The original concept of dwarves is very difficult to determine. The sources closest to the original Germanic mythology come from Norse Mythology, but even these are scarce and varied. Sources have gradually given dwarves more comical and superstitious roles. Dwarves were certainly humanoid, but sources differ over their height, their lifestyles, and their similarity to elves. Considering early sources, and considering the dwarves' nature, original dwarves seem fully human height. They had strong associations with death: paled skin; dark hair; connections with the earth; their role in mythology. They followed animistic traditions, showing similarities to such concepts of the dead. They were similar to others from the 'Vættir' family, such as elves.
As their mythology evolved, the most notable changes have had them become more comical and more mysterious. They adopted the modern image of short height and ugliness. Their associations with the underground became more predominant. Dwarves were magical creatures with huge skill at metallurgy, taking fame for making great artifacts of legend. Late Norse concepts of dwarves became quite different from the early ones. The Legendary saga shows the new trend. The remnants of the original dwarf formed later fairy tales and folklore (see German folklore, and Dutch folklore). They had become unseen magical creatures like fairies; users of charms, curses, and deceit.