Baguazhang practitioners are known for their ability to “flow” in and out of the way of objects. … Baguazhang’s evasive nature is also shown by the practice of moving behind an attacker, so that the opponent cannot harm the practitioner.
These flowing movements can be seen in airbending, but also in Aang’s fighting style. Further it is a reference to the avoidant part of Aang’s character and his element i.e. like air that flows around an obstacle, Aang prefers to find another way, instead of facing the problem head on.
Airball and Firebending
The poles we see are not used in bagua zhuang, but in gongfu. Why is this interesting? Because firebending is based on Shaolin gongfu.
Those who practice Shaolinquan leap about with strength and force; people not proficient at this kind of training soon lose their breath and are exhausted.
Of the multitude styles of kung fu and wushu, only some are actually related to Shaolin. Aside from a few very well known systems, such as Xiao Hong Quan, the Da Hong Quan, Yin Shou Gun, Damo Sword, etc. after the loss of records during the 20th Century Cultural Revolution it would be almost impossible for a particular style to conclusively establish a connection to the Temple.
I find the last sentence interesting, since both, Fire Nation Firebending and Gongfu have lost their connection to their source.
Now what could that mean?
What we have here is an overlap in martial arts styles in the bending arts.
Well, a simple explanation would be a goof, but if you want you could read deeper meaning into it: The overlap between bending Uncle mentions (Him learning from the waterbenders) and the deeper interconnection between the elements.
When we enter the city a row of totem line the water way, as well as the grand plaza outside the palace and the great hall inside the palace as well.
The totems consist of presumably bent ice, showing six parts, five animal faces and a sixths finalizing part with stylized clouds on top. (see picture)
These totems are a combination of Native American/First Nation totem poles* - the carved animal faces - and huabiao 华表; a type of ceremonial column used in traditional Chinese architecture. Huabiaos found in front of palaces and tombs - the cloud and the placement outside the palace. -
I am a little said that his name does not have a funny translation on the wanted poster. Ji just means to ‘cross a river’ or ‘to help’. Some people are just not important enough to get officially mocked XD
For added fun: This is what google translate spits out.
The performance we see in ‘The Deserter’, when Aang, Katara and Sokka visit the Fire Nation colony, is a combination of the Lion Dance and the Dragon Dance.
As in the Lion Dance, the performers we see in that episode, are covered under the costume, yet the head of the costume closely resembles the Chinese dragon from the Dragon Dance, not a lion. It does, however, lack the pearl that would make it a true dragon.
The Lion dance舞狮 is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture, in which performers mimic a lion’s movements in a lion costume.
The story goes that once upon a time a monk had a dream in which there were many sorrows and evils plaguing the land. The monk prayed and asked the gods how he could prevent these evils from occurring. The gods told him that a lion would protect them and fight back the evils. The Chinese people had never seen a lion before, but had heard stories that the lion was the king of all the other animals, so the monk combined all the lucky or magical animals he could think of and so made a lion.
If you look closely at any lion, you can see a red sash tied on its horn. It is told that the lion was disrespectful to the Jade Emperor. This of course caused the Jade Emperor to get very angry, so as a punishment he chopped off his horn (The source of his life) and the lion died. The Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin) felt bad for him so she tied his horn back on with a red sash with golden leaves and chanted to the lion and he came back to life.
The lion dance is often mistakenly referred to as dragon dance. An easy way to tell the difference is that a lion is operated by two people, while a dragon needs many people. Also, in a lion dance, the performers’ faces are covered, since they are inside the lion. In a dragon dance, the performers can be seen since the dragon is held upon poles.
The Dragon Dance
The Dragon dance舞龙is a form of traditional dance and performance in Chinese culture. Like the lion dance it is most often seen in festive celebrations.
In the dance, a team of people carry the dragon — which is an image of the Chinese dragon — on poles. A dragon can be composed of up to 50 people. The dance team does mimic the supposed movements of this river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner. The movements in a performance traditionally symbolise historical roles of dragons demonstrating power and dignity.
The temple we see in the “Bato of the Watertribe” episode follows the design of a courtyard house. Courtyard houses (siheyuan 四合院) epitomize traditional Chinese architecture.
A siheyuan 四合院 is a historical type of residence that was commonly found throughout China, most famously in Beijing. In English, siheyuan are sometimes referred to as Chinese quadrangles. The name literally means a courtyard surrounded by four buildings.
Throughout Chinese history, the siheyuan composition was the basic pattern used for residences, palaces, temples, monasteries, family, businesses and government offices.
Yellow Crane Tower first built in the year 223 AD, the current structure however, was rebuilt in 1981. The tower stands on Sheshan (Snake Hill), at the bank of Yangtze River in Wuchang District, Wuhan, in Hubei province of central China. Yellow Crane Tower is considered one of the Four Great Towers of China.
There are some legends regarding it, too:
There are at least two legends related to Yellow Crane Tower. In the first, an Immortal (仙人) name Wang Zi’an (王子安) rode off on a yellow crane from Snake Mountain. A tower was later built in commemoration.
In the second, after becoming an Immortal, Fei Wenyi (费文祎) would ride a yellow crane and often stop on Snake Hill to take a rest.
On first glance Fire Nation armor does look influenced by Japanese Samurai armor. Said style, though, does not originate in Japan, but in China’s Tang Dynasty.
The pictures I have included show Officer’s armor from the Tang Dynasty.
The Tang Dynasty 618 to 907 CE is widely considered to be the most glorious, prosperous and influential time in the history of Imperial China. It’s influence stretched far and long, through trade via the Silk Road and across the ocean to Korea and Japan and can still be seen today. (See above). Many aspects of Korean and Japanese tradition -from clothes to art- originated in the fashions and style of that dynasty.
Appa’s saddle strongly resembles the lotus flower on Buddha statues.
The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.
The Air Nomads -Tibet; Dalai Lama - Avatar parallel cannot be denied. Let’s compare, for one thing, the architecture and recent history in that region.
The destruction of most of Tibet’s more than 6,000 monasteries happened between 1959 and 1961.Of the 6,259 monasteries in Tibet before the Chinese occupation, only eight remained in 1976.
I will get more into that later, for now, let’s just take a look at the burning temple we see in the opening sequence. I am aware that that is not the exact temple, but the style and the fact that it is located on top of a mountain are not coincidental and are creating an intentional parallel between the Air Nomads and the Tibetan Monasteries.