|"You already have the hearts of Air Nomads, so I've decided to teach you the ways of the Air Nomads."|
|— Aang announcing his decision to teach Air Nomad traditions to the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club.|
The Air Acolytes are an order of monks and nuns who reside on Air Temple Island and in the four original air temples. Though most of them are not airbenders, they preserve and practice the teachings, culture, and traditions of the Air Nomads as taught to them by Avatar Aang.
The Air Acolytes were founded in 101 AG from the members of the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club. Aang himself taught the members of the group the ways of the Air Nomads and christened them the "Air Acolytes", rather than a mere fan club.
A small group of Air Acolytes consisting of Yee-Li, Xing Ying, and Jingbo traveled with Aang and his friends the next year in an attempt to revive Yangchen's Festival, a celebration of the coexistence of human and spirit which had been defunct since the Air Nomad Genocide. The group instead noticed that the sacred land had become host to a town which contained the Earthen Fire Refinery, a mining operation for the grounds' mineral supply. Aang and the Acolytes tried to celebrate the festival nonetheless, but were forced to return to the mine due to continuous earthquakes and a cave-in of the underground facility. They helped treat injured workers following their rescue and also distributed food to them after the spirit General Old Iron destroyed the refinery but was defeated by Aang. Shortly afterward, the Air Acolytes assembled at the Jasmine Dragon for meditation classes with Avatar Aang. The group returned to the factory town several months later in order to participate in the parade for the Spirits' Friendship Festival with a new recruit, Loban.
Establishment of the Air Nation and growth in numbers
Over time, the Air Acolytes grew greatly in numbers and became the core of the "Air Nation", which regarded itself as continuation of the Air Nomads. The acolytes helped Avatar Aang in restoring the four old air temples, and came to inhabit them as well as Air Temple Island. Devoted to restoring and maintaing the Air Nomads' history and beliefs, many Air Acolytes also became pilgrims, venturing between the air temples to increase their knowledge. By 128 AG, an Air Acolyte was representing the Air Nation on the United Republic Council. Several years later, a group of acolytes noticed some vandals defacing the ancient airbending gates at Air Temple Island, prompting Aang's son Tenzin to chase them to Republic City.
Several acolytes were on Air Temple Island upon Korra's arrival in 170 AG, and they later assisted Tenzin in reconstructing the two-thousand-year-old airbending gates after Korra destroyed them during her airbending training. When Mako, Bolin, and Asami were rendered homeless, some of the Air Acolytes assisted them with moving to Air Temple Island, piloting the Air Temple Island ferry and transferring all of their luggage off the boat and into their rooms, gaining Asami's praise as "amazing" and "tireless workers".
Two Air Acolytes later helped Pema when she was giving birth to her fourth child, Rohan. Shortly thereafter, they evacuated the island via flying bison in response to the Equalist attack on Republic City.
When Tenzin, his siblings, and family arrived at the Southern Air Temple in 171 AG, Abbot Shung and the acolytes helped them unpack their things and gave both Tenzin and Pema gifts for giving the airbenders new life. A female acolyte confused Kya and Bumi for airbenders as well, only to be promptly corrected by the former.
Three years later, a group of Air Acolytes was among the last to be evacuated during the invasion of the United Republic of Nations, becoming stranded at Central City Station before Prince Wu arrived with badgermoles. The Acolytes followed the creatures as they tunneled an escape route for the evacuees.
- Air Acolyte woman
- Shung (leader in the Southern Air Temple)
- Xing Ying
- Male Air Acolytes wear yellow robes with a red sash, while female members wear red robes with a yellow sash. However, Abbot Shung, despite being a male Air Acolyte, also wears a red robe with a yellow sash.
- Male Air Acolytes either completely or partially shave their heads even though they do not receive customary Air Nomad tattoos. Most female Air Acolytes, however, do not partially shave their heads as female Air Nomads did.
- Although the Air Acolytes carry on many of the traditions of the Air Nomads, they do not observe the practice of gender segregation to the same extent, as while they have separate areas for personal use, both males and females inhabit each air temple.