was their first ascribed name (preceding the change to Nibin-noeg), as told of in the index of The War of the Jewels.