|"The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns and found peace and freedom."|
|— Iroh to Zuko on the nature of the Air Nomads.|
Air Nomads is the collective term for the monastic order of men and women who practice the discipline of airbending and the pacifistic ethics of their theocratic society. One of the four nations, the Air Nomads were wanderers by definition, but had four air temples, one located at each corner of the globe, found atop mountain ranges and under cliffs, in the northern Earth Kingdom and on three remote islands, all of which were hard for outsiders to reach. Unlike the other nations, those born to the Air Nomads were, without any seen exception, all benders due to the high level of spirituality of their people.
The Air Nomads were a peaceful race who were wiped out by the Fire Nation. They lived in large temples and travelled the world on flying bison. They were the most spiritual of all the cultures and lived in harmony with nature. Their culture valued both altruism and detachment from wealth and worldly affairs, and their relationship with the other nations varied between different eras. In some periods, they were almost completely isolationist in fear of being led astray by the often violent paths of other nations, while in other ages, they forged close ties with foreign governments in order to provide aid and help as many people as they could. They were also fun-loving and had a strong sense of humour.
The Air Nomads have the smallest population of the four nations in the world. They had a small economy, based entirely on limited agriculture. The population of the Air Nomads was small compared to even the Water Tribe and was far smaller than either of the world's two major powers, the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom.
In 0 AG, the Air Nomads were the victims of a genocide at the hands of the Fire Nation. Ironically, the sole known survivor of the massacre was the very person the Fire Nation sought to kill in its quest for supremacy: the twelve-year-old airbender and Avatar, Aang, who had run away from the Southern Air Temple shortly before the Hundred Year War began and became trapped in suspended animation in a globe of ice along with his lifetime friend, Appa. One hundred years later, he was awakened and released by Katara and Sokka, who helped him succeed in his quest to restore balance and peace to the warring nations.
After the Hundred Year War, Aang found several flying bison and ring-tailed winged lemurs. Elsewhere, a group named the Air Acolytes was formed to carry on the teachings, culture, and traditions of the Air Nomads. Having restored the buildings to their former glory, they occupy the air temples, along with the newfound flying bison and ring-tailed winged lemurs. Forming the new 'Air Nation', they also had a representative on the United Republic Council, a spot held by an Air Acolyte and later Tenzin until 171 AG.
In 171 AG, after the Harmonic Convergence, nonbending individuals across the world began manifesting newly acquired airbending abilities. Tenzin began to train a group of Airbender volunteers into a new generation of Air Nomads, in order to fortify a still-recovering Air Nation and to perpetuate the bending traditions of its culture. After the insurrection of the Red Lotus, Tenzin decided that the Air Nation would roam the world, helping people of all nations to stop corruption and disorder. In 174 AG, the new Air Nation continued to prosper, as more people who gained airbending abilities were trained in the art on Air Temple Island.
In the era of Raava, the ancestors of the Air Nomads lived in villages built on the back of the air lion turtles that granted them the element of air upon request through energybending. They could do so whenever they ventured into the Spirit Wilds, to aid in the gathering of food and resources. Unlike people from other lion turtle cities, the ancestors of the Air Nomads coexisted harmoniously with both the natural and spiritual worlds, and demonstrated great respect and understanding of spiritual matters. After Wan became the first Avatar in 9,829 BG, the lion turtles renounced their roles as protectors of mankind, and these people eventually formed the first Air Nomads. At this point, the ancestors of the first Air Nomads left the lion turtle settlements.
As a nation
At some point, the Air Nomads emerged as unified people, building temples as their homes while often traveling the world to interact with other people. Eventually, they concentrated in four main temples in the corners of the globe, although they also maintained other sacred sites. Some Air Nomads remained independent of the temples and continued to live as full nomads, roaming the world as individuals or small groups. Around 3,829 BG, Guru Laghima lived at the Northern Air Temple, before the political establishment of the four nations. His poetry and philosophical works would remain influential in the four nations for thousands of years. Forty years prior to his death, Laghima relinquished his earthly attachments and achieved the power of flight, living the rest of his life untethered from the earth. The feat would not be accomplished again in millennia.
Over time, the Air Nomads became increasingly detached from the rest of the world, with many monks as well as nuns focusing on enlightenment and spiritual matters. This rejection of material issues resulted in Air Nomads becoming an ever more rare sight in the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom. Nevertheless, members of other nations continued to view Air Nomads as bearers of good fortune, and many non-Air Nomads settled in the air temples as pilgrims to seek enlightenment.
Avatar Yangchen of the Western Air Temple was considered one of the greatest Avatars in history. She acted as a diplomat and negotiator in matters regarding the Spirit World, and struck several deals with spiritis to maintain peace between them and the human world during her time. Once she passed, it was the Air Nomads' responsibility to keep up these arrangements, or else risk offending destructive spirits. She became revered as a holy figure among the Air Nomads following her death. Her people continued to honor her deals with the spirits, most notably keeping the ruins of Lady Tienhai's city free of human civilization to placate the spirit General Old Iron. The Air Nomads organized a ritual to remember this deal, eventually naming the yearly ceremony as "Yangchen's Festival". Over time, the Air Nomads built at least two massive statues of Yangchen: one in the Eastern Air Temple and one in the Western Air Temple. No threats of war occurred for an entire generation after Yangchen's death, ushering a prolonged period of peace across the world.
The Air Nomads also hosted and trained Yangchen's successor Kuruk, although he regularly caused trouble at the air temples. As a result, the prestigious and accomplished monk Kelsang of the Southern Air Temple was appointed to watch over Kuruk; he went on to joined the Avatar's team of companions. Following Kuruk's early death, the world experienced a period of intense crisis, as violent uprisings, political infighting, and banditry grew rapidly, while no new Avatar could be identified for years. The Air Nomads continued to look inwards during this time, resulting in some Earth Sages accusing them of inactivity and arguing that the Air Nomads' intense detachment of the world had disrupted the Avatar Cycle. The Air Nomads disowned and exiled Kelsang during this time, as he stole the Avatar relics to expedite the search for the Avatar, and killed many Fifth Nation pirates to save Earth Kingdom civilians from a large raid. Though Kelsang returned the relics when he finished using them, the monks worried about their vulnerability.
As it turned out, the next Avatar, Kyoshi, was in fact half Air Nomad. Her mother Jesa had been a renegade nun from the Eastern Air Temple. Kyoshi herself was raised by Kelsang and formed a close bond with him. After her struggle against Jianzhu, Kyoshi sought sanctuary at the Southern Air Temple. The Air Nomads consequently provided support and shelter to Kyoshi, as she faced great opposition from many Earth Sages. Before departing the air temple, Monk Jinpa joined the Avatar, acting as her secretary for the next year.
During the era of Kyoshi, the Air Nomads were accused of not caring about the outside world by their critics. Even when some of them offered help, their actions were met with skepticism. At the beginning of the era, the Earth Sages blamed the Air Nomads' detachment for Kuruk's failures as the Avatar. Exile was the sad fate of many young Air Nomads who turned from their pacifistic values, but sometimes even those who abstained from violence could be considered "renegade" if they indulged in "worldly" affairs. Even when thriving towns near the temples struggled with banditry, many Air Nomads did not help unless directly asked for aid, having been burned one too many times by interfering with others' lives. This attitude sometimes gained the resentment from people of other nations, and nomads often faced criticisms when traveling around the world, to the point of being refused entrance to some locations even if they were there to solve a matter with spirits. Monk Namthöse of the Northern Council of Elders tried to instate a rule to allow only Air Nomads to visit the Northern Air Temple, and actively discouraged young Air Nomads from absorbing outside news, for fear that they would become distracted from their paths.
The tragedy of the Air Nomads during the era of Kyoshi was that although they were accused of not caring of the outside world, they cared about it deeply, so deeply that they had to ignore worldly concerns to focus on preserving spiritual knowledge for generations to come. Their detachment was compounded by the loss of spiritual sites, which the Air Nomads protected for years, such as the Singing Path. Avatar Kuruk's mission to destroy dark spirits left many spiritual sites in the human world unattended. Sadly, their mission would fail and come to an end in the era of Kyoshi, as the final few spirits residing at these sites would pull their homes into the Spirit World, further separating humans and spirits. The Air Nomads accepted that reversing what was happening was a lost cause, and thus focused on protecting the sites while they remained and recording what knowledge they could before it was lost to humans forever.
By the early era of Roku, the Air Nomads had abandoned the isolationism of their previous era. They did their best to keep peace on an international scale, by lending aid to the other nations when requested, or to the Avatar himself. As a young man, Roku, learned airbending at the Southern Air Temple, forming a close friendship with Gyatso while there.
In response to the Air Nomads embracing the other three nations, a renegade order known as the Guiding Wind arose, led by the popular philosopher Khandro. The Guiding Wind argued that the Air Nomads' new relationship with the nobility and wealthy elite of the other nations had impeded the spiritual growth of people across all nations. This sparked a great internal debate among the Air Nomads, as many from the temples were glad to help out other nations when Avatar Roku called for aid. Master Youdron, a key Elder and representative among the Air Nomads, accepted that working with elites was necessary to provide as much help as they could to the rest of the world. Yet the Guiding Wind did provoke a greater internal discourse on whether to turn inwards or to help the rest of the world, and part of the tension was about whether the Air Nomads should embrace those that had a lot of worldly prosperity, or reject them altogether, as working with other nations meant also working with those unwilling to cede power or wealth.
The Air Nomads' philosophy and teachings became influential across the other nations, including the Fire Nation. Much of this was due to the support of the Fire Nation nobility. Such a relationship culminated in the Fire & Air Center of Learning opening in the Fire Nation, where Air Nomad teachings could be learned by Fire Nation citizens, an establishment that was eventually supported by all the temples. However, the construction was a divisive issue, and the Guiding Wind spoke out against its construction, demanding an end to Air Nomad affiliation with the ruling classes. The Guiding Wind sabotaged construction on numerous occasions in protest, and Fire Lord Sozin seized the center from the nobility, entrenching his military guard to protect the local population. Neither the Guiding Wind, nor Sozin, had any intentions of leaving. Tensions were made stronger by the fact that Sozin's sister, Princess Zeisan, intended to renounce her wealth and titles to join the Guiding Wind, and proposed a political marriage to Khandro. Sozin almost could not control his rage, and began to view the Guiding Wind as a threat to his power. Khandro began to hear reports of violent acts supposedly perpetrated by members of the Guiding Wind across the Fire Nation, and speculated if the Fire Lord may have been responsible.
Additionally, the Eastern Air Temple did little to stop miners from the Earth Kingdom who strip-mined the mountains in the region to fund infrastruture projects. This led to a giant spirit called the Stone Dreamer being awakened by the miners disrupting its home, with the Eastern Elders debating how whether they should take the side of the spirit, or the humans that it was targeting.
Roku's successor, Avatar Aang, grew up at this temple and was mentored under the guardianship of Gyatso, who had since become a monk. The Air Nomads continued to be mobile in his youth.
- Main article: Air Nomad Genocide
Twelve years after the passing of Avatar Roku, Fire Lord Sozin used a comet, later named Sozin's Comet, to enhance his armies' firebending abilities to eliminate the Air Nomads, the next nation in the Avatar Cycle, to achieve his goal of world domination. The high monks anticipated a war coming and the Council of Elders of the Southern Air Temple decided to reveal to Aang his identity as the Avatar prematurely at age twelve as opposed to the standard sixteen. His airbending training was subsequently intensified despite already having earned his mastery tattoos. The revelation made Aang feel that his childhood was taken away from him and everyone suddenly treated him differently. When the monks attempted to separate Aang from his master and father-figure, Gyatso, to complete his airbending training at the Eastern Air Temple, Aang, having overheard the conversation, ran away on his bison, Appa. They accidentally got caught up in a storm and crashed at sea. While sinking, Aang unconsciously entered the Avatar State, freezing himself and Appa in a sphere of ice, which kept him alive for the next century. Meanwhile, the Fire Nation attacked the temples in a preemptive strike and exterminated the airbending population, although they failed to track down the Avatar. Some Air Nomads managed to escape the initial carnage, but they were hunted down, and by the end of Sozin's reign, the Air Nomads were believed to be extinct.
The Fire Nation's government went on to spread vicious propaganda about the Air Nomads to justify their act of mass murder. Some Fire Nation colonies were established in former Air Nomad land, but the temples largely remained abandoned. The surrounding area was patrolled by Fire Army units, sometimes plagued by bandits, and there were some dark spirits haunting the area. Some Earth Kingdom refugees made the Northern Air Temple their home around 90 AG in the late war. After Aang, the last Air Nomad, reemerged one hundred years after the genocide and ended the Hundred Year War, he tried to find ways to revive and safeguard what was left of the Air Nomads' culture.
The Air Acolytes
- Main article: Air Acolytes
A year after the war, Avatar Aang discovered a group of Earth Kingdom citizens who had built a fan club in his honor. Initially disgusted at seeing the sacred aspects of his culture mimicked, he eventually transformed them into the Air Acolytes, a community of nuns and monks dedicated to upholding Air Nomad culture. In the following years, interest in the nearly-extinct culture also grew in academic circles, with archaeologists exploring old Air Nomad sites. Aang himself also scoured the air temples' ruins for relics of his people, attempting use what he found to revive their culture.
The Air Acolytes did their best to recover every relic and piece of documentation they had on Air Nomad culture, and began to memorize Air Nomad holidays, stories, and rituals, in order to reconstruct the lost culture to the best of their ability. The new Fire Nation government began to make reparations, and officials did their best to return any surviving Air Nomad artifacts to the Air Acolytes and the Air Nation. With the population of the Air Acolytes continuing to grow, many began to think it was the right time to start the repairs to the temples.
Eventually, Aang's marriage to Katara blessed him with an airbending son, Tenzin, who was extensively taught by Aang in airbending and Air Nomad culture. The temples were fully restored, and Aang also built a fifth air temple in the newly established United Republic of Nations, which came to be known as Air Temple Island. Tenzin, who became the Air Nation's representative on the United Republic Council, came to reside on the island with his wife, Pema, and their four children, three of whom are known airbenders.
Rebirth of a nation
In 171 AG, the energy shift caused by Harmonic Convergence resulted in several nonbenders obtaining airbending abilities, expanding the world population of airbenders beyond the bloodline of Avatar Aang and speeding up the reformation of the nation by generations. The unexpected possibility of repopulating the air temples within one or two generations suddenly became a reality. This prompted Tenzin and Avatar Korra to travel the world to recruit volunteers to be trained in the ways of the Air Nomads. This proved to be a daunting task, as most of their new prospects rejected the idea of leaving their loved ones and worldly possessions behind. However, they discovered a group of airbenders captured by Earth Queen Hou-Ting, who was conscripting Earth Kingdom airbenders from Ba Sing Se into her army to form a First Airbending Regiment. The new airbenders were rescued and when given the choice to be relocated somewhere safe or join Tenzin at the Northern Air Temple to live in peace and train as Air Nomads, they all decided to train under his tutelage. However, the two sides found it difficult to find a middle ground due to Tenzin's expectations of the volunteers to be identical to the old Air Nomads. Eventually, both parties made amends following a bison rustler attack and resumed training.
Following the insurrection of the Red Lotus and the incapacitation of Avatar Korra, the new Air Nation returned to its nomadic roots, but, unlike their predecessors' reclusive nature, they instead dedicated themselves to bringing peace and balance to the world. By 174 AG, the nation's population had grown, as more new airbenders, including some from the Fire Nation, came to train in the art on Air Temple Island. The Air Nation joined the fight against Kuvira when she invaded the United Republic and laid waste to Republic City. Following Kuvira's arrest, the airbenders joined the relief effort for the homeless evacuees at the evacuation camp while another group gathered around the new spirit portal to meditate and later protect it against intruders. The portal and land surrounding it was eventually given to them by President Zhu Li Moon in hopes that they would continue to thrive and flourish in an area rich with spiritual energy while at the same time keeping it safe from those who wish to exploit it.
At some point after the Gaoling Crisis, Tenzin tasked a group of adventurers with tracking down and recruiting an Air Nomad imposter, an airbender who had started to commit serious crimes while dressed like an Air Nomad. While Tenzin had never met this airbender, he hoped that they could be set on the right path after learning nomad traditions.
Most new airbenders already have a few years of training and live a nomaic lifestyle, traveling from place to place looking to be of service while others care for the air temples. Other airbenders, however, have not joined the Air Nation as a whole and are reluctant to leave their loved ones behind.
During the era of Raava, the predecessors of the Air Nomads symbolized their belief by practicing the same traditions, such as tattooing their bodies, albeit with a different design: They were more polygonal in shape and their ends bore an upside down "T" with a dot beneath it. These markings were applied even on children and they were not associated with airbending mastery at that time. The clothing that men wore consisted of orange cloth at the top and red at the bottom. They also wore long, white leggings underneath their bottoms along with brown shoes. Women donned red full-body garments with a vertical yellow cloth stitched on the abdomen part of the robes, a maroon hood and a brown cloth wrapped around the waist. They also wore brown shoes like the men but did not wear the white leggings.
After the early airbenders learned more advanced techniques from the flying bisons, they changed the tattoos to emulate the arrow-shaped markings of the bison. The Air Nomads wore yellow, orange, and brown clothing. Aang and other young airbenders wore orange shawls over long-sleeved yellow shirts, an orange sash, double-layered pants with brown underneath and a loose yellow layer on top, and high boots that reach just below the knees. Older monks wore long robes in shades of yellow and orange, as well as wooden necklaces with the Air Nomad insignia carved into it. Most Air Nomads have gray or brown eyes and a light complexion.
By 174 AG, the new airbenders from the restored Air Nation had taken to wearing wingsuits, colored primarily red with additional yellow and gray accents, which permitted agile gliding over short distances without the need for staffs or bison.
Young boys to be trained as monks have shaven heads, while monk elders grow beards and mustaches; they had the longest and most prominent facial hair of any nation. Female airbenders do not fully shave their heads, just their foreheads so their arrow is visible. Shaving one's head is voluntary, though was encouraged so the airbender could feel the air around them.
Airbenders who have attained a level of mastery in the art are marked with the arrow tattoos. A primary arrow tattoo is placed on their shaven head that extends down their back, along with four others, one on each limb that terminates in an arrowhead at the hands and feet. The bottom tip of the triangle on the forehead end just between the eyebrows, while the arrows on the hands aim at the middle finger. The arrows mark the paths through which chi travels through the body. Because of this, when an Air Nomad Avatar tattooed in this fashion enters the Avatar State, these tattoos are known to glow, along with the Avatar's eyes and mouth. If the body has received an injury deeper than the tattoo, that spot will no longer glow while in the Avatar State.
The Air Nomad insignia is a stylized, swirling orb. Within the circle, coiling lines illustrate the wind. The symbol can be seen on the design of doors and surfaces in the air temples, as well as on pendants of monks' prayer beads.
The Air Nomad flag is a yellow banner held between two wooden poles. The center of the banner is emblazoned with the Air Nomad insignia.
In the era before the Avatar, the precursors of the Air Nomads lived on top of lion turtles in straw huts that used blue cloth with a single swirl design to cover the entrance. With the rise of the Avatar, the lion turtles renounced their role as protectors of mankind, and the people left the safety of the cities to built large temples on remote mountains. There were four temples in all, one for each direction on the compass; two were traditionally run for and by males, and two were traditionally run for and by females. The young boys of the Southern Air Temple were known to travel to the Eastern Air Temple in order to choose their own personal sky bison. This was considered an important choice as the intelligent animals would be with the choosing airbenders for the rest of their lives.
After the genocide, all temples showed damage incurred during the Fire Nation attack or outright deterioration from a century of neglect. However, following the end of the Hundred Year War and the foundation of the Air Acolytes, Aang spearheaded the restoration of all four temples to their former glory. He also built Air Temple Island, located off the coast of Republic City. The island itself has an air temple which is the smaller than the other four temples. However, during the Red Lotus attacks, the Northern Air Temple was destroyed when Ghazan used lavabending to melt its foundations. The other temples are currently housed by the Air Acolytes and the airbenders of the Air Nation.
During the era of Raava, the ancestors of the Air Nomads lived in harmony with the spirits. Even though the spirits returned to their realm after Wan became the first Avatar and closed the spirit portal, the descendants of the first Air Nomads still held the same level of spirituality and were known to travel to the Spirit World through meditation. They lived according to montastic traditions, and the Northern and Southern Air Temples acted as homes for Air Monks, while the Eastern and Western Air Temples acted as homes for Air Nuns. All airbenders grew up to become monks and nuns unless they chose to leave the Air Nomad life behind or were exiled. Air Nomads were raised communally, and often had a main guardian who they were not related to, though they were aware of their blood relatives and often had close relationships with them.
While other nations traditionally possess royalty and are run by hereditary monarchies, the Air Nomads were led by the senior monks and nuns of the air temples. Due to the peaceful teachings of their leaders, the nature of the people was calm and tranquil, being known as peaceful, egalitarian people who embraced a life of simplicity and environmental preservation. They also believed in equality for all, that people should live without divisions in society. In that spirit, same-sex relationships were completely accepted in Air Nomad culture, as their generally peaceful and open-minded way of life led them to embrace all forms of consenting love. Because of this, Air Nomads had no need to "come out" about their sexual orientations. Although the temples were segregated by gender, the Air Nomads were accepting of transgender and non-binary people.
The Air Nomads were considered to be bearers of good fortune throughout the world, and people would often ask them for blessings. Having an Air Nomad say a few words of spiritual blessing over a new barn or baby was considered great luck. When monks and nuns would have to stop at villages across the world along their journeys from temple to temple, most peasants would gladly provide them hospitality in exchange for help with chores, news, and entertaining stories from other parts of the world, or a promise to relay messages to distant relatives.
The Air Nomads are the only nation comprised entirely of benders. The only known exceptions were those who were born in other nations, and later adopted into the Air Nomad culture. Meditation was an important part of the airbenders' daily routines, as it helped them to focus their energies and understand the potency of their element. Due to their high spirituality, the monks believed that hope was only a distraction. Since they highly valued pacifism and detachment, Air Nomads often preferred to remain uninvolved with conflicts taking place outside the temples. For this reason, many monks chose to involve themselves in spiritual matters instead, no matter the nation they found themselves in. This sometimes led people in the region they visited to resent the nomads for their focus on their own personal goals and the spirits rather than the people around them.
It has been mentioned that they had a good sense of humor, something demonstrated when Monk Gyatso employed a unique teaching method when tutoring Aang with his airbending skills, accurately blowing fruit pies onto other monks' heads as a prank. This activity was useful training and a fun game combined.
The Air Nomads also revered certain events and holidays, such as Yangchen's Festival, which celebrated the Avatar's victory over a dark spirit, General Old Iron. The holiday was marked as one of the highest on the Air Nomad calendar and, according to Aang, was also one of the most fun celebrations of their culture.
The arrow tattoos adorning an Air Nomad's body signifies that they have mastered airbending. This is an emulation of the natural arrows on the heads of flying bison, who can naturally airbend and are the original teachers of the art, much like the badgermole is to the earthbenders. Aspiring airbenders have no tattoos and in order to receive the tattoos as well as the title of a master, an airbender must pass the thirty-six levels of airbending or engineer a new technique. In actuality, Aang had only reached the thirty-fifth level before he left the Southern Air Temple, but his invention of the air scooter earned him the tattoos prematurely, making him the youngest airbending master in history until his granddaughter, Jinora, earned her tattoos at the age of eleven. Aang's son, Tenzin, later became the first to master the bending art following the Air Nomad Genocide. After receiving their tattoos, the airbender is anointed a master during a special ceremony.
The Air Nomads also preached against the concept of revenge, viewing it as being akin to a two-headed rat-viper: by destroying your enemy, you poison yourself.
A century later, under the new Air Nation, an oath of nonaggression was to be declared by a new airbender, by which they swore to adopt the more pacifistic ways of the Air Nomads by using direct combat solely as a last resort.
Airbending master anointing ceremony
When an Air Nomad or Air Nation airbender has been deemed a master, they receive their tattoos during a special anointing ceremony. During the time of the Air Nation, this ceremony took place in a temple hall filled with Air Nomadic decorations, including their emblem banners and incense.
Before the ceremony, the hair of the master-to-be is shaven, and their limbs and head are tattooed. For the ceremony, they don a yellow robe with a hood covering their head in order to cover the tattoos. While being presented to the congregated airbenders, Air Acolytes, and other witnesses, the airbending master presiding over the ceremony removes the robe to reveal the tattoos on the new master. During the reveal, other airbenders bend the smoke from the burning incense toward the bells located on the outer part of the hall, ringing them to signal the arrival of a new airbending master.
Each nation of the four nations is influenced by their own distinct, dominant season, in which their bending is at its peak. Autumn, the season where winds blow more frequently and with more power, is the dominant season of the Air Nomad race. Airbenders are thus at their strongest in this season. More Air Nomad children were born during autumn than any other season, all retaining bending abilities.
Natural resources and foods
The Air Nomads were a tranquil people who endeavored to preserve the environment around them. Any industry that they invested in, such as farming or gardening, was sustainable and powered naturally, so as to not disturb the balance of nature. The Air Nomads cultivated special breeds of vegetables and fruits, many of whom went extinct following the genocide. Due to the high altitude of their temples, they tended to keep supplies of edible resources found in other areas, such as milk. As Air Nomads were vegetarian, animal husbandry for food was largely unnecessary.
Air is the main source of power of the Air Nation, as it was for the Air Nomads. Their control over the element means they have no need for industrial machinery, combustion, or electricity, and whatever trades and crafts they engage in are fairly non-polluting. They are also able to ride on their sky bison and glide in the open air for transportation. By 170 AG, however, radios are installed for outside communication purposes.
Believing all life to be precious, the Air Nomads were strict vegetarians, though they did eat eggs and dairy products, as Aang's favorite food was egg custard tarts. The nomads were also known for making sweet dishes such as pies, which were sold for one silver piece each with all profits given to charity. Many monks were skilled bakers. In general, the Air Nomads used their bending abilities to enhance their cooking. While they primarily used ingredients found at the temples, they also experimenteed with flavors and ingredients from across the nations, such as their sweet rice, which they could adapt to any fruits and nuts in order to prepare during their travels. The nomads' vegetarianism was continued by the Air Nation, as Aang attempted to maintain his people's cuisine as well as he could using recipes found in the air temple's ruins and substitute ingredients from the other nations. His efforts paid off, and the Air Nation maintained a unique cuisine after his death. Air Temple Island hosts a garden for growing vegetables.
- Main article: Politics in the World of Avatar
Council of Elders
Government system: Ecclesiastical senate
Head of state and government: Four Councils of Elders
Most recent known head: Four Councils of Elders
Territorial divisions: Four air temples
Heads of territorial divisions: Head monks, abbots (Northern and Southern Air Temple) and mothers superior (Eastern and Western Air Temple)
Capital: No overall capital
Unlike the other three nations, which were ruled by royal families and structured governments, each of the Air Nomads' temples was led by a respected Council of Elders. Composed of wise airbending masters, they were both the political and religious authority and served as counsel for their citizens and airbending instructors.
Government system: Unitary Pseudo-Ecclesiocracy
Head of state and government: No overall head of state; just certain respected individuals
Most recent known head: Tenzin
Territorial divisions: Five air temples
Heads of territorial divisions: Abbots and abbesses
Capital: No overall capital
To preserve the culture of the extinct Air Nomads, Avatar Aang founded the Air Acolytes, a group consisting of mostly Earth Kingdom nonbenders that would uphold Air Nomad philosophies and traditions. After the acolytes' formation, the air temples were each administered by abbots and abbesses.
Following the abolition of the United Republic Council and the airbender boom in 171 AG, Tenzin, by virtue of being the world's most senior airbending master, continued to have a say in global affairs as the figurehead of the Air Nation. He continued to reside on Air Temple Island as he oversaw the growth of the nation, training an increasing number of new airbenders in their bending art. The new Air Nation adheres to many of the same values of the Air Nomads, but unlike previous generations' detachment from the world's geopolitical concerns, new airbenders follow a drive to act and be a part of the world. They also act as caretakers of the spirit portal in Republic City, along with the lands that surround them. Not only must the nomads contend with people looking to exploit the portal for personal gain, but they must also work with the spirits who wish to live in the mortal world.
Contrary to the propaganda spread in the Fire Nation, the Air Nomads did not have any form of military, as they were firm believers in peace and non-violence. Although the Air Nomads did not have any organized fighting force, they still proved to be formidable opponents, as Gyatso's skeleton was found surrounded by the remains of several comet-enhanced firebenders he had defeated when attacked. Because they were pacifists, Air Nomads led peaceful lives and avoided conflict when possible, though were willing to fight when there was no other option left to take. Aang also mentioned that Fire Lord Sozin defeated the Air Nomads by ambush.
Despite this and their pacifist nature, Tenzin declared, after Avatar Korra was severely physically and psychologically hurt by the Red Lotus' metal poison, that the restored Air Nation adopted the nomadic ways of their predecessors, but with the intention of becoming bringers of peace and balance. Airbender parties scoured the Earth Kingdom after the nation's fall into chaos following Earth Queen Hou-Ting's assassination at the hands of Zaheer in 171 AG. In this capacity, Kai and Opal forcibly halted the escape of three bandits, who were terrorizing the capital of the Earth Kingdom state of Yi, in 174 AG. However, the Air Nation was spread too thin to cover the entirety of the large Earth Kingdom to effectively bring order and balance. They also participated in the defense of Republic City when the Earth Empire invaded it and later acted as guardians of Republic City's spirit portal, protecting the Spirit World from human intervention.
- Air Nomad caves
- Air Temple Island
- Eastern Air Temple
- Laghima's Peak
- Northern Air Temple
- Southern Air Temple
- Western Air Temple
- Whaletail Island
Original Air Nomads
This is a list of known Air Nomads prior to Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG.
Air Temple Island
Eastern Air Temple
Northern Air Temple
Southern Air Temple
Western Air Temple
New Air Nation
This is a list of known individuals who obtained airbending abilities after Harmonic Convergence in 171 AG and volunteered to rebuild the Air Nation.
This is a list of Air Acolytes, the monks and nuns from other nations who chose to follow the ways of the Air Nomads after the end of the Hundred Year War.
- The Air Nomad culture closely resembles that of Hindu priests and Tibetan monks.
- Air Nomad culture includes the study of numerology, having developed principles of the system notable enough to be integrated into the design of Yun's mansion.
- The Air Nomads are sometimes addressed as "the wandering nation".