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The Order of the White Lotus,[1] also known simply as the White Lotus,[5][6] is an ancient and formerly secret society that transcends the boundaries of the four nations, seeking philosophy, beauty, and truth.[1] They are devoted to sharing ancient knowledge across national and political divides.[2] The organization has at times assumed the task of finding, training, and protecting the next Avatar, having done so following the death of Avatar Kuruk and later at the request of Avatar Aang.[3] A leader within the organization, such as Iroh, is known as a Grand Lotus.[1]

Formed by scholars from all over the world, the Order began as a club where ancient masters of various arts could challenge one another on the Pai Sho table.[7] They derived their name from the white lotus tile used in Pai Sho, which is also a key element in their strategy. Membership is communicated through the game itself by placing Pai Sho tiles on the board in a specific manner, forming a bloomed lotus bud with the lotus tile in the center.[2]


Early history[]

When it originally emerged, the Order of the White Lotus was supposed to always stay a small secret society of like-minded individuals. As it gradually grew in numbers and influence, the order became ever more sophisticated. It transcended being a mere club and assumed responsibility for sharing knowledge around the world. Eventually, the order began to influence various Avatars and steer them toward working for the good for all mankind, as its members covertly became the Avatars' teachers and protectors.[8] However, the White Lotus considered their path to only directly intertwine with that of the Avatar during moments of generational import, and often preferred to watch the Avatar from afar, and influence the world in a much more subtle manner. One Avatar prior to Yangchen worked closely with the White Lotus and gained access to their recognition codes, which she later recalled thanks to her extremely strong memories of her past lives.[9]

Era of Yangchen[]

The White Lotus had members inside the Western Air Temple as Avatar Yangchen grew up. Through their contact, high-ranking members of the order learned about the young Avatar's extremely strong connections to her past lives, and her difficulty to separate the past from the present.[9] The White Lotus also kept an eye on the shang merchants when they arose as a powerful class following the Platinum Affair. One very high-ranking Lotus, Mama Ayunerak, lived in the shang city of Bin-Er and provided free meals to the unemployed.[10] The White Lotus watched Yangchen after she became a fully-realized Avatar, and observed the aftermath of her mission to Tienhaishi and the city's evacuation. However, they considered her to be an amateur who was too active, who did too many things herself on an operation, and who expected results too quickly, having no ability to wait. When the Unanimity project was being planned by the shangs, Ayunerak was sent to Shimsom Big Island, where bright lights and loud noises had been reported on the tundra outside Port Tuugaq.[9]

When Yangchen came to Port Tuugaq and apprehended a group of people trying to apprehend her, she recognized the significance of the qarmat that had been maintained by the White Lotus through the memories of an Avatar who had gained access to the recognition codes. She approached one qarmaq, wanting to stash away the unconscious bodies, and stunned a low-ranking Lotus when she was able to perfectly recite the passphrases and Pai Sho techniques that only a member of the order could know.[11] Yangchen napped while members of the order put the bodies in a secure location, with Ayunerak meeting her when she woke up, giving her stew. Ayunerak knew that it was not Yangchen herself who had received the codes; when the Avatar proposed an information trade, the Lotus expressed her disdain for Yangchen having used manipulation and intrigue over illuminating people with the truth, and let it slip that the order knew about her gift. Yangchen caught on, and was greatly upset that people had spied on her in her home. After Ayunerak apologized, she told Yangchen her reason for being the city, and in return, the Avatar told her everything she knew about Unanimity, with the White Lotus being several steps behind Yangchen and her companions.[9][12] Ayunerak and Yangchen investigated the island, and after Yangchen cleared away the snow with the Avatar State, they deduced that the strange depressions on the island were the result of some group using the area as a target range, even though no weapon or regular bending could have caused that sort of damage. Yangchen and the White Lotus went their separate ways after the Avatar concluded she had been wrong about Unanimity's location, and returned to Bin-Er. Ayunerak returned to the city after the Avatar and her companions dealt with Unanimity's great display of combustionbending, and disposed of a Thin Claw that was trying to apprehend Kavik. She told him that his involvement in Unanimity was close to reaching the light of day, and that it was high time he joined her and her 'friends'.[10]

Search for Kyoshi and aftermath[]

Like the rest of the world, the White Lotus failed to correctly identify Kuruk's successor, resulting in Avatar Kyoshi having an extremely difficult early life. The activities of the Order of the White Lotus and its very existence were hidden from the public at the time.[13]

Following the revelation of Kyoshi's identity as the Avatar, an Air Nomad member of the order, Jinpa, indirectly apologized to Kyoshi on his order's behalf. However, when he began at hinting at his organization's existence, Kyoshi did not understand and dismissed him.[14] In course of the following year, Jinpa was appointed as the Avatar's secretary; he consequently attempted to help Kyoshi in becoming a good Avatar, while repeatedly hinting at the White Lotus' existence without fully revealing the organization.[15][16] During this time, the order made use of a courier named Aupilaarjuk, who usually carried messages between the Northern and Southern Water Tribes, hiring her in the case of deliveries of extreme importance.[17]

Hundred Year War[]

During the Hundred Year War, before the awakening of Avatar Aang from the iceberg, a member of the Order of the White Lotus named Myeongsu tasked a group of adventurers with infiltrating the Fire Army as spies and saboteurs in order to slow down the Fire Nation's progress toward the remote, defenseless village of Jaiyin.[18] After losing his son at the failed Siege of Ba Sing Se, Iroh joined the Order of the White Lotus while on a spiritual journey.[19] Within a few years, he had risen to the rank of Grand Lotus.[1]

Liberation of Ba Sing Se[]

Liberation of Ba Sing Se

White Lotus members sought to liberate Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation.

The Order of the White Lotus maintained a low profile until Grand Lotus Iroh gathered its members to liberate Ba Sing Se during the passing of Sozin's Comet at the end of the Hundred Year War. After they helped Sokka, Toph, and Suki by lending them an eel hound in order to arrive at Phoenix King Ozai's airship base, Iroh and Jeong Jeong utilized the power of Sozin's Comet to increase their firebending during the liberation while they worked in conjunction with Pakku utilizing waterbending, King Bumi utilizing earthbending and Piandao utilizing swordsmanship.[1]

Public debut and schism[]

Shortly after the Hundred Year War's conclusion, the society stopped concealing itself from the public eye and began to serve the world and the Avatar more openly, although several aspects of their operations continued to remain secret.[20] Their public debut and open affiliation with the Avatar following the war caused tensions within the order.[21] One faction known as the "Red Lotus" led by Xai Bau wanted to restore the connection between the mortal world and the Spirit World, and regarded governments of all kind as obstacles in this quest.[8] Accordingly, the Red Lotus opposed the order's new path and its growing association with the world's rulers. Despite Iroh's attempts at keeping the White Lotus united, Xai Bau came to believe that the society had been subverted into the "Avatar's bodyguards", and he and his followers left the organization.[21]

For several years, Iroh tried to mend the schism to no avail.[8] Growing militant and radical, the Red Lotus went fully underground, and began to work toward reuniting the mortal and Spirit World as well as freeing the human world of all governments.[21] The group's turn toward extreme militancy initially remained unknown to the Order of the White Lotus.[8]

Avatar Korra's lifetime[]

After the death of Avatar Aang, a delegation of the Order of White Lotus investigated many claims about the identity of the new Avatar in both the Southern and Northern Water Tribe, all of which turned out to be false. Finally, a delegation of three members traveled to the Southern Water Tribe upon Tonraq and Senna's invitation, identifying Korra to be the next Avatar.[5]

Around 158 AG, the order imprisoned the Red Lotus members Ghazan, Ming-Hua, P'Li, and Zaheer in four maximum security facilities for attempting to kidnap the Avatar. These prisons were guarded by White Lotus sentries and held the criminals for thirteen years. The order also attempted to discern the criminals' motives for their kidnapping but received no answers.[6][22][23]

Katara and the Order of the White Lotus

Despite concerns over her lack of spiritual understanding, the Order of the White Lotus allowed Korra to commence her airbending training.

Tasked by Avatar Aang at the end of his life, the Order of the White Lotus kept the next Avatar safe until he or she had completed his or her training; however, it was Aang's younger son, Tenzin, and the next Avatar's father, Tonraq, who insisted on keeping Korra at the South Pole. As such, the White Lotus directly oversaw Korra's development and training of each element at a compound in the Southern Water Tribe.[5] Acting as her bodyguards, White Lotus sentries were sent to remain with the Avatar on Air Temple Island to watch her actions as she commenced her airbending training under Tenzin's tutelage. At their quarters, the sentries spent a large part of their time listening to the pro-bending broadcasts on the radio. Korra took advantage of the sentries' distraction to leave the island twice, much to Tenzin's annoyance.[24]

White Lotus sentries bending

White Lotus sentries attempted to fight off the Equalists' invasion of Air Temple Island.

As the Equalists attacked Air Temple Island during the battle for Republic City, the White Lotus sentries bravely confronted the Equalist attackers. They launched a barrage of firebending, earthbending, and waterbending attacks, and with the help of Lin Beifong and Tenzin's children, they managed to defeat the first wave of invaders. The tides quickly changed, however, when more Equalists arrived on the island.[25] Realizing the battle was lost, the inhabitants of the island fled by sky bison. Though outnumbered, the White Lotus sentries remained behind in order to give Team Avatar enough time to escape on Naga. However, the sentries were captured and placed in line with other captured benders, awaiting the removal of their bending at the hands of Amon.[26] After the Equalists were defeated, the sentries' bending was restored by Korra using energybending.[27]

After Zaheer was arrested, the order became once more responsible for his imprisonment, this time in a new holding cell deep within the bowels of a mountain near Republic City.[28] Three years later, Kuvira was added to their list of prisoners following her failed invasion of the United Republic of Nations. When she was expected to attend her trial hearing in Republic City, the order was also responsible for her incarceration and transportation outside the secure prison holding.[29]


Order of the White Lotus flag

The flag of the Order of the White Lotus features the shape of a lotus flower.

Iroh, a lover of Pai Sho, was a Grand Master and a Grand Lotus of the Order who often advocated that Pai Sho was "more than just a game".[2] Piandao was also an important member of the Order; he offered his student Sokka a white lotus tile as a parting gift, which was symbolic of his membership in the Order. The image of the white lotus on the hilt of Sokka's sword and on the doors of Piandao's estate were also references to Piandao's membership.[30]

Shortly before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Master Pakku, King Bumi, and Jeong Jeong also accompanied Iroh as members of the organization, although none had shown symbols of the Order when Team Avatar saw them before. Other members were also visible in the campsite.[1]

Seventy years later, the Order was no longer a secret society and was instead dedicated to protecting the Avatar during their training. Many more members were present in the Order than in the past, including a leader and many sentries that are lower-ranking members of the Order tasked with duties such as guarding the Avatar.[5]

The Order is also responsible for guarding various high-class criminals in specially-designed prisons located all over the world.[6][31]


White Lotus sentries

White Lotus sentries watched the arrival of Equalists on Air Temple Island.

During the liberation of Ba Sing Se, the members of the Order all wore a distinct indigo-colored outfit with white details, a similarly colored cape and a Lotus patterned mantle around the shoulders. They also have a flag, bearing an image of the white lotus. Iroh, a Grand Lotus, seemed to have more to his vestments, with indigo-colored armor and a robe under all of the other pieces, based off the white lotus flower.[1]

Over the course of seventy years, the uniforms have changed slightly and vary according to rank. For example, the uniform of a White Lotus sentry includes a cowl with a small insignia on the front, whereas the uniform of a higher-ranking member does not include the headpiece.[5]

Known members[]

Playing Pai Sho

The use of a white lotus tile and the formation of the lotus pattern during a game of Pai Sho signaled the player to be a member of the order.


  • The Order of the White Lotus' organization mimics that of the Freemasons, another allegedly ancient "society of secrets", whose members of many different cultures and views stretch all over the world.
  • The Order of the White Lotus shares part of its name with the White Lotus, which was a religious and political movement in China forced into secrecy by the Mongols.
  • In Hinduism, the white lotus flower symbolizes beauty and non-attachment. Beauty is one of the virtues of the Order of the White Lotus and the society is not attached to any government or region. It also represents beauty coming out of murkiness, as in the lotus blooms in algae-filled ponds. This represents great wisdom and team effort rising up despite the somber situation in the world.
  • The organization's initials spell out OWL, an animal that is often associated with wisdom in western culture. It is to be noted that the members of the Order are considered among the wisest scholars in the Avatar World.
  • Pakku referred to Iroh as a Grand Lotus, a member who has the power to call together the Order. This suggests the possibility there may be more than one Grand Lotus at any given time.[1]
  • All known members of the Order of the White Lotus before the conclusion of the Hundred Year War were masters of their art and most are high-ranking members of their military and society.[1]
  • The white-blue color scheme of the logo of the Order of White Lotus is reminiscent of that of Raava, while the Red Lotus' logo's color scheme matches that of Vaatu.
  • Since the Order of the White Lotus does not encourage gambling, the prize for Pai Sho players is a special "cookie of the White Lotus". Winners get first pick, but everyone gets a cookie in the end.[33]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 19, 2008). "Sozin's Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (July 14, 2006). "The Desert". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 11. Nickelodeon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 From older Welcome to Republic City online game, originally on Nick.com. Game now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Korra - Order of the White Lotus.
  4. Avatar Extras for "The Desert" on Nicktoons Network.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 14, 2012). "Welcome to Republic City". The Legend of Korra. Book One: Air. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "Rebirth". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  7. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Character: Order of the White Lotus.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Avatar: The Last Airbender: Legacy of the Fire Nation, page 20.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Thirty-One, "Conversations". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Epilogue. The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  11. Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Thirty, "Basic Tradecraft". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  12. Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Thirty-Two, "Traces". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  13. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 40.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Thirty-Two, "Hauntings". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  15. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Two, "The Invitation". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  16. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Three, "Past Lives". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 43.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 265.
  19. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 65.
  20. The Legend of Korra—The Art of the Animated Series, Book One: Air, page 34.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (August 1, 2014). "The Stakeout". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 9. Nick.com.
  22. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian. (June 27, 2014). "The Earth Queen". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  23. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Zwyer, Melchior (director). (July 11, 2014). "In Harm's Way". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  24. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 14, 2012). "A Leaf in the Wind". The Legend of Korra. Book One: Air. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  25. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 16, 2012). "Turning the Tides". The Legend of Korra. Book One: Air. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  26. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 23, 2012). "Skeletons in the Closet". The Legend of Korra. Book One: Air. Episode 11. Nickelodeon.
  27. Maricela Gonzalez (2013-09-13). 'Legend of Korra' season 2 premiere: The creators answer our burning questions. Retrieved on September 14, 2013.
  28. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 28, 2014). "Beyond the Wilds". The Legend of Korra. Book Four: Balance. Episode 9. Nick.com.
  29. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer), Wong, Michelle (artist), Ng, Killian (colorist). Ruins of the Empire Part One (May 21, 2019), Dark Horse Comics.
  30. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 12, 2007). "Sokka's Master". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  31. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "A Breath of Fresh Air". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 18, 2023). Chapter Five, "Previously". The Legacy of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  33. Avatar: The Last Airbender Cookbook: Official Recipes from the Four Nations, p. 73.

See also[]