Avatar Wan Legend of The First Avatar, How The Avatar Cycle Began:
Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the most beloved animated shows on the planet. It is a show where the world he discovered the art of elemental bending. Using special techniques and skills, Benders can manipulate forces of nature. Fire, Water, Earth, and Air – every natural force has been tamed and conquered. The entire world is divided into four factions based on the type of bending each faction performs. No man or woman can perform more than one bending art form. For example, an Earth Bender cannot do fire bending or an air bender cannot perform water bending. But there is one being within a generation that has the ability to manipulate all four fundamental forces of nature. Called the Avatar, he is revered throughout the Avatar Universe as a God. But how were the Avatars created? And what is the reason for their existence?
Avatar Aang is one of many Avatars. He comes from a long line of Avatars that have left their mark on the physical as well as the ethereal realm. While Aang certainly is the most popular of them all, there are other Avatars that have come before him. Avatar Kyoshi, Avatar Kuruk, Avatar, Roku, and Avatar Yangchen are some of Aang’s ancestors to name a few. The oldest Avatar within that legacy, the one at the very root of the family tree is Avatar Wan, the first-ever Avatar. He is the one credited with creating the Avatar Cycle, which has been instrumental in cleansing the world of all evil time and again. The world has always needed an Avatar, who has been a prophet to the masses, saving them from their own doom. It is Avatar Wan that started it all.
Let us explain how he became the legend he is today.
Avatar Wan was once a low life. A young fire bender who did not know even the meaning of the word of Avatar, he became a figure of legend and mythology. His story takes us back to a time way before the first events of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was 10,000 years ago when Avatar Wan was just Wan, a thief, and a hustler. Back then, the spirits roamed freely in the physical world and humans were under constant peril. The mighty Lion Turtles provided refuge to the humans, allowing them to build cities of massive sizes on their backs. The Lion Turtles would constantly be on the move and protected humans from any rampaging spirit that tried to kill them.
The Humans would occasionally step out of the cities built atop the shells of the Lion Turtles. When the humans would venture out, the Lion Turtles would grant them the power of elemental bending to be used as a form of self-defense. Avatar Wan was like Robin Hood. He resorted to stealing and hustling to make ends meet. He also had a heart of gold. Whenever he would steal, it would be mostly from the rich nobles, especially the wealthy Chou family that controlled the city and give out the food and money to the poor and the underprivileged.
The Rebellion – Wan banished from the City
Wan was a hustler. He liked the idea of shortcuts. The Chou family was powerful. They had a lot of men under their command. They were tyrants but since they controlled the entire city nobody questioned them or opposed their rule. Avatar Wan made a very intricate plan. He volunteered to join a hunting party that was venturing out of the Lion Turtle City. The Lion Turtle gave him the gift of Fire Bending, the standard protocol for all hunters for that time. He then pretended that he was too scared to go out of the city and returned. But he did not return the gift to the turtle. Instead, he used the Fire Bending ability to attack the food treasuries of the Chou Family. He was caught since he had little experience in Fire Bending at that time. Wan was banished from the city but was allowed to keep the Fire Bending Art for himself since he has to survive on his own in the Spirit Wilds, without the Lion Turtle’s protection now.
Into the Spirit Wild – Wan develops Fire Bending
During Wan’s time, the skill of Fire Bending was never developed into a full-fledged martial art technique. The gift from the Lion Turtle was temporary. A hunting party would have to return the gift after they returned. The Hunters used Fire Bending in a rather brute force manner, using physical prowess and raw strength to substitute for lack of technique. Wan started studying and developing Fire Bending in detail after he was left to his own devices. He befriended the ancient spirits. A White Dragon taught him advanced levels of Fire Bending. Using those teachings, Wan realized that Fire Bending can be molded to be enacted as if it is another limb coming out of the body. It does not have just offensive but defensive capabilities as well.
Soon Wan’s exploits reached the ears of the residents of the Lion Turtle City. They were inspired enough to leave the city, take the gift of Fire Bending from the Lion Turtle and live in the Spirit Wilds, far from the hegemony of the Chous. These people were the earliest ancestors and the founding fathers and mothers of the Fire Nation.
Wan meats the Raava and Vaatu: Two Spirits caught in an eternal struggle
Wan explored the world more than any human before he had. He discovered that there were other Lion Turtle Cities other than his own. One day, he observed many spirits fleeing from a certain location. Curious, he decides to investigate, finding two massive spirits Raava and Vaatu, fighting with each other. Wan tried to break them off by using his Fire Bending. Vaatu requested Wan to save him from Raava, whom he claimed had been bullying him into submission since forever. Wan took pity and used his Fire Bending to separate Raava’s tendrils from Vaatu.
Wan realizes he had been deceived later. The two spirits fighting were the Spirit of Light and the Spirit of Darkness. Every 10,000 years, Raava and Vaatu fight for maintaining the balance of good and evil in the universe, When Wan had used his fire bending to break the fight, he had done a great sin. He had disturbed that balance. Vaatu was the Spirit of Darkness and due to Wan’s actions, he was finally free.
Wan tries to correct his mistake – Seeds of the Avatar are sown
Wan and Raava now travel together. After encountering a Lion Turtle City floating in the sky, he discovers the art of Air Bending that the residents of that city possess as a gift from their Lion Turtle. Vaatu was hard at work, corrupting the friendly spirits into beings of chaos. Wan decided to undo his actions. He asked the Lion Turtle to give him the gift of Air Bending. The Lion Turtle was quick to summarize that no human can ever master more than one element but with Raava’s help, who can hold on to Wan’s Fire Bending Gift for the time being as Wan mastered other bending arts, it was possible to do so. Wan then traveled from city to city, mastering Earth and Water Bending, with Raava now so small she could fit into a tea kettle – the same one Uncle Iroh is seen using thousands of years later in The Last Airbender.
Lo and behold – the First Avatar is born
The event of Harmonic Convergence was at bay. The Spirit Portals were about to merge which meant that the membrane that separated the physical and spiritual world was the weakest at that point in time. Wan and Raava encounter Vaatu, a being that has grown in size and power. They were close to defeat. That is when Wan absorbed Raava into himself to access a greater power. The fusion was so strong that not even death would do Wan and Raava apart. Wan was now Avatar Wan. He entered the Avatar state with his eyes glowing, defeated Vaatu, and saved the world.
Since Raava was now a part of Avatar Wan’s soul, she was now a part of the human cycle of reincarnation. Wan was reincarnated as Kuruk, Yangchen, Kyoshi, Roku, Aang, and Korra. And that is how, our dear friends, the Avatar Cycle came into being.