When and where did this odd little specific originate, and why? I’d like to point the finger at Tolkien, who carved out a lot of long-standing characteristics of Western mythology, but I can’t remember any of his books describing anyone’s ears in particular.

Is this a long-held bit of imagery that goes back to celtic or anglo-saxon folklore? Or is this a more modern stereotype brought about by… I don’t know what?

Not sure what made me start wondering about this- I think I was doodling fairies or something- but now it’s almost bothered me not to know!
Well, excuse me, I wasn’t trying to be *racist* or anything T__T
It’s a common depiction. That is a fact. I was wondering why- from a historical/literary sense, not a literal sense- I know the function of pointed ears, thanks.
Does anyone have a useful answer? Or even a theory that is along the lines of what I’m looking for?

4 Responses to “Why do elves, faeries, etc have pointed ears?”

  • Craig M:

    It given them better hearing so they can stay safe. See if you can find the nine hidden faeries in this picture.

  • aloe:

    think it’s stereotype because not all faeries have pointy ears. but here is a theory, when i think something is not human, i instantly think its a creature. by creature i think animal. and most animals have pointy ears. so elves, witches, some faeries have crosses between human and animal features so they’d look and be potrayed as magical beings.

  • Stuie:

    that’s insulting! most of them don’t, unless they’re from vulcan. they look just like you and me.
    why are your ears pointy and your eyes slanted?
    what’s going on in your head?
    i think that fellow just had an overactive imagination(and i’m glad).
    if you take that mythology into the modern version(aliens), you will find they are big and small, caucasion and slant eyed.

  • Xenophanes:

    You are actually correct in pointing to Tolkien as the reason that most Elves, and therefore faeries as well, have pointed ears. Elves come from ancient German and Norse mythologies and though there they are seen as very human-like, i don’t believe the stipulation of pointed ears was ever made.

    However, the Elves that modern society has now grown up with are all mostly Elves modeled after those beings in Tolkien’s world. All of modern fantasy is heavily influenced by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien who began writing his novels in a time that fantasy, as a genre was almost completely dead. Tolkien made his Elves taller and more fair than most humans, and also wiser and able to use certain magics. He also decided, that Elves should have ears that are more in the shape of leaves. Therefore technically they are leaf-shaped rather than pointed. And because of Tolkien’s profound impact on the fantasy genre, most modern elves, and elf-like creatures also have leaf-shaped ears.

Leave a Reply

Archived Posts