|"Wan Shi Tong and his knowledge seekers collected books from all over the world, and put them on display for mankind to read, so that we might better ourselves."|
|— Professor Zei describing the seekers.|
The Knowledge Seekers are the fox-like spirit assistants of the knowledge spirit Wan Shi Tong, traveling the world collecting old books and parchments to contribute to the vast archives of his library. The Knowledge Seekers also help library patrons and provide assistance in finding books, but may expect treats in return.
Over the eons that the library has stood, the Knowledge Seekers have spread out across the world to collect tomes, codices, scrolls, manuscripts, and any other sources of information, establishing the library as the greatest source of knowledge in the world. Part of the reason that Wan Shi Tong first moved his library from the Spirit World to the physical world was to make it easier for the Knowledge Seekers to find and bring back learnings.
During the lifetime of Avatar Kyoshi, a daofei group known as the Paper Knives stole a tome of great importance from the library, detailing secrets of Ba Sing Se's construction. Furious by the daofei's insolence, Wan Shi Tang dispatched the Knowledge Seekers to find them and alert the Avatar. Unfortunately, Kyoshi did not understand what was in the tome and had no time to rescue a book, as she was dealing with many other crises, and set the task of book recovery to friends and allies, who handed the task down to a group of companions.
When the Hundred Year War began, the Knowledge Seekers tried to preserve as many cultural artifacts as they could, but they could only do so much when so much knowledge was squandered in such a dark and chaotic time. After the Air Nomad Genocide, a group of Knowledge Seekers went to the ruins of the Northern Air Temple, and stole away an ancient airbender training tool from a group of Fire Nation soldiers in the night, who were ready to destroy it. They took the Air Nomad artifact back to the library, where it was successfully preserved. Later in the war, a Knowledge Seeker successfully ranged very far south in the world and found knowledge that seemed very valuable: hidden maps that lay out the locations of hidden Southern Water Tribe villages, hand-made by the sailor-cartographer Quniaq. The Knowledge Seeker took the maps from the village to bring them back to the library.
When Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, Appa, and Professor Zei found a large tower in the middle of the Si Wong Desert, they were unaware that they were looking at the top of Wan Shi Tong's Library until, a Knowledge Seeker suddenly appeared over a dune while carried a scroll in its mouth. It approached the building and scaled the walls without effort, entering through a small window at the top of the tower, which made the group realize they weren't looking at an ordinary tower; but the spirit library which they had been searching for.
Inside the library when Aang, Sokka, and Katara discovered the remains of an old piece of paper that mentioned "The Darkest Day in Fire Nation History", one of the Knowledge Seekers led them to an ancient mechanical calendar that depicted the movements of the heavenly bodies and showed them how it worked. After entering the date from the parchment into the calendar, they discovered that a solar eclipse occurred on "the darkest day". Using this information, Sokka deduced that firebenders lose their bending during a solar eclipse. In return for its help, Sokka gave the "fox guy" a treat.
The Knowledge Seekers continued to inhabit the library after it was returned to the Spirit World, and kept up their task of retrieving new information for their master, finding their way back to the physical world to continue to add to the collection. After the Hundred Year War, the Knowledge Seekers were sent to Cranefish Town by Wan Shi Tong after they heard rumors of a wondrous ancient tome hidden within the city, though these claims had been exaggerated by the scholar Ruiquan Shiang, who was jealous of the academic accomplishments of her older sister. The Knowledge Seekers began causing all sorts of mischief through the city after they arrived.
Jinora arrived at the library in 171 AG, seeking information on the location of the spirit portals. Though Wan Shi Tong did not believe a little girl could provide any new information, Jinora quickly explained the inner workings of the radio, contradicting a seeker's claim that a man resided within a tiny box, singing and playing musical instruments. Wan Shi Tong glared at the seeker who brought this misinformation, prompting it to bow its head and walk away in shame. After the owl spirit granted Jinora permission to remain in the library, she went looking for a map to the spirit portals. After looking through a number of volumes without success, she asked a nearby Knowledge Seeker for assistance, and the spirit promptly retrieved a book for her on the Harmonic Convergence. Realizing the tome was the one she needed, Jinora stroked the Knowledge Seeker on its head and thanked it for its help.
Wan Shi Tong decided to reopen his library to humans in the wake of Harmonic Convergence, as mortals could physically enter the Spirit World after Avatar Korra decided to keep the spirit portals open. Part of the reason was that Wan Shi Tong realized that the Knowledge Seekers had only discovered a few of the incredible advances that humans had made in the decades since he closed the library.
The Knowledge Seekers bear a resemblance to the real-world fox, but without the whiskers. It has four long legs, a triangle-shaped snout, and a tail. It has brown fur with a brighter patch of fur below its mouth, at the end of its tail, on its forelegs, and posterior body. Its eyes are black and narrow, or bright blue without pupils. They have an inherently keen sense of where to preserve knowledge, and can easily pass between the Spirit World and the physical world.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Book Two: Earth (土)
- 210. "The Library"
The Legend of Korra
Book Two: Spirits (神靈)
- The Knowledge Seekers are similar to the Korean nine-tailed fox or kumiho, which is said to be a mystical creature that brought books to the king in a golden age, as well as to the Japanese kitsune fox spirits, which serve the deity Inari. Like the Knowledge Seekers, kitsune also "sought knowledge" and were said to earn multiple tails as they gain more knowledge.
- Designed by Angela Song Mueller, these spirits were inspired by her Shiba Inu, Sophie, albeit with much longer legs, which come in handy for reaching high library shelves. For The Legend of Korra, Bryan Konietzko instructed to Song to give the creatures haunting cyan eyes so that they would have a more "spirit-like apperance".
- Avatar Kyoshi's animal guide was a fox spirit that resembled a Knowledge Seeker.
- O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 14, 2006). "The Library". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
- From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Creature: Knowledge Seekers.
- Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 6.
- Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 15.
- Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 116.
- Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 7.
- Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 8, 2013). "A New Spiritual Age". The Legend of Korra. Book Two: Spirits. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
- Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (November 22, 2013). "Darkness Falls". The Legend of Korra. Book Two: Spirits. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
- The Legend of Korra—The Art of the Animated Series, Book Two: Spirits, page 122.
- Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Twenty-Seven, "The Meeting". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.