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Fire Lord portraits

The Royal Gallery contains portraits of previous Fire Lords.

The Royal Gallery, also called the Royal Portrait Gallery,[2] is a hallway within the Fire Nation Royal Palace containing large portraits of previous Fire Lords, including those of Ozai, Azulon, Sozin, and two preceding Fire Lords. Each portrait depicts its subject holding aloft a fireball to signify their mastery of firebending, as well as imagery which summarizes events during their rule.[3] The works of art are considered masterpieces and can take the entire career of artists to be completed.[2]

Before 295 BG, there was also a series of portraits of the Fire Avatars opposing those of the Fire Lords. However, the Fire Avatars' portraits were destroyed by Yun during his attack on the palace.[4]

History

When Avatar Kyoshi first visited the palace, she was guided to the gallery by Chancellor Dairin. Kyoshi's group paused by the portrait of Avatar Szeto, where the chancellor explained the life and accomplishments of the most recent Fire Avatar. Kyoshi subsequently moved to inspect Fire Lord Chaeryu's portrait, and queried Dairin about the flower imagery. Dairin was aghast at the symbolism that had been added without his permission, and ordered Kyoshi not to speak to anybody about the portrait.[2]

During Yun's attack on the palace, he killed Lu Beifong and dragged his body to the royal gallery. He was confronted by Kyoshi and Chancellor Dairin, along with several of the latter's guardsmen. Yun managed to bend the mineral-based pigment in the portraits of the Fire Avatars, and launched spiked pellets at the others, killing Dairin and two of his men, and wounding many. Sifu Atuat shortly arrived on the scene, where she healed those that she considered savable, while Kyoshi managed to treat some of the more minor wounds with her own waterbending.[4][5]

Fire Lord Ozai spent many long hours in the gallery when he was still a Prince, staring at the images of his forefathers, hoping they would provide him with some guidance.[6]

When Prince Zuko received a message stating that he needed to learn the story of his great-grandfather's demise, he went to the Royal Gallery and stared at Sozin's portrait. Azula found him there and made a snide comment to her brother, before helping him out by telling him the history of Sozin.[3]

After returning from exile, a distraught Ursa nervously walked the palace grounds before stopping to look at Ozai's portrait, reassuring herself by exclaiming that the former Fire Lord could no longer hurt her or her family.[7]

Known portraits

Portrait of Avatar Szeto

While many portraits of Fire Lords and Avatars held a ball of fire in one hand, Avatar Szeto hefted an abacus in his hand, with the beads set in real pearl. The abacus was racked to a calculation that ended in an auspicious number. In the other hand, Szeto wielded a giant stamp, carved from solid cinnabar.[2]

This portrait was destroyed by Yun during his attack on the palace.[4]

Portrait of Fire Lord Chaeryu

Fire Lord Chaeryu's portrait depicts vegetation, such as bundled rice stalks and a harvest bounty. It was still only partially complete by 295 BG.

Beneath him, there is a flower arrangement with two flowers sprouting from the same vase. A camellia, representing his son Chaejin and the Saowon clan, overshadowed a peony, representing his son Zoryu and the Keohso clan. Chaejin had paid off the royal painters to add this detail without either the Fire Lord or chancellor knowing.[2]

Portrait of Fire Lord Zoryu

Fire Lord Zoryu sat for a portrait shortly after his purge of the Saowon clan in the Fire Nation Capital. It was presumably completed and added to the royal gallery after some time.[8]

Portrait of Sozin's grandfather

Sozin's grandfather painting

This is the official portrait of Fire Lord Sozin's grandfather.

This Fire Lord is depicted in traditional Fire Lord attire, although the robes are slightly less ornate than the robes seen during Aang's lifetime, in a darker tone with less golden details.

The Fire Lord is standing amidst flowers and several leaves, and located behind him is a large design resembling a flower's petals. As with all of the other Fire Lord portraits, the sun is painted directly behind the ruler's head. In this particular portrait, the sun appears to be behind the darkened shadow of the moon.[3]

Portrait of Sozin's father

Sozin's father painting

This is the official portrait of the father of Fire Lord Sozin and grandfather of Fire Lord Azulon.

The attire in this portrait is very similar to the robes of his three consecutive successors, namely Sozin, Azulon, and Ozai. Unlike the previous set of attire, these robes contain more ornate gold trimmings.

An image of what appears to be a star behind a waning moon, representing the four cardinal directions, is depicted in the Fire Lord's left hand, with a similar symbol located at his feet. The portrait also contains many clouds and portrays a red sun behind the Fire Lord's head.[3]

Portrait of Fire Lord Sozin

Sozin's portrait

The official portrait of Fire Lord Sozin depicts him as he appeared during his first confrontation with Avatar Roku after the establishment of the first Fire Nation colonies.

Sozin is shown with a scroll in one hand and a ball of fire in the other. Above his head is the representation of the Great Comet, later named after him, that he used to wipe out the Air Nomads, beginning the Hundred Year War. Located at Sozin's feet are five firebending members of the Fire Nation military, signifying his military buildup. Behind his head is a bronze sun.[3]

Portrait of Fire Lord Azulon

Azulon's portrait

Fire Lord Azulon's portrait represents him as a young man. The sun behind his head has a black outline, while his attire is exactly the same as his father's, with the exception of a new gold lining on the piece of his robe that hangs from his waist.

Azulon is standing on top of a turtle, an animal that lives both on land and in water, signifying his military successes over both the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribes.[source?]

Portrait of Fire Lord Ozai

Ozai's portrait

The final portrait in the hall depicts Fire Lord Ozai, and it is the most ornate of all. Ozai is shown bending black fire and has multiple metal cogs and smokestacks behind him, representing the advancements in technology and industry pioneered during his rule.[source?]

A large red-and-gold design is painted behind Ozai. Like all of the previous Fire Lords, he is depicted with the sun behind his head.[3] His portrait continued to be displayed in the Royal Gallery following his downfall at the end of the Hundred Year War.[7]

Trivia

  • The wall-hanging scrolls mimic the style of Chinese Lizhou, scrolls commonly found in Chinese art.
  • The design of the sun behind each Fire Lord's head is similar to the Buddhist design often seen in Tang Dynasty and Indian paintings, with the sun meaning enlightenment and the surrounding flames representing wisdom. It also resembles the halos found in Christian art, which represent godliness, a common motif with the Fire Lord.
  • An image of Iroh as he would have appeared in the Royal Gallery if crowned Fire Lord was included in Avatar: The Last Airbender: Legacy of the Fire Nation. The portrait depicts Iroh holding flames in his left hand and a cup of tea in his right. A sun and jasmine flowers appear behind him, and a dragon sits at his feet.[9]

References

  1. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Seven, "The Headmistress". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Five, "Cultural Diplomacy". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (October 26, 2007). "The Avatar and the Fire Lord". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Nine, "The Crash". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  5. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Ten, "Aftermath". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  6. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Location: Royal Gallery.
  7. 7.0 7.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part One (September 23, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  8. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Nineteen, "The Companion". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  9. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Legacy of the Fire Nation, p. 25.

See also

Start a Discussion Discussions about Royal Gallery

  • Symbolism of the Royal Gallery portraits.

    2 messages
    • What do Sozin's father and grandfather's portraits mean? The flowers and the star? Was his father an astronomer? Did he discover or n...
    • I know that even in the lifetime of Kyoshi the Fire Nation dominated the seas, perhaps Sozin's father-lord advanced the Fire Navy like O...
  • Iroh's Royal Gallery Portrait.

    2 messages
    • Despite never having been offically Fire lord, Iroh gets his own portrait which shown in The Legacy of the Fire Nation.  It can be seen at t...
    • Indeed, it does seem to be a fictional portrait as that is the page in which Iroh talks about 'what could have been' ("I ...
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