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Iluvitar made 2 classes of spirit beings to sing the songs of creation. The higher class (more powerful) are the Valar who are 15 in number, the lower class (less powerful) are the Maiar. I can find the names of about 15 or so Maia but the stories seem to indicate there are many more than just 15 of them. How many Maiar did Iluvitar make? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands?

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    When Iluvitar made these beings there was no distinction. They were all called Ainur (Not sure that that is the right word). When some entered the world the 15 most powerful were called Valar. The others were called Maiar and there were many of them. At least a twice as many as the valar are mentioned specifically but I believe there are many more. Mar 1, 2016 at 16:29
  • @Bellerophon Tolkien is actually inconsistent about that. Sometimes the Valar are all of the Ainur who entered Arda, sometimes it's just the dozen or so mist powerful.
    – Spencer
    Feb 24, 2021 at 22:27
  • @Spencer presumably this is in line with many other changes with associated inconsistencies that he made. In the BoLT, iirc, the characters that were later Maiar were instead referred to as the 'children of the Valar', and I suspect they only arrived once everyone was in Arda. Feb 24, 2021 at 23:02
  • @DanielRoberts It's inconsistent even within the published Silmarillion.
    – Spencer
    Feb 24, 2021 at 23:40

1 Answer 1

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Total

Not known; Tolkien himself wrote that the Elves didn't know how many (emphasis mine):

With the Valar came other spirits whose being also began before the World, of the same order as the Valar but of less degree. These are the Maiar, the people of the Valar, and their servants and helpers. Their number is not known to the Elves, and few have names in any of the tongues of the Children of Ilúvatar; for though it is otherwise in Aman, in Middle-earth the Maiar have seldom appeared in form visible to Elves and Men.

The Silmarillion II Valaquenta "Of the Maiar"

I don't know of any writings where Tolkien gives an estimate, so this is what we have.

Known

A bunch; at least fourteen or fifteen named:

And possibly any number of other creatures; it's a fairly common assertion among Tolkien fans that any speaking creature that isn't a Vala, Man (or Hobbit), Elf, Dwarf, or Orcish is necessarily a Maia; that would include (but is not necessarily limited to):

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    I would say that Balrogs were either three or a lot.
    – ibid
    Mar 1, 2016 at 17:10
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    @CearonO'Flynn - There should not be supposed more than say 3 or at most 7 ever existed. - margin note to The Annals of Aman, (Morgoth's Ring - HoME-X, Section 2)
    – ibid
    Mar 2, 2016 at 7:24
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    Maybe this is a separate question but r u sure the Ents are Maia?
    – turinsbane
    Mar 9, 2016 at 2:21
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    @turinsbane Not remotely, and that was precisely my point. Mar 9, 2016 at 3:33
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    @MikeScott when Yavanna asked Him to. I don't have the text to hand to be more specific right now
    – OrangeDog
    Feb 24, 2021 at 22:08

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