The Painted Lady is an episode that showcased just how effective team Avatar was all through their journey in the Earth Kingdom. They made it a point of contact, either knowingly or unknowingly, to leave some lasting effect and create some change wherever they went. It was a natural impulse for good in a way.

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Who is the Painted Lady? 

The Painted Lady is a benevolent spirit of the Jang Hui River. She is recognized and fabled for her protective abilities and healing abilities as well. She once acted as the guardian of the Jang Hui village but was driven away after a couple of hundred years. This was when the Fire Nation invaded and occupied the village.

The soot from their factory contaminated the village, and the Painted Lady ceased to guard the village. Some fans have seriously debated this, pointing that the villagers needed her the most at the time. 

The Painted Lady chooses who she reveals herself to and saves from that; only the spiritually enlightened and inclined can see her form. The Painted Lady 

History of the Painted Lady 

The Painted Lady in Avatar lore was originally a human being. She lived before the 3rd century BG. She was a person that had a strong spiritual affinity. She had a close relationship with nature and maintained a strong connection to the spirits. As a result of this affinity for spiritual things, she transcended into the Spirit World after her death.

After becoming a spirit, the Painted Lady began to watch over the river town of Jang Hui until the Fire Nation Army built a factory on the corresponding river in 90 AG. At this point, the fire nation factory began polluting the river by discharging its waste into it. The pollution drove the Painted Lady away, leaving the villagers to fend for themselves.

Several years later, as the villagers tell Aang and his friends, the fish and oceanic wildlife ceased to exist soon after the factory came into functionality. So when the Avatar and his friends arrived at the village, the village was already a wretched place to live as their livelihood hung in the balance.

The town of Jang Hui is a fishing village, and this factory hindered that to the maximum. The village had soon become deprived of survival and devastated by illnesses caused by the pollutants in its waters. This pollution came from the factory, and it became clear that their only problem was the factory. 

Through intense persuasion from Katara, who impersonated the Painted Lady for several days, Team Avatar assisted the villagers in cleaning up the river. Finally, one night by the side of the river, Katara found herself in the presence of the real Painted Lady, who thanked her for her part in cleaning the Jang Hui River.

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Team Avatar Arriving at Jang Hui Village 

When the team came to the fishing village, they were surprised at what they found. The village was suffering greatly, and Katara, unable to look away from their suffering, decided to dress up as the Painted Lady to help them.

If they wanted to get help from anyone, she felt they would rather it be their precious deity, the Painted Lady, than some colonial girl. At this point, Sokka had already created a strategic schedule and routine for them to follow if they were to meet up with the mini invasion they were planning. 

When they got back into town the next day, it was significantly livelier. The villagers, Xu being their representative, informed them that they had a prestigious visit from the Painted Lady the night before. Sokka, immediately concluding that the villagers were in good hands, asked for a fish and instantly said they were on their way. 

He eventually suggests that if the Painted Lady wanted to help the village, she would blow up the factory. But, after Aang found her out, she persuaded him to help rid the town of the factory forever.

They eventually all get caught up and know that Katara was the Painted Lady. The fire nation, refusing to sit by as their factory was destroyed, decides to attack the village. With the help of team Avatar, they drive back the fire bending attack and join hands with the villagers to clean the river.

The Painted Lady manifests herself to Katara as she goes for a drink in the river later that night, offering a single sentence.

“Thank you.”

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Quick Facts On The Painted Lady 

  • Rangi,(a was a Fire Army officer and firebending instructor who was the only child of Junsik and Hei-Ran, Avatar Kuruk’s former firebending teacher.) imitated the makeup of the Painted Lady the first time she wore the red and white colors of the Flying Opera Company.
  • The Painted Lady’s makeup in some way resembles the makeup of the firebender seen in the opening of the unaired pilot, as well as that of the Kyoshi Warriors.
  • The Painted Lady is a water spirit. Given that the Moon Spirit and Ocean Spirit are closely related, this means she is connected to Princess Yue in a way. Her mysterious and ominous appearance is somewhat similar to Yue’s appearance as the Moon Spirit.
  • The Painted Lady is one of a few known individuals to transcend into the Spirit World following their death, the others being the Kemurikage, (who are spirits that haunted warlords in the Fire Islands centuries prior to the formation of the Fire Nation.) and of course Iroh.
  • The Painted Lady is one of two real spirits to have been impersonated by humans; the other being the Kemurikage, who was impersonated by Azula and the Fire Warriors.

Where Else You Can Learn About The Painted Lady

  • She was originally introduced on (October 5, 2007). “The Painted Lady”. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 3. Nickelodeon. This episode was written by Hamilton and directed by both Joshua & Spaulding, Ethan.  
  • She can also be found from the older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang – Character: The Painted Lady.
  • More information on her can be found on Bryan Konietzko spoke on the DVD commentary for “A New Spiritual Age”.
  • Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Twenty-Six, “Home Again”. The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  • She is also on the Avatar Extras for “The Painted Lady” on Nicktoons Network.
  • DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part Two (December 16, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  • Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 8, 2013). “A New Spiritual Age”. The Legend of Korra. Book Two: Spirits. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  • DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part Three (April 12, 2016), Dark Horse Comics.
  • The Painted Lady’s lore goes very far back and has been extremely useful in providing people with a sense of comfort, relief and protection.

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