The Valar's Posses - Costume Concepts for the Maiar


Staff member
Each of the Valar have a group of people associated with them. Most of them have a spouse (not Nienna, Ulmo or Melkor, but all the rest). Some of them have 'sibling' relationships - Manwë and Melkor are brothers, as are Námo and Irmo. Yavanna and Vana are sisters. Nienna is often thought of as the sister of either the Fëantúri...or of Melkor and Manwë. There are good reasons to associate her with either set of brothers (her gift is more in line with the mysterious nature of the Fëanturi; she pleads for Melkor to be released, so that adds to the family dynamic).

And of course, they have their followers - the Maiar. I thought it might be interesting to consider them as a group, rather than individually.

I was thinking we could describe what the overall impression was for each group and do some broad-strokes initial costume design to help tie everything together into a big picture.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

From the Lorica, the Breastplate of St. Patrick

Each group of Maiar should be associated with their Master, of course, and have some similarities that establishes the identity of who is with whom. Depending on the group, there could be wide variety.

Here are the Maiar grouped by their Valar [based on the published Silmarillion]:

Melkor - the balrogs, and various others (biggest group)
Manwë: Eonwë
Varda: Ilmarë, later Arien
Ulmo: Ossë, Uinen, Salmar
Aulë: Mairon (Sauron), Curumo (Saruman)
Yavanna: Aiwendil (Radagast) - okay, he's from UT, ???
Irmo: Olorin (Gandalf)
Este: Melian, possibly Tilion?
Oromë: He is associated with a horse, hounds, a hunting horn...but no particular followers (unless you count the hounds) - oh wait, also Tilion
Vana: Melian, sometimes Arien
Námo: ?? watchers of the dead or ??
Vairë: ?? silent weaver women or???
Nienna seems to be alone, but Olorin visits her.
Tulkas also seems to be on his own, with no 'people'
Nessa: She's a dancer - does she have her own dance troop or...??
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Staff member
Here are my early thoughts...feel free to take things in a completely different direction.

Melkor has the most. He has an actual posse of proto-balrogs, who, after the destruction of the Lamps, become actual balrogs. His entourage is made up of extremely devoted and loyal sycophants, for the most part, and go from being beautiful and powerful (despite having a touch of wildness to them) to being deformed monsters. In the script discussions, we suggested he might have as many as 20 in this group. Arien defects when the Lamps fall. 10 more are lost in the War of the Powers (the War to begin all Wars) leaving Gothmog and 8 others moving forward into the time of the Elves. In addition to these followers, there are others like Thuringwethil and Tevildo who should be part of Melkor's 'crowd' - as well as the spirits that will become Glaurung and Drauglin. Quite a few characters to develop, and something about them should connote fire and extremes as well as a dark edge. These are not *happy* people. I'm not sure what vibe we should be going for here. A metal band? A Neonazi gang? Goth high school kids? Bikers up for a bar brawl? Or something much more 'refined' than that? A mix between a cult and a military prep school? I think there should be some 'uniformity' that is seen among the balrogs whereas every other character is much more unique. To pull off the stark contrast, I would like to see some rather bold or jarring color combinations here - not just the stereotypical red and black. The non-balrogs don't have to match the group, and Arien can change her appearance when she leaves, of course.

Ulmo and his followers are going to look fierce and terrifying. You would not want to meet these people, and they are not safe to be around - strong in their element, wild hair, fighters, rather curmudgeonly and easily taking offense. Take a look at the casting suggestions and, wow, we're going to know why Tuor hits his knees when Ulmo shows up and why people always listen to him! I picture a lot of greens and blues for them, and costumes that are much more tattered/trailing bits than for the others, which is going to come across rather...savage. The sea is that interesting combination of beautiful, a source of life, and quite deadly when you venture out into it...and that's their natural habitation - they *made* those ecosystems...... I imagine it would be difficult to tell what was clothing and what was body on these characters, it should sorta blend and be unclear.

I imagine that Námo (Mandos) and Vairë would have some rather quiet helpers in robes and cloaks and hoods....fairly obscure, lots of grey and dark colors. Irmo (Lórien) and Este would have assistants for their healing operation - much brighter and more colorful, maybe a lot of white? Is Yavanna someone who would need a lot of assistants, or does she mostly work on her own? I imagine any followers she has would be earth spirit types, drawing on a lot of traditional notions for those depictions.

And I know Tolkien changed this, but originally, Eonwë and Ilmarë were brother and sister, the children of Manwë and Varda. I would like to have some vestiges of that family dynamic in place, with nothing ever being explicit. [Ideally, fans of the TV show should argue whether Eonwë and Ilmarë's relationship is a brother/sister thing, or a couple thing.]


I have been thinking about this as well, but for me it has been from a colour perspective.

I had indeed been thinking of Melkor in black and red, but now that I think more about it, we could begin with him and his group in red/orange/yellow/blue (the colours of a flame) and as they become evil they could increase the amount of black in their clothes. I agree that they should be uniform, since that will help solidify the difference between Manwe's desire for peace and unity, and Melkor's desire for dominance and subjugation.

Ulmo I had in deep blue-green, the colour of the deep ocean. Osse and Uinen I had lighter shades of blue-green, to represent the surface waters. I actually tend to imagine Uinen in seafoam green, and Osse in turquoise. I also think that the people of the ocean should be heavily inspired by their surroundings, I tend to imagine them with corals growing from them, seaweed incorporated into their hair, scales for skin, that kind of thing. When I think of them, I think less about fierce and terrifying people, and more about how Prof. Olsen describes the entrance into the wild in his hobbit lectures. It's a different place with different rules, and we must be very careful when we enter the wild.

Manwe I have in light, airy blues. I have only ever imagined Eonwe and the Eagles with him, although it stands to reason that he has a rather large group of followers.

Varda I have in deep sky purple with silver accents, although, I only ever imagine her followers in the sky, and therefore silver-white, like the stars.

Aule I have in Browns and greys (earth and stone), I see his followers kind of like a group of art students, eager to learn and make new things.

Yavanna I have in greens and browns with colourful accents to represent flowers. I take a lot of inspiration from the forest god in Princess Mononoke for Yavanna, especially how the feet of the forest god sprout plants as they walk. I think that she should always be surrounded by some sort of living creature, and I do agree that her followers should be easily identified as nature spirits. I'm not sure if they would always be helping her, but I do think they would always be around.

I imagine the feanturi and their associates (Nienna, Vaire, and Este) in blacks, greys, and whites. I agree with your differentiation between the ones associated with healing being whiter and the ones associated with doom and death being blacker. Olorin should be grey, hands down. Vaire should absolutely have a group of spinners, weavers and dyers around her, since this task is historically a social task. They all could have helpers in their given domains, since their domains are basically in service of the ill or dead.

I imagine Orome in colours associated with fur, so white/black/brown/grey, but to differentiate him from Aule we could use more red/orange/yellow browns and Aule could have more earthy dark Browns. I think Orome having his pack is good, but perhaps he has a few followers he hunts with, like a hunting party.

Vana I think should be very colourful, since she is associated with flowers. We could put an emphasis on gold to represent her gardens with golden flowers. She could have a group of flower people (I wanted to say maidens, but I don't see why there can't be some men in there too, flower maiden gives the correct impression, though) around her to help her tend her gardens

I don't associate Tulkas with a particular colour, because I always imagine him shirtless, because honestly, clothes are so bothersome in combat... so... Skin tone, I guess? I agree with you, I have never imagined Tulkas with a group around him.

Nessa I imagine with a group of dancers. I don't have a colour for her yet, but since she is the spouse of Tulkas she could conceivably be equally scantily clad, being more interested in the movement of the body than in covering it with clothing.

Ilmare, being the handmaid of Varda could follow her colour scheme, but if you want to play up the kinship between her and Eonwe, we could have airy blue accents in her costume, and deep purple accents in Eonwe's costume, and their clothes could be of a similar shape/style.

I think that most of the Valar could have followers, but they don't need to be surrounded by them all of the time. It really depends on the scene being depicted as to how many of the followers we see at any given time.

What do you think?

Edit: Upon re-reading this post I realized that I did not make it very clear that I think the followers of each Vala should also be in versions of Their associated Vala's colours.
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Well-Known Member
I think one group has been overlooked so far... some of Melkor#s earliest servants in Lost Tales were described as "cold like himself"... I think there should definitely something like Ice-Demons in addition to his Fire-Demons.

I'd like to have Manwe and Varda have a following of both Great Birds or Bird-like spirits and maybe something like winged Angelic-Warrior Types.
Ulmo should have a multifaceted following of Merfolk, from Whales and more aquatic-like beings to more human-like spirits... and maybe they have the ability to shapeshift from one appearance into another?

Yavanna also could have a multifaceted following, I know Tolkien later disliked the diminuitive victorian Fairy types, but I still like the Lost Tales Host of Nandini, Nermir, Tavari, Orossi or Fays, Pixies, Leprawns and Brownies. I think some of her Servants could be more plant- or tree like , like Dryads maybe, while others are more human, with the possibility that they also like to shapeshift like their Mistress.

For Namo and Irmo (and their Wives' and Sister's) People I somehow imagine shadowy- and mist-like beings, but these also maybe could take more human and corporeal forms at will.

Aules, Oromes and Tulkas' (and their wives') I can hardly imagine anything other than humanoid servants, if even maybe taller and greater than normal men. There's mentioning of Orome#s Hunters, Tilion and maybe Alatar were from that people and Tilion is described quite inh detail if we take over some quotes about the man in the moon ;-)

I#d also like to have some of the "lost Valar" or "Valar-Children" and minor spirits to have at least a Cameo... I imagine for example that the Guard Manwe sets in Northern Aman to Watch the passes could be reminiscent of Makar and Measse. I also love Amillo, Nieliqui and the Fairies Tethil and Sacha. And Tulkas could have a small following of servants or likeminded Spirits, they could be nods towards discarded characters like Telimektar and Lúsion. I also love Ulmo#s Whale Uin and Amnon, who could appear as a councillor or Steward of Mandos.


Staff member
The idea of making some of the proto-balrogs into ice demons is intriguing. We really wanted to emphasize the uniformity and marching-in-lock-step of this group, but I think we could incorporate that idea because we wanted to have up to maybe 20 of them. Then, for whatever reason, the ice-demons are the ones killed off in the War of the Powers, and the Balrogs survive into the First Age.


Well-Known Member
Tolkien didn't want to have more than seven Balrogs... but that wouldn't exclude some lesser Fire-demons to step in where there were more Balrogs intended at earlier versions (Gondolin for example).

Also Morgoth did over the time corrupt other Groups, he made himself friends at Mandos and there were his Shadowy Hunter(s) mentioned which preyed on Elves or which he sent after Sun and Moon (but maybe that was Morgoth himself) .I kind of like the Idea that Thuringwethil originally was a servant of Niennas .The Etymologies mentions a "Gothrog" or "Battle-Demon" and I like the Idea of pure-Soldier-Demons as well. But all of these could be lesser following of Morgoth, different from his elite, the Balrogs.

If we take in the names from Lost Tales and Shaping of ME we get quite a clique of Morgoth-Followers: Sauron, Gothmog, Thuringwethil plus Fankil, Langon, Lungorthin, Ulbandi as a female, Kuruki, Gaurin, the cats Tevildo, Miaule, Oikeroi and Umuiyan and the Orc-Chiefs Boldog, Gorgol, Lug, Othrod, Orcobal, Balcmeg and Lug.

Of course I wouldn't empgasise on any of them as Sauron, Gothmog and Thuringwethil as a Melkor-Clique should be enough. But if some name-dropping could be needed for some Extras at his court... I would like them to appear. A bit like those outstanding Orc-Bosses in PJs trilogy... they don#t have names but outstanding appearances and they appear on and off to drop a line to the viewer can relate to the otherwise faceless enemy hordes.


Staff member
We were killing off (well, 'destroying') half of them in the War of the Powers, hence the large number of Balrogs in Season 1. We weren't going to have 20 around once there are elves.

But yes, we can make half of them ice-demons, and then destroy those :p

In Season 2, we have Sauron, Gothmog, Thuringwethil, Drauglin and Tevildo.


Well-Known Member
That makes sense for main characters. But I still like the Idea of having some "Figwits" as outstanding extras who do not necessarily have a large role or even lines everywhere.


Staff member
Understood - just letting you know who is already incorporated and who is not. We haven't really 'revealed' orcs yet, so no orc-chieftains in Season 2, for instance.


Well-Known Member
I was speaking in general terms. With more seasons to follow there might be a chance to see what happens at Morgoths court at Angband... so I still hope for some of my favourite "figwits" from the books to show up there.


Well-Known Member
But yes, we can make half of them ice-demons, and then destroy those :p.
Destroy them, or have their loyalties originally be split between Melkor and Ulmo, but eventually side with Ulmo. That would piss M. off... but would require us to go back to Season 1 script material, so yeah, let's just kill them off.