Jen and Kira, the only Gelfling survivors of the Garthim Wars.

Gelflings were a sentient species native to Thra. They were a diminutive and peaceful race, which managed to colonise much of Thra during the Age of Harmony. After The Great Division, the Gelflings maintained amicable relations with the Skeksis, but the latter subsequently began to enslave them. The Skeksis later attempted to exterminate the Gelflings altogether, after discovering a prophecy revealing that a Gelfing would end their rule.


The name "Gelfling" is a transliteration of Ghel-lflainnk, which means "those who live without knowledge of the future".[1]

Characteristics Edit

Characteristics and biologyEdit


Kira uses her wings to glide with Jen to safety.

Gelflings had triangular faces, with wide cheek bones tapering to a pointed chin. They had large, wide eyes that were set apart on either side of a flattish nose. They had long hair, from which their large, pointed ears protruded.[2] Female Gelflings had a pair of diaphonous wings. Accounts as to the origins of these wings differed greatly. Two popular accounts had it that a Gelfling girl once touched a cloud and knitted it to her shoulders, while another described how she had touched a rock, and wished for crystalline wings. A darker tale tells of how a Gelfling maiden, exhausted with having to take care of a large group of orphaned children, sought out Aughra for help. Aughra took a pair of Cragraptor feathers and stabbed them into the maiden's shoulders, fusing with her body and allowing her to keep track of the orphaned children more easily.[3] These wings once allowed female Gelflings to fly, though by the time of Jen's quest, they could only act as parachutes.[2]



Gelflings dreamfasting with Aughra.

Gelflings had the ability to meld their consciousness with each other through touch, a process known as "Dreamfasting". When two Gelflings touched, a torrent of images would give each participant a clear insight into the memories of the other.[2] Other than Gelflings, Aughra was also a practitioner, and used it to teach them of the dangers of Thra.[3] The Gelflings also had the ability to transfer their thoughts onto objects; when archeologists discovered The Wall of Destiny, much of it was deciphered through Dreamfasting.[1]


With the exception of members of the Spriton clan, Gelflings were a peaceful race, whose greatest joy lay in song, dance and story-telling. The Gelfling's love for story-telling was expressed in a popular rhyme:

Wish not for treasures you can hold

No gleaming jewels, bright and cold

For finer still than pearl or gold

The treasure of a tale well told

Among these stories were the tales of the folk-hero Jarra-Jen, whose exploits were told around village fires for centuries.[3] Most Gelflings possessed no weapons, but could display great ingenuity in making arms out of everyday objects when threatened.[4] Gelfling rock carvings were made through using intense heat, rather than carving tools.[1]


During the Age of Innocence, the Gelflings were a primitive race, who relied on Aughra to teach them of the dangers of Thra. When the urSkeks arrived and began the Age of Harmony, the Gelflings learned how to tame nature and advance technologically. In the trine before The Great Division, the Gelflings had colonised much of Thra. The Gelflings soon began to venerate the urSkeks, giving them credit for having given them culture and language. Aughra's son Raunip, who despised the urSkeks, resented the Gelflings for having forgotten that they had these traits long before the arrival of the urSkeks, and attempted to incite them into attacking The Castle of the Crystal, but they were stopped by Aughra.[3]

When the time came for the urSkeks to return to their homeworld, delegations representing all of Thra's sentient races were invited to witness the event. The Gelfling delegation consisted of Lady Kel and song-teller Gyr. However, when the second Great Conjunction arrived, the urSkeks, rather than being transported home, were divided into Skeksis and urRu.[5]

A Gelfling fishing during the late Golden Age.

In the early years of skekSo's rule, the Gelflings and Skeksis lived in peace, with some Gelflings taking residence in the Castle.[1] However, 800 trine later,[4] the Skeksis became increasingly more violent, and began keeping Gelflings as slaves, as well as draining them of essence in order to rejuvinate themselves. Thinking in the long term for the first time, they took council from prophecy. Seven circles of seven Gelflings sat on the hilltops and looked up to the stars. The resulting vision they recieved was etched onto The Wall of Destiny, which revealed that the rule of the Skeksis would end once a Gelfling found The Shard of the Division and use it to heal The Crystal. When the Skeksis learned of this, they first sought to confuse the search for the shard by creating fakes, which they scattered around the mountain where the original fell. Next, they created the Garthim, which they used to exterminate the Gelfling,[1] thus initiating the Garthim War. Although one Gelfling community managed to hold off the Garthim in the Namopo Valley,[4] and even attacked the Castle itself,[6] resistance proved useless, and soon only two Gelflings remained; Jen, who was adopted by the urRu, and Kira, who took refuge with the Podlings.[1] Although Jen found the Shard, and eventually managed to meet Kira, the two of them remained largely ignorant of its function, until they discovered the Wall of Destiny. Eventually, they would ride to the Castle, and heal the Crystal, with the urSkeks leaving it in their care.[7]

Behind the scenesEdit

The Gelflings were the hardest characters to perform in the film, as they were meant to be the most human creatures in the film, and thus their movements, particularly their gait, had to be as realistic as possible. During scenes when the Gelflings' legs were off-camera, the performers walked on their knees in order to make the character's movements more life-like.[8] According to Odell, the character Jen was Henson's way of projecting himself into the film.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Froud, B. & Llewellyn, J. J., The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . ISBN 0030624363
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Froud, B., Holguin , B., Sheikman, A. & John, L. (2011). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. I. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2007) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1: The Garthim Wars. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167014
  5. Froud, B., Dysart, J., Sheikman, A. & John, L. (2012). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. II. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0
  6. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2010) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 2: Trial by Fire. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167022
  7. Henson, J. & Oz, F. (dir.); Henson, J., Kurtz, G. & Lazer, D. (prod.); Henson, J. & Odell, D. (writ.) (December 17, 1982). The Dark Crystal (Motion picture). New York City, NY: Jim Henson Productions.
  8. Making-of. Reflections of the Dark Crystal: Shard of Illusion. Dir. Michael Gillis. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2007. DVD.
  9. Making-of. Reflections of the Dark Crystal: Light on the Path of Creation. Dir. Michael Gillis. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2007. DVD.

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