Fans of James Cameron's Avatar may still be waiting for a sequel, but that doesn't mean more Avatar stories aren't being told in the meantime. In fact, now that a comic book is showing the events of the first Avatar from a different perspective, the truth about the Na'vi 'ponytails' and their intimate bonds has been explained. And those who equated "tsaheylu" with sex are going to seriously regret it.
The ability possessed by Na'vi and human-engineered Avatars to connect with other plants, animals, and people has gained a certain level of notoriety for obvious reasons. Even to fans of Avatar, the sexual (specifically phallic) connotations of 'joining ponytails' is a... memorable metaphor, conveying the movie's idea of planetary oneness. For detractors of the film, a reference made to 'ponytail sex' can be a means to condense, mock, or even belittle Avatar's place in film history.
Now that the comic series Avatar: Tsu'tey's Path has clarified the lore and tradition informing that infamous bond, it shouldn't be a surprise to learn that James Cameron's intentions were completely misunderstood.
- This Page: How Ponytails Were Used in Avatar
- Next Page: The TRUE Purpose of Avatar's Ponytail 'Bond'
How Avatar's Ponytails Form 'The Bond'
Since it's been almost a decade since the first Avatar came out, we presume that audience members on either side of the divide could use a refresher. The first glimpse moviegoers got of the Na'vi ponytail (officially the "queue") was thanks to Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) examining it in his bunk. And from the very beginning, Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) made the connection to an adolescent also getting to know their own body, warning that if Jake were to keep playing with the tendrils of his queue, he would "go blind." But the purpose that the queues actually serve on Pandora came later, when Neytiri finally started showing Jake the ropes of becoming one of the Omaticaya Clan.
First came the forming of "the bond" with a Direhorse, an alien version of our planet's own version. It was here that Neytiri explained the bond as allowing Jake to feel the heartbeat, the breath, and the body of his Direhorse as if it were his own. The rest of the film would make similar links to the flying Banshees, and even the holy trees of the Omaticaya. From the looks of it, every being on Padnora had a queue, and every being was intended to use it.
The Avatar 'Mating' Scene Everyone Remembers
The most unforgettable use of the queues or ponytails was, of course, the mating scene between Jake and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). There isn't any explicit act shown between the two leads, but the commitment is clear. Jake and Neytiri choose eachother as mates for life, they connect their ponytails queues (a pleasurable experience), and begin mating the way audiences would expect. So if only that scene stuck, then yes: assuming Na'vi and Avatar ponytails were sexual, or erotic appendages would make sense.
But now that the true beginning of a Na'vi person's life of tsaheylu, and communion with spirits has been revealed, fans are going to seriously regret the years spent connecting the bond to sex. Because Na'vi don't bond with an animal, or even Eywa first... they link ponytails with their mother.