|"Only justice will bring peace."|
|— Kyoshi advising Aang.|
Kyoshi was the Earth Kingdom-born Avatar immediately succeeding Avatar Kuruk of the Northern Water Tribe, and preceding Avatar Roku of the Fire Nation. She died at the age of 230, making her the oldest confirmed human, and was also an exceptionally tall woman, towering over most people. Kyoshi was born to two criminals: Jesa, a renegade Air Nomad nun, and Hark, a thief from an impoverished family of Earth Kingdom actors. She inherited her later signature outfit from her parents, adopting her mother's golden headdress and metal war fans and her father's daofei face paint.
Kyoshi had a difficult early life. Abandoned by her parents, she barely survived as a homeless orphan until being rescued by Kelsang who became her de facto adoptive father. She was also not recognized as Avatar until she was sixteen; instead, her friend Yun was declared the Avatar. When the truth about her identity was revealed, Kyoshi's world was thrown into chaos. Yun was sacrificed to a monstrous spirit, and Kelsang was murdered as he attempted to defend her from Jianzhu, Yun's former master and the Earth Kingdom's de facto ruler. Fearful and desperate for revenge against Jianzhu, Kyoshi fled with her other friend, Rangi, and joined her parents' old criminal gang, the Flying Opera Company. With these unlikely allies, Kyoshi consequently traveled the Earth Kingdom and became involved in the criminal underworld while being chased by Jianzhu. After a series of tribulations and personal losses, Kyoshi forged a close bond with her criminal associates, entered into a romantic relationship with Rangi, and helped to eliminate Jianzhu.
In the following years, Kyoshi struggled to find popular acceptance as Avatar and keep the Earth Kingdom stable as Jianzhu's death resulted in tensions and a leadership vacuum. Kyoshi saw the end of the Camellia-Peony War in the Fire Nation, and later dealt with her friend Yun, who had been corrupted by his desire for vengeance against everyone who had lied about his Avatarhood.
These experiences greatly shaped her world view and approach to her role as Avatar. Unlike her successors, Roku and Aang, Kyoshi was determined that only true justice could bring peace and had fewer qualms about killing enemies to achieve this goal if necessary. Employing these methods, she was a generally effective Avatar. She prevented the resurgence of the disastrous Yellow Neck Uprising, stopped Fire Lord Zoryu from massacring the disgraced Saowon clan, defeated an attempted armed takeover of the Earth Kingdom by Chin the Conqueror, founded Kyoshi Island and the Kyoshi Warriors to keep her adopted homeland safe, and helped to reform the Earth Kingdom into a constitutional monarchy. In her later life, she maintained peace between the fifty-five states of the Earth Kingdom and helped implement policies to uplift the poorest and most disadvantaged, and saw the Earth Sages redeemed from a corrupt group of politicians to an order of wise advisors and academics. Living for more than two centuries, Kyoshi led the world into an unprecedented time of peace.
However, some of her actions also caused long-term problems for the Earth Kingdom: The deaths of Jianzhu, as well as Chin and her foundation of the Dai Li, would lead to the decline and eventual fall of her home country in the centuries following her lifetime. After her death, the Dai Li obeyed Earth King Jialun's orders to purge the sages who attempted to maintain Kyoshi's policies of peace and prosperity. Because of this, Kyoshi came to deeply regret the creation of the Dai Li.
Kyoshi was born in the year 312 BG somewhere in the Earth Kingdom. Her exact birthplace was unknown even to her. At the time of her birth, the country was destabilized by the Yellow Neck Uprising and marauding bandit groups known as daofei. One of the most powerful crime networks, the Flying Opera Company, was led by Kyoshi's parents, Jesa and Hark. Her parenthood was unusual, as her mother Jesa was a renegade Air Nomad nun, whereas her father Hark descended from a distinguished but impoverished line of Earth Kingdom actors. Following Kyoshi's birth, her parents opted to lay low and mostly refrained from participating in criminal activities. Along with their daughter, they traveled all across the Earth Kingdom in a wagon, never staying in one place for a long time.
When Kyoshi was five or six, however, her parents decided to leave her in the care of a villager at Yokoya Port, an impoverished community of farmers and fishers located on a peninsula at the Whaletail Strait in the southwestern Earth Kingdom. They left her a chest with Jesa's signature metal fans, as well as a journal that contained information about the daofei and their customs. When her parents had departed, the villager immediately reneged on the deal, casting Kyoshi out onto the streets. As they were mostly poor themselves, the people of Yokoya had little sympathy for her and would have left her to die of hunger. Homeless and reduced to starvation, Kyoshi survived by eating garbage, making her even more of an outcast among the Yokoyans. Kyoshi later blamed her parents for her misfortune, and came to hate them as well as all criminals in general. Nevertheless, she grew extraordinarily tall, and was already taller than many teenagers at age seven.
By chance, Yokoya was visited by Jianzhu and Kelsang in 305 BG. The two masters had been traveling the Earth Kingdom for seven years to find the Avatar. They presented the children of Yokoya with a test that included toys that had belonged to past Air Nomad Avatars, but all failed. Kyoshi spied on the event, and Kelsang invited her to pick the toys despite Jianzhu's objection that she was probably too old to be the Avatar. Though mistrustful, she took a clay turtle that had belonged to a past Avatar. When Kelsang told her that she could take three more toys to confirm whether she was the Avatar, Kyoshi believed this to be a lie or trick, not used to kindness, and inherently regarding promises of fortune as dangerous. As a result, the young girl fled with the clay turtle instead of partaking in the test. The two masters let her go, and went on to falsely identify an Earth Kingdom boy named Yun as the Avatar.
Life as a servant
Having realized that none of the Yokoyans were helping Kyoshi, Kelsang sought out her hiding place in the village and took her into his care. Used to being mistreated, the young girl was initially reluctant to trust the Air Nomad monk, but when she understood that he was honest, Kyoshi was overwhelmed by the Air Nomad's kindness, and came to see him as her adoptive father. Kelsang always provided for Kyoshi when he was in Yokoya, but often had to leave the village for long periods of time, during which he provided money to various farming families to look after her until he returned. Once, he returned to find she had lost weight and had not been taken care of properly, he promised Kyoshi that he would never leave her for such a long period of time again, which is when he got Jianzhu to grant her a position of work in the Avatar mansion that was being built to accommodate Yun's trainers and entourage. While the construction of the Avatar mansion was still ongoing, Kyoshi met Rangi, a firebender who had been appointed Yun's bodyguard, and who soon started to regularly yell at Kyoshi and order her around. After a few weeks, Kyoshi realized that the firebender expressed some emotions in a particular way; yelling at people meant that she liked them. The two subsequently became good friends.
As a result of Kyoshi's desire for organization and cleanliness, the staff eventually decided that her talents would best be put to use cleaning up after Yun as his servant, as he tended to leave quite a mess wherever he went. She also would help out in the kitchen and sort through gifts sent to the Avatar from time to time. Enjoying her life at the mansion, Kyoshi fully adopted it as her home. Though she always remained somewhat apart from the rest of the staff due to her background and friendship with Rangi (who treated the other servants with open disdain), Kyoshi cared for the other staff members and had a good working relationship with several of them. Despite her greatly improved livelihood and overall situation, Kyoshi continued to face occasional harassment by local youngsters, most prominently by Aoma, the daughter of Yokoya's village captain, who along with her companions was jealous of Kyoshi's comparably better life as well as her proximity to the Avatar, despite being an orphan and outsider, while they had to toil on their parents' fields and fishing boats. Despite this, Kyoshi preferred to adhere to neutral jing and endure the bullying rather than strike back, although she was physically strong enough to do so. She also held almost no grudges against the Yokoyans who ill-treated her as a child and teenager. Once, when Rangi plotted to aid her in getting revenge on Aoma, Kyoshi even cautioned against it. Her rejection of violence included the use of her own earthbending abilities. She was only able to bend very large pieces of earth without any precision; regarding these abilities as useless for her servant job, Kyoshi rejected Kelsang's urgings to get training and generally refrained from using her bending at all.
Over time, Yun, Rangi, and Kyoshi grew increasingly close, the presumed Avatar and the servant girl in particular spending much time together. One of Kyoshi's duties would be to help Yun sort through the many gifts sent to him by officials and sages from around the Earth Kingdom. One night while sorting through them, Yun placed his head in her lap as the two joked around. The two of them nearly kissed but stopped themselves before it happened, believing that a relationship would be impossible due to their different social stations and duties. Neither of them mentioned this incident again, but whenever Yun saw fire lilies he would look back and forth between them and Kyoshi until she smiled and blushed.
- Main article: History of Kyoshi (296 BG)
Kyoshi's life drastically changed in 296 BG. Kelsang began to suspect that she might be the actual Avatar, although Kyoshi considered the assumption ridiculous. The monk initially agreed to not voice his assumptions publicly. Kyoshi consequently joined Yun's team as he ventured to an iceberg near the South Pole, where the treaty was supposed to be signed with a pirate people known as the Fifth Nation. For this occasion, Jianzhu provided Kyoshi with an impressive green, armored kimono that later became part of her iconic look.
In course of the tense, two-day long negotiations with the pirates, Kyoshi grew closer to Rangi but remained otherwise a mere onlooker. When Fifth Nation leader Tagaka revealed that the meeting was trap to capture the Avatar, however, Yun was only saved thanks to Kyoshi's intervention. Using a combination of raw power and the Avatar State, she destroyed much of the Fifth Nation fleet in an amazing feat of earthbending. This event caused Kelsang to reveal his belief in Kyoshi's Avatarhood to others. With the identity of the Avatar being called into question, Jianzhu tried to learn the truth by presenting Kyoshi and Yun to an evil spirit known as "Father Glowworm" in the southeastern Earth Kingdom. The creature identified Kyoshi as the true Avatar. To her shock and horror, Jianzhu then left Yun to the spirit's wrath while taking Kyoshi to safety. Shortly after, Kelsang unexpectedly arrived and tried to rescue her, only to be murdered by Jianzhu. Overcome with emotions, Kyoshi triggered the Avatar State and was able to flee back to the Avatar mansion. There, she revealed the events to Rangi who vowed to protect her from then on. The two consequently escaped into the inner Earth Kingdom on Kelsang's flying bison Pengpeng.
The two tracked down the Flying Opera Company, joining them to be safe from Jianzhu. Kyoshi quickly deduced that one gang member, Lao Ge, was an infamous assassin. He agreed to be become her teacher in spirituality and assassination. Despite hiding their true identities, she and Rangi also gradually formed bonds with the other gang members, Kirima, Wong, and Lek. Traveling with the criminals, Kyoshi ended up in the daofei town of Hujiang, where the Flying Opera Company was forced to agree to assist a more powerful crime network, the Autumn Bloom Society led by Mok. While staying at Hujiang, Kyoshi realized that she was in love with Rangi; to her relief, the firebender shared her feelings. After fleeing Hujiang due to an attack by a shirshu sent by Jianzhu, Kyoshi was forced to reveal her true identity to the rest of the gang. To her pleasant surprise, the criminals refused to abandon her, considering her a comrade and friend. Kyoshi then earnestly began her training, being taught firebending by Rangi, waterbending by Kirima, and earthbending by Wong as well as Lek. Lao Ge also continued to share his knowledge, including his self-proclaimed method to achieve immortality.
After several weeks of preparation, the Flying Opera Company travelled to Zigan Village. There, the group was supposed to help the Autumn Bloom in rescuing a prisoner from the dungeons of the corrupt Governor Te Sihung. To test her mettle, Lao Ge secretly enlisted Kyoshi to also murder Te. The operation succeeded in freeing the prisoner, although Kyoshi to spare Te's life after threatening him into becoming a better official. To the Flying Opera Company's shock, however, the freed prisoner turned out to be Xu Ping An, a mass-murdering and deranged rebel leader. Xu promptly declared the Yellow Necks restored, and prepared to restart his destructive insurgency. Realizing that she could not allow Xu to walk free, Kyoshi challenged him to a lei tai duel. The duel almost resulted in Kyoshi's death, as Xu turned out to be a powerful lightningbender. However, Kyoshi eventually entered the Avatar State and killed Xu. The Yellow Necks consequently scattered, while Kyoshi's friends nursed her back to health. However, Jianzhu had finally located her and ambushed the Flying Opera Company, kidnapping Rangi and inadvertently causing Lek's death.
Vowing revenge, Kyoshi confronted Jianzhu at Qinchao Village. After a tense conversation and Kyoshi's refusal to become the sage's pupil, the two started to duel. They proved to be evenly matched until Yun unexpectedly reappeared, ruthlessly killing Jianzhu before leaving without another word. Kyoshi then fled the town, leaving its inhabitants - the Chin clan - furious at the destruction caused by the duel with Jianzhu. Kyoshi subsequently reunited with the Lao Ge, Kirima, and Wong who had rescued Rangi in the meantime. The group decided to split up, with Kyoshi venturing to the Southern Air Temple in order to safely reveal her identity as the Avatar to the public.
Revealing herself to the world
After revealing herself as the Avatar to the Air Nomads, Kuruk appeared to Kyoshi in a vision, pleading for her help. Kyoshi did not fully connect with him, however, leaving the content of his request vague. She also learned that Jianzhu had left all his lands and wealth to her in his testament. Over the course of the next months, Kyoshi began to assume her Avatar duties. Before she left the Southern Air Temple, Jinpa was assigned to the Avatar as her personal secretary by the Council of Elders. He subsequently became her confidant and friend, although their working relationship was often strained due to Kyoshi's unwillingness to do what was expected of her: namely, to aid and work with the four nations' elites, despite many of them being corrupt as well as self-serving. Kyoshi found it difficult to be an approachable or diplomatic Avatar and failed to hide her disgust at the Earth Kingdom's rampant corruption. As she could not solve issues by talking, Kyoshi tended to resort to force and manipulation to carry out justice. She could do so, as her abilities as bender and strategist grew steadily, also thanks due to her studying the writings of her old nemesis Jianzhu.
Feeling unable to properly influence the Earth Kingdom's elites, Kyoshi eventually launched a one-person crusade against the Earth Kingdom's worst daofei groups, destroying several. She also searched for Yun, but found no trace of him. Overall, her demeanor and opinions alienated many members of the country's elite, while the common people came to fear her. To Kyoshi's own unease, she increasingly employed tactics similar to those of Jianzhu, and began to feel deeply conflicted about her way to do things as the Avatar.
- Main article: History of Kyoshi (295 BG)
By 295 BG, Kyoshi was in Ba Sing Se, where she defeated Mok and the Triad of the Golden Wing, as well as rooting out the corruption of the city's peace officers. She decided to pause her work in the Earth Kingdom when Jinpa notified her that Rangi and Hei-Ran has returned to the Fire Nation. As she journeyed to the capital, she began to confide in Jinpa about her recurring visions of Kuruk, after an intense pain caused her to fall into the Mo Ce Sea. Kyoshi arrived in the Fire Nation, where she was formally greeted by Chancellor Dairin, and used the opportunity to grow close with Rangi again. Kyoshi's appearance at the festival seemed to prove a catalyst for the political tensions in the unstable Fire Nation after she confused Chaejin for his half-brother Zoryu, the rightful Fire Lord. Although Hei-Ran helped Kyoshi smooth over tensions in the palace, the event was plunged into further chaos with the shocking appearance of Yun, who held the attendees hostage by burying half of their bodies in the floor with his earthbending. Yun managed to assassinate Lu Beifong, as well as killing Dairin and injuring his guards when they tried to confront him. As the earthbender managed to flee the scene, Kyoshi was left to deal with the political implications of the evening, as Chaejin's faction and the Saowon clan would use it as a sign to prove the weakness of a Fire Lord whose reign had been plagued with bad luck.
Kyoshi and her allies came to the conclusion that Yun was likely possessed from his experience with Father Glowworm. Hei-Ran advised that they seek out Nyahitha, an old ally of Kuruk and herself. Shortly before they left for North Chung-Ling, Hei-Ran ritualistically cut her top-knot to demonstrate her lost honor, and made Kyoshi promise to allow her to sacrifice herself for Yun. When they arrived, Nyahitha told Kyoshi that he did not know what the spirit had done to Yun, but promised that he could help her commune with Kuruk. The group also bore witness to the escalating tensions between the clans in the Fire Nation, giving them a sense of urgency to resolve the conflict before the nation descended into civil war. That evening, Kyoshi and Nyahitha reached a bluff in the hills where Kuruk had once meditated, and she experienced a vision of Kuruk mastering the elements, although the memories did not provide her any help for what she should do with Yun. As they looked down on the city, the pair were shocked to find a large message supporting Chaejin as Fire Lord, which caused the rival clans to start descending into a brawl in the village square. Although Kyoshi tried to intervene and beg for peace, she began to realize that the battle was proving to be a distraction, and returned to Hei-Ran's lodgings just as Yun was ready to stab Hei-Ran through the throat. Although Hei-Ran managed to badly burn Yun, he still escaped, and Kyoshi chose to have the headmistress brought to her doctor, Atuat, instead of leaving to follow after him.
As Hei-Ran healed, Kyoshi found that Rangi was now furious with her after discovering Kyoshi's promise to sacrifice Hei-Ran, though she soon showed that she still truly loved and cared for Kyoshi. Hei-Ran and Kyoshi then noted that the fight in the square would be a pretense for war. Kyoshi deduced that Yun was working with the Saowon, as she confirmed that the town's crops that spelled out the message had been poisoned with salt, which was now owned by Lady Huazo of that clan. Kyoshi then made a plan to force a confession from Huazo, and came to the docks with Atuat, where she apprehended the noblewoman before she was due to depart Shuhon Island, although the woman agreed with her terms, believing that the Avatar was making a huge mistake. Kyoshi did not inform Rangi of her plans, and instead lightly pushed her down in the ground before she left so that her lover could not come after her and stop her plans. Jinpa and Kyoshi flew Huazo to an Avatar-owned safe house on Capital Island, before taking off and informing Zoryu of the situation. Although the Fire Lord was shocked, he gave her his permission to kidnap Chaejin. When she flew back to the safe house with Chaejin, she bent away the foundations of the property and intimidated the pair into revealing Yun's location; when they refused to answer, she threatened to drop both of them into the sea. After Kuruk's voice reminded her that going this far was not who she was, she realized that both of them were truly innocent, and let the pair go free.
When Kyoshi returned to the palace, she bore witness to an assembly in the Fire Lord's private theater, where a double of Yun confessed to conspiring with the Saowon clan, ruining the honor of the Fire Lord's rival clan and causing an immediate purge of the Saowon to break out across the nation. In a private conversation with the Fire Lord, she pointed out that the ruse would be exposed if the real Yun showed up, and the Fire Lord agreed, stating that he had bought the Avatar more time to find the real Yun. In return for apprehending the real Yun, Kyoshi demanded that the Saowon and false Yun should be spared from death. Before dismissing the Avatar, Zoryu advised her to accept the truth that he was driven by revenge for his stolen Avatarhood. Kyoshi then departed the capital on a small royal pleasure craft, Sulan's Smile, ordering the crew to take her to the ruins of Yangchen's island in the Mo Ce Sea. Although she almost drowned in the sea water, Kyoshi managed to cross over to the Spirit World, where she had an emotional meeting with Kuruk. She received an extensive vision of his life, and realized that his own life had been shortened by his quest to hunt down dark spirits. Kuruk also informed her that spirits could not possess humans, and that Yun had been acting out of his own accord the entire time during his quest for vengeance. In the physical world, she was dragged out of the sea water by Joonho and his crew, saving her life.
After spending a month learning advanced healing arts from Atuat, Kyoshi made her way to Yokoya, meeting Yun in the Avatar mansion. After excusing Mui, Kyoshi confronted Yun, telling him that she had to bring him to justice for the sake of the world. Yun refused to be locked up by Kyoshi, and started the fight by bending up a stone pillar between the pair. Kyoshi managed to rip up the dining room in the fight, but Yun escaped the area and hid himself from Kyoshi throughout the rest of the estate. Kyoshi was caught off guard when Yun managed to liquefy the stone floor without heat to trap and encase Kyoshi, but then she revealed that the rest of the Flying Opera Company had come with her. Wong bent her out of the trap while Kirima attacked Yun, while Rangi sent a violent blast of fire in Yun's direction. After Yun hurled stone spears to fend off a potential rescue by Jinpa, he broke Kirima and Wong's legs by creating pitfalls when they tried to sneak up on him. After crudely using blood to complete their signature makeup, Kyoshi and Rangi used fire to destroy Yun's earth barriers, though Yun tunnelled down and stabbed Rangi with an earthen spike. Kyoshi attempted to apologize to Yun when he began to chastize her, but he made use of the opportunity to freeze Yun's heart and lungs when she could get close to him, while immediately turning back to Rangi and using the Avatar State to heal her grievous wounds. After Atuat came to the peninsula to give more specialist care to Kyoshi's wounded friends, she buried Yun in Yokoya, and held a small funeral with Rangi, where they promised to stay beside one another forever. At that moment, a fox guided Kyoshi to a forest spring, where she met with Yangchen for the first time. The previous Avatar explained her own failings to Kyoshi, and that every Avatar had to make the right decisions for themselves. After the meetings, the fox guided Kyoshi back to her friends, and later became her animal guide.
Following her battle with Yun, she sent Lao Ge to intimidate Zoryu into keeping his promise to spare the Saowon and the false Yun. Despite the turmoil in her personal life, Avatar Kyoshi remained steadfast in her mission to see the four nations rise above the conflicts plaguing them. She was not a popular Avatar at the time, as her closest allies were daofei and she sometimes fumbled in diplomatic situations without hesitating to resort to violence.
Maintaining order in Ba Sing Se
Kyoshi returned to Ba Sing Se soon after the Camellia-Peony War, and over the next two years, she helped establish a task force which swiftly dealt with the most dangerous daofei and violent criminals in the Lower Ring of Ba Sing Se. Kyoshi received support from Ambassador Quin of the Fire Nation in this endeavor, and the ambassador convinced the Earth King Yi Ming to officially adopt the task force. Kyoshi was needed elsewhere, and left Rangi in Ba Sing Se to keep an eye on things, while the task force was given over to the control of the Earth King. Soon after Kyoshi left, the Earth King began to use the task force to threaten criminals who stood in the way of his power. When Ambassador Quin's children were kidnapped, Rangi saw the turmoil growing in the city, and worried that things would turn violent, and left the city to inform Kyoshi of the situation.
During this time, Kyoshi was contacted by Wan Shi Tong, a spirit who kept a vast library of knowledge. The spirit's Knowledge Seekers informed the Avatar that a daofei group known as the Paper Knives had stolen a tome of great value and importance. Kyoshi did not fully understand what was in the book, and she had no time to rescue a book when she was dealing with people and their lives. She ultimately set the task to recover the book to her friends and allies, who turned to their contacts.
Establishing the Kyoshi Warriors
Kyoshi also did not hide her bisexuality and attempted to effect greater tolerance for non-heterosexual people in the notoriously conservative Earth Kingdom. Nevertheless, these efforts had little impact. When she visited the ports of her adopted homeland peninsula, she constantly had to put carousing men in their place after they caused trouble to the female villagers. Eventually, she decided to train the women in defensive combat so that they could defend themselves. These women later formed the first band of the Kyoshi Warriors.
Stopping Chin the Conqueror
During Kyoshi's life, the 46th Earth King's rule was unpopular among the populace of the Earth Kingdom. Using this to his advantage, a warlord named Chin launched a war to conquer the continent. He was successful until he reached the peninsula where Kyoshi lived, finding the Avatar waiting for him. Standing before his army, Chin demanded their immediate surrender, and Kyoshi warned him that she would not sit idly by as he took her home. When he refused to back down and assumed a challenging earthbending stance, she unfurled one of her fans and fired a powerful air blast at him, leaving the humiliated warlord down to his underwear. Kyoshi subsequently entered the Avatar State and separated the peninsula from the mainland by using a combination of earthbending, lavabending, and airbending, forming Kyoshi Island and thereby protecting her homeland from subsequent threats. An indignant Chin was left standing on the edge of the newly-formed cliff, which began to crumble beneath his feet and, as he refused to budge from his unstable position, caused him to fall into the sea and drown, ending his campaign and ushering the world into a great era of peace. Though Kyoshi was only tangentially responsible for Chin's death, she herself saw little difference between causing the circumstances of his death and actually striking him down, and would claim to have personally killed him for generations afterward.
Because of Kyoshi's act, the people of Chin Village on the mainland founded Avatar Day to vilify Kyoshi, and all succeeding Avatars, for the death of their leader. The people of Kyoshi Island, meanwhile, founded "Kyoshi Day" on the same day as Avatar Day, to honor her creation of the island and the restoration of peace to their village. They also erected a large totem, topped with a statue of Kyoshi in her memory.
History with the 46th Earth King
Sometime after her final confrontation with Chin, Kyoshi was summoned to Ba Sing Se upon the request of the Earth King, since his unpopular rule had led to a peasant uprising in the city. By the time Kyoshi reached the city, the peasants had already destroyed everything that represented the "old government", including ancient and valuable artifacts that held historical and cultural importance. The King demanded that she stop the uprising by whatever means necessary. However, Kyoshi staunchly refused, stating that it would not be right for her to do so. Incensed by her defiance, the Earth King ordered his guards to arrest her. However, the King was left cowering on his throne as Kyoshi dispatched his guards in a single move and admonished him in turn for daring to defy the Avatar. Held at the point of Kyoshi's war fan, the quivering monarch agreed to a compromise: the Earth King would give the peasants a voice in his ruling, while Kyoshi, in turn, agreed to protect Ba Sing Se's cultural heritage from further desecration. She proceeded to train an elite platoon of earthbenders called the Dai Li, though their subsequent corruption weighed heavily on Kyoshi in her afterlife.
In her later life, the Earth Kingdom entered an age of peace and prosperity. Kyoshi helped implement various bureaucratic policies to aid the poorest of the kingdom, and strengthened ties between the fifty-five states of the Earth Kingdom. The constitution that she drafted with the 46th Earth King was upheld by her for nearly two hundred years until her death. The Earth Sages that had once been against her began to seek redemption after their order embarassed and diminished, and they began to regain the people's trust they had lost, embracing their true role as wise advisors and academics. Many young people in the Earth Kingdom looked to Kyoshi and idolized her, such as princess Guo Xun of Omashu, who later became the city's queen.
Kyoshi died in the year 82 BG at the age of 230, making her the oldest confirmed Avatar and human in history, though some other individuals were rumored to have lived even longer. It is possible that Kyoshi learned the secret of immortality from her spiritual teacher, Lao Ge. Her daughter Koko succeeded her as the leader of Kyoshi Island, and she reincarnated as the Fire Nation noble, Roku.
Following her death, Kyoshi became a legend and was considered one of the greatest Avatars. The devotion to her memory was strongest in her adopted homeland, as wooden statues of Avatar Kyoshi were erected in every village of Kyoshi Island, and a shrine dedicated to her was erected in Suki's village, displaying the late Avatar's outfit and war fans. Over time, some villages on Kyoshi Island began to believe that they should limit contact with the outside world to a minimum, interpreting Kyoshi splitting off the island as a "mandate" for isolation.[nb 2] However, other communities on the island continued to trade with the Earth Kingdom.
Serving the world as the Avatar for over two centuries, Kyoshi led the four nations into an unprecedented time of peace and prosperity. Soon after her death, the world was on the brink of a technological renaissance and industrial revolution, which was made possible by the phenomenon of international collaboration fostered by business and academia to solve the most pressing issues of their day, with technological institutes springing up across the world, and scholars, inventors, and educators directly forging ties with one another in the name of progress. However, materials for these new technologies were scarce, and complex political circumstances and the ambitious leadership of many world leaders after Kyoshi's death meant that the nations began to compete with one another over resources.
The peace she had maintained throughout the Earth Kingdom was maintained for a time by the Earth Sages after her death, who strove to uphold her policies and the constitution, and continued to lecture on how they could benefit the poorest of society. However, the death of Kyoshi allowed Earth King Jialun to begin manipulating the constitution. The Earth Sages were confident in speaking against the king's corruption, but this led to a mass purge orchestrated by the king and the Dai Li, known as the Night of Silenced Sages. The peace that Kyoshi had maintained in her homeland was thus entirely undone by the time that her successor, Avatar Roku, was a young man, with the Earth Kingdom suffering once more under a greedy and exceedingly calculating Earth King.
In the centuries after her death, several details of Kyoshi's life faded out of public memory. Most notably, it became a point of pride for Kyoshi Islanders to attribute her birthplace to the locality, and one of her successors, Avatar Aang, also falsely believed that she had been born in the area that later became Kyoshi Island. The Avatar's relationship with Rangi also faded out of public knowledge in some villages on the island.
Kyoshi's attraction to both men and women was known to some people centuries after her death, including Kya, who relayed the Avatar's preferences as well as her failure to establish lasting change and tolerance toward such relationships in her home nation to Avatar Korra and her girlfriend, Asami Sato.
Appearances in Avatar Aang's life
During his trip to Kyoshi Island, Aang observed the statue erected in her honor. She thereafter appeared in a vision as the most recent Earth Kingdom Avatar when Avatar Roku was explaining the nature of the Avatar State to Aang. Kyoshi later manifested herself through Aang to testify in a trial proving the Avatar's innocence, though she confessed to killing Chin while doing so.
When helping Aang to reconnect with her and his other predecessors after being shot down by Azula's lightning, she apologized to him for the wrongful murder charge in Chin Village and explained that after Chin's demise, she helped the world live in balance; she accomplished a lot of good but also made mistakes, one of which was the creation of the Dai Li, as she could never have foreseen how corrupt and cruel they would become. Kyoshi imparted Aang with the wisdom that all of their actions have consequences, even if they do not manifest in their own lifetime, and sent him to find her predecessor.
Before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Aang summoned Kyoshi's spirit, seeking advice on how to defeat Phoenix King Ozai without killing him. Kyoshi reminded him that her forceful ending of Chin the Conqueror's war for dominance brought a great era of peace. Aang pointed out that she was not directly responsible for Chin's death, arguing that it was a result of his own arrogance. Kyoshi replied that she saw no difference in this, and told him that she would have done anything to stop Chin. She left Aang, telling him that only justice would bring peace. Aang regretted consulting Kyoshi on this complex matter after hearing her advice.
While Aang was trying to establish contact with Avatar Yangchen for a solution to the situation with General Old Iron, Kyoshi appeared in a vision which represented Aang's restored connection to his past lives after restoring his link with Roku. Despite his displeasure with her advice to kill Ozai, Aang nonetheless greeted her cheerfully before moving on.
Appearances in Avatar Korra's life
Kyoshi, alongside many other past Avatars, appeared to Korra after she had lost her bending to Amon. This appearance was representative of Korra's ability to establish a connection with her spiritual side and for the purpose of having her bending restored.
After Korra had lost her memory, Kyoshi appeared before her, taking over from Avatar Roku, and informed the young Avatar that if she did not reconnect with her Avatar Spirit, darkness would engulf the world and she would die, ending the era of the Avatar.
While Unalaq was attacking Raava, Korra envisioned Kyoshi as part of the Avatar lineup, which she had seen prior to regaining her bending; however, the latter's connection to Korra was severed due to Unalaq's assault on and subsequent destruction of the light spirit.
Appearance in Suki's life
When Suki despaired in her cell in the Boiling Rock after being released from solitary confinement and Biyu's treachery, a vision of Kyoshi appeared before her. Kyoshi told her that her friends had not abandoned her and that she was not alone. In disbelief, Suki asked how she could know and reached out to the Avatar, but Kyoshi quickly vanished.
Kyoshi's life and personality were marked by her struggle with herself and as the Avatar. She was naturally empathic, considerate, trusting, level-headed, and hard-working. As result of her difficult early life, she suffered from low self-esteem in puberty and continued to constantly doubt her capabilities and goodness as a person after announcing her position as Avatar.
Inclined to endure hardship with stoicism instead of fighting back and having been raised with few positive social contacts, Kyoshi often struggled to manage situations proactively and failed to properly read people. As such, she tended to use force to solve problems, despite her low opinion of violence. Overall, she had a very strong sense of justice, influenced by her early life, and little patience for those who caused suffering just to benefit themselves. She could always tell right from wrong, and her experiences with poverty led her to be fiercely determined to stop people in power from abusing their position. Her ultimate drive was to maintain balance by any means necessary.
Kyoshi usually hid her self-doubts and compassion behind an image of righteous fierceness to fulfill her duties as the Avatar, showing her loving and friendly side only to those with whom she was close. To those she did not know, she came across as direct, fierce, and assertive, and made her voice heard no matter what her internal feelings might have been. In private, she could become easily flustered and was the more passive part in her relationship with Rangi. In addition, Kyoshi had a strong affinity for order and cleanliness due to her background, as she had to live in dirt and amid garbage as a child.
Faced with the world's harsh realities and after being repeatedly disappointed by political elites, Kyoshi gradually became more determined and grim when dealing with opponents. When truly convinced that someone was utterly corrupt or evil, she had few qualms about ending their lives to save those of others. Although she never became completely ruthless, her way of doing things as the Avatar was strongly influenced by Jianzhu as well as Lao Ge. Kyoshi thus had few qualms about using her powers and enforce her will, openly threatening powerful people like Fire Lord Zoryu or the 46th Earth King. She often took risks and seized the moment, being an Avatar of action and acting decisively and swiftly. By her forties, she would no longer "take any BS from anyone". In general, Kyoshi gave her most threatening opponents one chance to change their course, and if they wasted it, she did not hesitate to end them. Despite that hard stance, she generally preferred to not kill anyone and was known to be more forgiving toward less dangerous foes.
As the Avatar, Kyoshi was able to bend all four elements and enter the Avatar State at will. At the age of 16, she momentarily entered the State for the first time, albeit involuntarily, while fighting Tagaka, having been activated as an instinctive defense mechanism. Later that same year, Kyoshi was able to remain fully aware of her heightened powers while in the Avatar State when she consciously dueled and killed Xu Ping An. Her most spectacular known feat was using the Avatar State to separate her home peninsula from the Earth Kingdom mainland and push it far out to sea to create Kyoshi Island. To do so, she first cut down to the earth's mantle with earth and lavabending to sever the landmasses, followed by airbending to push the island out to sea.
During her youth, Kyoshi struggled to manipulate small amounts of earth and lacked precision with her bending. However, over time, she was able to overcome this handicap and manipulate tiny shards of glass with ease. During her training with the Flying Opera Company, she improved her control over earth. During her last fight with Jianzhu, she was able to match his power, holding up a stone tea shop. Eventually, she learned the signature ability of the Flying Opera Company: dust stepping, by which she could rise into the air by summoning dust and dirt to temporarily support her weight. Other impressive features that Kyoshi displayed were her abillities to break through walls instinctively and to break through multiple layers of Loongkau. She was also able to dig a moat of fifty feet deep around the palace of Governor Te before any daofei could break into the palace.
Kyoshi was a natural talent with firebending and was particularly capable of the breath of fire. Though initially unable to pass Hei-Ran's test to see if Kyoshi was a firebender, she unlocked the skill after the murder of Yun by Jianzhu, creating a large explosive breath of fire. During her fight with Xu Ping An, she entered the Avatar State, while retaining her control. She was able to create a lasso of fire around the Yellow Neck criminals. Kyoshi's raw strength of firebending was also displayed when she was able to block several fireballs from Fire Nation palace guards with one hand. A fireblast Kyoshi produced was able to explode Yun's defensive shield, even though Rangi had to alter the course of the attack. Kyoshi was also capable of jet-stepping and able to melt the lock of an iron door during the attack on Governor Te's Palace.
Even though Kyoshi lacked an airbending master during her time with the Flying Opera Company, she was naturally talented with the element. After only one training session trying to create wind with Rangi, Kyoshi was capable of producing a swirling dance of leaves. During the attack on Te's compound, she summoned a powerful gust of wind that knocked back Tieguai the Immortal. Later, she rose into the air in a vortex of air and then proceeded to drop Xu, allowing him to plummet to his death. She was also capable of fighting several of the best Fire Nation guards by using airbending in close quarters to push them against walls and ceilings.
Kyoshi displayed her first feat of waterbending when Kirima threw a pellet of water at her, to test if Kyoshi was truly the Avatar. She displayed her raw strength for waterbending multiple times; first when Kyoshi was able to lift all the water out of a large and deep pond during the raid on Te's palace. She also summoned a great wave to lift Lady Huazo's ship and freeze it in ice in her attempts to intimidate the noblewoman. In addition, she was able to heal using water, becoming capable of an advanced and unique healing technique that can slow every process of a body down, including death, a technique that requires great raw power. Kyoshi was capable of using this in combat, freezing the heart and lungs of her enemies, instantly killing them. She was capable of standard healing as well, using it to tend to the wounds of Rangi after her fight with Yun. Following the fight, she was able to tap into the Avatar State to draw water from underneath the ruins of the Avatar Mansion, in order to heal Rangi.
Under Nyahitha, the spiritual guide of her predecessor, Avatar Kuruk, Kyoshi learned various methods by which she could commune with her past lives. The first was to simply have a vision of him, a method that would work best in locations of meaning to the past Avatar in question. The second method consisted of the past life taking over her body to speak to another on her behalf rather than direct communication. The final and most difficult was to meditate into the Spirit World, where she could talk to the Avatar face to face. Kyoshi showed an extraordinary level of aptitude with the last method. During her very first session, she successfully projected herself into Kuruk's early memories as an observer, looking at stages of his life.
Apart from the elements, Kyoshi was a skilled warrior and well-versed in the art of tessenjutsu, wielding a pair of golden metallic war fans with great skill and dexterity. Kyoshi was exceptionally strong and able to lift a grown man with one hand as a teenager.
Before the invasion of the Te compound, Lao Ge conferred upon Avatar Kyoshi the secret of immortality. As aging was the result of the body deteriorating on "the smallest, most invisible levels" without repairing this damage, Lao Ge taught her that one could stop this process by keeping an inventory of one's parts and putting all things which had fallen out of order back into their places. Doing so would allow Kyoshi to reconstruct her body over and over again, allowing her to retain one particular appearance for centuries.
- Main article: Kyoshi's relationships
- In the episode "The Southern Air Temple", Kyoshi was seen to the right on the painting in the Earth Kingdom's Avatar Temple. However, the statue that preceded Roku's statue in the Southern Air Temple is not Kyoshi's.
- In a concept piece for the episode, however, an early depiction of Kyoshi does stand after Kuruk.
- In the interview An Avatar Spring Break with Mike and Bryan, Bryan Konietzko admitted that Kyoshi's statue was not finalized during the episode's production, while the script for The Warriors of Kyoshi was at works. He compared it to the designs of Buddha statues varying in different countries, as there is a margin for interpretation.
- Kyoshi also had the largest feet of any Avatar, and was the largest known Avatar in terms of physicality; when seen confronting Chin the Conqueror in "Avatar Day", and the time she faced the 46th Earth King's guards, she clearly appears several heads taller than them.
- In a chibi comic, Kyoshi was portrayed as a gym teacher. This can be a reference to the meaning of her name, "teacher", and the fact that she began two different factions of warriors, training them in two different fighting styles.
- Kyoshi is the first known Avatar to have had descendants. Kyoshi's only known child and daughter, Koko, succeeded her as governor of Kyoshi Island and eventually became famous in her own right, having had children named after her over three hundred years later.
- Avatar Kyoshi's legacy and work as Avatar has started two groups: the Kyoshi Warriors and the Dai Li, both of which Azula made use of to conquer Ba Sing Se.
- Kyoshi, Roku, Aang, and Korra are all known to have defied the leaders of their respective nations: Kyoshi, at first, refused to aid the 46th Earth King when he asked her to intervene in the peasant uprising in Ba Sing Se; Roku nearly killed Fire Lord Sozin in an attempt to put a stop to his imperialistic endeavors; Aang did not move to the Eastern Air Temple as he was instructed and instead ran away, and Korra started a civil war against Chief Unalaq.
- F. C. Yee had intended to include a scene in The Shadow of Kyoshi that linked Kyoshi's dust-stepping technique to Suki's head-running technique from "The Boiling Rock, Part 2", showing that skill is an evolution of dust-stepping, but the scene ended up getting cut.
- Kyoshi is shown as the earthbender in the opening sequence of The Legend of Korra, making her the first person to be seen in the series.
- Kyoshi was the first Avatar to create a new landmass via her bending when she separated her peninsula from the mainland, creating Kyoshi Island.
- Kyoshi is the only named Earth Avatar, being the only element to have only one named Avatar.
- Kyoshi is one of the only five known persons to have been alive for multiple passings of Sozin's Comet, with three. The others being Aang, Bumi, and Pathik, with two, and Lao Ge, with an unclear number.
- Kyoshi is rumored to have taken down a shark squid with one hand.
- Kyoshi is the only known female capable of lavabending.
- Known to have had romantic relationships with both men and women, Kyoshi is one of the confirmed LGBTQ+ individuals in the Avatar universe. She was also the first known LGBTQ+ Avatar, with Korra being the second.
- Kyoshi is the only known Avatar to be born to parents of different ethnicities.
- Despite loathing her birth parents for their criminal activities, Kyoshi nonetheless kept their memory alive partially by using her father's theater make-up and her mother's war fans as part of her Avatar look.
- Kyoshi is the only Avatar known to have had difficulty mastering her birth element.
- During her time as a maid at the Avatar mansion, Kyoshi kept a gold-dye tassel, a few beads, a coin she stole from the village donation box yet felt too guilty to spend, and the clay turtle she stole from Kelsang and Jianzhu on a tiny shelf in her quarters.
- Kyoshi's chainmail she wore under her robes was inspired by kusari gusoku, chainmail armor that was worn by the samurai.
- Kyoshi is the same height as Kelsang and Wong.
- When once asked about Kyoshi's height, F. C. Yee said that he imagines her to be at least six feet tall.
312 - 82 BG
|Head of the Dai Li
Unknown - before 82 BG
Unknown, eventually Long Feng
|Governor of Kyoshi Island
Unknown - before 82 BG
|Leader of the Kyoshi Warriors
Unknown - before 82 BG
Unknown, eventually Suki
- On the golden button on the right arm guard of the Kyoshi Warriors and on the fan that the statue of Avatar Kyoshi held to her face is the word 京. On the other fan, the one on her outstretched arm is the word 士. In Japanese, 京士 is pronounced kyōshi and translated as "capital samurai". However, on the mural in her shrine, her name appeared as 虛子, a proper Japanese name which is pronounced kyoshi, a near-homophone with 京士 but with a shorter 'o' sound.
- The comic Suki, Alone claims that isolationism was a policy that applied to all of Kyoshi Island, but this is contradicted by other canon information such as the episode "The Warriors of Kyoshi", the older Avatar: The Last Airbender official website, and Avatar Extras. Thus, the isolationism as portrayed in the comic can only apply to some villages on the island, not all of them.