Amanye Tenceli: the first ten years

On April 3 2009, Amanye Tenceli celebrates its tenth anniversary. When I launched the site in 1999, my motivations were twofold. One was that I needed a place to host my Tengwar Scribe program. Another was that I saw the need for a site that provided accurate and up-to-date Tengwar information with a scholarly approach. For good measure I added Sarati to the mix, a script of which very little was known at that time, since only one specimen had been published (the Túrin Prose Fragment).

Since then the site has grown immensely. In 2001 Parma Eldalamberon number 13 was published, providing us with a huge amount of information about the Sarati. When I had digested this hulk of new facts (which took some time), I could finally start writing texts about the Sarati on par with those treating the Tengwar. The new information also prompted the development of a new Sarati font, Sarati Eldamar, leading in turn to the other members of the same font family, Valmaric Eldamar and Tengwar Eldamar. The latter has just been adopted site-wide for all samples of Tengwar, replacing the older Tengwar Parmaite.

As for the “scholarly approach”, this was far from perfect in the beginning. But as the scope of the site grew, I became increasingly aware of the need to always verify my statements against Tolkien’s texts. This eventually led to some drastic decisions, such as abandoning the division on Tengwar modes based on languages, instead using characteristics of the modes themselves to define them. All in all, I think the quality of the site has improved greatly as a result.

It has been an exciting decade for students of Tolkien’s languages and scripts. The new discoveries and revelations have been numerous. Some of these are a result of unpublished letters or inscriptions by Tolkien appearing on auction sites or in discussion forums. But for the most part they are due to the new issues of the journals Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon, containing never before seen texts by Tolkien in and about his languages and scripts. This will probably continue for some time yet: a forthcoming Parma Eldalamberon is likely to contain the first versions of the Tengwar, which Tolkien created in the 1930’s.

Will Amanye Tenceli ever be “complete”? It is possible: as the site is structured there are some texts that are waiting to be written, such as descriptions of the remaining Tengwar modes and Sarati valuations. But that is not really the point. As I once wrote in the Introduction: “The purpose of this web site is to give an introduction to the writing systems of Aman, and to encourage further studies in Tolkien’s works.” I cannot give the definite answer to every aspect of the Sarati and Tengwar, nor do I want to. But for many of us it is easier to learn from the true sources if we are given some pointers in the right direction. I hope Amanye Tenceli has been able to do that in the past ten years, and that it will continue to do so for many years to come.

Måns Björkman