|"You chose them from among thousands of toys, Aang. The toys you picked were the four Avatar relics. These items belonged to Avatars past. Your own past lives."|
|— Tashi explaining about the Avatar relics to Aang.|
The Avatar relics are four ancient toys utilized by the Air Nomads in identifying their nation's Avatars at a young age, though the method is sometimes used by other nations when necessary. The four toys represent each of the four nations, and all were once the toys of previous Air Nomad Avatars.
Within Air Nomad tradition, following the death of an Avatar within the fire cycle, newborn infants are presented with thousands of toys, four of which are the relics. If the infant chooses to play with only these four toys, it is a strong sign that he or she might be the reincarnated Avatar, as the real Avatar is believed to choose the four toys most familiar to him or her.
Although usually only used to identify Air Nomad Avatars, the relics were used in the earth cycle following Avatar Kuruk's death. In 305 BG, as the regular Earth Kingdom identification methods to find the Avatar's successor had failed for seven years, masters Jianzhu and Kelsang eventually hatched a secret plan in an act of desperation. Kelsang secretly took the Air Nomad relics and they both presented them to the children of the remote Yokoya Port, where it was less likely that their "sacrilegious" experiment would be discovered. Though some children, such as Suzu, came close to completing the test, in the end all failed to pick the complete set of relics. Eventually, the two masters encountered a homeless orphan, Kyoshi, and presented her with the test. Instead of following the rules, Kyoshi stole the clay turtle, one of the relics which had belonged to a past Avatar. As result, Jianzhu and Kelsang did not recognize that Kyoshi was the Avatar, and instead falsely identified Yun as Kuruk's successor.
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.
When the Council of Elders informed Aang that he was the new Avatar, the young airbender doubted his identity, so Monk Tashi showed him the relics. Upon seeing his childhood toys, Aang stated that he had simply chosen them because they seemed fun, and Monk Tashi explained to him that he had chosen them from among thousands of toys because they were familiar to him.
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.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (June 3, 2005). "The Storm". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter One, "The Test". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
- ↑ From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated, encyclopedia now broken though archived here.
- ↑ Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Two, "Nine Years Later". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.