Blue w/ darker stripes, white luminescent dots.
2.5-3.9 meters (average 3 meters)
|Behind the Scenes|
The Na'vi (English: The People) are a race of sapient 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".
The indigenous Na'vi are, on average, approximately 3 meters (~ 10 feet) tall, with smooth, striped cyan-colored skin, large 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
The Na'vi populate various biomes of Pandora, although their population is condensed in the jungle. Deserts, icy tundras, tropical reefs, wetlands, and mountainous regions are among the known habitats for Na'vi clans.
The Na'vi have smooth, iridescent skin appearing largely within the blue color spectrum, ranging from greenish-cyan and turquoise found in the Metkayina clan to deeper blues seen in jungle-fairing Na'vi such as the Omaticaya. The color is due to the presence of cyanin pigment which can "tan" to a darker purple color after prolonged UV exposure. The skin is marked with darker-colored markings, typically stripes. Bioluminescent markings resembling freckles that seem to follow the path of the circulatory or nervous system can appear in a varied color palette to indicate mood, although it's unknown if the Na'vi have conscious control of this. They are overall humanoid in their physiology but possess feline features such as long sweeping tails, pointed, flexible ears, and triangular faces with flat bifurcated noses, all framed with large eyes - typically yellow, although oceanic clans have been observed to have blue eyes.
Distinctly separating them from humans, the Na'vi have four fingers on each hand and foot (including opposable thumbs and opposable big toes), as opposed to humans' five. Due to the influence of human DNA during genetic sequencing, avatars maintain five fingers and non-opposable big toes.
Na'vi have hair on their heads, part of which is sectioned off and braided around their queue for protection. 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. Avatars possess hair on the brow bone, whereas full Na'vi do not.
- 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).
- The average Na'vi life span is longer than that of a human – approximately 30% longer – though they mature more rapidly followed by a plateau of adulthood without physical decline.
- Despite their cyan skin color, the Na'vi have red blood, utilizing an iron oxygen-transporting compound similar to hemoglobin.
- 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.
- 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.
- Average male has a mass of 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 is slightly less, around 190 kg (419 pounds 1g / 334 pounds 0.8g) due to a lighter build and slightly shorter stature.
- Males possess a prominent musculature structure on the chest, which is not observed in females.
- The tail is prehensile and can be moved and controlled like any other appendage, although it 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!"
- Dentition is similar to that of humans, though the canines are more pronounced.
Although scientists consider the Na'vi to be a single species, there is a unique level of diversification and morphological variation among them comparable to domesticated dogs of Earth; they show evidence of rapid evolution to widely varied habitats. An example of this is the Metkayina clan, an oceanic group of Na'vi who have evolved to an aquatic lifestyle by developing fin-like arms and legs, broad, paddle-shaped tails, greener skin with more watery stripes, and blue eyes. Exactly how many subspecies of Na'vi exists is unclear.
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 queues extending backward from the head, while the Na'vi only have a single 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, speculation concludes that the Na'vi likely diverged a long time ago from the common Pandoran phylogenetic or evolutionary tree. This is supported by the existence of prolemuris, and its physical similarities to the Na'vi. Although prolemuri appear to be bipedal hexapods while the Na'vi completely lack the second forelimb, prolemuris's forelimbs are partially fused and split at the elbow; this indicates they likely experienced a form of limb fusion at some point during their evolution, and that the Na'vi did as well, but to a further extent. Terrestrial lemurs share a common primate ancestry with humans, the presence of a lemur-like creature on Pandora suggests a similar evolutionary relationship between the Na'vi and other extinct or unobserved species with primate morphology.
Society & Culture
The Na'vi live across various biomes of Pandora in territorial clan societies. They have an egalitarian social organization built around hunting, foraging, and handicraft that is centralized by the worship of Eywa, whom they perceive as an all-encompassing goddess who protects the balance of life on the moon. Following the will of Eywa, the Na'vi strive to live in perfect harmony with their environment, taking only the resources required for their survival. Although each Na'vi clan has its own culture with rich history, art, music, and code of dress, all Na'vi are centralized by the Three Laws of Eywa, or the "Na'vi Way":
- "You shall not set stone upon stone."
- "Neither shall you use the turning wheel."
- "Nor use the metals of the ground."
These laws give strict boundaries for what is appropriate in Na'vi society and explain much of their lack of technological development. Indeed, the Na'vi's primitive lifestyle is a choice made by them in order to protect their ecological harmony and leaves them closely resembling humans' Neolithic period in terms of technological development. With this in mind, the Na'vi do occasionally display a level of advanced technology. They possess crossbows for example, a weapon not developed until the 4th-6th century by humans. The Tawkami clan have also developed a sophisticated form of chemistry.
Clans have an average of 300 members and are traditionally led by an Olo'eyktan, a central leader responsible for overseeing and giving orders to the clan, and a Tsahìk, a spiritual leader or shaman who communes with Eywa and nourishes the clan spiritually. It is traditional for these leaders to be a mated pair, though this is not always the case. These leaders will also train an heir, whether it be their offspring or an individual who has proven themselves capable of the role.
Common roles within a clan include hunters, gatherers, and artisans, as well as warriors; however, warriors are not called such because they fight as a career - all warriors are hunters first and foremost, and only serve as warriors when they are called upon to fight for their clan. Each Na'vi individual is born with the innate desire to fulfill a role needed for their clan's survival, and each role is valued and important. The distribution of roles within a clan remains balanced as the spiritual energy of the deceased influence the natural inclinations of each child towards their desired path in life. The common roles within a clan are not divided by gender, only by ability and necessity. The training for a role culminates in a rite of passage; Iknimaya is undertaken by hunters, and Uniltaron by all members in order to be considered an adult and permitted to choose a mate.
Little apparel is worn by the Na'vi. Cloth woven from various flora of Pandora is a primary source of clothing, as well as leather. 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, with clan leaders and other higher-ranking individuals wearing a larger amount of pieces which are often more brilliant and intricate than average clan members. Accessories are added to a Na'vi's attire as they ascend through 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. Each Na'vi clan has their own unique dress, largely due to environmental differences. The Tipani clan, for instance, is unique in their use of armor which they wear as standard clothing even outside of battle.
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.
Main article: Mating
The Na'vi are monogamous creatures who mate for life. Traditionally, once a young Na'vi has passed the tests on the path to adulthood and has been accepted into the clan as an adult, they are allowed to choose a mate. After the mate has been chosen, the new couple mates before Eywa. Though male Na'vi typically bond with female Na'vi, same-sex couples are not uncommon. Arranged pairings sometimes occur, especially between heirs of the clan leader and tsahìk.
Although the mechanics of their reproduction are similar to humans, Na'vi's unique physiology provides them with a level of intimacy unknown on Earth. Once an appropriate mate has been selected, the pair will connect queues 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. A single instance of this bonding ritual leads to a life-long pair bond.
Despite being a mostly peaceful race, conflict in and between clans is not unheard of in Na'vi society. War is rare but does occur, typically when a clan is pushed into the territory of another due to external causes, rather than a purposeful invasion. War between Na'vi is characterized by brief periods of intense battle followed immediately by intense discussion, negotiations, and strives toward a peaceful solution. Excessive or unnecessary death and bloodshed is never reported, as that is not the goal.
Conflict within clans is also atypical and usually resolved quickly through peaceful means, or by ceremonial combat (fpeio). However, if a solution cannot be reached for an especially divisive issue, First Blood may be invoked: a non-lethal combat ceremony. Despite the goal of the ritual not being to kill one's opponent, First Blood is considered especially dangerous, as the outcome of the agreement is permanently binding and cannot be negotiated after the ritual's completion.
Main Article: Na'vi Language
The Na'vi language is almost entirely oral, although the Na'vi also utilize sign language and body gestures to communicate. The common Na'vi tongue has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years; although dialects of Na'vi exist, they are all unmistakably variants of the same root. Theories as to why the Na'vi language has remained so consistent vary and point to the Na'vi's oral storytelling traditions, their early domestication of flying mounts allowing them to travel quickly, and the Pandoran neural network, which allows clans to stay connected to one another across vast distances. Na'vi brain structure and memory is also proposed to play a part in this phenomenon.
Part of the clan's oral tradition is the songcord, a mnemonic device that aids in oral recounting. These intricately strung strings of beads and other objects represent a Na'vi's personal history. Whenever a significant event happens in their life, they add an item to the cord. Larger songcords can represent entire families and clans or recount sets of data. Song in general is especially important to the Na'vi, with much of their history being recounted through ancient songs known as way, and the earliest accounts of their society documented in the First Songs.
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.
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. Diplomatic ties between the humans and Na'vi were established for several years with the opening of Grace Augustine's schoolhouse, where Na'vi children could interact with human culture and learn the English language. Avatar bodies were also employed as diplomatic devices to help build trust in the Na'vi. However, the schoolhouse would ultimately be closed following a shooting by the RDA that resulted in the deaths of several Na'vi in attendance.
Na'vi clans exist in every biome of Pandora, and each has its own unique culture, sometimes even unique physiology. Despite their differences and distance from one another, clans stay interconnected through trade and tradition. Although they are largely independent, 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 them. By the year 2154, this has only occurred five times in their history and the last Toruk Makto lived four ancestral generations ago.
- Anurai clan – Formerly renowned as artisans, this clan was almost completely wiped out by humans.
- Hulanta clan - Clan living in the wetlands, in contact with a Forward Base.
- Huyuticaya clan – A clan that favors viperwolves.
- Li'ona clan – A clan near human factories, where the land is dying.
- Kekunan clan - An old clan, and the first to ride banshees.
- Mangkwan clan – A clan close to the Omaticaya, known to be very welcoming to all who seek refuge there.
- Metkayina clan – Clan located on the reefs of the Pandoran ocean.
- Ni'awve clan – The first ever Na'vi clan.
- Olangi clan – One of the horse clans of the plains.
- Omaticaya clan – A jungle-dwelling clan that lives in Hometree, nearest to the RDA's mining operations.
- Rey'tanu clan - Unseen clan living in the arid highlands.
- Tawkami clan – A clan renowned for their knowledge of chemistry, they even appear to have their own writing system.
- Tayrangi clan - A clan living in the Eastern Sea region.
- Tipani clan – One of the first to make contact with humans, renowned for their strength and use of armor.
- Tomac'ta clan – A clan that is known for their love of banshees.
Reunion of clans
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, although it is worth noting that he did not bond his mount.
- According to Jon Landau, every Na'vi seen in the first film is left-handed and fires their bow accordingly. This decision was made because Zoe Saldaña is left-handed.
- The Na'vi seen in the first film and most of the games fire their bows in an inverse position, with the palm of the string-pulling hand facing outwards instead of inwards toward their face. This was done to make the gesture seem less human and emphasize the Na'vi's different biochemistry and digit count.
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.
- James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 27
- Na'vi Pandorapedia
- James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 26
- The World of Avatar: A Visual Exploration
- Avatar: The Game – Pandorapedia
- Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Pandorapedia
- Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Pandorapedia
- The World of Avatar: A Visual Exploration
- The World of Avatar: A Visual Exploration Ceremonies and Rites
- The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure pg 55
- https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/toruk/pandora?explore article on the Anurai Symbol
- Avatar: Reckoning beta gameplay
- James Cameron's Avatar: An Activist Survival Guide pg 105
- Avatar: The Next Shadow issues #5 and #6
- Guide to the Flora & Fauna of the Valley of Mo'ara pamphlet
- Many Clans, One Heart on Avatar.com
- https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/toruk/pandora?explore article on the Tawkami Symbol
- Streamers article on Pandorapedia
- Neytiri stated that the previous Toruk Makto had been her ancestor, but Able Ryder became one a mere two years previously.
- Able Ryder seemingly lacked a queue in the game, merely hopping on to direhorses and banshees without connection.
- AVATAR (2009) - Making Of and Behind The Scenes