Dwarven Braids

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Dwarven Braids is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

A Guide to Dwarven Braids, Knots, Clips & Ties

Notes by Rufos the Barber, First Chair at Fashionable Face Fur in Zul Logoth

Having worked as the lead barber in Zul Logoth for many years I've seen all types of dwarves from each of the clans come through my shop. What follows are my records of whisker management common to each clan. Before that though, a few words on the importance of grooming to the stonekin.

The tending of one's whiskers is a social activity where dwarves gather together and pass along oral histories. With the family at home or in a public shop like Fashionable Face Fur in Zul Logoth, this tradition not only strengthens the bond between the elders and the next generation, it also enriches the dwarven community as a whole.

If I asked you to imagine a dwarf, it is quite likely you would see long hair and beard, with a braid or two in one, the other, or both! But why?

Long, flowing hair and beards have always been a source of pride in dwarven culture as a whole. Common thought is that the original clan adopted braids as a result of their constant battles against the orcs. This kept their locks and whiskers protected and out of their eyes in combat. Today, braids in dwarven culture are used for both functional and aesthetic purposes, providing practicality and symbolizing clan identity. Most clans' styles are manifestations of their environments, traits, or specialties.

It has been said of dwarves that "their beards are often long and elaborately braided and are matters of great pride." As with all generalizations, that statement misses the great diversity each clan brings to the entire picture of dwarven culture. It is true that, to most dwarves, a beard can be a matter of status, pride, and prestige, but these qualities are not always measured the same from clan to clan. A finely shaped goatee is every bit a source of pride for a member of the Ragnek clan where a complex set of braids interwoven with marble beads might be a show of great prestige for a Gotronek dwarf.

During this time of diaspora, with dwarves segmented into so many clans, facets of the once thought of as monolithic dwarves are revealed in how each has adapted to their independence. This record is meant to bring into focus the wonderful array of details that appear when looking more closely at the different traditions each clan has adopted in their grooming habits and appearances.

What I list below are some of the most common styles seen among each of the clans.

Borthuum Clan

Adapting to life on a volcanic isle has the Borthuum wearing their hair and beards in single tight braids to give the island's notorious ash less places to collect. Of course, being masters of glaes they prefer to use the material for beard clips to hold things in place. Glaes beads of all colors are sometimes woven into the hair for added decoration.

Adornments: glaes-inlaid beard clips, beads of various colors
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: one tight, three-strand braid
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: one tight, three-strand braid

Egrentek Clan

The Egrentek clan tend to wear their hair shoulder length and shaggy, with multiple thin braids adorned at the ends with coins. Their beards bear similar adornment and length, and it is said you know an Egrentek is approaching from the sound of the jingling.

Adornments: coins
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: shaggy with multiple thin braids
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: shaggy with multiple thin braids

Gotronek Clan

It practically goes without saying that the Gotronek clan, masters of sculpting, would use the material of their craft as decorations for their beards. They prefer waterfall braids interwoven with marble beads known as ravekig for their beards but typically wear their hair unadorned. Ravekig are beads made of polished marble by the Gotronek clan, typically used as adornments for clothing and beards. Each bead has a rune incised somewhere, often hidden. Some dwarves carefully select their ravekig so that the hidden runes carry a message within their beards, usually just for their own purposes, but sometimes, if an onlooker knows what to look for, these ravekig may just speak volumes.

Adornments: marble rings and beads of various colors
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: natural or brushed
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: waterfall braids with marble beads

Greetok Clan

Gem cutting requires unobstructed focus, so the Greetok clan prefer a clean-shaven head or short hair. However, they wear their mustaches and beards long, pointy, and held together with gemstone-set clips. The gemstones used in the clips typically feature a facet pattern developed by their individual family line.

Adornments: gemstone-set clips
Hair Length: bald to short
Hair Style: brushed
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: brushed, pointy

Grenroa Clan

A fondness for labyrinthine mazes shows in the braids of the Grenroa tunnelers. They braid skull-hugging plaits into maze patterns around their entire heads. Their obsession also shows in the adornments of the Grenroa, with geometric or maze patterns etched into bronze bangles that they weave into their plaits. Maze-patterned braids are also called "graenik" in Dwarven, a term that loosely translates to "twisted mazes of style." Their beards, on the other hand, are typically a single box braid below the chin.

Adornments: geometric or maze-etched bronze bangles
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: skull-hugging plaits in maze patterns
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: one long, thick braid below the chin

Grevnek Clan

The miners of the Grevnek clan wear their hair different lengths but typically pulled back into a ponytail or bun, sometimes with shaved temples. They commonly wear three-strand braids in their beards, braided just below the corners of their mouths and held in place with beard clips depicting their clan's pick-and-shovel insignia.

Adornments: clips depicting a pick-and-shovel insignia
Hair Length: short to long
Hair Style: ponytail, short tail, bun
Beard Length: long
Beard Style: two three-strand braids below the corners of the mouth

Gulroten Clan

The cold climate of Borzatto's Canyon can be brutal, which is why the Gulroten eschew braids or adornments in favor of loose, natural hair and head coverings. Cap, hat, wrap, helm, or helmet, you'll find a wide variety of headgear among these northern dwarves. They wear their beards the same way to ward off the chill of the climate. Gulroten who have moved to a more pleasant clime may take advantage of this and adopt different styles on an individual basis.

Adornments: head coverings
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: loose, natural
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: loose, natural

Kazunel Clan

Working in the forge for long stretches has the typical Kazunel adopting a single, five-strand braid with an otherwise shaved head and trimmed, medium-length beards. Folded, blued, or blackened steel is used for rings or studs to adorn their top braid or as clips for small ties below the chin in their short beards.

Adornments: folded, blued, or blackened steel rings, studs, or clips
Hair Length: medium, shaved temples
Hair Style: one short five-strand braid
Beard Length: short to medium
Beard Style: small tie below the chin

Khanshael Clan

The Khanshael adopted the hairstyle of the Dhe'nar, preferring taut, oiled braids for their hair and beards. It has been suggested there is a caste system among the Khanshael that can be observed by how many braids they wear, but no Khanshael has ever revealed that information in detail.

Adornments: none
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: taut, oiled braid(s)
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: taut, oiled braid(s)

Kikthuum Clan

The submersible crews of the Kikthuum prefer short hair and trimmed beards, but they will twist the ends of their mustaches to a point and adorn them with veil iron rings. Those elder Kikthuum who may have retired from the water-going lifestyle will grow their hair out and wear their beards with a single, three-strand braid below the bottom lip, twisting them to a point and adorning them with veil iron rings like their mustaches.

Adornments: veil iron rings
Hair Length: short to long
Hair Style: trimmed or brushed
Beard Length: short to long
Beard Style: trimmed, or long with a three-strand braid, twisted mustache

Krenlumtrek Clan

The woodsmen of the Krenlumtrek clan find the top knot a favorable way to wear their long hair. They typically use hairsticks (also known as zurnag in Dwarven) carved from wood to hold it in place. For their beards, they prefer them long with multiple thin three-strand braids.

Adornments: hairsticks carved from wood
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: top knot
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: multiple thin three-strand braids

Krethuum Clan

Krethuum clan herders typically find multiple knots to their preference when they want to keep their hair out of their eyes. They typically use carved horn or bone for hairsticks, combs, or clips. Similarly, they'll tie a single knot in the lowest parts of their beards to prevent them from flying free on the sometimes windy plains where they tend their flocks.

Adornments: horn or bone hairsticks, combs, clips
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: multiple knots
Beard Length: long
Beard Style: single knots

Mithrenek Clan

Those of the Mithrenek clan prefer multiple, narrow, three-strand braids bound together for their long hair and beards, typically decorated at the ends with mithril beads.

Adornments: mithril beads, clips
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: multiple, three-strand braids bound together
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: multiple, three-strand braids bound together

Mordrakam Clan

The blademasters of the Mordrakam clan prepare for battle by shaving both sides of their heads, leaving a spiked, narrow crest for an aggressive appearance. For their beards, they tie three-to-five, long, three-strand braids interwoven with invar beads along the jawline.

Adornments: invar beads
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: narrow crest
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: multiple, long, three-strand braids along the jawline

Oltregek Clan

The Oltregek beard usually has multiple, thin, three-strand braids that fall from the outer jowls and are weighted with uncut gemstones. They also wear their hair medium to long, with gemstone-weighted braids at their temples.

Adornments: uncut gemstones
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: multiple, three-strand braids at the temples
Beard Length: long
Beard Style: multiple three-strand braids at the outer jowls

Parkshnuum Clan

Being the largest dwarven clan in the west has the dwarves of the Parkshnuum clan adopting some western trends. They wear their hair neatly tied back, with braids or without. Where they differ is in the way they bind their beards close to the chin, allowing a long rope braid to extend down and weighing it at the tip with an iron ring to create a style they call a "Parkshnuum Clapper."

Adornments: iron rings
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: tied back, with or without braids
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: long rope braid bound at the chin and weighted at the tip

Ragnak Clan

The Ragnak clan is considered the youngest of the clans, and as such, have adopted the less than traditional goatee as their favored whisker configuration. They wear their hair anywhere from cropped short or long and flowing, and they have an affinity for headworn items adorned with personally crafted baubles (or, if they are so inclined, baubles created by friends, family, or loved ones). Some families within the clan have a tradition of cloth head coverings, such as bandanas, with unique color combinations and patterns, similar to giantman tartans or family crests; this is less common but still worthy of note.

Adornments: headworn items decorated with baubles
Hair Length: short to long
Hair Style: cropped to flowing
Beard Length: short
Beard Style: goatee

Ralgrenek Clan

Three-strand braids at the temples tied back to hold the body of the hair is the typical style of the Ralgrenek clan, with twin braids below the chin. Studied healers and herbalists, their adornments are mostly foliage-based in nature. Woven grasses or reeds may be used to tie beards or to secure their braids behind their heads.

Adornments: woven grasses, reeds, or similar materials
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: thick, three-strand braids at the temples, tied back
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: twin three-strand braids below the chin

Reznek Clan

The armorsmiths of the Reznek clan prefer to accent their robust beards with large, five-strand braids at each corner of the mouth. Their beard clips come in a form bigger than most, taking on the shape of a shield (or oval) etched with scenes of battle. In theory, the larger the clip, the more prestigious the Reznek is among their peers -- dissenting opinions can result in an entertaining "discussion" about one's worthiness of the clip.

Adornments: oversized beard clips
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: natural
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: large, five-strand braids at the corners of the mouth

Roramnoak Clan

The wanderers and traders of the Roramnoak clan really have no one set style to their locks or whiskers. They tend to pick up styles they encounter in their travels so no two clan members are exactly alike. Anything goes with a Roramnoak!

Adornments: anything goes
Hair Length: anything goes
Hair Style: anything goes
Beard Length: anything goes
Beard Style: anything goes

Schneckgren Clan

It goes without saying that the clan with one of the largest gold mines in Elanthia would drape themselves with the product of their holdings. Gold rings, bands, hoops, and clips adorn their ears, noses, lips, and eyebrows. The Schneckgren typically have thick, glossy black hair they wear brushed with beards to match. They also favor a dual, three-strand braid pattern in their beards, resembling a double helix falling from their bottom lip.

Adornments: gold rings, bands, hoops, jewelry
Hair Length: shoulder length
Hair Style: strait
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: dual, three-strand braids in a double helix below the bottom lip

Sharznekgren Clan

The more ostentatious the beard clip, the more likely you're in the presence of a Sharznekgren dwarf. They like to flaunt their wealth with elaborate jewelry made of rare metals and gems, even using the revered eonake for the boldest of them. They have taken to wearing three narrow braids adorned with gold beads that hang from the left side of their jaws.

Adornments: ostentatious with materials like eonake and diamonds
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: long
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: three narrow three-strand braids that hang from the left side of the jaw

Smaelton Clan

Life as a smelter means working in close proximity to heat and flames, which is why the Smaelton sport clean-shaven to shortly cropped hair and short, trimmed beards. They mostly eschew jewelry for tattoos, preferring stylized dwarven runes of protection on their heads, necks, and arms.

Adornments: runic tattoos
Hair Length: clean-shaven to cropped
Hair Style: none
Beard Length: clean-shaven to short
Beard Style: trimmed

Toktrog Clan

The Toktrog clan tends towards random, fine, three-strand braids for both their hair and beards. The multitudes of braids are sometimes even braided again to create many layers. They like to string carved faewood totems as decorations into their hair and use elaborately carved faewood rings as beard clips.

Adornments: carved wood
Hair Length: medium to long
Hair Style: random three-strand braids
Beard Length: medium to long
Beard Style: random three-strand braids

OOC Information/Notes

  • Created by GM Netz, November 2023
    • Final corrections and new terms by GM Xynwen
  • Many thanks to GMs Aiza and Marstreforn for their insight and input