10 Historically Accurate Details About The Costumes In 'ATLA' That Are Actually Super Interesting
Although it's set in a fantastical universe, much of the clothing in A:TLA is based on clothes that were popular across various real cultures and time periods. Vote up the facts about the clothing in Avatar: The Last Airbender that you find most fascinating!
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The Water Tribe Wears Mukluks, A Kind Of Inuit ShoePhoto: Nickelodeon / Flickr
Many elements of the Water Tribe's culture are clearly drawn from the traditions of native arctic peoples like the Inuits (source: LA Times), and that includes the way that they dress. Several characters in the Southern and Northern Water Tribes are seen wearing Mukluks, a kind of boot that is designed for icy conditions. Sokka can be seen wearing them in the show's very first scenes, and they appear throughout the series whenever the Water Tribes are prominent.
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Kyoshi Warrior Clothing Is Based On Kabuki Theater
The Kyoshi Warriors are immensely cool in part because they use fans as weapons, but also because their style is deeply indebted to the traditions of Japanese Kabuki theater. The makeup, elaborate, dress-based costumes and the fans are all elements that seem to be based on Kabuki theater (source: Britannica), as is the Kyoshi Warriors distinctive fighting style. Kabuki is a style of dance theater, and Kyoshi Warriors integrate elements of dance into their fighting style as well.
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Fire Nation Shoulder Pads Are Based On Thai ArmorPhoto: Nickelodeon / YouTube
Many elements of the Fire Nation's culture are based on imperial Japan, whereas the Earth Kingdom is based on ancient China. When it comes to one element of their armor, though, the Fire Nation are much more indebted to Thai culture. The triangular shoulder pads common on Fire Nation armymen is pulled from traditional Thai armor (source: Cultures of Avatar: The Last Airbender), as well as Thai ballet costumes. Japan may be the greatest influence on the Fire Nation, but it wasn't the only one.
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Aang's Clothes Resemble Those Of Shaolin Monks
The Air Nomads that Aang is descended from are very clearly based on Eastern monks, and that's true of their clothing as well. In the show's first two season, Aang's clothes resembles those traditionally worn by Shaolin monks (source: Learn Religion). Those aren't the flowing robes typically worn by Western monks, but are much more equipped for the kind of movement that Aang often does during the show's action sequences.
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Karata Wears A Cheongsam, A Chinese Dress
Although Katara is typically dressed in Water Tribe gear, there are several key points over the course of the series where she puts on other types of clothing. At the end of the series, she wears a Cheongsam, a type of Chinese dress that is close-fitting and first emerged in the 1920's (source: Culture Trip). Although the culture of A:TLA doesn't have many of the technologies from that era, wearing the Cheongsam was a nice nod to more modern styles.
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Beifong Clothing Is Inspired By The Tang Dynasty
When Toph is with her family, she's a genteel dainty creature. The rest of the time, we know she's loud, gregarious, and just a little bit gross. The clothing that she wears when she's with the Beifongs, and the Beifongs' style more generally, is based on the clothing worn during the Tang Dynasty (source: Stony Brook University). Namely, the billowy garment that Toph wears around her family is ripped directly from Tang fashion, and seems deeply indebted to it.