Palantír

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A palantír (pl. palantíri) is a magical artifact from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy legendarium. A palantír (sometimes translated as "Seeing Stone" but actually meaning "Farsighted" or "One that Sees from Afar") is a spherical stone that functions somewhat like a crystal ball.

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Origins and characteristics

When one looks into a palantír, one can communicate with other such stones and anyone who might be looking into them; beings of great power can manipulate the Stones to see virtually any part of the world. They were made by the Elves of Valinor in the Uttermost West, by the Noldor and maybe even Fëanor himself. Many palantíri were made, but the number is not known. Some had power over other Stones. They were of various sizes; the smallest had a diameter of about a foot (30 cm), while the largest filled a large chamber. The larger stones allowed one to walk around them, thereby changing the viewpoint of its vision. The Master Stone was kept in the tower of Avallónë on Tol Eressëa, but no record is made of successful communication from any palantír of Middle-earth to this one. They are believed to have a power over people, as seen from the experience of Peregrin Took and the Orthanc-stone.[1] However, it is unclear if Pippin's compulsion to use the Orthanc-stone was imparted by the stone itself, or if it was a result of Sauron's influence over it. According to Gandalf, it is beyond the skill of both Sauron and Saruman to create the palantíri and that Sauron cannot make the palantíri "lie", or create false images (though he could show selective images to create a false impression on the viewer).

The stones' gaze can pierce anything except darkness and shadow. A technique called shrouding was used when something was to be kept secret from the enemies' eyes. Knowledge of this technique was lost long ago, although Sauron probably knew of it.[citation needed]

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