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The Dwarfs are fundamentally a patriarchal race. This is due in no small part to the fact that in every generation of Dwarfs, only a small minority are female, a ratio of around one or two girls in every ten births. Dwarf women live longer than the men, on average up to fifty years longer. There are even records of female Living Ancestors, known as Daughters of Valaya. The bulk of daily work and craft is undertaken by male Dwarfs, while Dwarf women tend to the raising of the children and the running of the household - much like in the Empire of Man. It is also possible for a Dwarf hold to be run by a queen, although heavily advised by her Council of Elders and seen as a stop-gap measure until a suitable husband can be found.[1a]

Dwarf women are as strong-willed as their husbands, and no doubt in the running of domestic affairs are a force to be reckoned with. Some Dwarf women may sit on the king's Council of Elders, but this is something of a rarity. On the whole, a Dwarf woman's standing is based upon the rank of her husband, or former husband in the case of widows. It is the ambition of every proud father for his daughter to marry above his station and thus increase the fortunes of the clan, both literally and metaphorically. This means that a daughter is seen as a blessing from Valaya.[1a]

Dwarf marriage rituals are amongst the most closely guarded secrets in their whole culture, but an example found in one book of grudges is described as thus: The father of the groom pays a dowry to the bride's clan, as womenfolk are rare and thus quite sought after by amorous and ambitious Dwarfs. This dowry is traditionally calculated with a large device, the name of which roughly translates as "nuptial scales". The dowry is derived from the bride-to-be's weight, using an ancient formula based on the wealth of the clan she is from and that of the clan she is marrying into. The logic here is that a plump, healthy bride is worth more than one who is thin and malnourished. For this reason, Dwarf women are considered attractive if round of hip, wide of girth and heavy of bosom. Some Dwarf brides are feasted every day for a month or more before the official weighing in order to increase the dowry to be paid.[1a]

Another reason for such behaviour is the "gartering of the girth". This ceremony is used by the oldest clans to calculate the suitability of a would-be suitor marrying into the clan. In order to ask for the Dwarf lady's hand in marriage, the suitor must be able to wrap his beard at least once around her waist, thus proving a certain degree of venerability, wisdom and good behaviour.[1a]

Regarding Expatriate Dwarfs

One of the discarded traditions centres on the role of Expatriate women. Unlike those of the mountain realms, Expatriate women are free to travel anywhere outside their settlement without armed escort. Additionally, Expatriate women can seek out any of the employment opportunities available to their menfolk. In fact, almost all female Dwarf adventurers are Expatriates.[2a]


  • 1: Grudgelore
    • 1a: pg. 14
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 1st ED -- Dwarfs: Stone and Steel
    • 2a: pg. 23