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This article is about the location. For the episode, see "The Western Air Temple".

The Western Air Temple is one of the four original temples of the Air Nomads and one of the two, the other being the Eastern Air Temple, that traditionally housed female airbenders.[1][2] It is located in the mountains north of the Fire Nation. The temple is notable in that, unlike the other temples, it is situated underneath the edge of a cliff instead of atop a mountain. The spires give the appearance of having been built upside-down, and because of that, the temple is hidden to the passerby.[3] Its design allows wind to flow into even the deepest chambers, which made the Air Nomads feel at home. Avatar Yangchen was born and raised at the Western Air Temple.[1]

History

Abbess Dagmola was in charge of the Western Air Temple shortly after the death of Avatar Szeto. Dagmola and the other senior nuns learned that a girl under their care named Yangchen was the next Avatar. Before Yangchen was eight, the nuns witnessed her incoherently babbling to people who did not exist, and learned that she was having strong visions of past Avatar companions that could sometimes turn into "waking nightmares" if she recalled traumatic experiences. Librarian Tsering and Sister Jetsun helped soothe Yangchen by researching who she was talking to and reading aloud historical excerpts.[4] Yangchen's visions meant that she had discovered that she was the Avatar by the age of eleven. Jetsun, who she viewed as an elder sister, helped guide her into the Spirit World for the first time in a meditation circle in a meadow above the cliffs.[5]

During the adolescence of Avatar Kyoshi, the Western Air Temple, along with its counterparts, pursued a highly isolationist policy as the Air Nomads sought to ignore worldly concerns to focus on preserving spiritual knowledge for generations to come.[6] Over two centuries later, by the life of Avatar Roku, the West and the other temples sought to forge close ties with the leaders of the other nations in hopes of helping more people. All four air temples eventually agreed to the construction of the Fire & Air Center of Learning in the Fire Nation with the support of the nation's nobility so that their teachings could be promoted elsewhere. When the renegade order known as the Guiding Wind sought to break the relationship between the Air Nomads and the wealthy elites of other nations and criticized the temples for undermining the spiritual growth of all peoples, the West began to officially view them as too opposed to tradition.[7]

At the start of the Hundred Year War, the Western Air Temple's population was killed by the Fire Nation during the Air Nomad Genocide and its aftermath, though the temple itself escaped significant damage. Almost a century later, after being banished from the Fire Nation, Zuko traveled to the temple to begin his search for Avatar Aang. Otherwise, the temple lay uninhabited, until Aang and his friends headed to the Western Air Temple for a safe place to stay after the unsuccessful invasion. Ironically, after following the remnants of the invasion force here, Zuko decided to join Aang, pledging to teach him firebending.

Combustion Man attacked this temple in hopes of eliminating the Avatar and his gang. Thanks in part to Zuko's intervention on their behalf and Sokka's expertise in using a boomerang, Combustion Man was defeated and killed when his own firebending caused a massive and lethal explosion, which also caused half of the building he was standing on to break off and fall into the canyon below, taking whatever may have been left of the body with it. The temple suffered extensive damage besides this from the attack, but was still largely intact. The group spent several nights there.[3]

The massive metal doors shielded Team Avatar from Azula's bombardment.

Azula led an attack on the temple thereafter, battling her brother and forcing the rest of the group to flee. After one of her blasts clashed with an equally powerful blast from Zuko, both of them were thrown off the airship. Zuko was saved by Team Avatar, who was flying on Appa, and Azula used her firebending to propel herself toward the cliffside, using her hair piece as a hook to slow the fall. The invasion force members, including Chit Sang, fled using an airship stolen from Azula at the Boiling Rock prison. The attack resulted in a large amount of damage, including the complete destruction of the fountain's remnants.[8]

After the Hundred Year War, the Western Air Temple, along with the other three air temples, was restored to its former glory by Avatar Aang and the Air Acolytes.[9] Following Harmonic Convergence, some of the Air Nation's new airbenders came to the Western Air Temple to help care for it.[10]

Description

A wall of statues adorns the temple's exterior.

The temple was built on the underside of a cliff, causing all of the buildings to appear to hang upside down. There are steps built into the side of the cliff to allow for movement between tiers of the temple and different buildings. There is a three thousand foot drop between the temple and the ground below.[4] There are some spiritual sites near the temple proper, such as a meditation circle in a meadow above the cliffs.[5]

There is a hall of statues within the temple. The temple features some interesting recreational spots, such as a giant Pai Sho table, an all-day echo chamber, a flying bison obstacle course, a racetrack,[3] and an airball court. There are several spaces for writing and making colorful sand paintings. One of the most important areas is the Great Library, which contains ancient vaults of very old writings, some being so old that they were written on bamboo slips instead of paper.[4] There is an infirmary dedicated to sick nuns or children under the care of the temple.[5]

Another notable feature is a series of metal doors located within the fountain area, which can be converted to shields to protect inhabitants from outside attackers.[8]

Notable figures

Trivia

  • Until Combustion Man destroyed part of the fountain structure and blew up one of the temple's inverted towers, this seemed to be the only temple untouched by other parties; the Southern Air Temple had Fire Nation corpses from the battle with Fire Lord Sozin's forces, the Northern Air Temple was modified and damaged by Earth Kingdom colonials, and the Eastern Air Temple was cleaned up by Guru Pathik. The Western Air Temple is only known to have been visited by Iroh and Zuko a week after the latter's banishment, being the closest to the Fire Nation.[3]
  • The design of the Western Air Temple was inspired by the roofs of Bhutanese monasteries, like Paro Taktsang, and Tibetan architecture.[12][13]
  • This is the only original air temple not to be located on the top of a mountain.
  • Aang's airbending was enhanced due to the windy environment of the Western Air Temple.[14]
  • The Western Air Temple is the largest of the five temples.
  • The temple contained a large Pai Sho table.[3]
  • The Western Air Temple was the only air temple not to be shown in The Legend of Korra.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Location: The Western Air Temple.
  2. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Six, "The Performance". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch, Hedrick, Tim (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (July 14, 2008). "The Western Air Temple". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Prologue, "Voices of the Past". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter One, "The First Step". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  6. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 40.
  7. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 51.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 17, 2008). "The Southern Raiders". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  9. The Legend of Korra: Enhanced Experience, page one.
  10. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 90.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  12. Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Art of the Animated Series, p. 154.
  13. DiMartino, Michael Dante & Konietzko, Bryan (May 6, 2008). "The Western Air Temple" commentary. Book 3: Fire, Volume 3 DVD.
  14. Avatar Extras for "The Western Air Temple" on Nicktoons Network.

See also

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