The Ainur, the Holy Ones (singular Ainu, meaning Holy One; Quenya Tengwar: full spelling lE5&6 or vowel-abbreviated spelling l5&6; IPA: [ˈaɪnur]) were the first and mightiest beings created by Eru Ilúvatar in the depths of time before the beginning of the World. The 'order' of the Valar and Maiar, made before Eä.
- "There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought..."
- —First words of the Ainulindalë
They were the primordial spirits, who existed with Ilúvatar, and with him created the world through the Music of the Ainur or the Ainulindalë. After the creation of Arda, many of the Ainur descended into it to guide and order its growth; of these there were fifteen more powerful than the rest. Fourteen of these great Ainur became the Valar, or Powers of Arda. The fifteenth, Melkor, turned aside from that path and became the first Lord of the Dark Powers. The many lesser Ainur that accompanied the Valar into Arda are known as Maiar.
The Ainur were the 'offspring of Ilúvatar's thought' and each was given understanding only of that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he or she came. The exception to this was Melkor, a brother in spirit to Manwë who later became the lord of the Valar and he was given some of the parts from which the others had come, but for all his gifts he did not know the full mind of Eru. Melkor and Manwë were the most powerful of the Ainur. The Ainur were 'kindled with the Flame Imperishable', which can be taken to mean that they were granted free will by their Creator. Ilúvatar instructed them in the arts of music, until he brought them together to make the Music of the Ainur: the great song that created the Vision of Ilúvatar and ultimately the real world. In the beginning of the Music, the Ainur were all in harmony with Eru and one another, but Melkor turned instead to his own pride, seeking power for himself and brought discord to the Great Music. He later led many of the Maiar astray as well.
The Ainur and the WorldEdit
Through the Music of the Ainur, Ilúvatar created a Vision of the World; he showed it to the Ainur, and explained much of its nature and destiny to them - so the Ainur have much knowledge of the World, but are not omniscient. Then, Ilúvatar granted the World true being by declaring Eä therefore letting these visions come into being. Melkor and many of the other mighty Ainur desired to descend into it and form it in readiness for the coming of the Children of Ilúvatar (that is, Elves and Men). These became the beings known as the Valar and the Maiar.
Those Ainur who entered the World and chose to live in it at its beginning remain bound to it until its end, though Melkor was eventually thrown into the Void by the others, he is prophesied to return before the end. Little is known of the ultimate future of the Ainur, even by themselves, but it is said that, after the great battle at the end of the World, they will make a Second, even greater, Music with the Children of Ilúvatar.
The Line of MelianEdit
Among the many Ainur that entered the World long ago, there was one of the order of the Maiar named Melian. Alone of all the Ainur, she wedded one of the Children of Ilúvatar, King Elu Thingol of Doriath. From her, a strain of the Ainur entered the bloodlines of the Elves and Men, passed down through generation after generation, and were still present at the time of the War of the Ring. Elrond was Melian's great-great-grandson, and Aragorn, too, was her descendant, though through many more generations than Elrond.
Ainu, the singular usage of the Ainur is also the name of an indigenous people in Japan. See: Ainu.
They are more or less equatable with angels in Christian religious lore.
Races of the Creatures of Arda
|Ainur of Arda|
|Ainulindalë (Music of the Ainur)|
|Lords of the Valar:||Manwë | Aulë | Oromë | Irmo (Lórien) | Námo (Mandos) | Tulkas | Ulmo|
|Queens of the Valar (The Valier):|| |
Varda | Yavanna | Vána | Estë | Vairë | Nessa | Nienna
|Lord of the Valar (The Enemy):|| |
Morgoth (a.k.a. Melkor)
Eönwë | Ilmarë | Ossë | Uinen | Salmar | Melian | Arien | Tilion | Curumo (Saruman) | Olórin (Gandalf) | Aiwendil (Radagast) | Alatar (Morinehtar) | Pallando (Rómestámo)
|Maiar (Enemies):||Sauron | Gothmog | Durin's Bane | Ungoliant | Curumo (Saruman)|
- The Silmarillion: Ainulindalë
- The Silmarillion: Valaquenta
- Original Text from The Encyclopedia of Arda