In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Vanyar are the fairest and most noble of the High Elves. They are the smallest of the three clans of the Eldar, and were the first to arrive in Aman. According to legend, the clan was founded by Imin, the first Elf to awake at Cuiviénen, his wife Iminyë, and their twelve companions. Ingwë was the Vanya Elf to travel with Oromë to Valinor, and became their king. The Vanyar speak in Eldamar a dialect of Quenya called Vanyarin.

The name Vanyar (singular Vanya) means „(the) Fair” in Quenya, referring to their golden hair (the original meaning of the word „Vanya” approximating as „light/pale”). They are sometimes known, particularly amongst themselves, by their original name Minyar, meaning „the First”. The word „vanya” in Quenya is also listed as a verb meaning „to leave/depart/vanish”, which may have either arisen due to the almost complete disappearance of this clan early on in Elven history, or given rise to the noun „Vanya(r)” in later times. However, it is unclear if this is the case, and it appears that Tolkien may have dropped the use of „vanya” as a verb in his later conceptions of Quenya.


According to the Elven legend Cuiviényarna, the Vanyar are descendants of Imin, the first Elf to awake at Cuiviénen, his wife Iminyë, and six other pairs of Elves who were awoken by them. Imin’s companions, Tata and Enel, later awoke groups of nine and twelve pairs respectively, and Imin decided that since his group was now the smallest and each group that he and his companions discovered was larger than the last, he would now choose third rather than first in order to make up the numbers. However, only a further two groups were discovered, leaving Imin’s group of fourteen by far the smallest of the three Elven clans.

When the Elves were discovered by Oromë, each clan chose an ambassador to return with him to Valinor to verify his claims of its greatness. The Minyar (Imin’s companions) sent Ingwë. Upon his return, his people were swayed by his testimony and adopted him as their king (appropriate, as the name Ingwë means chieftain in Quenya), and he led them with Oromë to Aman. Ingwë has since been reckoned the High King of all Elves, and became known as Ingwë Ingweron, the „Chief of Chieftains”, and his people were known by the rest of the Eldar as the Vanyar. He dwells with them on the slopes of Taniquetil, beneath the halls of Manwë.

After arriving in Aman, the Vanyar were rarely seen even by other Elves. Very few individual Vanyar are named besides Imin, Ingwë, and his sister (or possibly niece) Indis, the second wife of Finwë (the king of the Noldor) and the mother of Fingolfin and Finarfin, the latter of which founded the only house of Noldorin Elves to sport golden Vanyarin hair. After her husband was killed by Melkor in his attack on Formenos, she returned to her people, along with her daughter Findis.

The pure Vanyar were only seen in Middle-earth once after their departure, when Ingwë’s son Ingwion led an armed host of his people from Valinor to fight in the War of Wrath (this was probably also the only time Vanyar and Men ever encountered each other). They returned to Aman, along with most of the Eldar living in the now largely destroyed Beleriand, at the end of the First Age.

Though no pure Vanyar ever set foot in Middle-earth after the Great Journey, save for those who fought in the War of Wrath, it was through Indis, the second wife of Finwë (the king of the Noldor) and the mother of Fingolfin and Finarfin, that some descendants of the Vanyar (most notably Galadriel) did come to Middle-earth, notably bringing their features such as their distinguishing golden Vanyarin hair.

Vanyarin Quenya

The Tarquesta dialect spoken by the Vanyar is called Vanyarin. The Quenya as used by the Vanyar incorporated several words from Valarin which are not found in the Noldorin dialect, such as tulka („yellow, from Valarin tulukha(n)), ulban („blue”, presumably from the same root as Valarin ulu/ullu meaning „water”), and nasar (red, original Valarin not given).

According to „Quendi and Eldar : Essekenta Eldarinwa” written by Ælfwine Quendya was the usual Vanyarin name given to the Quenya language, since in Vanyarin ndy and ny remained quite distinct. In Noldorin ndy became ny. Tolkien explained that : „The word Quenya itself has been cited as an exempla (e.g. by Ælfwine), but this is a mistake due to supposition that kwenya was properly kwendya and directly derived from the name Quendi „Elves”. This appears not to be the case. The word is Quenya in Vanyarin, and always so in Parmaquesta.”

Other versions of the legendarium

In the earliest versions of Tolkien’s mythology (see: The History of Middle-earth), the First Kindred of the Eldar were called the Teleri, while the Third Kindred, the elves known as Teleri in the published version of The Silmarillion, were called Solosimpi (‘shoreland pipers’). Prior to being renamed the Vanyar, the First Kindred were referred to in manuscripts as the Lindar (‘Singers’). In the published Silmarillion, the name Lindar was given as the name by which the Third Kindred referred to themselves, in preference to the somewhat pejorative name Teleri (by that time in the evolution of Quenya meaning ‘Stragglers’, ‘Hindmost’), which is what the other Kindreds called them.

Elfa Vanyar

Galadriel, the Vanyar-born elf Queen


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