This has always been SO COOL ae;rlkj
god i love the detail that went into this show jkshdfjkshfs
Things I really, really like: the Earth Kingdom is obvs based on a lot of different cultures, but Ba Sing Se is Earth Kingdom stronghold and it is based on Qing China, when the Han Chinese were ruled by Manchu invaders. (The other famous non-Han dynasty is the Yuan dynasty, which was Mongolian.) It is also the time in which a lot of Southern Chinese kung fu styles came into prominence, among the best known: Hung Gar. (The other two great styles are Choi Lay Fut (which my brother likes) and Wing Chun (which I have a preference for).) And there’s a lot of political stuff inherent in it because the Qing dynasty is pretty much associated with its inability to stand against Western colonialism, which led to the Opium Wars and the signing away of Hong Kong. A lot of famous historical movies featuring Southern styles are set during this period or shortly after the fall of the Qing dynasty when there was a lot of civil unrest. (See: Once Upon a Time in China starring Jet Li as Wong Fei Hung (practising Hung Gar, appropriately), Ip Man starring Donnie Yen as Ip Man (Wing Chun).)
The Fire Nation, on the other hand, is based on more on TANG China, which was a golden age for China and the Han Chinese. The north of China is traditionally considered the centre of culture; the south is the province of merchants and backwater people. And it’s hard to find a more traditional style than Shaolin kung fu (‘The birthplace of kung fu’, thank you, Kung Fu Panda), especially the northern style because southern Shaolin styles were developed after the temples were burned and the Shaolin leaders scattered, largely to the south.
Bam, south/north divide, ideological divide, and visually they are SO DIFFERENT. (My brother, paraphrased: Hung Gar is too plain and Shaolin is too fancy. Which is why he likes Choi Lay Fut.)
Also, I have thoughts about how although they’re both neigong/internal styles (cultivating inner/spiritual energy, in short), Tai Chi/太极拳/taijiquan is a fist style and Ba Gua/八卦掌/baguazhang is a palm style. But I need to consult my brother about that because he knows more about the philosophical differences between them than I do.
All that commentary.