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The Perfect Body Shape is Spherical: On Dwarven Sense of Beauty


Karak Norn Clansman:
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes. And these beholders tend to be biological creatures.

One thing that I have noticed many times over the years, has been a tendency in Fantasy to assume that Dwarves would find towering Humans and Elves to be fair and even beautiful.

This is of course a tradition with roots in Norse mythology: After all, the goddess of love and fertility, Freyja, attained her magical necklace Brisingamen by bedding the four Dwarf craftsmen Alfrigg, Berling, Dvalinn, and Grerr. In Norse mythology, Dwarves are greedy and lustful creatures.

Tolkien likewise played with this theme in an early 1920s story, when Dwarves demanded treasure and Elven maidens as payment for forging wonderful jewelry (this would later evolve into the Sack of Doriath in the Silmarillion, but the evil and lusty Dwarves with their Orcish mercenaries would not make it into later versions). Likewise, Gimli is stunned by Galadriel's beauty in the *Lord of the Rings*, to say nothing of the cinematic invention out of thin air of a Dwarven and Elven romance in the *Hobbit* movies.

You can see similar themes pop up time and again, and especially so if you look through masses of fantasy art from various settings. Especially so community art.

To me, this is a theme that ought to be consciously resisted by budding fantasy artists and writers. Just because Humans and Elves find Dwarves to be short and stunted and foul does not mean that the Dwarves would view themselves in the same way. On the contrary, one would expect Dwarves to appreciate a sturdy build with robust features, hairiness, calloused working hands, hulking muscles, reserves of body fat and an overall bodyshape that tended toward the horizontal rather than the vertical. Mountains are broad, after all. And Dwarven women would be appreciated for being extremely curvy.

With the gloriously rotund Warhammer Dwarfs this would be especially true: To a Dwarf, the perfect body shape approaches the sphere. There is beauty in roundness. Games Workshop has so far as I know played their stout Dwarf aesthetics straight through all years, although there is of course a funny 1980s miniature called Dwarf with inferiority complex on stilts. All manner of Dwarf and Squat creations have tended to be short and stout and stocky, just like their creators.

Compare this with the uneasy reaction of many on seeing the alien long and narrow forms of Tau Air Caste pilots for the first time. To a Dwarf, what appears as fair height and fine features to Humans or Elves would instead come off as longshanking and unhealthily lean, not to mention disturbingly frail.

There is little reason to think that Dwarfs would be much impressed with tall size. Likwise there is good reason to assume that most Dwarfs would not find Elves and Humans beautiful or attractive.

As such, when Dwarfs create golems, do not expect them to build their creations to human proportions, but to Dwarven proportions. Dwarven golems of most kinds would appear weirdly stocky on first glance to Human eyes, compared to lean Human statues.

These remarks on fantasy Dwarves should not be understood as a recommendation against Chaos Dwarfs displaying nubile slaves from other races as a way to flex. Even if these seeming harem slaves may not be used for unnatural pleasure in a Slaaneshi way, the implication would still be an open insult to enemies. Especially if coupled with plenty of anatomically correct bovine statuary and iconography. Think Jabba the Hutt.

Just some fantasy design thoughts I've had for many years. And as for Chaos Dwarfs this is in no way an anti-big hat argument.


This would have been a good analysis perhaps still in the 90's.

Since then, Dwarfs in the popular culture have evolved to become short & strong humans. Mainly because the film industry stopped using real dwarf actors, and moved to normal humans.

These days most new Dwarf figurines portray those more human-like, leaner proportions. And when they're rotund, you have to remember that half of the people in western countries are overweight. So modern leaner yet rotund Dwarfs might actually speak to this audience. And this audience quite probably still sees beauty in leaner body type, which again is transferred to the popular culture where Dwarfs see beauty in Elfs.

Just how you imagine this in your fantasy settings is up to you. We're past the era of widely shared Tolkienesque 'truths' about the fantasy people.


I do agree, that evolutionarily speaking, Dwarves should be attracted to other Dwarves.

If they are attracted to other races / species, then that more places them and us on the level of certain dog types that can interbreed.
I much prefer to consider Dwarves, Humans, Elves, Orcs, etc. all to be distinct races that cannot interbreed.

Regarding rotundness, I have found that slayers break this view, Slayers are usually depicted more on the lean side, maybe only with a potbelly.
Considering Slayers are the main models we have to reference the unclothed dwarf body, just how rotund and horizontal actually are they?

Lastly, I agree that Chaos Dwarves having undressed slaves is more akin to torture and humiliation, rather than anything relating to pleasure.


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