Here, you can find pictures, movie trivia, and everything there is to know about Pandora and all of it's inhabitants.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Na'vi People

The Na'vi are the only known species outside of Earth to have human-like intelligence. Although their society is essentially Neolithic, they have developed a vibrant, complex culture based on a profound spiritual connection to their moon, to one another, and to the deity they call Eywa. They are superb artisans who celebrate the interconnectedness of nature through storytelling, song, dance and crafts. 

The Na'vi 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" or "the natives." Parker Selfridge at one point in the movie refers to them as "blue monkeys."

more after the Jump!

In many respects, the Na'vi body is almost human-like (and, even by human standards, beautiful). The waist is narrow and elongated. The shoulders are very wide, creating a v-shaped upper back. The neck is twice as long as an average human and can rotate, owl-like, almost 180 degrees.

Due to Pandora's low gravity, life forms were able to grow to staggering proportions. It has allowed the Na'vi race to grow to immense heights. An average male is 9-10 feet tall. Females are slightly shorter and lighter in build. The Na'vi seem to have a different evolutionary ancestor to other creatures that share two pairs of eyes and three pairs of arms-legs-or-wings, but they have a Queue which provides the ability to make a bond with the environment.


The Na'vi body is more slender than the average human and is reminiscent of a Masai or Watusi. But the musculature is sharply defined, giving no sense of emaciation despite the thin proportions (they have roughly four times the strength of the average human). Their almond-shaped, cat-like eyes are large and hypersensitive to various bands of light. For balancing their long torso and legs, the Na'vi have a long, prehensile lemur-like tail. Their feet feature opposable “thumb toes” which allow for excellent grip on tree branches and vines with all four limbs. They can traverse the landscape on the surface as well as from tree branch to tree branch. 

The five senses of the Na'vi are substantially better than a human's. This is probably due to the sheer danger present on their planet and their need to avoid the danger. They have excellent night vision that lets them see clearly in low light conditions. Their hearing is superb and can detect the faintest of sounds. The Na'vi also has a great sense of smell that enables them to the sense a wide range of pheromones and track down fauna by scent.

The evolutionary lineage of the Na'vi among the lifeforms found on Pandora is something of an open question. The work of reconstructing Pandora's evolutionary past is hampered by the fact much of the world is covered in lush rain-forests with acidic soil, which is a poor medium for fossilization to take place. Therefore classification must be done largely through the techniques of gene sequencing and comparison, as well as application of evodevo principles.

The Na'vi have tails which are long and slightly prehensile, but more like the tail of a panther than a monkey. A complex pattern of iridescent dots and lines, perfectly symmetrical, runs over the body, seemingly following the lines of the nervous or circulatory system. These are bioluminescent chromatophores, and they glow in the dark like fireflies. The Na'vi can communicate with these, and in fact they are constantly shifting and changing color to indicate mood and emotion, without conscious control. Na'vi have hair only on their heads and the very ends of their tails, and what people often mistake for a large braid is an external part of the nervous system. 

The Na'vi possess a single pair of eyes, where most animals have two pair, with the smaller pair specialized for infrared sight. The Na'vi are also one of only a very few vertebrate tetrapods (four limbs) among a bestiary filled with hexapods (six limbs). The other notable exception is the Ikran (banshee), which also appears to be unique among Pandora's flying vertebrates for having only one pair of primary wings. The Ikran's secondary wings are extensions of their rear legs. All other flying genus identified so far, (such as the Great Leonopteryx) possess two pair of wings and dedicated hind legs. But this is suspected to be an example of parallel evolution, with the Ikran simply loosing a pair of wings. It is unlikely that a direct line between the Na'vi and Ikran will be drawn without going extremely far back in time.

The most likely candidate for a close relative of the Na'vi is a creature called a prolemuris. It is a medium-sized, arboreal animal that possesses a unique kind of hybrid body form. While it has six limbs, its two sets of lower arms branch off from a single pair of upper arms and shoulders, which could identify it as a transitional form between the hexapod plan of most of the rest of Pandora's vertebrates and the tetrapod form of the Na'vi. Further, the prolemuris sees with only a single pair of forward facing eyes, exactly like the Na'vi. At this point, it is unknown how far back in their shared lineage a common ancestor was, if it existed at all.

Current thinking suggests that the Na'vi developed from a bipedal creature that split its time between the forest floor and canopy. Their large eyes and blue tiger-striped coloring suggests that their immediate ancestors were largely nocturnal, as the blue hue and stripes, while obvious in the daytime, would be effective camouflage in the muted hues and bioluminescent light of the night time. Their own light producing cells could also have served a dual purpose of individual markings and to break up their silhouette when hiding amongst so many illuminated plants, insects, and animals.

The Na'vi skeletal system, like much of Pandoran fauna, is incredibly strong. Their bones are constructed through a similar process as that of Terran vertebrates. A flexible cartilage-like tissue acts as a scaffold. This scaffold is hollow and very porous. However in place of calcification, the next process finds strands of a very strong keratin type fiber layering through the pores of the scaffold. Only once this step is complete does the bone begin to calcify. This is analogous to reinforcing concrete with rebar.

The result is a skeletal system that is actually 20% lighter than that of mammal bones, while having a tensile strength nearly three times greater. Because of the fibrous reinforcement, Na'vi bones don't shatter like human bones when broken. Instead, they fray under stress more like rattan or bamboo. As such, even a broken bone retains its basic shape and can hold some weight, although at a reduced capacity and with considerable pain. The strength of their bones coupled with the lower gravity of Pandora means that Na'vi can survive jumps and falls from considerably greater heights than their human counterparts. They also have roughly four times the strength of the average human.

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

    * They only have four limbs, while every other medium-to-large-bodied animals have a total of six limbs.
    * They have only a single pair of eyes, while most other beings have two pairs of eyes, one primary set and another, smaller set.
    * All other animals have two nerve clusters extending backward from the head, while the Na'vi only have a single nerve cluster located in their queue.
    * Many animals possess twin air intakes on the shoulders that supply air and keep their internal body temperature down, while the Na'vi possess no such structures.
    * While others possess feathers, crests, barbels, and other adornments, the Na'vi are the only Pandoran lifeforms to possess hair. Then again, the consistently warm-to-high temperature on Pandora makes it likely that no species had to evolve hair or fur since such body structures are only necessary to maintain warmth. 

So we may conclude that the Na'vi either diverged a long time ago from the common Pandoran evolution tree, or in fact they are outsiders to this world. This latter theory is supported by the fact that the Na'vi and the humans have so much in common, including such rituals as kissing or the covering of the genital areas. However, the queue present in all Na'vi contradicts this theory.

Perhaps the most distinct characteristic of Na'vi anatomy, indeed that of nearly all Pandoran vertebrates, is their neural interface. This is a roughly meter long appendage that protrudes like a slender, flexible tail from the base of the skull. Running through the center of this appendage is what amounts to a second spinal cord, which itself runs through a second foramen magnum at the base of the skull. This bundle of nervous tissue connects directly to the brain stem at the same location as the spinal cord that communicates with the rest of the Na'vi body. However in one sense, the neurons terminate at the base without connecting to anything. In another more profound sense however, they connect with everything, allowing the Na'vi to communicate almost telepathically with all manor of creatures from direhorses to banshees when physically linked. While not adding to intelligence, it enables them to share a deep connection and even communicate telepathically with the tree of souls, and any animals with a similar nerve cluster. The Na'vi call it Tsahaylu, or "the bond".  It also allows them to commune directly with the worldwide neural network of trees that they refer to as Eywa. What has not been observed to date has been two Na'vi linking with each other, this behavior is integral to mating and is considered confidential between mated pairs. It is not openly discussed in Na'vi society, and xenoanthropologists have only learned about it through half whispered rumors.

As opposed to most other Pandoran vertebrates, who have two, the Na'vi have only one neural interface. Also, most other animals that have been observed so far have prehensile control over their interfaces through a collection of thousands of muscle fibers similar to an elephant's trunk. For unknown reasons, the Na'vi have not retained this feature through their evolution, and their interface hangs limp. It is common practice for Na'vi to grow their hair long and braid it around their interface as a measure of protection (although Na'vi cranial hair raises another question, as no other Pandoran animal observed to date possess hair).

Na'vi have been known to sever the interface of criminals or enemies, thus forever severing their connection to Eywa and drastically reducing their effectiveness in hunting and combat, as the victim can no longer partner with a direhorse or banshee. This punishment is reserved only for very serious crimes, as it is seen by many to be worse than simply killing the victim.

Technology and Culture

The abundant flora and fauna of Pandora have ensured a steady population of Na'vi; it is hypothesized that there was little Darwinian pressure to adapt new traits. Indeed, studies indicate that the number of Na'vi have remained remarkably consistent over the eons. The widespread access to natural resources has also helped limit (but not eliminate) warfare among the various Na'vi clans.

The Na'vi use a variety of simple, yet expertly crafted tools and weapons for hunting, food preparation, crafts, and infrequent clan warefare. The Omaticaya clan prefer a nearly two-meter long bow as their primary hunting weapon. These bows are made of wood collected from Hometree. They are very sturdy and are frequently used as close-quarter melee weapons once the arrows have run out. Some bows meant specifically for warfare or ceremonial purposes are reinforced with additional bracing, often made from ribs or wing bones of sacred animals. These war bows require enormous strength to draw, even by Na'vi standards.

A typical Omaticaya arrow is almost two-meters long and made from the shoots of a hard, segmented grass resembling bamboo. The flat, slender arrowheads are made of a volcanic glass similar to obsidian which craftsmen have learned to heat-temper for drastically improved shatter resistance after knapping. They are then coated in a neurotoxin harvested from a local scorpion analog. The toxin is very potent, and is lethal to most of Pandora's fauna as well as Terran mammals. The fletchings are made with a pair (as opposed to the typical three fletching arrangement of Earth's history) of wings take from a parasitic flying insect that are arranged perpendicular to the flat head at the front.

The Omaticaya clan, "The clan of the Blue Flute", has a 'flute' (Na'vi name: Omati s'ampta) serving as a guardian spirit played only on the most sacred of occasions. Despite the name, the instrument is not actually a flute (Researchers attribute this discrepancy to the lack of nuance on the part of the human translator). More like a trumpet in terms of the playing technique, the 'flute' serves as a concrete representation of the connection of the Na'vi with the Hometree and is of ancient ancestry. it is described by Na'vi mythology that Eywa  plucked a branch from the Hometree, created the flute, and gave it to the Omaticaya clan as a device to communicate with her or the spirits of ancestors who have passed on. No human or Avatar has seen the flute, and it is only played by the olo'eyktan (Male clan leader).

There was only one known to exist, within Hometree. It is presumed that the Blue Flute was lost in the destruction of Hometree.

The Omaticaya also carry a hunting knife whose 25-30cm reverse curved blade is fashioned from the wing claw of the Ikran, (banshee). These knives are used in the hunt to deliver a coup de grace to a downed prey animal. They are also used in melee fighting and for ceremonial purposes.

The Na'vi are weavers whose dress is primarily for comfort and practicality. Though clan leaders such as Mo'at and Eytukan wear ceremonial pieces, because both men and women fight, there is a balance between adornment and armament. 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 a 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 armbands and necklaces to display his ranking. 

The Na'vi are humanoid creatures that live in various territorial clans across Pandora. Although their society is essentially Palaeolithic, the Na'vi have developed a complex culture based on a profound spiritual connection among all creatures, and to the deity they call Eywa. They are expert hunters and gatherers as well as artisans who celebrate the interconnectedness of nature through story and song.     Their culture is non-technological, and a premium is placed upon young men either growing up to be fearsome warriors, or dying in the effort. Like all creatures on Pandora, their fate is controlled by the sentient intelligence they worship as "Eywa". They have no choice but to live in harmony and natural equilibrium with their surroundings. If they become too numerous, Eywa will devise a way to limit their numbers before they cause an ecological imbalance. Understandably, the Na'vi have therefore over millenia developed a healthy respect for their surrounding environment. In return, the environment has provided them with sufficient food and shelter, creatures to ride for ground and air transportation, and an ambient, comfortable temperature throughout the atmosphere of Pandora, plus a curious absence of pesky insects and harmful microorganisms. Not surprisingly, when provided for so thoroughly by Eywa, they have failed to develop tools and weapons for purposes beyond primitive warfare with the surrounding clans and hunting. Culturally, they are comparable to Ancient African tribes, Native Americans, Polynesians,and Australia's Indigenous people with trace similaritys to the Norse people of northern Europe. Lacking in any tradition of science, they view Eywa as an all-knowing, all-powerful mother goddess, and have developed a complex religion around their interaction with Eywa, centered around the "Tree of Souls", which grows only in rare locations across Pandora.

The Na'vi have no far-reaching political structures on the scale of nation-states, but are organized into relatively structured clans. Occasionally different clans from far-reaching areas will cooperate in times of great crisis. The only known event that has caused all clans to join together is when they are led by a "turok makto", a Na'vi that has managed to ride and control a Great Leonopteryx, uniting all clans under him. By the events of the Avatar film in 2154, this has only ever happened five times, and the last turok makto lived four 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. Evidence on other clans is sketchy, however, and it is vaguely implied that clans from other biomes may display some regional variation in culture. 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 (since Jake mentions fifteen clans, counting the Omaticaya in). Thus there are at least that many clans that the Omaticaya are within traveling distance of.  

Known Tribes:
Omatikaya - The Blue Flute Clan
Anurai -
Hadamaya  -
Horse Clans of the Plains - live in the plains which are beyond the jungles, within traveling distance of the Omaticaya. While the Omaticaya ride Direhorses when necessary, the Plains Riders have heavily based their way of life around riding them. They seem to favor facial piercing with bone somewhat more than the Omaticaya.
Ikran Clans of the Eastern Sea - live on the coastal cliffs, within traveling distance of the Omaticaya. While the plains clans are more reliant on direhorses than the Omaticaya, the ikran (banshee) clan is more dependent on banshees, who make it possible to reach otherwise inaccessible cliffs. While the Omaticaya decorate their bodies with stripes of warpaint when going into battle, Ikran Clan appears to wear body-paint much more often, and far more of it. It is possible that this is for status reasons: the female lead warrior of this clan was decorated in large patches of red body-paint in complex shapes. 
Tipani (or) Tipnai Clan - similar to the Omaticaya, featured in the video game.
Tawkami -
Tskaha -

Human Relations

    When the Human race begins to search Pandora for valuable minerals, the Na'vi are appalled and angered by the destruction of their jungle home for roads, human bases, and strip mines. They see no need for technology, and hence the damage done by humans in the pursuit of underground minerals seems like nothing more than senseless destruction that violates 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, but only for the balance of nature.

    At first they were willing to interact with humans, but after concluding that humans had nothing of value to offer to them, they break off contact and start engaging in guerrilla warfare to resist the human's mining operations.  

1 comment:

  1. Kaltxi' Oel ngati Kameie this is a amazing blog,Hope you don't mind me asking, but I also wonder what does a Na'vi infants vision look like compared to a adult Na'vi?