- 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.
Wan Shi Tong's Library
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Several thousand years before Team Avatar's arrival at the Si Wong Desert, Wan Shi Tong built the library with the intention of preserving all the world's knowledge. 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. The portion of the library concerning the Fire Nation was destroyed to stop anyone from discovering his nation's own weaknesses.
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 create the invasion plan.
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.
Known information kept at the library Edit
- A knot made by Sokka.
- A first-edition tome donated by Professor Zei.
- The waterbending scroll.
- A Fire Nation wanted poster of Aang.
- Information about spirits.
- Information on past Avatars.
- Information on the Day of Black Sun.
- Astronomical instruments.
- Pictures of lion turtles.
- Star charts.
- Mounted animals.
- 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.
- Avatar Extras in "The Library" reveal that the writing at the bottom of the Library's illustration reads , meaning "Wan Shi Tong's Mysterious Library".
- One of the books within the library illustrates a lion turtle.
- On the domed calendar's mechanism are the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which represent the year. This is unusual since most animals in the Avatar World are hybrids.
- There are many depictions of owls in the library; the owl is the symbol of the Greek goddess Athena, who is also the goddess of wisdom.
- 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 in 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 now only go one way across.