The Ubiquitous Dwarven Axe.

OK, This time around we are going back to one of the classic epics. Namely, The Lord of the Rings. But before I do, I have a question. As a fairly devout video gamer, I made an interesting discovery a long time ago. In almost every video or computer game I’ve played that featured a dwarven character, the dwarf was wielding an axe. My question is this: What’s the deal with dwarves and axes?

I don’t quite get it. Why would an axe be any better for your average, run of the mill, combat hardened dwarf than a short sword? Why not a ranged weapon, like a crossbow? Are axes better for shorter warriors? Better for kneecapping peeps who be disrespectin’? Easier to carry around without having to resort to dragging it on the ground behind you like a long sword? What? Anyone who thinks they have the answer, please let us know. ‘Cause i got nuthin’. Anyway we see this same interesting trend in many books, games and movies, the Lord of the Rings being no exception. In fact they exemplify the rule.

Gimli, our token dwarven character, favors the axe for battle. And, as luck would have it, for walking. And probably also for stoking the fire, as well as roasting rabbits and maybe even the odd marshmallows. In fact I dare say he probably even uses it to cut his hair, which would explain the “mountain man” style hair and beard. Tell you what, I’ll bet he has a whole slew of different axes for different occasions, including weddings and funerals. Yeah. Well hey, the dwarf has axes aaaiiight? OK, I’ll stop now.

The real reason why were here is because I found the design of one of his axes particularly interesting. His Double Bladed Battle Axe, to be specific, or what my underground homies like to call the B-DAX :). Here it is:

Gimli’s Double Bladed Battle Axe

Gimlis Battle Axe
[view full size]

I find this BAX (Yes, I am making up acronyms as I go along. What? WHAT? Bah!) interesting for several reasons. First off, it’s design incorporates a lot of rectangles and right angles. This is not very common in B-DAX design. Look at the handle. It’s cross section is actually a box rectangle or square, I’m not sure which, but certainly boxy. The metal bands around the handles are also rectangular.

Now look at the lug (sides) of the axe, where it is attached to the handle. It looks like it is made up of a bunch of cubes, as is the base of the blade itself attached to the lug. The eye of the axe, where the handle would show at the top, appears to be capped, but I’m willing to bet it is also square or rectangular. In fact the only curved part on this axe is the chopping blade itself, and that is attached to a trussed rectangular cheek. I’m almost surprised the designer didn’t go for a straight blade. But I love the overall effect. I wonder if this B-DAX would be appropriate for the dwarven graduation class photo…

Gimli’s Battle Axe – [Tolkien Town]


11 Responses to “The Ubiquitous Dwarven Axe.”

  1. January 16, 2008 at 3:27 am

    this post made me cry. my mother was killed by a battle axe. 😦

  2. January 16, 2008 at 8:03 am

    I’m sorry to hear that Mark. Though I thought I might mention that if you cry every time you see an axe, it may indicate that you might perhaps need some counseling to help get you past that unfortunate incident…

  3. 3 Sam
    January 28, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I believe the rational for Dwarves using axes has to do with the fact they the spend the majority of their lives mining underground using impliments that are swung (ie. pickaxes) and thus they are skilled and very strong in the use of a swung weapon for battle. If you spend your life swinging at rocks, you’ll find that swinging at people comes naturally. Oh, and for the record, in the Chronicles of Narnia (one of my all time favourite book series) dwarves are said to be excellent archers.

  4. January 28, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Your explanation makes a lot of sense. I have to disagree about a lifetime of swinging at rocks automatically making you a natural at swinging at people, as rocks don’t fight back. However, from a weaponry perspective, if, as you point out, you spend your whole life swinging a pick-axe, come war time, you would naturally want to use the weapon that most closely matches a pick-axe in weight, balance and heft. From that point of view, an axe would seem to be a natural choice..

    Thank you for the edumacation!! 🙂

  5. 5 Niccolo
    April 26, 2008 at 1:45 am

    That and the fact that short, stocky, stubby dwarves just look right holding a weapon as equally stocky (and I daresay inelegant, since Gimli probably cannot waltz) and brutal.

    Swords are good for people with height; they are versatile enough to be used from most angles, given the prolific amount of blade area present on one. If you’re tall, then you have even more versatility, and your blade (made according to height… ish) will have a decent weight for advantage purposes.
    A similar weapon suitable for dwarves, the short sword, simply doesn’t have the weight to get through armour… or to stop an opponent’s weapon. A battle axe isn’t meant to be elegant. It’s meant to be a sharp and heavy object that cleaves through jsut about anything.

  6. April 29, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    I suppose if we want to stereotype the poor dwarves as short, stocky, stubby and brutal, then yeah, a battle axe does seem appropriate. But what about a dwarf who learned to waltz? Who wants to battle with finesse? Could they not then use a short sword instead? Are they relegated to axedom just because they are a dwarf? LOL 🙂

  7. 7 ChroniclerLoki
    September 28, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Actually a few of my friends are Dwarves (dramatic pause for impolite sniggering) and they can be quite elegant thank you. You ever try using a short sword on an opponent twice your height with twice your reach who is using a blade taller than you? A bloody difficult task if you ask me. The axe, with its ability to be used as an even shorter ranged weapon than a sword will be even more useful for the Veteran Dwarf than the short sword, which they feel pokes fun at their height anyway, because it allows them to get well inside the effective range of the enemy which forces them on the defensive for they cannot get a proper slash in at that range, and use the axe for its intended purpose, a well aimed and incredibly powerful chop backed by three hundred pounds of three hundred year old angry dwarf with the skill and determination to take your legs out from under you and into the next forest clearing. And them being so short, may they forgive me the indescretion, gives them a choice selection of vital or tender targets at which they may swing an axe. Guts, groin and knees to name three, and if you have ever been smacked in the knees or the groin you know how much it hurts, having such places cut by an improperly placed or poorly timed attack or removed entirely from a successful chop would bring a small Jupiter of pain upon the unlucky victim. So their choice of weapons is fully rational and quite formidible as well.

  8. October 5, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Ah, but could they also not use Short swords instead?

  9. 9 ChroniclerLoki
    October 5, 2008 at 11:45 am

    I wouldn’t know, I haven’t met a Dwarf who used a short sword for anything other than a toothpick.

  10. October 12, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Toothpick? Don’t they use orc bones for toothpics? I thought they used swords to clean their fingernails… 🙂

  11. 11 ChroniclerLoki
    October 12, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    well either way they use the sword for hygiene rather than fighting, and don’t ask about how they clean their toenails, you don’t want to know

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