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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; but it was Ingwë, the first Vanya to travel with Oromë to Valinor, who became their king. They speak Quendya, a dialect of Quenya found only in Valinor.

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.

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