In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the fictional Sindar (meaning Grey People, singular Sinda, although the latter term was not generally used by Tolkien) are Elves of Telerin descent. They are also known as the Grey Elves. Their language is Sindarin. The King of Doriath, Elu Thingol (Elwë) was the King of the Sindar.
|Also known as||Grey-elves, Elves of the Twilight|
|Base of operations||Doriath|
The Sindar were happy in Middle-earth, but once the desire for the Sea was aroused in them, they could not be content until they sailed to Eldamar. Although less learned and powerful than the Calaquendi and less interested in crafts than the Noldor, they were extremely gifted in music, and their voices were very fair.
The Sindar are "grey" perhaps because they were not Elves of the Light, never having actually set foot in Valinor, but neither were they Avari, since they did accept the invitation and set out on the journey (and were counted among the Eldar upon Thingol's return from the undying lands where he had beheld the light of the two trees). They are sometimes referred to as Elves of the Twilight. The term grey may also refer to Elu Thingol's grey cloak. The term Sindar is actually not Sindarin in origin: it is the Quenya name devised by the Noldorin exiles. The Telerin name for themselves was Lindar "the singers" (the Laiquendi "Green Elves", also being Telerin, called themselves the Lindi which had the same meaning). The name that the Sindar often used amongst themselves was simply Edhil ("Elves", singular Edhel). When the Teleri left for Aman, they called themselves the Eglath, the Forsaken Ones.
The Teleri were the greatest host of the Eldar. They had two kings, the brothers Elwë Singollo (or Elu Thingol as he was later known in the Sindarin tongue) and Olwë. When the Teleri reached Beleriand during the Great Journey from Cuiviénen, Thingol went wandering in the forests as was his wont. In the forest of Nan Elmoth he met Melian, one of the Maiar. They fell in love, and with Melian, Thingol stood spellbound in Nan Elmoth for several years.
In the meantime, Olwë and many of the Teleri could not delay longer, and went to Aman without Elwë and his following. Elwë's followers stayed in Beleriand, to search for their king. At long last he awoke from the spell and set up a kingdom in the midst of Beleriand: Eglador ("Land of the Forsaken" or "Land of the Elves", the etymology is not clear). The Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost in the Ered Luin (Blue Mountains) were contracted to aid in the building of the city of Menegroth (the Thousand Caves).
Other Teleri also stayed behind: these were the friends of Ossë the Maia, who had fallen in love with the shores of Middle-earth, and did not wish to depart. Their leader was Círdan, and they established cities at Eglarest and Brithombar. They were known as the Falathrim, or Elves of the Falas (Shore). They were not part of the realm of Eglador, but still took Thingol as their King. Yet other stray bands of Teleri settled in Nevrast and Hithlum to the north of Eglador, although these did not form any realms and eventually followed Noldorin lords that took their abode there.
The Teleri of Eglador, the northlands (Mithrim) and the Falas were collectively known as the Sindar in later days, because they developed a civilization all of its own, second only to that of the Noldor in Middle-earth.
A last group of Teleri in Beleriand were the Laiquendi or Green Elves: they were descended from the Nandor, which had split from the Great Journey before the Hithaeglir (Misty Mountains), and gone south along the Great River (Anduin). A part of them, under Denethor son of Dan, crossed the Blue Mountains eventually, and settled in Ossiriand, or as it was later known Lindon (land of the singers). They remained a people apart for long, although many of them removed to Thingol's realm after Denethor was killed.
Just before the arrival of the Noldorin exiles, the Dark Lord Morgoth returned to his old stronghold of Angband, and his activities increased. Thingol had Melian use her magic to create a girdle of bewilderment around Eglador, so that nobody could enter without the king's permission. Ever after it was known as Doriath (Land of the Fence) and its people often referred to as the Iathrim (Fence-Folk). Thingol remained High King of the Sindar and nominal Overlord of Beleriand, although the Noldor, except those following the sons of Finarfin, ignored his commands.
The language of the Sindar diverged from common Telerin over the long ages they were sundered from their kin, and became known as Sindarin. By the time the Noldor arrived in Beleriand, the languages had become mutually unintelligible, but the Noldor were quick to learn it. In the Second and Third Age, Sindarin became known as the Noble Tongue, and became the Elvish tongue used in daily speech throughout Middle-earth (helped by the decree of Thingol, who forbade the use of the Noldorin language in his realm). It was also adopted for daily use by the Númenóreans, and remained somewhat in use in the Realms in Exile of Gondor and Arnor.
Sindarin eventually replaced Noldorin Quenya as the language used by the Noldor in Beleriand, even in predominantly Noldorin settlements, with the exception of Gondolin, where Turgon revived Quenya. Elsewhere, Quenya survived as a language of knowledge, taking the same role as Latin today.
After the destruction of Beleriand at the end of the First Age, those Sindar who stayed in Middle-earth joined with the few remaining Noldor in surviving settlements such as Lindon (former Ossiriand). Several of these Sindar joined with Noldor in establishing new realms among the Wood Elves. Oropher of Doriath fled to northern Mirkwood where he established the Woodland Realm, where with his small minority of Sindar nobles, he ruled over a predominantly Silvan population. Oropher was killed in the Battle of Dagorlad, and was succeeded by his son Thranduil, father of Legolas.