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In Avatar the Last Airbender, we see from flashbacks that Aang grew up in the Southern Air Temple, a monastery of all men. In fact, the only female Airbender that I recall seeing in the series is Avatar Yangchen, and only as a past life of Aang. Given this distinct lack of women: where do Airbender babies come from?

Do there exist Air Temples of women (and if so, how do they arrange to meet together to procreate)? I'm guessing that they don't come from other nations, given that the Air Nomads are considered a "nation" of its own and inter-nation marriages seem virtually non-existent before their demise. So who are these mothers and how do they meet up with the father Airbenders?

I'm interested in society around the time that Aang was born. Obviously by the time of The Legend of Korra, Tenzin and his wife Pema were the parents of the only Airbender children in the world, at least until the events of Book 3.

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There are female airbender temples and we know there is interaction

There are female airbenders even though not many are shown except briefly.

The Western Air Temple is exclusive for women. In a flashback during Book 2's "Tales from Ba Sing Se", Aang as a child interacts with female airbenders in the Eastern Air Temple when he got Appa. Aang gets advice from a female airbender on how to aproach air bisons, and three other female airbenders are standing in the background.

Aang

In the comic The Rift we learn about Yangchen's Festival (named after Avatar Yangchen) and see interaction between men and women as well.

enter image description here

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    Apparently the female airbender in the first picture was given the name Iio on the old official Nick.com site, and she's good at playing airball! – Thunderforge Mar 26 '17 at 4:15
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Same place Waterbender, Earthbender and Firebender babies come from...their parents.

On the show, we got a limited view of Airbender life. Specifically, we saw Air temples and, in flashbacks, Aang's life in The Southern Air Temple.

That said, the Air nation was not known as the "Air Monks" or the "Air Temple People." They were known as Air Nomads.

In the article on Aang at Avatar Wiki, it says

Aang was born to two Air Nomads in 12 BG. After...confirming his identity as the Avatar, he was taken away by the monks of the Southern Air Temple

So, he was taken away TO the temple by the monks.

The article on the air nomads says

the Air Nomads were wanderers by definition, but had four air temples... The theocratic Air Nomads were home to a monastic order of men and women...

This implies that

  1. The Air Nomads were itinerant
  2. The Monks seemed to be an exception to the nomadic lifestyle as they inhabited permanent temples.
  3. The majority of the Air Nomad population did NOT inhabit the temples with the monks.

So, where did the babies come from?

Male and Female Airbenders who existed outside the monastic life.

Were there temples full of women?

Absolutely! According to this article, of the four original Air Temples (the ones that Aang did not build), the Northern and Southern Air Temples were reserved for men and the Eastern and Western Air Temples were reserved for women.

  • Do you have any sources aside from the Avatar Wiki? I've gotten bitten before with fan wikis having inaccurate information (the Harry Potter one seems to be especially susceptible to that). – Thunderforge May 5 '17 at 19:55
  • Without rewatching the series and reading all of the accompanying comics etc? No. However, the pages I referenced indicate sources of their own (episodes and specific comics down to the page). – geewhiz May 5 '17 at 20:09
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Presumably most male and female airbenders live in airbender society, meeting and getting married and raising families, like people everywhere else and in the Earth, Fire, and Water Nations.

Presumably the societies in Avatar the Last Airbender are based on traditional East Asian societies. In those societies many males became life long Buddhist monks and most males spent some time in Buddhist monasteries at some stage of their lives. Most Buddhist men and boys become Buddhist monks, but for short periods, not for life.

We could assume that at any given moment in Avatar the Last Airbender most boys and men in the Earth, Air, Fire, and Water Nations would be living in secular communities along with girls and women and that only a small percentage of the males and females would be living in monasteries at one time. Just as in traditional East Asian communities. Thus we can, if we want, assume there is no problem with Airbender reproductive failure. Or there wasn't until the Fire Nation struck.

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    This doesn't really seem to answer the question. It's really an extended comment saying "I thought there wasn't a problem, but now that I think about it, there does seem to be one. Thanks for pointing it out." – Thunderforge Mar 26 '17 at 2:48
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    Thunderforge - I was being a little sarcastic. It is true I and probably all viewers don't know much about the population dynamics of Avatar: The Last airbender. But it seems probable enough that the societies are similar enough to East Asian cultures that a small proportion of males & females live in monasteries all their lives and the vast majority of males & females spend only short periods in monasteries and spend the rest of their lives in mixed gender secular communities and marry and raise families. – M. A. Golding Mar 26 '17 at 3:44
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    It's possible that there are secular communities, but I don't think we've ever seen any evidence of non-monk Airbenders. – Thunderforge Mar 26 '17 at 4:05
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    Thunderforge - lack of non monk Airbenders may have something to do with Aang the protagonist being the only surviving Airbender in the series, and with the fact that he was a child monk a century earlier when discovered to be the Avatar, and thus most flashbacks to his previous life show him as a novice monk. We see many secular and non monastic communities of the other nations, so is there evidence that Airbenders were different? – M. A. Golding Mar 26 '17 at 5:45
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    All signs point to the whole of airbender society (possibly excluding a small number of airbenders out in the world doing stuff) living in the four temples, hence why the FIre Nation was able to so comprehensively kill all airbenders in a single coordinated assault. – Valorum Mar 26 '17 at 9:10
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When people speak of the Kingdoms of Avatar, we tend to forget one pertinent point:

Being born in one nation does NOT necessarily "predispose" one to BENDING of that nation.

In other words, while it is more likely a Fire bender will come from a line of Fire benders, this is not because its "genetically inherent" to people within the Fire Nation... it's because they are likely socialized more in a society where Fire Bending is common practice. From this, we can take another truth then:

Benders of any gender can hail from any nation.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say a bender can derive from two complete non-bender parents. So basically, ANY WOMAN could have an Air bender as a child. As such, there is no central "area" shall we say of "air bending women" from which all must hail.

Keep in mind that bending practices are essentially martial arts, and while many traditional martial arts have localities and sects [the Wu Dan of the Heinan provinces, the Shaolin Monks, the Shure-te practitioners of Okinanwa]not every person from these places are going to be versed in martial arts. The Air Nomads are a "tribe", but not in the sense of the Inuit or Native Americans; they are more along the lines of Shaolin, in that they are a sect that practice the art of bending, and have based tradition, dress and lifestyle on the art itself.

So, much like any body, even a non Chinese, can dedicate themselves to a Shaolin temple... any body could dedicate themselves to airbending. And much like a Shaolin Knight can have a child with an untrained woman, I'm fairly certain Air Benders can have airbending kids with other benders or non-benders... that is what Aang ended up doing with Katara, after all. His kids were simply raised as Air Benders.

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    It's confirmed from the "IP Bible" that benders can be born to two non-bending parents, but the same source also confirms that bending (at the time of the original series) is not entirely a matter of socialization: nobody but the Avatar can bend more than one element, and only a minority of people are benders, and they are born with an ability to bend. (That source doesn't seem to give any information about what determines a bender's element.) – sumelic May 2 at 23:06
  • Thanks. What I meant is that a base bender is like a Proto-Form maximal [ Transformers: Beast Wars]; they have the POTENTIAL to take any shape. Most benders will lean more towards the nation they're born into, i.e. a Japanese person born with an affinity for fighting is more likely to study traditional Budo arts as opposed to some form of Chinese Wushu. They are NOT predisposed to the ART itself; it's just what is most commonly practiced in their society. As such, it's simply more statistically likely they will guide their talent in THAT direction, as opposed to learning one of the others. – Russ Rainford May 3 at 22:22

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