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128px-Padlock-olive.svg Firebending emblem Fire Nation emblem
Dragons
Dragon
General information
Habitat

Fire Nation

Status

Critically endangered prior to 100 AG

Bending

Firebending

Uses

Firebending instructors, transportation, recreation

Chronological information
First appearance

"Winter Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World" (spirit form)

The dragon is the original practitioner of firebending, capable of breathing fire. The species demonstrated the true way of firebending to the Sun Warriors' civilization, a precursor to the modern day Fire Nation,[1] as well as to Wan, the first Avatar.[2] As such, dragons were highly respected by the Sun Warriors and the Fire Nation.

History

Wan learning the Dancing Dragon

Wan learned the Dancing Dragon move directly from a dragon.

Wan was banished from his village atop a fire lion turtle around 9,832 BG and, having been allowed to keep the power over fire from the creature, began his life among the spirits in the Spirit Wilds. There, he came across a white dragon, who performed intricate movements while flying through the sky. Wan mimicked these movements and became the first known human to perform the Dancing Dragon.[2]

Millennia after Wan's encounter with a dragon, Aang and Kuzon searched Fire Nation mountaintops in the hopes of finding the elusive dragons a hundred years before Aang was frozen in the iceberg. They ended up saving a dragon egg from poachers and giving the egg back to its mother.[3]

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.[1]

By 171 AG, a new dragon, Druk, had been born and came to be used by Zuko as a means of transportation.[4] However, dragons were still an extremely rare sight and very few people were still aware of their existence, as the average person was shocked to view one.[5]

Anatomy

Fang at the volcano

Roku's dragon, Fang, was at the Avatar's side until death.

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 Roku and Fire Lord Sozin.[6]

Notable dragons

Red and blue dragons

Red and blue dragons

The red and blue dragons in Zuko's nightmare gave him advice.

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] Zuko decided to fight by Azula's side, later regretting his decision.

Sozin's dragon

Sozin had a blue dragon.

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.[6]

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.[1]

Connection

Dragon

The head of a dragon showcases the typical Chinese influence.

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; this 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,[1] whereas oriental dragons were more closely associated with water.

Trivia

  • In the non-canon comic "New Recruits", Hiroshi has a pet rock-dragon named Genji that complements his earthbending.
  • Ran and Shaw move in a similar way to Tui and La, circling each other. This symbolises the ideograph Taijitu, commonly known as the yin-yang symbol, which is usually black and white. This symbol represents the idea of opposing, yet complementary, forces.
  • 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, and occasionally ice, indicating that the dragons in Avatar are a combination of the two cultural "species types".
  • Dragons are known to show affection by licking people, similar to the way real world domestic pets do.[3]
  • While the dragons of the Avatar World are depicted with wings, the white dragon Wan trained with during the Era of Raava did not possess any.[2]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 15, 2008). "The Firebending Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (October 18, 2013). "Beginnings, Part 1". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wilgus, Alison (w), Matte, Johane; McWeeney, Tom (a), Dzioba, Wes (col), Comicraft (let). "Dragon Days" (2009), Nickelodeon Comics Club.
  4. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "Rebirth". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  5. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Melchior (director). (August 8, 2014). "Long Live the Queen". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 10. Nick.com.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (October 26, 2007). "The Avatar and the Fire Lord". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  7. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 17, 2006). "The Earth King". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.
  8. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated.
  9. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & DiMartino, Michael Dante (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Crossroads of Destiny". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.

See also

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