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Wan Shi Tong's Library

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This article is about a place. For the episode with a similar name, see "The Library". For the spirit who owns this library, see Wan Shi Tong.

"This library is more valuable than gold, little lady. It is said to contain a vast collection of knowledge, and knowledge is priceless."
— Professor Zei to Toph.[1]

Wan Shi Tong's books
萬知堂神祕图書館
Wan Shi Tong's Library
Physical information
Location

Si Wong Desert; central Earth Kingdom (formerly), Spirit World

Government
Ruler

Wan Shi Tong

First appearance
Location on map
Map of Earth
Marker
Wan Shi Tong's Library, also called Wan Shi Tong's Spirit Library, is an enormous library located in the Spirit World.[2] Until 100 AG, however, it could be found in the central Si Wong Desert and was a popular destination for many adventurers. The library was considered to be very difficult to locate, as it was almost completely buried under desert sand.[3]

History

Library room

Zhao searched for knowledge about the Water Tribes in one of the many rooms of the library.

Several thousand years before Team Avatar's arrival at the Si Wong Desert in 100 AG, Wan Shi Tong built the library with the intention of preserving all the world's knowledge.[3] With time, it eventually held a vast, ancient collection of books, gathered by the spirit's Knowledge Seekers. At one point in time, the library was accessible to humans, as Wan Shi Tong hoped they would benefit from the vast amount of information. However, some humans sought secrets that would destroy their enemies. Angered by the abuse of his knowledge, Wan Shi Tong closed the library.

Eventually, the location of the library was lost to mankind. Though the building of the library is the size of a large palace, most of it lay buried beneath the sands of the desert, with only its topmost spire visible from above ground. At one time, Zhao, who was a lieutenant at the time, stumbled across the library. Because of the library's otherworldly origins, its collection contains a great amount of information concerning the spirits. From this, Zhao learned that the Ocean and Moon spirits, Tui and La, were located at the Spirit Oasis and were the key to defeating the Water Tribe. Zhao had the portion of the library concerning the Fire Nation destroyed to stop anyone from discovering his nation's weaknesses.

Wan Shi Tong's Library

Professor Zei and Team Avatar rediscovered the library.

With the help of Professor Zei, Team Avatar rediscovered the library. Wan Shi Tong grudgingly allowed them to peruse the library after each had made a contribution to the collection, on the condition that no knowledge from the library would be used for violent purposes. During their visit, Sokka found a small note reading "the darkest day in Fire Nation history." With only that small line and a date on the top, he decided to go deeper into the library to find out what happened to the Fire Nation on that day.

After finding out that the entire wing of the library dedicated to the Fire Nation was destroyed by firebenders, Sokka further expressed his determination to find out more about the note. Subsequently, a Knowledge Seeker appeared and led the group toward a domed planetary calendar room in the library. This calendar revealed the date of the upcoming solar eclipse to Team Avatar, who used this information to formulate an invasion plan.[1]

Outraged at the betrayal of his trust, Wan Shi Tong completely buried the library in order to "take his knowledge back". While Team Avatar escaped, Zei stayed behind, declaring that he could spend an eternity there.[1]

Wan Shi Tong's Library in the Spirit World

Jinora discovered Wan Shi Tong's Library suspended upside down in the trees somewhere in the Spirit World.

In 171 AG, the dragonfly bunny spirit Jinora had named Furry-Foot brought her to the library in the Spirit World. The young airbender remarked that the building, now suspended upside down in the trees, looked like an "awesome tree house", before realizing that it was the spirit library. As she entered the building and looked around in awe, she stated that she could spend an eternity there, reading. She was interrupted by the arrival of Wan Shi Tong, who pointed out the skeletal remains of Professor Zei, the last person to make such a statement. The owl spirit reminded the young airbender that he no longer allowed humans in his library, but when Jinora revealed to him the true inner workings of the radio and her affiliation with the Avatar, Wan Shi Tong permitted her to stay.

Unable to find a map to the spirit portals, Jinora asked a nearby Knowledge Seeker for help, and the creature immediately found Jinora a book that contained information about the portals. Jinora discovered that if both portals were open when Harmonic Convergence occurred, Vaatu would be strong enough to escape his imprisonment, putting the mortal world at risk once more of being engulfed in darkness. Jinora attempted to leave the library to warn Avatar Korra, only to be confronted by Wan Shi Tong and Unalaq. The airbender tried to back away from the waterbender, but the present dark energy transformed the gentle Furry-Foot into a dark spirit, capturing the young girl on Unalaq's wishes.[2]

Known information kept at the library

Planetary calendar room

The planetary calendar room depicts the location of the sun and moon in the sky at a certain point in time.

Known visitors to the library

Trivia

  • In an illustration displaying the library as a whole, it bears a resemblance to the Taj Mahal in India. The buried library's implied massive size is also reference to the mausoleum's most conspicuous characteristic.
Wan Shi Tong's Library map

The writing means "Wan Shi Tong's Mysterious Library".

  • The writing at the bottom of the Library's illustration reads 萬知堂神祕图書館, meaning "Wan Shi Tong's Mysterious Library".[4]
  • One of the books within the library illustrates a lion turtle.[1]
  • On the domed calendar's mechanism are the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, which represent the years. This is unusual since most animals in the World of Avatar are hybrids.
  • There are many depictions of owls in the library; the owl is the symbol of the Greek goddess Athena, who is the goddess of wisdom.
  • A statue in the likeness of a dragon bird spirit can be found in one of the library's halls.[1]
  • The concept of having to contribute to the library's collection before being able to use it may have been inspired by Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose, where the abbey's library may not be used without a priceless manuscript being handed to the abbot.
  • There seems to be an error concerning the bridges at the center of the library. When Aang and the others enter, the bridges are "+" shaped, offering four paths of access. Yet near the end of the episode when Wan Shi Tong is chasing the group, the bridges only go one way across.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 14, 2006). "The Library". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 8, 2013). "A New Spiritual Age". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 22. Nickelodeon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nick.com archive (.XML). Nickelodeon. Retrieved on January 1, 2013. Archived on January 8, 2008.
  4. Avatar Extras for "The Library" on Nicktoons Network.

See also

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