This article is about the species. You may be looking for the language, spoken Na'vi in the film, or the book.
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Species Information
Home Planet



Homo pandorus[1]


Blue w/ darker stripes, white luminescent dots.


2.5-3.9 meters (average 3 meters)[2]

Eye Colour


Behind the Scenes
First Appearance


The Na'vi (English: The People) are a race of sentient extraterrestrial humanoids who inhabit the lush jungle moon of Pandora. Humans are known to refer to them as "blues", "savages", "the locals", "hostiles", or "the natives". Parker Selfridge at one point refers to them as "blue monkeys".

Description[edit | edit source]

Two Na'vi (Rai'uk and Kyuna) on a mountain banshee

The indigenous Na'vi are, on average, approximately 3 meters (~ 10 feet) tall, with smooth, striped cyan-colored skin, large yellow eyes, and long, sweeping tails. Their bodies are more slender than humans. They are the only known extraterrestrial species discovered to be sapient like humans. Although the Na'vi are hunter-gatherers with technology equivalent of Earth's Paleolithic epoch, they have developed a sophisticated culture based on a profound spiritual connection to other life on their moon, each other, and an encompassing "goddess" they call Eywa.

Habitat and Range[edit | edit source]

Various biomes of Pandora. Population concentrated in rainforest regions. Outlying clans have been detected on each continent and in subarctic, swampland, and mountainous regions.[3]

Some Na'vi clans, including the Omaticaya clan and parts of the Tipani clan, live in tremendously large ancient trees they call Kelutral, or "Hometree".

Physiology[edit | edit source]

  • The Na'vi cell nucleus does not use nucleic acids to encode genetic information. Therefore, their genetic makeup is not considered to be DNA (thus they most likely do not utilize RNA in the synthesis of proteins).[4]
  • Na'vi skin is smooth, iridescent, and cyan in color accentuated with slightly darker cyan stripes. Their bodies have feline-like features such as long sweeping tails, pointed ears and triangular faces with flat bifurcated noses, all framed with large, almost hypnotically golden eyes. Bioluminescent markings that seem to follow the path of the circulatory or nervous system aid in identification and mood display.
  • The average Na'vi life span is longer than that of a human – approximately 30% longer – though they mature more rapidly.[5] [6]
  • Skin color is due to the presence of the cyanin pigment. It can "tan" to a darker purplish color after prolonged sunlight exposure.[7]
  • Despite their cyan skin color, the Na'vi have red blood, utilizing an iron oxygen-transporting compound similar to hemoglobin.[3] [8]
  • Na'vi have hair on their heads including the long braid protruding from the base of their skulls protecting their neural queue. The Na'vi appear to have no other body hair, with the exception of eyelashes and a small "bob" of fur on the end of their tails. Human-made avatars are seen with hair on the brow bone whereas the natives are not.
  • Waist is narrow and elongated. The shoulders are very wide, creating a V-shaped upper back. The neck is long and body slender. Musculature sharply defined, giving no sense of emaciation despite thin proportions.[1]
  • Skeleton is reinforced with naturally occurring carbon fiber. Average male is approximately 3 meters (~ 10 feet) tall; females slightly less, average 2.8 meters (~ 9 feet) tall due possibly to evolutionary "size" dimorphism.[3][2]
  • Tail that can be moved and controlled like any other appendage and is used primarily for balance. It is frequently used to express emotion and is the basis for the Na'vi saying: "Watch your tail, Child!"
  • Average male has a mass around 210 kg (approximately 463 pounds). In Pandoran gravity (0.8 Earth g) they weigh 1647.52 N or 370 lb (compared to 2059.40 N or 463 lb in Earth's gravity). Female mass slightly less, around 190 kg (419 pounds 1g / 334 pounds 0.8g) due to lighter build and slightly shorter stature.[2]
  • Na'vi have four fingers on each hand including opposable thumbs and four toes on each foot including opposable big toes; unlike the human-created avatars which have five fingers on each hand including opposable thumbs and five toes on each foot with non-opposable big toes due to the influence of human DNA during avatar genetic sequencing.
  • Dentition is similar to that of humans, though the canines are more pronounced.
  • Highly evolved nervous system includes a queue which resembles a long, rather ostentatious hair braid. This seemingly conventional braid actually sheathes a remarkably intricate system of neural tendrils that can be connected to similar structures of other life-forms. See queue .[9]
  • They have roughly four times the strength of the average human.[1]
  • Reproduction mechanics (e.g. physical coupling) are similar to humans and other Terran mammals. However, it should be noted that although female Na'vi have breasts similar to those on female humans – also used to nurse their infants – they are not placental mammals and, as such, the actual internal reproductive biology is quite different from Terran mammals.[10] [11]

The Na'vi are fundamentally different from all other large Pandoran animals:

  • Na'vi have four limbs and use two legs for locomotion (bipedal tetrapod), while most medium-to-large-bodied Pandoran animals have a total of six limbs (or wings) for locomotion (hexapod).
  • Na'vi have only a single pair of eyes while almost all other medium-to-large bodied Pandoran animals have two pairs of eyes; one primary set and another slightly smaller set.
  • Most medium-to-large bodied Pandoran animals have two nerve clusters (antennae) extending backward from the head, while the Na'vi only have a single nerve cluster located in their queue.
  • Most medium-to-large bodied Pandoran animals possess twin operculi near the shoulder/breast bone which supplies air for both respiration as well as internal body temperature regulation, while the Na'vi possess no such structures.

From the evidence, one may conclude that the Na'vi either diverged a long time ago from the common Pandoran phylogenetic or evolutionary tree, or they may be outsiders to this world. The latter theory supported by the fact that avatars were created by fusing human and Na'vi DNA/transcriptase, as well as the many shared cultural aspects, such as physical intimacy (e.g. kissing/hugging) and the covering of the genital areas. The presence of the single Na'vi queue would appear to indicate an adaptive evolutionary process which would contradict the "outsider" theory as this queue is compatible with other Pandoran lifeforms. However, the former theory would be supported by the presence of the blue lemurs that surprised Jake Sully on his first voyage into the Pandoran jungle. However, these blue lemurs appear to be bipedal hexapods while the Na'vi completely lack the second forelimb, supporting the first theory. Terrestrial lemurs share a common primate ancestry with humans, the presence of blue lemurs on Pandora suggests a similar evolutionary relationship between the Na'vi and other extinct or unobserved species with primate morphology or another alien influence, the Na'vi being ancestors of those avatars.

Diet[edit | edit source]

Main article: Na'vi Diet

The Na'vi are an omnivorous species. They eat meat as demonstrated by their hunting practices and pronounced canines but have also been seen to forage, demonstrating their consumption of plants and other produce. Their society includes hunters and gatherers with incipient agriculture.[3]

Clothing[edit | edit source]

3D Version: red/cyancross-eyedEytukan dressed in Olo'eytkan apparel

Little apparel is worn by the Na'vi. Cloth, most likely woven from native flora of the planet is the basic garment worn by all Na'vi. It is possible that very little clothing is worn by the Na'vi because it is simply what is needed for the Na'vi to work and live taking minimally from the environment. Clothes appear to also show the ranking of one in the hierarchy of a clan. For example, the Omaticaya clan leader, Eytukan, wore a garment made of brilliant or precious materials in comparison to a simple clothing piece worn by other clan members. Accessories are added to a Na'vi's attire as he or she moves up in the clan hierarchy. For example, Jake Sully, as an apprentice clan member, wore only an undecorated loincloth; as he learned more about the Na'vi culture, however, he wore bracelets and necklaces to display his ranking.[12] The Tipani clan is unique in their use of armor which is often made from leather and bone.

Society & Culture[edit | edit source]

The Na'vi are humanoid creatures that live in various territorial clans across Pandora. Though their culture is essentially paleolithic, they have an egalitarian social organization, unusual in a society at such a stage in their development. A premium is placed upon young men and women growing up to become exceptional hunters and possibly warriors, as is necessary due to the nature of the Pandoran environment and the level of Na'vi technological advancement.

The populations of the Na'vi and other species may be controlled by the sentient intelligence they worship as Eywa. They choose to live in harmony and natural equilibrium with their surroundings. If they become too numerous, Eywa may devise a way to limit their numbers before they cause an ecological imbalance, for she maintains the balance of life. Over the millennia, the Na'vi have developed a healthy respect and reverence for their surrounding environment. In return, Eywa may have affected the environment to provide them with sufficient food and shelter, creatures to ride for ground and air transportation, and an ambient, comfortable temperature throughout the different biomes of Pandora. Oddly, there do not seem to be many harmful or irritating insects and disease organisms, but whether or not this is intentional will require further research. Small, flying creatures (insects?) are shown in various scenes, and further suggested by the apparent mosquito netting surrounding the avatar cots in the longhouse.

The Na'vi have failed to develop tools and weapons for purposes beyond possible primitive warfare with the surrounding clans and hunting/survival, an anomaly stemming perhaps from the fertility of the moon. For a race that is so connected to all other creatures, warfare would seem unlikely, but not unheard of, as indicated by numerous references to the term "warrior". However, there was no hesitation to go to the many other clans to ask for help, so if there is inter-clan conflict, it is probably the rare exception to the rule. They do, however, have a rich handicraft tradition and engage in extensive body decoration signifying both rank, activity, and individual tastes. With the caution that it is perhaps spurious to make cross cultural comparisons across star systems, the Na'vi are comparable to now extinct pre-Bronze Age hunter-gatherer societies that formed in some pre-colonial African, American aboriginal, and Australian indigenous tribes with trace similarities to the Norse culture of northern Europe. Lacking any tradition of formal science as Earth people know it, they experience Eywa as an all-knowing, all-powerful entity, and have possibly developed a complex animistic religion based upon their interactions with Eywa, and centered around the Tree of Souls and the Tree of Voices, two of many sacred spiritual locations found across Pandora that provide access to the Pandoran neural network.

While comparable to these hunter-gatherer societies, the Na'vi do occasionally display a level of technology far above that period. The Na'vi possess crossbows for example, a weapon not developed until the 4th-6th century by humans.

Language[edit | edit source]

Main Article: Na'vi Language

The language was created by Paul Frommer, a professor at USC with a doctorate in linguistics. There are more than 2600 words in the Na'vi language, some of which were created by the simple concept of compounding, which is simply joining the words together to create a definition of a noun. This is a common concept in American aboriginal languages and is likely why it was adapted for Na'vi. Na'vi was originally inspired by the language spoken by the native people of New Zealand (Maori) while James Cameron was visiting the country.[13]

A now deleted scene stated that the Na'vi have no noun to describe lies, which lead to the belief that it is an alien concept to them.[14] However, there are many other ways to communicate the concept of a lie or lying in the language. The existence of words such as "kavuk"[15] (treachery, betrayal) and "tsleng"[16] (false) imply the Na'vi are not strangers to the concept of deceit.

Numbers[edit | edit source]

Main article: Octal Arithmetic

Because Na'vi only have four fingers on each hand, their counting system is based on the number eight. They use this octal arithmetic in their daily life. Early in the history of their language, the Na'vi had no words for numbers higher than mevol (16), the sum of all fingers and toes on their body. Anything more was simply called pxay (many). Octal numbers can easily be confused with decimal numbers unless a numeral 8 or 9 is present or the number is followed by a subscript to indicate the base system used, 8 for the octal system or 10 for a decimal system.

Commentary and Additional Info[edit | edit source]

Queue[edit | edit source]

Main Article: Queue

Queue anatomy of an avatar

Na'vi have a queue at the top back of their head which hangs down to, or below, the waist, while avatars have queues at the base of their skull. The queue is an external bundle of nerve endings that are protected inside a braid of hair. The queue allows the Na'vi to tap into the collective, planetary psionic emanations of Eywa and enables them to "commune" with the moon's flora and fauna.

While not adding to intelligence, it enables them to share a deep connection and also communicate telepathically with the Tree of Souls and any animals who have a similar nerve cluster. The Na'vi call it tsaheylu, or "the bond". When two Pandoran organisms with nerve clusters similar to this engage in tsaheylu, they gain the ability to share memories and information. The Na'vi have a special trait that allows them to use the mind-meld to feel as/what their mount does and enables them to move as one under the control of the Na'vi, be it a banshee or direhorse. This trait is only negated during mating (see below).

Human Relations[edit | edit source]

When the humans began to search Pandora for valuable minerals, the Na'vi were appalled and angered by the destruction of their jungle home for roads, human bases and strip mines. They saw no need for technology and felt that the damage done by humans in the pursuit of underground minerals was nothing more than senseless destruction that violated the basic tenets of their religion. They would look to Eywa for help, but their religion teaches that Eywa cares not for the existence of any one creature, she cares only for the balance of nature. The two opposing ideologies and cultures resulted in thoughts on both sides that the other was inferior: the Na'vi believing that humans were ignorant aliens who only destroy, and the humans thinking that the primitive Na'vi were nothing but simple savages. These fundamental misunderstandings were, in part, responsible for the conflict between the two races. The Na'vi children used to go to Grace's school to learn how to speak English. The Na'vi children stopped coming to school when Neytiri's older sister was killed in the school house by RDA soldiers.

Mating[edit | edit source]

Jake Sully and Neytiri mating under the Tree of Voices.

The Na'vi are monogamous creatures who mate for life. The mechanics of reproduction are similar to that of humans and other Terran mammals. However, their unique physiology provides the Na'vi with a level of intimacy unknown on Earth. Cultural anthropologists believe that when an appropriate mate has been selected (which can take many years), the male and female Na'vi will connect queues (called tsaheylu) to create an emotional bond that lasts a lifetime. The intertwining of queues is both highly erotic and profoundly spiritual, but does not in itself lead to reproduction.

Traditionally, once a Na'vi male has passed the tests on the path to manhood and has been accepted into the clan as an adult, he is allowed to make his bow from the wood of the Hometree and, also, is allowed to choose his woman. After the woman has been chosen, the new couple mates before Eywa.

Once Jake Sully has been accepted into the Omaticaya clan as "One of the People", he chooses Neytiri to become his mate. She accepts and mates with him under the Tree of Voices.

Once tsaheylu, the ultimate in intimacy, is made between the couple, it creates pleasure that is unfathomable to humans and causes the somewhat unwilling sharing of the couple's good memories. This is considered a sign of Eywa's acceptance. If a couple can be foreseen to not have a pleasant or happy future, Eywa has been known to reverse the feeling produced by making tsaheylu as a sign to the couple that mating would only, in simple words, ruin their lives together. This process prevents what would become an unsuccessful lifelong mating. After the resulting embracing and kissing, the couple is sent to sleep by Eywa, and the two dream hints of what their future will be together. The couple will experience the pleasure of tsaheylu from the moment of connection until they awaken and have completed mating. When they disconnect and return to the clan, they are mated for life.[17]

Known Clans[edit | edit source]

The Na'vi have no far-reaching political structure on the scale of nation-states, but are organized into relatively complex clans, of which there are hundreds[18]. Occasionally, different clans from distant areas will cooperate in times of a great crisis. The only known event that has caused all clans to join together is when they are led by a Toruk Makto, a Na'vi who has managed to ride and control a great leonopteryx and, in doing so, unite all clans under him. By the events of Avatar in 2154, this has only occurred five times in their history and the last Toruk Makto lived four ancestral generations ago.

Pandora is largely a jungle world and, thus, many Na'vi tribes are similar to the Omaticaya clan that lives near the RDA mining operations at Hell's Gate. It is vaguely implied that clans from other biomes may display some regional variation in culture. At the very least the clans must undergo some form of trade, as exemplified by the Omaticaya's usage of items that originate with other clans, such as Tawkami rider masks and Kekunan banshee catchers.

Ikran People of the Eastern Sea

  • Anurai clan – Formerly renowned as artisans,[19] this clan was almost completely wiped out by humans.
  • Huyuticaya clan – A clan that favors Viperwolves.[20]
  • Li'ona clan – A clan near human factories, where the land is dying.
  • Kekunan clan - An old clan, and the first to ride banshees.
  • Ni'awve clan – The first Na'vi clan to reside in the Hallelujah Mountains. Their leader is Tse'huk.
  • Olangi clan – The Olangi are one of the horse clans of the plains.[21]
  • Metkayina clan – Clan located on reefs, in Pandoran ocean.[22]
  • Omaticaya clan – The jungle-dwelling clan that lives in Hometree, nearest to the RDA's mining operations.
  • Tawkami clan – A clan renowned for their knowledge of chemistry,[23] they even appear to have their own writing system.
  • Tayrangi clan - A clan living in the Eastern Sea region.[21]
  • Tipani clan – One of the first to make contact with humans, the Tipani are renowned for their strength and use of armor.
  • Tomac'ta clan – A clan that is known for their love of Banshees.[24]

When Jake Sully, as the sixth Toruk Makto, rallied "all the clans" to aid the Omaticaya in driving off the RDA and protecting the Tree of Souls, fourteen clans were said to answer the call.[25] There must therefore be a minimum of six clans not listed above, within a day's travel of the Tree of Souls.

Reunion of clans[edit | edit source]

Toruk Makto has the ability to unite the clans in times of great sorrow. Including Jake, only six Na'vi have become Toruk Makto in history, but it is unknown how many reunions there have been. There also appear to have been Toruk Makto outside of this count, such as Able Ryder[26], although it is worth noting that he did not bond his mount.[27]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Unless otherwise noted, information is taken from the motion picture Avatar. Where details conflict between the film and printed material, the film is deemed accurate.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 27
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Na'vi Pandorapedia
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 26
  4. Avatar: The Game – Pandorapedia
  6. Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Pandorapedia
  7. Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Pandorapedia
  8. Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Pandorapedia
  9. James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 28
  10. James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 30
  11. Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Pandorapedia
  12. The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure pg 55
  17. James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide
  18. Avatar: The Game, Hometree article- "There are hundreds of disparate Na'vi clans on Pandora."
  19. article on the Anurai Symbol
  20. James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 105
  21. 21.0 21.1 Many Clans, One Heart on
  22. Guide to the Flora & Fauna of the Valley of Mo'ara pamphlet
  23. article on the Tawkami Symbol
  24. Streamers article on Pandorapedia
  25. Jake mentions fifteen clans, counting the Omaticaya
  26. Neytiri stated that the previous Toruk Makto had been her ancestor, but Able Ryder became one a mere two years previously.
  27. Able Ryder seemingly lacked a queue in the game, merely hopping on to direhorses and banshees without connection.
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