"I see you favor the white lotus gambit. Not many still cling to the ancient ways."
|Order of the White Lotus|
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Formed centuries ago by the wisest scholars from all over the world, the Order began as a club where these ancient masters could challenge one another on the Pai Sho table. They derived their name from the white lotus tile used in Pai Sho, a key element in their strategy. They communicate membership through the game by placing Pai Sho tiles on the board in a specific manner, forming a bloomed lotus bud with the lotus chip in the center.
The Order maintained a low profile until its members finally united to liberate Ba Sing Se at the end of the Hundred Year War. Firebending members, namely Iroh and Jeong Jeong, utilized the power of Sozin's Comet to increase their powers during the liberation, and they worked in conjunction with practitioners of all other forms of combat and bending, except for airbending. They also helped Toph, Sokka, and Suki arrive at Ozai's airship base in time by lending them an eel hound.
After the Hundred Year War, Avatar Aang commissioned the Order to train and watch over the next Avatar until they have completed their training. Following this order, they traveled to the Southern Water Tribe, searching for the next Avatar, finally discovering Korra to be the one. Before doing so, the Order investigated many claims in both the Southern and Northern Water Tribe, all of which turned out to be false.
After they discovered Korra as Aang's reincarnation, the White Lotus directly oversaw her development and training of each element, even being present at the young Avatar's firebending test. Acting as her bodyguards, White Lotus sentries were sent to remain with the Avatar on Air Temple Island to watch her actions as she completed her airbending training under Tenzin's tutelage. There, the sentries spent a large part of their time listening to the pro-bending broadcasts on the radio, which had been forbidden by Tenzin, being not focused on their duties. Korra took advantage of the sentries' distractedness to "escape" the island twice, much to Tenzin's annoyance.
During the Equalist Attack on Republic City and Air Temple Island, the White Lotus sentries bravely confronted the Equalist attackers. They launched a barrage of firebending, earthbending, and waterbending attacks, and, with the help of Lin Beifong and Tenzin's children, they eventually defeated the invaders. The tides quickly changed, however, when more Equalists began arriving on the island.
After that attack, the White Lotus sentries were seen in the line of benders waiting to have their bending removed by Amon, revealing that they were captured by the Equalists as a result of that battle.
Iroh, a lover of Pai Sho, was a Grand Master and a Grand Lotus of the Order who often advocated that Pai Sho was "more than just a game". Sokka's sword master, Piandao, was also an important member of the Order; he offered his student a white lotus tile as a parting gift, which was symbolic of his membership in the Order. The image of the white lotus on the hilt of Sokka's sword and on the doors of Piandao's estate were also references to Piandao's membership.
Shortly before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Master Pakku, King Bumi, and Jeong Jeong also accompanied Iroh as members of the organization, although none had shown symbols of the Order when Team Avatar saw them before. Other members were also visible in the campsite.
Seventy years after the end of the Hundred Year War, the Order was no longer a secret society, and was instead dedicated to protecting the Avatar during his/her training. Many more members were present in the Order than in the past, including the White Lotus leader; there are also many White Lotus sentries, who are lower-ranking members of the Order tasked with duties such as guarding Air Temple Island.
During the Liberation of Ba Sing Se, the members of the Order all wore a distinct indigo-colored outfit with white details, a similarly colored cape and a Lotus patterned mantle around the shoulders. They also have a flag, bearing an image of the white lotus. Iroh, a Grand Lotus, seemed to have more to his vestments, with indigo-colored armor and a robe under all of the other pieces, based off the white lotus flower.
Over the course of seventy years, the uniforms have changed slightly and vary according to rank. For example, the uniform of a White Lotus sentry includes a cowl with a small insignia on the front, whereas the uniform of a higher-ranking member does not include the headpiece.
- Iroh (Grand Master and Grand Lotus)
- Jeong Jeong
- White Lotus leader
- Unnamed male member (Present during the discovery of Korra)
- Unnamed female member (Present during the discovery of Korra)
- White Lotus sentries
- The Order of the White Lotus could be a reference to the White Rose, a non-violent resistance group during the Third Reich in Nazi Germany, or more likely the White Lotus Society from China, which began in the late thirteenth century and was instrumental in various rebellions throughout the centuries.
- The Order of the White Lotus's initials are OWL. The owl is an animal which often signifies knowledge. Wan Shi Tong, a knowledge spirit, also takes the form of an owl. The Greek Goddess of Wisdom is Athena whose sacred animal and symbol is the owl. Athena's Roman counterpart, Minerva, also shared the same symbol.
- The Order of the White Lotus's organization mimics that of the Freemasons, another allegedly ancient "society of secrets", whose members of many different cultures and views stretch all over the world.
- In Hinduism, the white lotus flower symbolizes beauty and non-attachment. Beauty is one of the virtues of the Order of the White Lotus and the society is not attached to any government or region. It also represents beauty coming out of murkiness, as in the lotus blooms in algae-filled ponds. This represents great wisdom and team effort rising up despite the somber situation in the world.
- In Buddhism, the lotus is representative of the most idolized state for a man - head high and lifted upwards to the sun, yet feet strongly attached to the ground. This is similar in that the Order of the White Lotus is a grouping of the wisest and most talented people in Avatar.
- Pakku referred to Iroh as 'a Grand Lotus,' a member who has the power to call together the Order of the White Lotus. This suggests the possibility there may be more than one Grand Lotus at a time.
- All known members of the Order of the White Lotus are masters of their art and most are high-ranking members of their military and society.
- The White Lotus' function in The Legend of Korra is similar to that of the original role of the Fire Sages in that they are loyal to the Avatar first, rather that the Four nations. They also work in a manner similar to Secret Service, as they are to protect Korra while she's learning to bend the four elements.