In Norse cosmology, svartálfar, also called myrkálfar, are beings who dwell in Svartalfheim. Both the svartálfar and Svartálfaheimr are primarily attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Scholars have noted that the svartálfar appear to be synonymous with the dwarfs and potentially also the dökkálfar. As dwarfs, the home of the svartálfar could possibly be another description for Niðavellir.


The svartálfar are almost only attested in the Prose Edda. The svartálfar mentioned in Skáldskaparmál 35 are the Sons of Ivaldi, whom Loki engages to craft replacement hair for Sif, wife of the god Thor, after Loki mischievously sheared off her golden. Ivaldi is often glossed as being a dwarf.
Svartálfaheimr appears in the Prose Edda twice, in each case as the place where certain dwarfs can be found to be living: In Gylfaginning 33, the "world of black-elves" is where the dwarfs are sought by the gods to craft the fetter Gleipnir to bind the wolf Fenrir. And in Skáldskaparmál, 39, the "world of black-elves" is where Loki encounters the dwarf Andvari.

Theories and interpretations

Scholars have commented that, as both attestations mentioning the beings and location appear to refer to dwarfs, svartálfr and dwarf may simply be synonyms for the same concept. Scholar John Lindow comments that whether the dökkálfar and the svartálfar were considered the same at the time of the writing of the Prose Edda is also unclear.