Tolkien Gateway

Fana

"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
This article or section needs more/new/more-detailed sources to conform to a higher standard and to provide proof for claims made.
This article is about Quenya concept of physical form. For the Quenya word meaning "white, cloud", see fána.

Fana is a Quenya term used to describe the physical form which is taken on by the Ainur when they desire to have tangible bodies.[1] Unlike the Children of Ilúvatar the Ainur take on hröar by choice, wearing or going without physical form as mortals wear or can go without clothing.[2] Being inherently spiritual beings, ëalar, they did not need material bodies to be whole in that fashion that fëar, the spiritual component of Incarnates, need to be joined with hröar.[3]

Most of the Ainur choose to have a body, and when they do take on a physical form it is known as a fana. Although the Ainur are angelic beings of spirit, they each possess a specific gender, male or female, and this gender is part of who they are regardless of whether or not they take on a fana. When they do take on a physical form it is a representation of their gender. Manwë Súlimo, for example, takes for himself a fana in the form of a male, that of a great king. His wife, Varda Elentári clothes herself with the fana in the form of a great and beautiful queen.

Although most of the Ainur do assume a physical body, some of the them, such as Ulmo rarely assume a physical form. Sometimes an Ainu can be hurt or injured to the point they are limited or unable to assume a physical form. After Sauron was caught in the destruction of Númenor he was unable to ever take on a fair form again, and after his loss of The One Ring at the end of the Second Age he was not able to take any physical shape for many years.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Notes and Translations", in The Road Goes Ever On (J.R.R. Tolkien, Donald Swann)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Ainulindalë: The Music of the Ainur"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (I) The First Phase: 3. Of the Coming of the Elves", p. 165 (commentary on §18)