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This article is about the real world.

The Avatar franchise is aesthetically and conceptually influenced by many real-world cultures, particularly China and other parts of East Asia. Other cultural influences come from South Asia, mainly India, and various indigenous cultures from around the world, such as those inhabiting the Arctic regions.

Modern popular culture is also a prominent influence on the franchise, especially Japanese animation and Chinese live action cinema (particularly the wuxia genre and Hong Kong action films). Contemporary American storytelling tropes are interspersed throughout, such as the archetypal "Hero's Journey", and certain characters and plot lines clearly echo previous franchises that made use of this theme.

Stylistic influences[]


Spirited Away

Chihiro and Haku, two characters from Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, a major influence on Avatar.

The artistic and animation styles used in Avatar are clearly influenced by various forms of Japanese anime.[1] Avatar creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino confirmed a particular anime influence in a magazine interview:

"The best anime balances great action sequences with humor and emotion, something we try to do on Avatar. We love all the films of Hayao Miyazaki, especially Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Both movies deal with spirituality and the environment in an entertaining way. Also, there's a lot of great animation."[2] According to Bryan Konietzko, Princess Mononoke inspired the idea of the abscence of villains in the sense that there were only people with competing interests, a perspective that he wanted to take in Western animation, which influenced the creation of Zaheer.[3]

According to an interview with the artists of Avatar, Appa's design was based on the Catbus in My Neighbor Totoro, due to the peculiar task of creating a mammal with six legs.[4]

Avatar draws inspiration from Shinichiro Watanabe's Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, as well as FLCL of Gainax. Other various studios from which inspiration was drawn include STUDIO4 °C, Production I.G, and Studio Ghibli. Bryan has commented that some of his most cherished Watanabe fight scenes were the fight between Bebop's Spike Spiegel and a drug smuggler in "Asteroid Blues", as well as the duel between Mugen and Sara in the Champloo episode "Elegy of Entrapment (Verse 2)". Avatar director Giancarlo Volpe also claims the staff "were all ordered to buy FLCL and watch every single episode of it".[5]


The choreographed martial art bending moves were profoundly inspired by Asian cinema. Avatar creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino stated the particular influence in a magazine interview:

"Asian cinema is really good at action comedy. Shaolin Soccer is one of our favorite movies. It has tons of fantastic action and lots of funny moments. Some of the effects provided inspiration for how bending moves might look on the show."[2]

Numerous moments in the series also draws parallels with the highly acclaimed film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, one of the highest grossing foreign films to date.[6] In particular, the score for the film[7] and the types of weapons[8] can be seen within the series, more commonly toward the end of Book Two: Earth and the entirety of Book Three: Fire. Notably, the fighting style used by the Kyoshi Warriors closely resembles the Jade Fox's acupressure technique,[9] and Azula's own fighting style mimics several scenes in this film.[10] This style can be seen throughout numerous other wuxia films.[11]

Another similarity is that of Zhang Ziyi's character, Yu Jiao Long, and Toph Beifong. Both are the daughters of noblemen, and are expected to continue to bring honor to their family. In Jiao's case, it is by entering an arranged marriage; Toph must remain hidden and submissive to please her parents.[12] Both are forced to keep the extent of their talents a secret, an idea that is echoed in the title of the film,[13] and both characters also developed through allowing these secrets to become known, and the problems held with their parents were either left ambiguous, or never resolved.[14][15]

In addition, the fight scenes in John Woo films have been alluded to as an influence, and the shot of Zuko and the doves in "The Beach" was stated to be a direct reference to Woo.[16]

Konietzko and DiMartino have cited Joseph Campbell and his writings on comparative mythology - including the "Hero's Journey" - as an influence in creating the storyline and characters for the show.[17] Campbell's work also heavily inspired director George Lucas when creating the original Star Wars trilogy, and the three Books of The Last Airbender each bear striking resemblances to each movie in said trilogy; Book One: Water shares narrative parallels to A New Hope, Book Two: Earth incorporates similar themes and characters to The Empire Strikes Back, and Book Three: Fire resolves the narrative in a similar way to The Return of the Jedi.


There were several influences from literature early on in production; notably from the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings novels, which were "the two biggest things going on in 2002" and were what Nickelodeon was seeking.[18] Such franchises also draw on the work of Joseph Campbell, and the creators of Avatar wanted to tell their own epic "legend & love story" on a similar scale. They have stated that they have relied on traditional archetypes and motifs for creating their characters.

General influences[]


The Five Elements were first developed in India and the Five Classical Elements of Hinduism and Buddhism: earth, water, air, fire, and Aether, have been influential in the development of the show, providing the backbone of the five elements seen in the Avatar franchise.

  • In Hinduism's sacred literature, the "great" or "gross" elements (mahābhūta) are fivefold: space (or "ether"), air, fire, water and earth.
  • In Buddhism, the four Great Elements (Pali: cattāro mahābhūtāni) are earth, water, fire, and air. Mahābhūta is generally synonymous with catudhātu, which is Pāli for the "Four Elements".
  • In "The Book of Five Rings", Japanese samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi wrote five books of military strategy and martial arts: The Book of Earth, The Book of Water, The Book of Fire, The Book of Wind, and The Book of Nothing. These books relate the five elements to five different aspects of battle. The bending in Avatar is a literal representation of this concept.
  • A common element throughout these different philosophies is the idea of an intangible Fifth element—Aether, the Void, Space, etc. represented in the Avatar franchise through the Spirit World, the Avatar State, and energybending.


General influences[]

  • Tea is a popular drink in the Avatar world. The practice of drinking tea is said to have begun in China as early as 2737 BCE.[19][20] It was not until the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), however, that tea became cemented as the national drink of China,[19] ultimately spreading throughout Asia and eventually the world. Tea remains one of the most popular drinks in China, and many of the teas mentioned by Iroh, including jasmine and ginseng, are real beverages.
  • Everyone regularly uses or can use chopsticks, which are the primary eating utensil throughout East Asia, also developed by the Chinese.[21]
  • Writing in the Avatar world uses Traditional Chinese characters, which eventually spread throughout East Asia.[22] Both seal script, which was only extensively used mainly in China and writing engraved on rock, etc., and clerical script, written on paper, are used.
  • Concepts like yin and yang as well as balance are influenced by Chinese beliefs. In Daoist philosophy, dark and light, yin and yang, arrive in the Tao Te Ching at chapter 42. In Confucianism, it is concerned with finding "middle ways" between yin and yang at every new configuration of the world.
  • Currency in the world varies from nation to nation, but is commonly based on precious metals. Following the end of the War, paper money came into widespread use, most notably in the United Republic of Nations. Its currency is called yuan. The yuan (元) is also the informal name of the basic unit of currency in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
  • The soundtrack has clear links and inspirations from classical Chinese songs and instruments.
  • The architecture, clothing, and arts are primarily based on China and its neighboring states.

Water Tribes[]

The culture of the Water Tribes, as well as their location in the polar regions of the world, is primarily based on the real-life Arctic cultures such as the Inuit, Sireniki, and Yupik; as well as Siberian cultures like the Yakuts, Buryats, various Paleosiberians, and various Tungusic peoples (like the Evenk). In addition, elements of their society draw from many other indigenous cultures such as Native Americans, Australian Aboriginals, and Polynesians. Like all the other nations, the Water Tribes also have influences from Chinese culture.

  • There is a great deal of overlap between the Southern Water Tribe and the Northern Water Tribe but the former is more influenced by Arctic cultures while the latter is more influenced by Siberian cultures. The Southern Water Tribe was founded by Northern Water Tribe immigrants. This reflects the real-life relationship between Siberian and Arctic populations, with the latter deriving from ancient immigrants of the former.
  • The spiritual practices of the Water Tribes draw inspiration from moon myths of the Chinese Moon Godess Chang'e (嫦娥). Yue's appearance as the Moon Spirit is very similar to that of Chang'e. "Yue" (月) means "moon" in Mandarin Chinese.
  • Concept of "Yin and Yang" (陰陽) based on Taoism. The prime example would be the spirit of the moon and ocean which one cannot function without the other. The "go with the flow" attitudes in Taoism is best represented by the waterbenders.
  • The concept of arranged marriages was inspired by Chinese tradition. Traditional Chinese marriage (Chinese: 婚姻; pinyin: hūnyīn) is a ceremonial ritual within Chinese societies that involves a union between spouses, sometimes established by pre-arrangement between families. Traditionally, the groom's family should present the betrothal or "Grand Gift" which is various proposal gifts.
  • The wooden doll used for healing practice in waterbending is reminiscent of Chinese acupuncture statues.
  • The architecture of the Northern Water Tribe appears to have been influenced by the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival (Chinese: 哈尔滨国际冰雪节).
    • Aspects of Chinese culture are also evident, such as the round doors, often called "moon gate".
    • The tribal chief's throne resembles a "paifang", a traditional Chinese architectural arch.
    • The city is decorated with "huabiao", a type of Chinese ceremonial columns.
  • Many people of the Southern Water Tribes live in igloos, a dwelling commonly used by the Inuit.[23]
  • Water Tribe house interiors resemble Mongolian yurt or ger. In The Rise of Kyoshi, Tagaka set up a camp with a yurt as the centerpiece.[24]
  • Water Tribe dishes include noodles, which can trace their origins back to China.[25]
  • Sea prunes are likely based on sea cucumbers, which are commonly consumed in Chinese cuisine.
  • Water Tribe clothing includes anoraks and mukluks, often incorporating heavy furs and animal skins as protection against the cold.
  • Katara's lighter clothing resembles a cheongsam, a type of feminine dress of Han Chinese and Manchu origins, and also a Mongolian deel
  • Katara's hair loopies are based after the Inuit.
  • They rely heavily on hunting and fishing as a means of survival, also borrowed from the Inuit.
  • Water Tribe ships distinctly resemble Polynesian catamarans.
  • Water Tribe warriors wear warpaint into battle, something associated with Native Americans. Facepainting is interpreted as strength in many indigenous cultures, such as African, Native American, and Southeast Asian tribes.

Earth Kingdom[]

The architecture, clothing, and culture of the Earth Kingdom seem to be based primarily on China from multiple dynasties as well as China's neighboring states, particularly its tributaries. The many tribes and towns throughout the Earth Kingdom can also resemble other cultures.

  • The Earth Kingdom is extremely large and diverse, and contains different cultures within itself much like China.
  • Earth Kingdom architecture has distinctive Chinese influences.
  • Bumi's attitude of 'doing nothing' resembles the Taoist ideal of 'wuwei', proposed by the Chinese sage Laozi as a means to doing something without direct action.
  • Earth Kingdom cuisine is almost entirely based on Chinese cuisine. Examples of dishes that the Earth Kingdom and the Chinese share are roast duck and jook.
  • The clothing of Earth Kingdom citizens resemble Chinese, Korean, and Japanese clothing.
    • With the exception of Ba Sing Se, the clothing is almost entirely based on pre-Manchu China.
    • The clothing of the Beifong family is largely inspired by Tang Dynasty clothing.
    • Song and her mother wear the hanbok, a type of traditional Korean clothing. The farming village they live in also has Korean influences in its architecture.
    • Kyoshi Warriors' uniform is similar to that worn by both kabuki actors and geisha, with the green kimonos additionally being inspired by Kabuki theater.
  • The government of Ba Sing Se is similar to Chinese government under Jinyiwei of the Ming Dynasty. The information control and propaganda is reminiscent of its near police state, with total control of the populace through harsh laws and secret police.
  • The River village and Foggy Swamp Tribe have Vietnamese influences in their architecture and clothing.
  • Many Earth Kingdom citizens wear top-knots, which originated in China and used to be a mandatory hairstyle for men of all social classes in pre-Qing China. They are also prevalent in India, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.
  • Earth Kingdom army uniforms resemble ancient Chinese military uniforms, particularly those of the Song and Ming Dynasty.
  • The curved sword wielded by the leader of the Zhang tribe resembles the khopesh, a sword used by the ancient Egyptians.
  • Kyoshi Island is aesthetically influenced by Japan. The Kyoshi Warriors wear face make-up in a broadly Japanese style, and in combat they make use of the katana, a traditional Japanese sword, their armor resembling that of Japanese samurai. Japanese architectural influences, such as 'prayer hand' construction, are also reflected in Kyoshi Island.
    • Some of the Kyoshi Islander's clothing resemble that of the Ainu people, the indigenous people of the northern Japanese archipelago.
  • Kuei, the 52nd monarch of the Earth Kingdom, is similar to the last emperor of China, Puyi. Not only is there a similarity in their names, but Kuei wears the same circular glasses as Puyi. Both rulers were kept ignorant of the state of their nation and had no real power. Kuei had previously never left the Ba Sing Se palace, akin to how Puyi, up to a point, was always kept in the Forbidden City.
Ba Sing Se[]

Ba Sing Se, the capital of the Earth Kingdom, is based on ancient Chinese capitals such as Beijing, as the creators were inspired by the idea of an isolated city, and draws significant influences from China's Qing Dynasty.

  • The city of Ba Sing Se is based on the historic design of Beijing, which was organized into rings. The lower social classes of Beijing lived in the outer rings and the higher social classes lived in the inner rings, with the Forbidden City located in the center of all the rings.
  • The Royal Palace is largely based on the Forbidden City. It has similar architecture, but the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace compound is circular, not square unlike the Forbidden City.
  • The Lower Ring of Ba Sing Se is visually based on many towns and marketplaces in the Central Jiangxi Province.
  • More often found in Ba Sing Se is the Chinese queue hairstyle. It can be worn by all men, with no social distinction. Such practice parallels the Manchu queue, forced upon the Han population of China after 1644.
    • The dresses and headpieces of upper class women in Ba Sing Se is based on the fashion of Manchu women.
  • All the Ba Sing Se costumes are inspired by Qing Dynasty dress. For example, the haiku girls wear headpieces reminiscent of those worn by Qing Dynasty court ladies and Earth King Kuei wears clothing similar to that of Qing Dynasty emperors, indicative of the style exhibited in a famous painting of the Xianfeng Emperor.
  • The Dai Li resemble and are named after the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Secret Police, General Dai Li of the Kuomintang.[26] Their uniform is similar to that worn by the Qing Imperial Guards and it is also reminiscent of that worn by the scholar officials, or mandarins, of Qing China. The Dai Li wear conical-shaped hats similar to those worn by Qing mandarins. Their square shaped embroidery with the Earth Kingdom symbol resembles the Mandarin Square worn by Chinese Ming and Qing officials.
  • The Outer Wall's design and scale is based on the Great Wall of China, except that the Outer Wall is a defense ring, unlike the Great Wall, which is a line of defense. The walls of Ba Sing Se are much taller than the actual Great Wall, as the creators wanted it to feel more massive. Just as the Great Wall is visible from outer space, the Great Walls of Ba Sing Se are always drawn onto maps of the Earth Kingdom.[27]
  • Palanquins, used by the Earth King, were also used in China by the upper classes. One particularly large and luxurious type of palanquin was reserved for the emperor.
  • Similar to how the Dai Li had their secret base to brainwash political prisoners and potential troublemakers underneath Lake Laogai, in China, "Laogai" refers to the system of prison camps begun by Mao Zedong to exterminate or "reeducate" political prisoners under the Communist regime, which still operate today.[28]
  • The extensive monitoring of all citizens, immigrants, and tourists is extremely similar to how the government of North Korea monitors its people, with "guides" being sent to monitor all tourists and feed them propaganda.

Fire Nation[]

The culture of the Fire Nation is primarily inspired by East, South, and Southeast Asia. Some of its culture also draw inspiration from the Mesoamerican civilization. While its geography is drawn from volcanic islands including Iceland, Hawaii, and the Polynesian Islands.

  • The topography of the Fire Nation draws most of its influence from Iceland, with photographs of the island being used directly in designing the geography of the nation.[29] In addition, its location on a series of volcanic islands, similar to a number of real world locations, including Hawaii and the Polynesian Islands.
  • One of the central concept is Confucianism is "shao shuen" (孝順), or "filial piety", which is defined as the virtue of deference to one' elders. It is best represented by Zuko's ever loyal ideal to please his father and later his uncle.
  • The architecture of the Fire Nation draws influences on many cultures, but is predominantly similar to Chinese and Southeast Asian architecture.
    • The Fire Nation Royal Palace draws its influence from Egyptian and Chinese architecture.
    • The Fire Nation Capital is greatly influenced by the imperial cities of the Han Dynasty.
    • The Crescent Island Fire Temple is nearly a direct replica of Chinese-style pagodas.
    • Ember Island architecture most closely resembles that of Southeast Asian resorts.
    • The architecture of the Bhanti resembles Southeast Asian architecture.
      • The Bhanti temple's architecture is comparable to that of Pagan Kingdom hollow temples in the Mandalay region of Burma. The golden statue is based on southeast Asian figures of the Buddha in the "earth-witness" posture, though the right hand is in the wrong position.
  • Fire Nation attire often resembles Han dynasty Chinese clothing. Members of the royal family and the nobility are oftentimes depicted wearing changshan.
  • The clothing of Ember Island resembles traditional Thai clothing.
  • The military uniforms of the Fire Nation are clearly based on those of ancient Chinese militaries, as are many weapons.
  • Fire Nation cuisine closely mirrors Sichuan cuisine with its spiciness, red colors, and large quantities of meat.
  • In Fire Nation royal weddings, the bride has a hairstyle similar to the ones worn by Korean queens.
  • The cutting off the top-knots done by Zuko and Iroh symbolize their separation from their family and their nation, a practice that occurred in ancient East Asia.
  • The Agni Kai is a form of "honor duel" commonly seen in warrior societies in South Asia, particularly South India and Sri Lanka. It literally translates to 'Duel of Fire' or 'Fire Quarrel'. The creators of Avatar have stated that it is the practice of the Fire Nation for potential rulers to have to "prove their worth" through difficult challenges. This is a practice in many warrior cultures.
  • Palanquins, used by members of the Fire Nation Royal Family, were also used in China by members of the upper class. One particularly large and luxurious type of palanquin was reserved for the emperor.
  • Fire Nation propaganda justifying its imperialism is also similar to that of Japan's during World War II, as the Japanese Empire used an ideological construct, "Dai Toa Kyoeikan", meaning "The Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere", to justify invading China and conquering the South Pacific, just as the Fire Nation has invaded the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes.
  • Some of the Rough Rhinos have Mongolian names.
  • During a confrontation, a group of workers in Jonduri attempt to intimidate their foes with facial expressions reminiscent of both the pūkana and whetero, expressions typically used in traditional Māori dances.
Sun Warriors[]
  • The Sun Warriors themselves share qualities with the Maya and Aztec cultures of Central America, who were particularly famous as sun-worshipers.
  • The Sun Warriors' compound includes buildings inspired by Hindu and Buddhist architecture. This architecture is found in Southeast Asian such as the Candi Sukuh and Angkor Wat.
  • The Sun Warrior city is based on step pyramid-style ziggurats that exist in Mesopotamian and Mesoamerican architecture.[30]
  • The Sun Warriors' dress is reminiscent of traditional Southeast Asian warrior dress, particularly the headdresses which resemble Iban feather headdresses.

Air Nomads[]

The Air Nomads are based primarily on Tibetan, Bhutanese, Nepalese, and other Himalayan cultures; as well as Shaolin Buddhism, Sri Lankan Buddhism, and some early Mongolian schools of Buddhism. Other influences are drawn from Hinduism - notably, the seven chakras.[31]

  • Many Buddhist and Hindu groups practice vegetarianism, a trademark of Air Nomad culture.[32] This did not apply to Tibetan Buddhism, which was rarely historically vegetarian.
  • The Air Nomads were a monastic culture: Their bald heads, clothing, and meditation practices closely parallel real-world Buddhist monks. All Air Nomads grew up to become monks or nuns.
  • Air Nomads live in sex segregated communities, reflecting the real-world monastic traditions of Buddhists. The Air Nomads, however, do not practise celibacy like actual Buddhist monks, despite the sex segregation. Laypeople in Air Nomad culture do not exist, unlike in real-life Buddhist nations.
  • Tibetans use a set of toys to find the next Dalai Lama, which the Air Nomads also use when looking for the new Avatar.
  • Aang's mentor was named Monk Gyatso and his son Tenzin, which form the real name of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.
  • Aang's clothing in season one and two closely resembles the saffron robes of Shaolin Monks. These were in turn based on the robes of Buddhist monks who visited from India.
  • Air Nomad culture includes the study of numerology, which mirrors that of Chinese numerology.
  • The architecture of the air temples resembles real-world brick pagodas similar to the famous "Pagoda Forest" of the Shaolin Temple in China.[33]
  • According to the art book, Bhutanese monasteries were the primary inspiration for the Western Air Temple. The style of building used for those monasteries is formally known as Dzong architecture.
  • Laghima's Peak contains a small room carved out of the rock itself, which holds an altar dedicated to Guru Laghima, as well as other statues in side niches. This was inspired by a similarly-fashioned room in Paro Taktsang, also known as Tiger's Nest, a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayan country of Bhutan.[34]
  • In season three, Aang wears clothing similar to the Dalai Lama. In Buddhist tradition, the right arm of the Dalai Lama is always kept uncovered.
  • Monk Gyatso and Aang used airbending to lightheartedly make cakes. In Tibetan Buddhism, gtor-ma cakes are sacrificial cakes used in ceremonies and play an important role in Tibetan culture. However, these cakes are usually used to appease the more wrathful of Buddhist deities.[35][36]

Martial arts[]

The four main bending styles are based almost entirely upon traditional Chinese martial arts.



Baguazhang, the basis for airbending.

The erratic, circular movements of Airbending are derived from Baguazhang, its defining characteristic is the method of stance and movement to continuously change in response to the situation at hand in order to overcome an opponent with skill rather than brute force. It is more broadly grouped as an internal practice.

Airbending is notable for being almost entirely defensive, however it is reputed to be the most dynamic of the four bending arts. Airbenders can overwhelm many opponents at once with large and powerful attacks that could prove fatal; however due to the pacifist nature of the Air Nomads such attacks are rarely used.


Tai Chi

Tai Chi, the basis for waterbending.

The slow, flowing movements of T'ai Chi are the basis of waterbending. In the real world, T'ai Chi, and the martial practice of T'ai Chi Chuan, is classified as an "internal style", which means that it emphasizes refinement and relaxation before aggression.[37] It emphasizes alignment, body structure, breath, and visualization. The combat forms of waterbending revolve around those of the Chen and Wu styles, self-defense and fighting respectively, of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.

Waterbenders have the ability to heal by using water as a catalyst for manipulating Chi paths in the body. Tai Chi is said to have many health benefits, particularly in the non-martial realm of Tai Chi Chih. This form focuses on developing and balancing one's chi.[38]


Bloodbending is based on a style of fighting called Chi Na, a technique that focuses on controlling and locking ones limbs and joints.


Hung Gar

Hung Gar, the basis for earthbending.

The firmly rooted stances and powerful strikes of Hung Gar are the basis for earthbending. In the real world, Hung Gar is an "external style", which means that its art emphasizes the use of the art for defense purposes before refinement and relaxation.

Toph's bending[]

Toph's bending is unique in that it is based on Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis instead of Hung Gar. This style, also "external", emphasizes more close-range attacks from the upper body, keeping the feet firmly on the ground or very close to it.


Northern Shaolin

Northern Shaolin kung fu, the basis for firebending.

The fast, hard, aggressive strikes of Northern Shaolin style are used for firebending. The style sacrifices defense for fierce attacks. Northern Shaolin is a complex and subtle art that retains a pure essence of structured movement and posture. In the Chinese martial art classification system, Northern Shaolin is an "external" art.

Firebending is notable for its intensive attacking style and general lack of adequate defense moves, although some notable firebenders utilize creative defensive moves. For example, Jeong Jeong can create fire walls, and Zuko can easily block and shoot down incoming objects.


As opposed to other firebending techniques, lightningbending uses movements from the Baji Quan kung fu style, which is known for its explosive, short-range power and elbow and shoulder strikes.



Main article: Boomerang

Sokka's boomerang is based on the 'returning boomerangs', one of two curved weapons used by Aboriginal Australians.[39] Other tribal groups around the world, including Native Americans and South Asians, have used boomerangs to hunt, but these boomerangs would not return to the thrower. The name 'boomerang' was used by the Turuwal people who lived in South Sydney, and is used only to refer to boomerangs which did return.[40]

Dual broadswords[]

Main article: Dual broadswords

Zuko dual-wields dao sabres, often while in his Blue Spirit persona.[41] One of the four major Chinese weapons, the dao is known as "the most reckless and daring of all weapons".[42] Unlike Sokka's space sword, Zuko's swords are like traditional dao — single handed and single edged.

Hook swords[]

Main article: Hook swords

Also known as tiger hook swords or 'Heaven and Sun Moon Sword' (乾坤日月刀), Jet's hook swords have a blade similar to that of the jian, though possibly thicker or unsharpened, with a prong or hook similar to a shepherd's crook near the tip. Guards are substantial, in the style of butterfly swords. Often used in pairs, the hooks of the weapons may be used to trap or deflect other weapons.

Space sword[]

Main article: Sokka's sword

Sokka's "space sword" is a jian (), a Chinese, double-edged straight sword. The jian has a 2,500-year history and is considered one of the major Chinese weapons. Known as "The Gentleman of Weapons" the jian is a multi-purpose weapon used for cutting, thrusting, slashing, and stabbing. One of the trademarks of Chinese wuxia storytelling, special jian swords, like Sokka's "space sword" are often featured prominently in the story.[15]

Religious influences[]


  • The word "Avatar" comes from the Sanskrit word avatāraḥ, (Sanskrit: अवतारः),[43] which means "descent". In Hindu tradition, deities manifest themselves into physical forms—or Avatars—to restore balance on earth, usually during a period of great evil.
  • In order to master the Avatar State, Aang studies the chakras with a Guru. In Hinduism and Buddhism, chakras are centers of life force and vital energy.
  • The firebending third eye of Combustion Man and P'Li resembles the third eye of Shiva, the Hindu God of Destruction in shape and design and performs a similar function as a tool of destruction.
  • The word Agni in the term Agni Kai is derived from the Sanskrit word for fire, "agniḥ" (Sanskrit: आग्निः).[44][45]
  • In the commentary for "Sozin's Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters", the creators stated that the scenes where Aang speaks to his past lives are influenced by the Hindu scripture, Bhagavad Gitā.
  • The four elements in Avatar are the same ones used in Hinduism with the exception of the fifth element, energy. In Hinduism, it is called Space or the Aether, which is close to the concept of energybending.


  • The air monks lifestyles, features, practice, and more are based upon Buddhist monks.
  • In "The Swamp", the character Huu states that he reached enlightenment under the banyan-grove tree, which is similar to Siddhārtha Gautama attaining enlightenment under the Bodhi tree to become the Buddha.[46]
  • Also stated in "Avatar Extras", Zuko's transformation in Book Two reflects as well the story of Siddhārtha Gautama.
  • Tenzin and Monk Gyatso bear the name of the current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso.
  • The process of finding a new Dalai Lama is similar to the process of discovering the Avatar. After Roku died, the Air Nomads found his reincarnation by having children pick from thousands of toys. The Avatar would pick the four that belonged to past Avatars because they were familiar to them. The same process is used in choosing a new Dalai Lama: asking questions and presenting possessions of the Dalai Lama to the candidate to see if they truly are the Dalai Lama.[47]
  • Of all the different religions that have a belief in reincarnation, the Avatar's process of reincarnation leans most closely to that of Buddhism.[48]


  • The diverse nature spirits that interact with the people of the Avatar world are reminiscent of Kami. They also resemble nature spirits worshiped by many tribal cultures.
  • Most of the "good guys" on Avatar are shown to have respect and reverence for nature. Respect of nature is one of the "four affirmations" of the Shinto spirit.[49][50]
  • The entrance gate to the Spirit Wilds in Republic City resembles the torii found in Japanese Shinto shrines. They symbolize the boundary between the mundane and the sacred.


  • While solar worship is omnipresent in the world's non-Abrahamic religions, the set of beliefs present in the Sun Warrior civilization appear to be inspired by both Hindu and Mesoamerican sun-centered beliefs. Ancient Mesoamericans depicted relevant deities as serpents, such as Tohil, one of the Mayan gods of the Sun who is depicted as a dragon,[51] and Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent who was a leading god in several indigenous societies in pre-Spanish Mexico. The style of dress and political hierarchy also follows that of the civilizations found in Mesoamerica. The concept of the sun temple and sun worship has been directly influenced by the sun temples found in India, especially Konark Sun Temple is Odisha. The connection of fire with the Sun and dragons also draws parallels to the Egyptian veneration of Wadjet and the levantine seraphs, which were originally depicted as fiery winged dragons rather than humanoid angels.


  1. 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 "In Their Elements." (September 2006) Nick Mag Presents, p. 6.
  3. The creators of The Legend of Korra look back at the prescient series. Polygon (31 August 2020). Retrieved on August 31, 2020.
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See also[]