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This article is about the Air Nomads' method of discovering the Avatar. For the comic, see Relics.
"You chose them from among thousands of toys, Aang. The toys you picked were the four Avatar relics. These items belonged to Avatar's past. Your own past lives."
Tashi explaining about the Avatar relics to Aang.[1]

By Aang's time, the Avatar relics consisted of a clay turtle, a pull-string propeller, a wooden hog monkey, and a wooden hand drum.

The Avatar relics are four ancient toys utilized by the Air Nomads to identify their nation's Avatars at a young age. Each toy represents one of the four nations and once belonged to a previous Avatar.

Following the death of a Fire Nation Avatar, it is Air Nomad tradition to present young children with thousands of toys. Two sets of Avatar relics are known: the older one included a stuffed hog monkey, a clay turtle, a whirligig, and a drum.[2] The newer one consisted of a wooden monkey, a wooden hand drum, a clay turtle flute, and a whirligig.[1] All the toys are meticulously placed on ten very long, very faded yellow cloths, so they are presented in a long row, evenly spaced.[2] If the child chooses to play with only these four toys, it is a strong indication that they may be the reincarnated Avatar, as the real Avatar is believed to choose the four toys most familiar to them.[3]


Interrupted identification of Kyoshi

In 305 BG, after seven years of fruitless searching for Avatar Kuruk's successor, a drunken evening between Kelsang and Jianzhu led to the idea of using the Avatar relics in the earth cycle now that the regular Earth Kingdom identification methods were insufficient. Kelsang ended up stealing the relics from Abbot Dorje and traveled with Jianzhu to the remote Yokoya Port, where it was less likely that their "sacrilegious" experiment would be discovered.

Having lined up all the seven-year-olds of the village, Kelsang meticulously presented the toys to them. Although the idea of presenting thousands of toys to a child and telling them to choose four sounded simple, Jianzhu discovered that it resulted in pure chaos: most Earth Kingdom children were less than happy to relinquish their picks, and their parents were disgruntled to not have their offspring be the chosen one.

Although the two bending masters were not expecting to have a successful test on their first try, they became hopeful when Suzu, a farmer's daughter, first selected the whirligig before choosing the hand drum. With two relics in hand, she moved toward a third, the monkey, but as opposed to picking it up, she violently stomped the object.[2]

Upon showing the girl and her father the door, the two masters noticed a solitary girl whom they had not subjected to the test, a homeless orphan named Kyoshi. Coaxed to select a toy, she chose the clay turtle, one of the relics that no one had come near that day. Although Kelsang invited her to take three more, Kyoshi did not want to risk losing the one toy she already had and bolted away, the object still firmly clutched to her chest. Kelsang expressed the hope that the item would find its "way back where it belongs".[2] Without the full set of toys, Jianzhu and Kelsang eventually falsely identified Yun as the Avatar. Kyoshi kept the clay turtle during the next nine years. After becoming a servant at Avatar mansion, she placed it on a shelf in her room.[4]

Kyoshi eventually forgot how exactly she had gotten the toy, other than it being a gift from Kelsang who had become her de facto adoptive father. When Kelsang visited Kyoshi in her room in 296 BG to discuss his doubts regarding Yun's Avatarhood, he noticed the turtle and stared at it for a long time.[4] After being forced to flee the Avatar mansion, Kyoshi took the clay turtle with her. She subsequently tried to use the toy for ad hoc earthbending training, making it float in the air, but quickly lost control and inadvertently destroyed it completely. This left her heartbroken, as it had been her last keepsake of Kelsang.[5]

When Kyoshi contacted Avatar Yangchen, the Air Avatar reminded her to replace the clay turtle, as there was only one more lifetime after Kyoshi before it would be needed again.[6]

Aang's experience

Aang chose the Avatar relics from the thousands of toys presented to him by the monks.

After Avatar Roku's death in 12 BG, Air Nomad children were presented with these four toys among thousands of others. When they were presented to Aang, he correctly chose the four objects that comprised the Avatar relics and was correctly identified as being the next Avatar.

When the Council of Elders informed Aang at the age of twelve that he was the new Avatar, the young airbender could not believe it. To prove it to him, Monk Tashi showed him the relics. Upon seeing his childhood toys, Aang stated that he had simply chosen them because they seemed fun, though Monk Tashi explained to him that he had chosen them from among thousands of toys because they were familiar to him.[1]


This method of identifying the new Avatar is based on the real-world method of identifying the next reincarnation of Tulku Lama in Tibetan Buddhism.


  • Among the thousands of worn and beaten toys that are presented to the children, some are: a bison whistle, a wicker ball, a misshapen blob that might have been a stuffed turtle duck, a coiled whalebone spring, a miniature boat, a wooden top, and a white marble.[2]
  • According to Kelsang, the clay turtle relic is the most important cultural artifact of the Air Nomads.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (June 3, 2005). "The Storm". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter One, "The Test". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  3. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Gear: Avatar Relics.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Five, "Revelations". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  5. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Twelve, "The Decision". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  6. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Twenty-Seven, "The Meeting". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.

See also