The creation of Mjolnir (Thor's magnificent hammer)

Summary

Mjölnir was the result of a contest between Loki and two dwarves, to see if they could create gifts for Asgard that were better than those the gods already possessed. Loki, of course, tried to cheat by interrupting their work but only succeeded with Mjölnir, causing the handle to be too short to be wielded two-handed. This made it hard for anyone lacking god-like strength to wield it.

The Tale

Sif, Thor's wife, had golden hair like rays of sunshine. Loki, feeling malevolent, decided to secretly shear it off while she slept. Thor threatened to break every bone in Loki’s body if he did not fix this. He quickly explained that he would go down to Svartalfheim, the land of the dwarves and renowned as the greatest smiths in all the Nine Worlds. This is where he found the dwarves of Ivaldi. They forged not only a golden crown that would grow golden hair for Sif but also two other marvels: Skidbladnir, the best of all ships, which will never sink, always has a favourable wind and can be folded up and put into one’s pocket, and Gungnir, a spear that would never miss its target and the deadliest of all spears.


Proud of his treasure, he claimed no great items could be forged. Having accomplished his task, Loki was overcome by an urge to remain in the caves of the dwarves and revel in more recklessness. He approached the brothers Brokkr and Sindri and taunted them, saying that he was sure the brothers could never forge three new creations equal to those the sons of Ivaldi had fashioned.


The dwarf Brokkr took this as a challenge and claimed him and his brother could do better. Loki, so convinced that nothing better could be forged, bet his head that they could not. The brothers began to forge 3 items. As each item was forged, they were harassed by a fly, Loki in disguise. First, they placed a boar skin and a piece of gold into the forge and began work. The fly stung Sindri’s hand while he worked and when the dwarf pulled his creation out of the fire, it was a living boar with golden hair. This was Gullinbursti (“Golden-bristled”), who gave off light in the dark and could run better than any horse, even though water or air.


Sindri then set another piece of gold on the fire as Brokkr worked the bellows. The fly bit Brokkr on the neck and Sindri drew out a magnificent ring, Draupnir (“Dripper”). From this ring, every ninth night, eight new golden rings of equal weight would be created.


Mjolnir, that could shatter mountains with its power. Sindri then put the iron on the hearth and told Brokkr that, for this next working, they must be especially meticulous, for a mistake would be more costly than with the previous two projects. Loki immediately stung Brokkr’s eyelid, harder than before, enough to draw blood. The blood blocked the dwarf’s eye, preventing him from properly
seeing his work and need to stop, only for a second, to wipe it away. Sindri produced a hammer of unsurpassed quality, which never missed its mark and would boomerang back to its owner after being thrown, but it had one flaw: the handle was short. Sindri lamented that this had almost ruined the piece, which was called Mjollnir (“Lightning”). Nevertheless, sure of the great worth of their
three marvels, Sindri and Brokkr made their way to Asgard to claim the wages that were due to them.


Loki made it to the halls of the gods before the dwarves and presented the marvels he had acquired. To Odin went the ring Draupnir and the spear Gungnir. Freyr was the happy recipient of Skidbladnir and Gullinbursti. And to Thor, he gave Sif’s new hair. Then he gave the hammer Mjollnir to Thor, and
said that Thor might smite as hard as he desired, whatsoever might be before him, and the hammer would not fail; and if he threw it at anything, it would never miss, and never fly so far as not to return to his hand; and if be desired, he might keep it in his sark, it was so small, but indeed it was a flaw in the hammer that the fore-haft was somewhat short. When Thor saw the hammer, the finest weapon in the universe despite its flaw, he agreed to let Loki live.


As grateful as the gods were to receive these gifts – especially Mjollnir, which they foresaw would be of inestimable help in their battles against the giants – they nevertheless concluded that Loki still owed the dwarves his head. When the dwarves approached Loki with knives, the cunning god was far away, for he had the shoes with which he could run through the air and over the sea. Then the
dwarf requested Thor to seize him, and he did so. Loki quickly pointed out that he had promised them his head, but not his neck. Brokkr and Sindri contented themselves with sewing Loki’s mouth shut and returned to their forge.


Mjolnir would lead Thor to triumph over the frost giants and beat any threat to Asgard. Who knew a simple trick would lead to the creation of such a powerful hammer?

In later myths, thor possess a special belt and gloves - the belt doubles his strength and the gloves permit him to wield Mjölnir one-handed. The three items together are considered Thor's most prized possessions, but they are not restricted to Thor alone. There are several stories of mythological beings such as giants stealing Thor's possessions and Thor having to go get them back.