|"If you wish to learn the ways of the Sun, you must learn from the masters, Ran and Shaw."|
|— The Sun Warrior chief to Aang and Zuko.|
Ran and Shaw are two ancient dragons revered by the Sun Warriors as the original masters of firebending. At the end of the Hundred Year War, they were the last known surviving dragons, a species nearly hunted to extinction by firebenders after Fire Lord Sozin began the tradition of killing them for glory. Visited by many people throughout history, the dragons only deemed a few people outside the Sun Warrior tribe to be worthy; those deemed unworthy were customarily destroyed.
Ran and Shaw were once visited by Iroh, who was deemed worthy of learning the true essence of firebending. The two dragons taught Iroh temperance in all things as they used their bodies to form the taijitu before him, the universal form of yin and yang. After he returned to the Fire Nation, Iroh claimed that he had fought and slain the last surviving dragon, so as to preserve the secret of Ran and Shaw's existence from the rest of the world, so that they would be left in peace.
The dragons were later visited by Prince Zuko and Avatar Aang after the former lost access to his firebending. Setting out to learn the original form of firebending from Ran and Shaw, they journeyed to the cave of the masters, each carrying a piece of the Eternal Flame, which they would present to the masters as an offering. However, both their flames were extinguished before they could be presented. Summoned by the Sun Warriors, the dragons flew out of their caves and began circling Aang and Zuko. After observing their movements for a while, Aang deduced that the dragons wanted them to perform the "Dancing Dragon", an ancient firebending form, with them. Ran and Shaw performed the technique in unison with the young firebenders and, after deeming them worthy, showed them the "true" meaning of firebending by surrounding the duo with a colorful spiral of fire. Having passed on their knowledge, the dragons retreated back into their respective lairs.
Unlike the aggressive and hatred-fueled methods employed by most benders native to the Fire Nation during the Hundred Year War, Ran and Shaw practice a form of firebending that emphasizes the life-giving qualities of fire. They are able to communicate the true meaning of firebending through their multi-colored flames.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Book Three: Fire (火)
- 313. "The Firebending Masters"
- Ran ( ) means "burn" or "ignite" in Chinese. Shaw, more correctly shāo (燒), means "burn" or "blaze". The characters can also be used together to mean "combustion", "flaming", or "kindle".
- Ran and Shaw are much larger in size than other known dragons, such as Roku's animal guide, Fang, Sozin's dragon, and the green dragon.
- Ran and Shaw circling around each other resemble the Taegeuk symbol, where the red half represents positive cosmic forces and the blue half represents the opposing negative cosmic forces, similar to how the spirits Tui and La symbolize Yin and Yang.
- Two similar dragons appeared in Zuko's nightmare while he suffered from illness. The blue dragon representing Azula was on Zuko's right, while the red dragon representing Iroh was on his left. Red and blue dragons also accompanied Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin, respectively.
- O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 15, 2008). "The Firebending Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
- DiMartino, Michael Dante (October 23, 2014). Legend of Korra Live Community Q&A: Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Avatar Wiki. Retrieved on October 23, 2014.
- From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Creature: Ran and Shaw.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Legacy of the Fire Nation, page 17.
- Avatar Extras for "The Firebending Masters" on Nicktoons Network.
- O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 17, 2006). "The Earth King". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.