Fifteen years ago, everything changed when the fire nation attacked. Released back in 2005, Avatar: The Last Airbender received widespread acclaim upon its release. Delicately treading the line of keeping the show children-friendly and exploring mature themes, The Last Airbender became an instant success for its engaging content aimed towards all kinds of age-group.
Despite being a show meant for children, Avatar: The Last Airbender adroitly handled themes like authoritarianism, the brutality of a police state, war, suffering, and genocide. With some of the most memorable characters on its roster, The Last Airbender also featured a benevolent secret society to make things more interesting.
As the show was set against the backdrop of a world war, the ancient secret society named Order of the White Lotus unveiled themselves to aid Avatar Aang and bring down the tyrannical Fire Nation ruled by Fire Lord Ozai. Having an intricate system of revealing themselves using the game of Pai Sho, the members of the Order of the White Lotus strategically place the Pai Sho tiles in the form of a blooming lotus with the lotus chip in the center.
Naturally, the Order had some of the most powerful people from the four nations who shared their knowledge by transcending their national boundaries and interests. Devoted to seeking philosophy, beauty, and truth, the Order’s primary objective was to train and protect the new Avatar. But who were the members of this ancient secret society? Let’s find out!
A classic example of ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, the elderly King of Omashu, Bumi, was one of the closest friends of Aang before his disappearance. An eccentric individual, Bumi was described as a ‘mad genius’ by Aang for his strange and exciting ideas.
Underneath his old age and eccentric demeanor lies a calm and strategic mind which makes him a valuable member of the White Lotus. Considered to be one of the strongest earthbenders, Bumi single-handedly liberated Omashu from the firebenders on the Day of Black Sun.
2. Jeong Jeong
A firebending prodigy, Jeong Jeong was an honored admiral of the Fire Nation’s Navy. As the Fire Nation increasingly became tyrannical and imperialist in its stance, Jeong Jeong became disillusioned with his homeland’s motives.
As a prodigy, he taught firebending to many young soldiers, including Zhao. But after witnessing the atrocities committed by his students using their powers, Jeong Jeong deserted the Fire Nation and lived to tell the tale. He stopped teaching as he feared that the powers might be misused once again until he met Aang. An enlightened and embittered man, Jeong Jeong is a strict disciplinarian who believes firebending is a curse. His conflicted feelings towards his nation and abilities make him a prominent member of the White Lotus since the organization believes in sharing knowledge beyond boundaries.
Though not a very powerful or a high-ranking member of the White Lotus, Fung plays a vital role in revealing the secret society to the viewers in The Last Airbender. When Iroh sought assistance from the Order of the White Lotus, Fung revealed himself using the Pai Sho game to form the lotus formation.
Fung aids Iroh and Zuko in evading from the bounty hunters who had the task of capturing the uncle-nephew duo. Further, Fung also provides the passports to them to travel to Ba Sing Se. Despite not showing any prowess like other members, Fung played an important role in portraying the loyalty of the secret society and its true power during times of crisis.
Despite being born to firebenders, Piandao didn’t inherit their powers and was thus left at an orphanage. Instead of getting disheartened, Piandao showed great interest in painting and calligraphy which helped him to stay calm. His natural talent for swordsmanship was discovered at a Fire Nation’s boys camp. Piandao soon started training and became a fearsome swordsman who didn’t lose a single fight.
Like Jeong Jeong, Piandao became disillusioned with the Fire Nation’s imperialism. As a result, he left the army to travel the world and learn other arts. As a deserter, the Fire Nation sent a hundred soldiers to capture him. Defeating every single one of them, Piandao was never bothered again. Soon, he took Sokka under his tutelage to be a master swordsman. His proficiency was legendary. Believing in sharing knowledge, Piandao said “The way of the sword doesn’t belong to any one nation. Knowledge of the arts belongs to us all” when Sokka tried to hide his Water Tribe identity.
A cantankerous old man, Pakku is not the most likable member of the White Lotus. Considered to be one of the most powerful waterbenders, Pakku hails from the Northern Water Tribe. A firm believer in the traditions of the Northern Water Tribe, Pakku did not teach the waterbending arts to female students.
Katara’s resilience and her connection to Pakku’s ex-fiancee made him change his mind and break the sexist tradition to take Katara under his tutelage. His willingness to admit his mistakes and redeem himself explains why he is a member of the White Lotus.
A monk from the Southern Air Temple, Jinpa does not appear in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Rather, he appears in The Rise of Kyoshi and The Shadow of Kyoshi, which is set 396 years prior to the events of The Last Airbender.
A proficient Airbender, Jinpa played a pivotal role in establishing Kyoshi as the Avatar. He also aided the Avatar in uniting the Four Nations. Before Kyoshi was identified as the Avatar, a boy from the Earth Kingdom was considered to be the incarnation of the Avatar. Jinpa went to great lengths to ensure that Kyoshi is identified as the true incarnation. As a loyal member of the White Lotus, Jinpa ensured that the secret society can go to great lengths to protect and counsel the Avatar.
7. Xai Bau
Xai Bau is another member of the White Lotus who doesn’t appear in The Last Airbender. Instead, he is mentioned in The Legend of Korra. Unlike most notable members of the secret society, Xai Bau deserted the White Lotus due to growing disillusionment.
When the White Lotus unveiled itself to the public and admitted to serving the Avatar, Xai Bau felt the group had lost its original sight. Thus, Xai Bau deserted and created another secret society named the Red Lotus.
8. Uncle Iroh
One of the most beloved characters from The Last Airbender, Uncle Iroh is a fan-favorite. His wisdom, experience, firebending prowess, and pacifistic ideology made him a perfect guide to both Zuko and Aang.
Iroh was also a notable member of the White Lotus. As the Grand Lotus of the secret society, Iroh was a senior ranking member who played a vital role in liberating Ba Sing Se from the tyrannical Fire Nation. As the Grand Lotus, Iroh mobilized and gathered the powerful members of the secret society to aid Team Avatar in their fight against the Fire Nation.