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Avatar draws on four classical elements for its bending arts: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. Although each has its own variation, almost all ancient philosophies incorporate these four elements in some way. They are commonly used as the basis of elemental magic in modern fiction. In the show’s opening, each element is accompanied by 2 Chinese characters—an ancient Chinese seal script character of the element on the left, along with a more modern Chinese character of the corresponding attribute on the right:
When read from right to left in the way Chinese characters used to be written, they form actual Chinese phrases—namely,
the "benevolent water", the "strong earth", the "intense fire" and the "harmonious air".