- "The Elder Wand," he said, and he drew a straight vertical line on the parchment. "The Resurrection Stone," he said, and he added a circle on top of the line. "The Cloak of Invisibility," he finished, enclosing both line and circle in a triangle, to make the symbol that so intrigued Hermione. "Together," he said, "the Deathly Hallows."
- —Xenophilius Lovegood[src]
The Deathly Hallows are three highly powerful magical objects supposedly created by Death and given to each of three brothers in the Peverell family. They consisted of the Elder Wand, an immensely powerful wand that was considered unbeatable; the Resurrection Stone, a stone which could summon the spirits of the dead, and the Cloak of Invisibility, which, as its name suggests, renders the user completely invisible. According to the story, both Antioch Peverell (owner of the Wand) and Cadmus Peverell (owner of the Stone) came to bad ends. However, Ignotus Peverell's wisdom in requesting the Cloak was rewarded.
According to legend, he who possesses these three artefacts would become the Master of Death. Dumbledore told Harry that he and another wizard, Gellert Grindelwald took this to mean that the uniter of the Deathly Hallows would be invincible. The story of the Deathly Hallows was originally told by Beedle the Bard and subsequently passed from family to family as a wizard fairytale. Few wizards ever realised that the Deathly Hallows were genuine items. Most people thought that there were things that Beedle had made up to entertain young wizards and witches.
No one but Harry Potter has been known to have been in command of all three at the same time, though he was never in possession of them all at once (he dropped the stone in the Forbidden Forest just before gaining the wand that he had won the alliance of in a previous scuffle at Malfoy Manor). Albus Dumbledore had possessed all three, but not all at once, similar to Harry, but he was never the true owner of the Cloak.
Origin of the Hallows
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Hundreds of years ago, the three Peverell brothers were travelling at twilight, and reached a river too dangerous to cross. The three brothers, being trained in the magical arts, simply waved their wands and created a bridge across the river. They were then stopped by Death himself, who felt cheated that they had gotten across the river, as most travellers drowned in it.
Death, a cunning liar, then pretended to congratulate them on being clever enough to evade him, and offered each of them a powerful magical item. The first brother, Antioch Peverell, wished to have the most powerful wand out of his combative personality; Death broke a branch off a nearby elder tree and created for him the Elder Wand, a wand more powerful than any other in existence. The second brother, Cadmus Peverell, out of arrogance, wanted to humiliate Death even further, and wished to have the power to bring loved ones from the grave; Death then took a stone from the riverbed and created for him the Resurrection Stone, a stone capable of bringing the dead back to the living world. The third brother, Ignotus Peverell, who was a humble man, did not trust Death and asked to go on from the river without being followed by Death; Death then gave him his own Cloak of Invisibility, an invisibility cloak that never lost its power through curses or age.
The three legendary objects, (the cloak, the wand and the stone) together make up the Deathly Hallows.
However, Albus Dumbledore felt that it was more likely that the Hallows were actually created by the very talented and powerful brothers, and that the story of their origins as objects fashioned by Death sprang up around them as result of the powers they possessed.
Movement of the Hallows
In time, the brothers went their separate ways. Antioch Peverell travelled to a wizarding village where he killed a wizard he had once duelled with, he then boasted of the power of the Elder Wand, that it was unbeatable and in his possession, invoking envy amongst the many wanting to possess it for themselves. His throat was slit in his sleep by another wizard who stole the Elder Wand.
Ignotus' passing and unusual friend
Ignotus used the cloak to remain hidden from Death for a long time. When he was an old man, he passed the cloak onto his son, greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him to the next world.
The cloak continued to be passed down through the descendants of the Peverells (although the name became extinct in the male line). The wand passed from wizard to wizard, nearly always by the murder of its previous owner. The wand, during its passing from wizard to wizard, has been called "The Death Stick" and the "Wand of Destiny". On an interesting note, no witch is ever stated to have held possession of the wand. The stone was also passed down through the Peverells' descendants. It eventually ended up in the possession of the House of Gaunt, and was later stolen by Tom Marvolo Riddle, neither Tom nor Marvolo Gaunt were aware of the powers of the stone, nor that it was a Hallow. Marvolo was solely concerned with the "noble origins" of the stone, made into a ring, and thought that the Hallows symbol on it was the family coat of arms. Lord Voldemort could not have been aware of the stone's true origin either, as he transformed the stone into a Horcrux.
Quests for Hallows
- "I was fit only to possess the meanest of them, the least extraordinary. I was fit to own the Elder Wand, and not to boast of it, and not to kill with it. I was permitted to tame and to use it, because I took it, not for gain, but to save others from it."
- —Albus Dumbledore on the Deathly Hallows and the Elder Wand[src]
In his youth, Albus Dumbledore, along with soon-to-become Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald, entertained dreams of finding and appropriating the Hallows for himself. This quest for power also manifested itself in his vision of a future where wizards would rule over and control Muggles "for the greater good". A family argument later caused him to revise and reconsider his beliefs after the death of his sister. Up until his death, he never trusted himself with power, refusing the post of Minister for Magic three times - yet his yearning to find the Hallows never left him.
After his sister Ariana died, Dumbledore sought out the Resurrection Stone in the hopes that finding it would somehow revive his dead sister and parents. Thus when he chanced upon it sometime in 1996, when it had already been turned into a Horcrux by Voldemort, the temptation proved too much to handle and he put on the ring, invoking a terrible curse Voldemort had placed which caused his right hand to wither and die. Only when the horcrux was destroyed by Godric Gryffindor's Sword did the stone revert to its normal state, with its original powers intact. Dumbledore also came into possession of the Cloak of Invisibility when he borrowed it from its owner, James Potter, a descendant of Ignotus Peverell. It was he who passed the Cloak on to James' son, Harry, to whom it proved to be a useful tool in defeating Voldemort and his allies. He also gave to Harry the Resurrection Stone, by means of the Snitch Harry had caught in his first ever Quidditch match.
In his later life, Grindelwald gained possession of the Elder Wand by stealing it off the foreign wandmaker known as Gregorovitch. Upon duelling Dumbledore sometime in the 1940s, Grindelwald lost, along with the possession of the wand. Decades later, in 1998, Lord Voldemort attempted to acquire the wand by visiting Grindelwald at his cell in Nurmengard. However, Grindelwald denied ever possessing the wand, and was murdered by Lord Voldemort.
- "It's never occurred to me before, but I've heard stuff about charms wearing off cloaks when they get old, or them being ripped apart by spells so they've got holes in. Harry's was owned by his dad, so it's not exactly new, is it, but it's just... perfect!"
- —Ron Weasley regarding Harry Potter's Cloak of Invisibility[src]
Upon hearing the Tale of the Three Brothers, Harry Potter wished to unite the Hallows to become the Master of Death and ultimately defeat Lord Voldemort. He ultimately dismissed this idea however, as he knew that the late Albus Dumbledore wished for him to destroy the Horcruxes in order to beat the Dark Lord. Harry did possess each of the Hallows eventually, for a brief moment of time.
Without realising it, Harry Potter possessed one of the Hallows from the age of 11, the Cloak of Invisibility. The Cloak was rightfully his, and should have been passed down to him from his father, James Potter, had he not been murdered. Harry is a living descendant of the third brother, Ignotus Peverell.
On the Snitch was engraved the words I open at the close. Harry figured out later that in order to open it, he had to be close to death. To open the Snitch, he said "I'm about to die," and touched it to his mouth because he had caught it with his mouth. This was before confronting Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the Forbidden Forest during the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry used it to "bring back" and talk to his mother, his father, Remus Lupin, and his godfather, Sirius Black. Harry dropped the Stone later in the forest, and never told anyone (besides Dumbledore's portrait) so that nobody would seek it. In a recent interview, Rowling said she would like to believe that a centaur's hoof pushed it into the ground, burying it forever. Without realising until later, Harry became the master of the Elder Wand when he defeated Draco Malfoy during the Battle of Malfoy Manor in 1998. The wand recognised him as its master when Harry duelled Lord Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts, even though Harry had never even touched it before. Harry did not want the wand, he only used it to repair his thence broken Holly and Phoenix feather wand.
Once this deed was accomplished, Harry replaced the wand in the tomb of Albus Dumbledore. His mindset was that if he could die of natural causes without passing the wand to an heir, the wand's power, and, therefore, its history of bloodshed, would be gone forever.
The Elder Wand
- "I’m putting the Elder Wand back where it came from. It can stay there. If I die a natural death like Ignotus, its power will be broken, won’t it? The previous master will never have been defeated. That’ll be the end of it."
- —Harry on his decision to give up the Elder Wand[src]
As Harry Potter had no intention of using the Elder Wand for his own purposes (having achieved his goal of defeating Voldemort), he only used it to restore his own broken wand. He then at an unknown date returned the Elder Wand to the grave of Albus Dumbledore, located on the grounds of Hogwarts, supposing that, if he died of natural causes, its power would finally be broken, and its history of blood and violence along with it.
The wand has a different fate in the films, where Harry snaps the wand in half and throws it off the gorge saying that he doesn't want it.
The Resurrection Stone
After Harry turned the stone over in his hand thrice, and was immediately joined by the shades of his parents, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin, he discarded the Resurrection Stone. It was lost somewhere in the Forbidden Forest near Aragog's lair, where Harry intended it to remain. J. K. Rowling later revealed that a centaur pressed it into the ground by stomping on it as the herd charged to help the defenders of Hogwarts in the fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
The Cloak of Invisibility
- Harry: "I'm going to keep Ignotus's present, though."
- Albus Dumbledore's portrait: " But of course, Harry, it is yours forever, until you pass it on!"
- — Harry Potter's decision to keep the Cloak of Invisibility[src]
As for the Cloak of Invisibility, Harry remarked to Dumbledore's portrait that he would be keeping it for himself and his family [HP7]; it is most likely still with him to this day and probably passed it down to one of his children.
Masters of death
Harry Potter is the only known Master of Death, having gathered and mastered all three Hallows; he did not unite all three of them physically at the same moment, as he possessed no more than two at the same time. Albus Dumbledore had also gathered all three, though physically owning no more than two at the same time, and did not master the usage of the Cloak. With the Stone lost and the Wand hidden (with its power destined to perish when Harry dies of natural cause), it is unlikely there will ever be another.
- The Tale of the Three Brothers
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- Peverell brothers
- Antioch Peverell
- Cadmus Peverell
- Ignotus Peverell
- Elder Wand
- Resurrection Stone
- Cloak of Invisibility
- Master of Death
- Albus Dumbledore
- Gellert Grindelwald
- Harry Potter
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, there is a scene in Dumbledore's office where there is a close up of Dumbledore standing next to a cabinet. Inside the cabinet is what appears to be a 3D model of the Deathly Hallows symbol (a pyramid with a line down the middle, and a ball, a 3D version of the sign). It is unknown if this is a coincidence, as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would not be published until two years later, although J.K. Rowling may have already conceptualised the design for the symbol at this point.
- When asked in an interview if the Hallows were based on any real-world myth or fairy tale, J. K. Rowling responded with, "Perhaps the Pardoner's Tale, by Chaucer."
- Although he never handled all three Hallows at the same time, Harry Potter was regarded by Albus Dumbledore as the true Master of Death. Harry Potter possessed the Cloak of Invisibility since Christmas in 1991, and in May 1998 he managed to free the Resurrection Stone from the Golden Snitch just before meeting Voldemort. When he disarmed Draco Malfoy at Malfoy Manor, mastery of the Elder Wand passed to him, although by the time he took physical possession of the wand, he had already dropped the Stone in the Forbidden Forest.
- During the 1996–1997 school year, all three Hallows were brought into close proximity several times, starting with Harry and Dumbledore's visit to Horace Slughorn, and then again during their private lessons. Dumbledore had possession of the Wand and the Stone, and had told Harry to keep his Cloak with him at all times.
- During his life, Tom Riddle possessed two of the Deathly Hallows. He was never aware of this fact, believing to only possess the "Wand of Destiny." Dumbledore speculated that Riddle is unaware of the existence of the Deathly Hallows as a whole (seeing his narrow-minded personality) or that if he were, he would be disinterested in it except the Elder Wand.
- In the Deathly Hallows book, Harry uses the Elder Wand to repair his wand, then places it in Dumbledore's crypt.
- In the film, Harry is not seen using the Elder Wand to repair his wand - instead, he breaks the Elder Wand in half shortly before throwing it over the edge of a bridge. He presumably keeps Draco Malfoy's wand as his own in this version.
- By the end of the series, all of the Deathly Hallows are either on the Hogwarts grounds or with Harry Potter.
- When Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley discuss the Hallows at Xenophilius Lovegood's house, they each choose a different Hallow that they'd rather have: Harry chooses the Resurrection Stone, Hermione chooses the Cloak of Invisibility, and Ron chooses the Elder Wand. This resembles the Three Brothers themselves, as Hermione and Ignotus both were wiser than those around them, Harry and Cadmus both were pained by deaths in their past, and Ron and Anitoch both had others in their life they wanted to surpass.
- Considering the parallels to Grindelwald and Hitler, the symbol of the Hallows is very much akin to the Swastika, which was an ancient symbol that Hitler used and is now solely associated with Nazism rather than its historical nature. This sentiment to the swastika is reflected by Viktor Krum's anger at the sight of the symbol which he considers to be a sign of supporting Grindlewald.
- The symbol of the Deathly Hallows bears a slight resemblance to the alchemical symbol of the Philosopher's Stone.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Only the Cloak and the Wand) (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (All three)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (All three, First identified as Deathly Hallows)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (All three) (Stone only appears hidden in Snitch)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Pottermore (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references