Brokkr and Eitri are legendary figures in Norse mythology renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship and the creation of some of the most iconic treasures of the gods. Often mistaken or erroneously linked to the Sons of Ivaldi, these skilled dwarf brothers stand as distinct figures in the mythos, celebrated for the peerless quality of their workmanship. Among their renowned creations are the mighty hammer Mjölnir wielded by Thor, the golden boar Gullinbursti gifted to Freyr, and the magical ring Draupnir bestowed upon Odin.
How It All Started
According to Skáldskaparmál, the tale of how Brokkr and Eitri came to provide the gods with valuable items has a unique history. It all began when Thor went on an errand. His wife Sif was asleep in her chamber when Loki sneaked in to cause mischief. Without the goddess waking, he managed to cut off her long, blonde hair, leaving only unsightly tufts behind.
Loki revealed himself as the culprit and faced Thor’s wrath. Thor threatened to break every bone in Loki’s body if he didn’t go to the underworld to persuade the black elves to create new hair for Sif. The hair was to be made of pure gold and grow on her head like real strands of hair.
Loki Meets Brokkr and Eitri
Loki set off and sought out the Sons of Ivaldi to commission the task. For reasons we do not know (perhaps Loki needed some extra gifts to appease the gods after his mischief), the Sons of Ivaldi not only created Sif’s new hair but also the ship Skíðblaðnir and the spear Gungnir. When Loki, armed with these treasures, headed home, he encountered the two dwarf brothers Brokkr and Eitri. Loki then displayed the treasures he carried and made a wager with Brokkr that Eitri could not create three equally exquisite items. Loki was so confident that he even staked his head on the wager.
The two dwarves set to work in their forge. Brokkr operated the bellows and kept the fire alive, while Eitri began to forge. When Loki realized he might lose the bet, he transformed into a fly, attempting to disrupt Brokkr’s work with angry stings, but Brokkr remained steadfast and persevered.
The Creation of Gullinbursti, Draupnir, and Mjolnir
Eitri first placed a pigskin in the hearth and from it created a living, golden boar. Then he took a piece of gold and forged the ring Draupnir. For the third item, he placed iron in the fire and began forging a hammer. He urged his brother to keep blowing carefully, as everything would be lost if he let the bellows stop. The fly, who was the frightened Loki, then settled on Brokkr’s eyelid and bit him so hard that blood ran into his eye.
Brokkr had to momentarily release the bellows to chase away the fly and wipe away the blood. When the hammer was finally lifted from the fire, it turned out that the handle had become slightly too short. Armed with their treasures, Loki and Brokkr set off for Asgard to settle the bet. The winner of the wager would be the one whose items were chosen by Odin, Thor, and Freyr.
The Æsir’s Verdict
Loki gave Sif’s new hair to Thor, while Odin received the spear Gungnir and Freyr got the ship Skíðblaðnir. The gods were highly impressed, and Loki began to feel confident. Brokkr then presented his creations and distributed them among the gods: the boar Gullinbursti to Freyr, the ring Draupnir to Odin, and the hammer Mjölnir to Thor. The Æsir admired these remarkable treasures and deliberated for a long time. Eventually, they determined that despite its slightly short handle, the hammer was the best of the gifts because it could provide protection against the attacks of the giants. The dwarf had won the wager.
Loki’s Punishment | The Triumph of Brokkr and Eitri
Loki tried to escape by offering Brokkr a ransom, but the dwarf insisted on claiming Loki’s head. When Loki attempted to flee, he was captured and brought back by Thor. At the last moment, Loki managed to save himself from being beheaded by claiming that he had only wagered his head, not his neck. As revenge, the dwarves then sewed Loki’s mouth shut to avoid hearing more of his deceitful speech.
Thus, the gods received their marvelous possessions, and Sif received new hair. As soon as the hair was placed on her head, it grew firmly, allowing her to proudly flaunt a cascade of purest gold.
Brokkr and Eitri in Popular Culture
These legendary dwarven blacksmiths have been featured in various forms of popular culture. For instance, characters inspired by Brokkr and Eitri appear in certain video games based on Norse mythology or featuring characters from Norse myths. In fact, the characters Brok and Sindri from “God of War: Ragnarök” are based on the mythical duo (Sindri being another name for Eitri in Norse mythology). Brok, in particular, has become a cult favorite among “God of War” fans, partly due to the infamous yet mysterious Juicy Nokken incident!