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The Maiar (singular Maia) were primordial spirits created to help the Valar first shape the World. They were numerous, though not many were named. Their chiefs were Eönwë, banner-bearer and herald of Manwë, and Ilmarë, the handmaid of Varda.[1]

Five of these spirits, in the Third Age, became the incarnated Wizards.


Each of the Maiar was associated with one or more particular Vala, and was of similar stock, though less powerful. For example, Ossë and Uinen, as spirits of the sea, belonged to Ulmo the Sea-king,[1] while Curumo (known in Middle-earth as Saruman) belonged to Aulë the Smith. Others included Mairon (originally also of Aulë, known in Middle-earth as Sauron), Aiwendil (known in Middle-earth as Radagast), who belonged to Yavanna the Fruit-giver, and Olórin (known by the Elves as Mithrandir, and to Men as Gandalf and was considered to be the wisest of the Maiar) who belonged to Manwë the Wind-king and Varda the Star-Queen. Gandalf's ways took him often to the house of Nienna the Weeper, and from her, he learned pity and patience[1], which perhaps aided him in his later struggles to unite the Free People of Middle-earth against the power of Sauron.

Alatar and Pallando, later known as the Blue Wizards, traveled to the East, never returning to the West; their fate is unknown. The Balrogs (Valaraukar in Quenya) were corrupted Maiar who became Melkor's most trusted and terrible servants. Melian served both Vána and Estë.

The Sun and Moon were also piloted by Maiar: Arien, a spirit of fire uncorrupted by Melkor, was chosen for her radiant beauty and fierce devotion to the workings of the Valar, was selected to guide the Sun, while Tilion, a hunter in the company of Oromë, was chosen to steer the Moon.[1]


Arien was described as "a spirit of fire"

Maiar, like Valar, did not array themselves in a fixed form but could freely change shape. Olórin, or Gandalf, walked among the peoples of Middle-earth in an uncertain form for many years before being sent on the errand of the Valar as one of the Istari.

Like the Valar, however, this power could be lost when abused. Following the dark trails blazed by Melkor, Sauron took upon the form of - and remained - the Dark Lord in the Second Age. And yet, even fallen Maiar retain their immortality. From all indications, when the physical body of a Maia is destroyed, their spirit wanders houseless and their power diminished until they may take a physical form once more, or are restored by their respective Valar. Examples of this can be seen in the threat of Lúthien to Sauron upon his defeat at the Tower of Werewolves, whereby it is said:

"Ere [Sauron's] spirit left its dark house, Luthien came to him and that he should be stripped of his raiment of flesh, and his ghost sent quaking back to Morgoth; and she said 'There everlastingly thy naked self shall endure the torment of his scorn, pierced by his eyes, unless thou yield to me the mastery of thy tower.'"

A further example includes the resurrection of Gandalf after he and the Balrog of Moria were both slain, one by the other, on the mountain peak of Zirakzigil:

"Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done. And naked I lay upon the mountain-top. There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over, and each day was as long as a life-age of the earth."

It is not clear how or what restored Gandalf, though it can be inferred that Manwë played some role. It was Manwë that sent the Istari on their errand to check the power of Sauron in Middle-earth; therefore, by Gandalf declaring that he was sent back "until [his] task is done," indicates some level of Manwe's involvement; or as argued by some, it was the direct intervention of Eru Ilúvatar that brought about Gandalf's return.

Powers & abilities

Like most of the Ainur, the abilities and powers of the Maiar remain unknown and presumably diverse. Given the nature of the Maiar was to aid the Valar in shaping the world, they likely have considerable power to augment the world around them. Maiar, as primordial spirit beings, are functionally immortal and essentially immune to the ravages of time; even from physical destruction, they remain in spirit form.

Being of divine origin, they can shapeshift if they so choose. They wander the world unseen or shape themselves in any fashion, be they Elves or other creatures; called "Fanar" in Quenya could be destroyed, but their being, not extinguished.

It is suggested that the Maiar, in their service to the Valar in shaping the world, presumably could manipulate the elements and energies like their Valar counterparts. They were able to be given a physical body again over time or with help from the Valar. Presumably, the Maiar possessed the ability to perform Magic, thus performing blessings, spells, curses, exorcism, etc.

Given the vastness of the universe and the ability of the Maiar to occupy such points, they are capable of teleporting vast distances. By taking the form of a flying creature like vampires, bats, birds, etc., the Ainur could fly.

Named Maiar

Descendants of Melian


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ማኢኣር
Arabic مايار
Armenian Մայար
Belarusian Cyrillic Маіар
Bengali ম্ঐঅর
Bosnian Majari
Bulgarian Cyrillic Маяри
Chinese (Hong Kong) 邁雅
Croatian Maiari
Georgian მაიარები
Greek Μάιαρ
Gujarati માયર
Hebrew המיאר
Hindi मैअर
Hungarian Maiák
Japanese マイアール
Kannada ಮೈಯರ್
Kazakh Мэйар (Cyrillic) Méyar (Latin)
Korean 마이아
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Маиар
Macedonian Cyrillic Маиар
Marathi मायर
Mongolian Cyrillic Маиар
Nepalese माईर
Persian مایار
Polish Majar
Punjabi ਮੈਅਰ
Russian Майар
Sanskrit म्ऐअर्
Serbian Мајари (Cyrillic) Majari (Latin)
Sinhalese මයාර්
Slovenian Majar
Tajik Cyrillic Маиар
Tamil மையார்
Telugu మేయర్
Türkçe Maya
Thai ไมอาร์
Ukrainian Cyrillic Майар
Urdu میار
Uzbek Маиар (Cyrillic) Maiar (Latin)
Yiddish מאַיאַר