ANYWAY you cannot convince me that the air nomads didn’t have any sort of trade good based on the flying bison and aang just didn’t have the time or safety to make and sell any of these while trying to stop ozai. they probably did so much spinning just because drop spindles are super transportable, it’s something to do while flying long distances, there’s always a weaver somewhere willing to buy yarn, and there’s always, always large amounts of shed fur just. around. look at how much came off of appa that one episode. so much fur
so three things happen the summer after ozai is defeated and appa starts shedding in earnest again
- aang starts spinning and selling yarn because that’s What You Do and he’s clinging REAL HARD to every possible air nomad tradition because, well, who else will remember these things?
- toph hears about this and scruffs him before he can sell too much because she’s a merchants daughter and holy shit aang do you understand what you’re selling?? yarn from the last known sky bison! the avatar’s own spirit guide!! spun by the avatars own hand!!!! what are you doing aang!!!!!! she has to drag katara in at this point because aang is real unhappy with the idea that his normal flying bison yarn of, uh, questionable quality is being sold to exclusive high class weavers so they can make shawls for filthy rich nobles for baaaaaank just on the basis of his name. this isn’t how the monks did it :/ and he doesn’t WANT a lot of money anyway! he’s a monk!! he only asks for what he needs to survive!! anyway katara manages to talk toph around to donating most of the money to reconstruction efforts, charities, and orphanages and convinces aang that having an emergency fund is a good thing and he should keep something. aang accidentally ends up with a reasonably full bank account and is really confused about how that happened, why it’s there, and what he’s supposed to do with it
- there is a real weird period of time where it’s In Fashion for high noble ladies to have shawls and scarves dyed the same color as aangs clothes (because that’s how you know it’s made with special avatar yarn!) or have images of appa woven into them (can you imagine a shawl that’s just a full length body shot of appa?? amazing) and all the earth kingdom nobility are just rocking green and orange like nbd. weaving decorative shawls with slubby yarn becomes really in fashion, too, because aang is not great at spinning. he’s 13 and it’s boring, ok?
- BONUS sokka is just. so mad. you could have been making bank with appa the whole time we were scrambling around the planet aang? do you realize how much more food we could have had? how many more hot baths?? how could you betray me like this
(probably the air nomads also did a lot of weaving but it was mostly the pregnant nuns and the really old nomads so it’s a little off aangs radar. and does aang eat cheese? it never comes up in series but I would also believe that the nomads made a lot of air bison cheese and bison butter tea)
headcanon accepted re: sky bison products
you said SPINNING on a DROP SPINDLE and i instantly went YES. OH GOD YES.
i bet sky bison yarn is really strong but probably not super soft – we see in the show that the fibers are really long, which lends itself well to strong yarns that can stand up to a lot of wear and tear (silk yarn is INCREDIBLE when it comes to being hard-wearing, and that’s mostly because silk is basically an INFINITELY LONG FIBER). But because it’s so long and comes from such a large animal, it’s probably really coarse and thick.
I’m imagining most of those high-class ladies would be wearing at least one layer underneath their shawls, because bison yarn is probably pretty itchy if you’re used to high quality wool, silk, or fine linen. Especially bison yarn spun by a 13yo who doesn’t really like spinning.
unless of course the air nomads bred their bison specifically for soft fur, but generally when you’re breeding for stuff like that, you need different breeds for different purposes. appa’s pretty clearly a long-distance riding bison, which would probably have been a different breed than whichever ones would have been bred for soft fur. most species of domesticated animal that are dual+ purpose (i.e. meat/milk/wool/transportation) have breeds that can only do one or two of those well, and the others not as great.
the air nomads obviously would not have been breeding for meat, because vegetarians. For long distance travel and a nomadic lifestyle I bet they would have wanted a travel/milk dual purpose breed, but because they can regulate their body temperature with airbending, soft warm yarn might not have been a high priority for that breed.
which is a lot of words to say “appa-fur yarn is ITCHY”
My impression is that the sky bisons aren’t actually domesticated, so much as semi-sentient and choosing to partner with the air nomads, so I don’t think they’d be bred for anything, much less soft hair.
I actually headcanon spinning as something air nomad kids would be taught to do from a young age to burn off energy and stress and make it easier for them to learn to meditate, so I think Aang would probably be decent at making yarn that’s evenly spun, but probably wouldn’t have the experience to make super fine thread.
I would assume that appa has a double layer coat like most high altitude herd animals, so even without selective breeding the insulating inner layer would probably be suuuper soft. just look up qiviut for an idea of how soft and expensive muskox fur can get, and the skeins of bison fur yarn I have aren’t noticeably different from something like alpaca. assuming that appa sheds a proportionate amount of undercoat to muskox or bison (up to seven pounds a year) there is going to be a LOT of snuggly undercoat to turn into snuggly Soft Things
and I’ve seen a couple people say that aang would probably have learned spinning pretty young and be fairly competent at it, and I agree! I def meant the questionable yarn quality to be a statement on his attention span and post-war schedule, not skill (I don’t really know how to spin so idk if constantly starting and stopping and not paying any attention anyway would effect the consistency any? it just Felt Right)
I’ve never spun anything like qiviut – the most exotic thing I’ve spun is alpaca, unless folks think silk is more exotic – so I didn’t think about the double coat! Don’t they usually need special treatment to separate the topcoat from the undercoat, tho? I wouldn’t be surprised if Aang either didn’t know or wasn’t very good at separating from them.
I *do* spin on a drop spindle, tho, and the biggest problem with stopping and starting often is keeping the single the same width, but you have the same problem stopping and starting ANY kind of spinning project. In some ways, a drop spindle makes it easier to control that than a regular spinning wheel – you have a lot more control over the fiber and the yarn you’re spinning, so you can be more precise. My drop spindle yarns tend to be very regular and compact, while my spinning wheel yarns are more varied and lofty.
However, now I’m picturing the moment when you spin your single a little too thin, and the drop spindle lives up to its name – from hundreds or even thousands of feet in the air! Plummetting off the side of the air bison, with the older nomads scrambling to catch it…
I can totally imagine that the air nomads hat special spindles with gliders (like his stick where he glides with) to spin with airbending as a practice for beginner benders, or in a similar stile as the hand spinning wheels from India, but for air nomads!
And wouldn’t the process from start to finish be a good lesson in great fullness? Like how long it takes from baby bison to clothes
Maby even a live milestone. From first bison who chosen you to your first own robe/Stola??
It could even be that the Air Nomad’s robes were MADE out of sky bison fur, if the under coat was a) incredibly soft (I bet they’d wear the over coat too just because they didn’t really care about worldly possessions and comfortability) and b) their only farm animal was the sky bison. That’s what the Air Nomad’s wear, is Sky bison wool clothes.
Also, to the person who said Sky Bisons would only shed about seven pounds a year, I would like to counter that idea with the fact that Appa is GARGANTUAN. He has enough room on his saddle to carry literally six or seven children and their equipment on his back without much complaint, of which these children are not too much smaller than adults. An ox or an Alpaca or a normal Bison are tiny compared to Appa.
Appa’d have a metric butt ton of under fur on his body. I’d say about twenty to thirty pounds of under fur, with more on top, at the very least.
ok so I didn’t know that supported spindles existed and YES, very much yes to those. I love that.
I was actually trying to say that if muskox shed seven pounds we could use that to extrapolate how much appa shed if he shed proportionate to his size, not that appa would only shed seven pounds
ok, adhd rabbit hole time because I just looked up the average size of muskoxen and the approximate size of appa and, uh. apparently muskoxen are 900lbs full grown and appa is ten tons. over TWENTY TIMES THE SIZE OF A MUSKOX. obvs that’s doesn’t actually tell us anything about appas actual height and length but that’s the only solid number the show gives us and thirty pounds of underfur is starting to seem pretty conservative. it might be closer to 120lbs???
which is a weird way to say that I bet the air nomads had lots of crazy air powered spinning contraptions (and I’m still assuming that anything they had that wasn’t easily transportable was dealt with by pregnant nuns and aang wasn’t really introduced to it yet) and they just churned out textiles. literally everything fabric the nomads used was probably bison fur in some way because there was just. so. much. fur.
Textiles Tumblr coming in clutch to build the air nomad trade empire
#Avatar: The Last Airbender #meta