"[Sozin] started the tradition of hunting dragons for glory. They were the ultimate firebenders. And if you could conquer one, your firebending talents would become legendary and you'd earn the honorary title, Dragon. The last great dragon was conquered long before I was born, by my uncle."
As the original practitioners of firebending, dragons were highly respected by the Sun Warriors and the Fire Nation. Few firebenders managed to tame dragons as a means of transportation, and those who did were highly regarded as strong firebenders.
During his time as Fire Lord, Sozin began the tradition, throughout the Fire Nation, of hunting dragons as the ultimate sport. Anyone who managed to slay a dragon earned the title of "Dragon" and their talents as firebenders would be legendary. Near the end of the Hundred Year War, dragons were thought to be extinct due to General Iroh's claim that he had killed the final one. However, Aang and Zuko discovered that two dragons, Ran and Shaw, were still alive, deducing that Iroh had lied to protect the species.
The dragon is a large, horned reptile with a long, scaly body that ends in a thin tail. It has four short legs and two very large wings that enable it to fly quickly over great distances. There is also an instance of a green dragon which had an extra, smaller set of wings beneath the usual wings.
The dragon's head is large compared to the rest of its body, and its bearded face is dominated by a wide, flat nose and golden, cat-like eyes. There also seem to be several subspecies of dragons, as Ran and Shaw were much larger and had several physical features not present in the dragons owned by Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin.
Notable dragons Edit
Red and blue dragons Edit
The symbolism of the red and blue dragons has appeared several times throughout Team Avatar's adventures. Commonly, the red dragon represents honor and goodness, while the blue dragon represents seduction and evil.
While living in Ba Sing Se, Zuko dreamed that he was the Fire Lord and lacked his scar. Two dragons, one red and one blue, gave him advice. The blue dragon spoke with the voice of Azula, Zuko's sister who wielded blue flames when firebending; the red dragon spoke in the voice of Iroh, Zuko's caring uncle, who wielded the normal red fire. The blue dragon sought to harm Zuko, encouraging him to sleep forever, whereas the red dragon told him to escape. This dream was eventually brought to life, when Azula and Iroh gave Zuko different advice in the Crystal Catacombs of Ba Sing Se. Zuko decided to fight by Azula's side, later regretting his decision.
The red and blue dragons also represented the conflict between Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin, with Roku's dragon being red and Sozin's being blue. Roku and Sozin were initially friends, but they grew distant over time. Both dragons were present on Roku's island when Sozin betrayed Roku and left his old friend to die in the volcanic eruption - Sozin escaped on his blue dragon, while Fang swooped in so he could die with Roku.
Of the original firebending masters, Ran and Shaw, one is a red dragon and one is a blue dragon. Though no distinction of personality or name was made between them, the red one paired with Zuko and the blue one with Aang as they do the "Dancing Dragon" form; however, when Aang and Zuko finished displaying the "Dancing Dragon" form and prepared to face the dragons' judgment, Aang faced the red dragon, and Zuko the blue one. The dragons deemed them worthy and showed Aang and Zuko the original meaning of firebending.
Dragons in the World of Avatar are heavily influenced by the depiction of dragons in traditional Chinese culture. The long serpentine body, whiskers, fin-like ears, wild looking eyes, canine snout, and the position and proportions of the horns and legs suggest this particular oriental influence. However, other Asian cultural influences are present as, for example, the dragons in the series have four toes which is a typically Korean trait. In Chinese and a significant proportion of Asian mythology, dragons are traditionally portrayed as a chimerical mix of lizards, camels, goats, and bats, among other animals; however, their image seems to have been refined in adaptation for animation and for the Western audience. The ability to breathe fire and the presence of wings are characteristics more common in European dragons, but they are included in the dragons of the Avatar universe as it is such an integral aspect of the western idea of dragons, and also for the fact that they are the primal benders for the art of firebending, whereas oriental dragons were more closely associated with water.
- Ran and Shaw move in a similar way to Tui and La, circling each other. This signifies the Yin Yang Symbol, Taijitu, which is usually black and white. The Korean Flag shows a very similar symbol known as Um Yang. This emblem is the same in shape and design, only with solid red and blue colors (red being on top), and no corresponding inverted spots in them. This symbol represents essentially the same thing as the popular Yin and Yang symbol, the idea of opposing, and yet, complementary forces. The Chinese Dragon was also the animal associated with Yang, masculinity, the sun, the sky and daytime, as opposed to the Chinese phoenix or fenghuang which represented Yin, femininity, the moon, the earth, and night-time.
- There was a golden dragon statue in the Fire Nation's throne room during Sozin's reign.
- Dragons in the Avatar universe are a combination of both Chinese and European dragons. Chinese dragons are serpentine and have canine-esque snouts with whiskers, though they are more generally affiliated with water than any other element. One of the nine different types of Chinese dragons has wings, just as in the series. Different colored dragons are associated with different locations or abilities, for example blue dragons reside in lakes and rivers and red dragons sometimes breathe fire and are associated with the south. The European dragons, however, have wings and breathe fire (though sometimes ice), indicating that the dragons in Avatar are a combination of the two cultural "species types".
- Both dragons and flying bisons have shown affection by licking people, similar to the way real world dogs do.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "The Firebending Masters". John O'Bryan (writer) & Giancarlo Volpe (director). Avatar: The Last Airbender. Nickelodeon. July 15, 2008. No. 13, Book Three: Fire
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "The Avatar and the Fire Lord". Elizabeth Welch Ehasz (writer) & Ethan Spaulding (director). Avatar: The Last Airbender. Nickelodeon. October 26, 2007. No. 6, Book Three: Fire
- ↑ "The Earth King". John O'Bryan (writer) & Ethan Spaulding (director). Avatar: The Last Airbender. Nickelodeon. November 17, 2006. No. 18, Book Two: Earth
- ↑ From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated.
- ↑ "The Crossroads of Destiny". Aaron Ehasz (writer) & Michael Dante DiMartino (director). Avatar: The Last Airbender. Nickelodeon. December 1, 2006. No. 20, Book Two: Earth