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Air Nomads

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128px-Padlock-olive.svg Airbending emblem Air Nomads emblem

"The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns and found peace and freedom."
Iroh to Zuko on the nature of the Air Nomads.[1]

Southern Air Temple outlook
Air Nomads
Physical information
Location

Mountain ranges across the globe

Government
Form of government

Theocratic senate

Head of State

Four Councils of Elders

Religious authority

Four Councils of Elders

First appearance

"The Boy in the Iceberg"

Location on map
Mapair.png
Air Nomads is a collective term for a nation of people who practice the discipline of airbending. One of the four major nations, the Air Nomads were wanderers by definition, but had four air temples, one at each corner of the globe, hidden away atop mountain ranges in the northern Earth Kingdom and on three remote islands. The theocratic Air Nomads were home to a monastic order of men and women who practiced airbending. Unlike the other nations, the people of the Air Nomads were, without any seen exception, all benders due to the high level of spirituality of their people.

The Air Nomads were a peaceful race who were wiped out by the Fire Nation. They lived in large temples and traveled the world on flying bison. They were the most spiritual of all the cultures and lived in harmony with nature. They also were fun-loving and had a strong sense of humor.[1]

The Air Nomads made up the smallest of the four nations in the world. They had a small economy, based entirely on limited agriculture. The population of the Air Nomads was small compared to even the Water Tribe and was far smaller than either of the world's two major powers, the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom.

In 0 AG, the Air Nomads were the victims of genocide at the hands of the Fire Nation. Ironically, the sole known survivor of the massacre was the very person the Fire Nation sought to kill in its quest for supremacy: the twelve-year-old airbender and Avatar, Aang, who had run away from the Southern Air Temple shortly before the Hundred Year War began and became trapped in suspended animation in a globe of ice along with his lifetime friend, Appa.[2] One hundred years later, he was awakened and released by Katara and Sokka, who helped him succeed in his quest to restore balance and peace to the warring nations.

After the Hundred Year War, Aang found several flying bison and ring-tailed winged lemurs. Elsewhere, a group named the Air Acolytes was formed to carry on the teachings, culture, and traditions of the Air Nomads. Having restored the buildings to their former glory, they occupy the air temples, along with the newfound flying bison and ring-tailed winged lemurs. The Air Nation also had a representative on the United Republic Council, a spot held by an Air Acolyte and later Tenzin until 171 AG.[3]

In 171 AG, after the Harmonic Convergence, nonbending individuals across the world began manifesting newly acquired airbending abilities. Tenzin began to train a group of airbender volunteers as Air Nomads, in order to fortify a still recovering Air Nation and to perpetuate the bendings traditions of its culture.[4]

Origin

Nomads gathering fruit

The ancestors of the Air Nomads gathered fruit from the Spirit Wilds using airbending.

In the era of Raava, ancestors of the Air Nomads received the element of air from lion turtles that granted the bending art through energybending. They could request the ability whenever they ventured into the Spirit Wilds, to aid in the gathering of food and resources. Unlike people from other lion turtle cities, the first airbenders coexisted harmoniously with the spirits and demonstrated great respect and understanding of spiritual matters. These people eventually formed the first Air Nomads after the lion turtles renounced their roles as protectors of mankind. At this point, the ancestors of the first Air Nomads left the lion turtle cities in favor of establishing temples in all four corners of the globe.

Several observances of the first Air Nomads remain integral in the nation's culture, notably in shaving the head to allow for the display of symbolic tattoos. In addition, their primary form of sustenance was in the form of fruit foraged from the Spirit Wilds. Even prior to mastering and developing skill over airbending, the concept of evasion was also commonly practiced, as a group of gatherers demonstrated when they fled from Wan. However, unlike future generations of Air Nomads, the members of the population were not segregated by gender. Furthermore, females shaved their heads entirely and wore hooded cloaks, unlike female nomads during the era of the Avatar.[5]

Appearance

Past Air Nomads

These are Air Nomads as Aang remembered them.

Before the era of the Avatar, the predecessors of the Air Nomads symbolized their belief, by doing the same traditions such as the tattoos yet in a different manner. The tattoos were more polygonal shape with a dot. The clothing that the men wore were orange cloth as a top and yellow as a bottom. Women wore different clothing, yet with the same traditional colors.[5]

The Air Nomads wear yellow, orange and brown clothing. Aang and other young airbenders wore orange shawls over long-sleeved yellow shirts, an orange sash, double-layered pants with brown underneath and a loose yellow layer on top, and high boots that reach just below the knees. Older monks wore long robes in shades of yellow and orange, as well as wooden necklaces with the Air Nomad insignia carved into it. Most Air Nomads have gray or brown eyes and a light complexion.

Young boys to be trained as monks have shaven heads, while monk elders grow beards and mustaches; they had the longest and most prominent facial hair of any nation. Female airbenders do not fully shave their heads, just their foreheads so their arrow is visible.[6] It has been shown that when not shaven, Air Nomads have black or brown hair.

Airbenders who have attained a level of mastery in the art are marked with arrow tattoos, based on the arrows of the sky bison, the first airbenders. A primary arrow tattoo is placed on their shaven head that extends down their back, along with four others, one on each limb that terminates in an arrowhead at the hands and feet.

The arrows mark the paths through which chi travels through the body. Because of this, when an Air Nomad Avatar tattooed in this fashion enters the Avatar State, these tattoos are known to glow, along with the Avatar's eyes and mouth. If the body has received an injury deeper than the tattoo, that spot will no longer glow while in the Avatar State.

National emblem

Air Nomads emblem

The Air Nomad insignia is a stylized, swirling orb. Within the circle, coiling lines illustrate the wind. The symbol can be seen on the design of doors and surfaces in the air temples, as well as on pendants of monks' prayer beads.

The Air Nomad flag is a banner held between two wooden poles. The center of the banner is emblazoned with the Air Nomad insignia.

Geography

In the era before the Avatar, the precursors of the Air Nomads lived on top of lion turtles.[5] After leaving the lion turtle city, they were situated on remote mountains in large temples. There were four temples in all, one for each direction on the compass. Two were for and run by males and two were for and run by females. The young boys of the Southern Air Temple were known to travel to the Eastern Air Temple in order to choose their own personal sky bison. This was considered an important choice as the intelligent animals would be with the choosing airbenders for the rest of their lives.[6]

Culture

While other nations possess royalty and are run by monarchies, the Air Nomads were led by the senior monks and nuns of the air temples.[2] Due to the peaceful teachings of their leaders, the nature of the people was calm and tranquil.

Sister Iio and Air Nomad children

These Air Nomads at the Eastern Air Temple include Aang, who is the small boy located near the bottom left of the picture.

The Air Nomads are the only nation comprised entirely of benders, due to the highly spiritual nature of their lives.[7] Meditation was an important part of the airbenders' daily routines, as it helped them to focus their energies and understand the potency of their element. Due to their high spirituality, the monks believed that hope was only a distraction.[8]

It has been mentioned that they had a good sense of humor, something demonstrated when Monk Gyatso employed a unique teaching method when tutoring Aang with his airbending skills, accurately blowing fruit pies onto other monks' heads as a prank. This activity was useful training and a fun game combined.[9]

The Air Nomads also revered certain events and holidays. such as Yangchen's Festival, which celebrated the Avatar's victory over a dark spirit. The holiday was marked as one of the highest on the Air Nomad calendar and, according to Aang, was also one of the funniest celebrations of their culture.[10]

The arrow tattoos adorning an Air Nomad's body signifies that he or she has mastered airbending. This is an emulation of the natural arrows on the heads of flying bison, who can naturally airbend and are the original teachers of the art, much like the badgermole is to the earthbenders. Aspiring airbenders have no tattoos[2] and in order to receive the tattoos as well as the title of a master, an airbender must pass the thirty-six levels of airbending or engineer a new technique. In actuality, Aang had only reached the thirty-fifth level before he left the Jong-Mu Temple, but his invention of the air scooter earned him the tattoos prematurely, making him the youngest airbending master in history. Aang's son, Tenzin, later became the first to master the bending art following the Air Nomad Genocide.

Season

Each nation of the four nations is influenced by their own distinct, dominant season, in which their bending is at its peak. Autumn is the dominant season of the Air Nomad race. Airbenders are thus at their strongest in this season. More Air Nomad children were born during autumn than any other season, all retaining bending abilities.[11]

Natural resources and foods

Fruit pie

Fruit pies were common treats among the Air Nomads.

As could be determined, air is the main power source and natural resource of the Air Nomads. Luckily, air is everywhere, so it is nearly impossible to deprive them of their power source. With the power of air channeled under their control, the airbenders could defend and protect their homes and way of life. Not only could they protect their livelihoods, but these nomads could also ride on their sky bison and glide in the open air, for both leisure and travel. Because the Air Nomads believed all life was precious, they were peaceful vegetarians.[12] They did not seem to mind, however, eating eggs and dairy products. On one occasion, Aang was willing to eat an egg custard tart.[13] They were also known to make sweet dishes such as pies. The Air Nomads sold their pies for money―at one silver piece each―and all the profits were given to charity.[14]

The Air Nomads were a tranquil people endeavoring to preserve the environment around them. Any industry that they invested in, such as farming and gardening, was powered naturally. 

Government

Main article: Politics in the World of Avatar
Air Nomads

The Southern Air Temple Monk Council had a prominent place in government.

Government system: Ecclesiocracy.

Head of State and Government: Two Councils of Monks (one Northern and one Southern) and two Councils of Sisters (one Eastern and one Western).

Religious Authority: Two Councils of Monks (one Northern and one Southern) and two Councils of Sisters (one Eastern and one Western).

Military

Contrary to the propaganda spread in the Fire Nation, the Air Nomads did not have any form of military. In fact, they believed in peace and non-violence.[15] Although the Air Nomads did not have any organized fighting force, they still proved to be formidable opponents as Gyatso's skeleton was found surrounded by the remains of several comet-enhanced firebenders he fought against when attacked. Because they were pacifists, Air Nomads led peaceful lives and avoided conflict when possible, though were willing to fight when there was no other option left to take.[9] Aang also mentioned that Fire Lord Sozin defeated the Air Nomads by ambush.[15]

Notable places

Notable figures

Trivia

  • More Air Nomads were born in autumn than in any other season. This is to say, as all Air Nomads are airbenders, that the simple birth of people belonging to the nation was more plentiful,[11] unlike Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom children who, during their respective seasons, are more often born with bending abilities.[16]
  • The Air Nomad culture closely resembles that of Hindu priests and Tibetan monks.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (June 2, 2006). "Bitter Work". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (June 3, 2005). "The Storm". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  3. Welcome to Republic City. Nickelodeon (April 6, 2012). Retrieved on April 7, 2012.
  4. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Zwyer, Melchior (director). (July 11, 2014). "In Harm's Way". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (October 18, 2013). "Beginnings, Part 2". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 13, 2006). "Appa's Lost Days". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  7. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated.
  8. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Serpent's Pass". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  9. 9.0 9.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (February 25, 2005). "The Southern Air Temple". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  10. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (w), Sasaki of Gurihiru (p, i), Kawano of Gurihiru (col), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (let). The Rift Part 1 (March 5, 2014), Dark Horse Comics.
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Lost Scrolls: Air, page 211 of The Lost Scrolls Collection.
  12. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Lioi, Anthony (director). (March 18, 2005). "The King of Omashu". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  13. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (May 20, 2005). "The Great Divide". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 11. Nickelodeon.
  14. Avatar Extras for "The Southern Air Temple" on Nicktoons Network.
  15. 15.0 15.1 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (September 28, 2007). "The Headband". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  16. The Lost Scrolls: Water and The Lost Scrolls: Earth, pages twenty-seven and eighty-nine of The Lost Scrolls Collection respectively.

See also

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