The Na'vi are a race of sapient extraterrestrial humanoids who inhabit the jungle moon of Pandora, which orbits around the gas giant Polyphemus. Humans are known to refer to them as blues, savages, the locals or the natives. Parker Selfridge referred to them as blue monkeys.
The indigenous Na'vi are, on average, three to four meters (9.10 feet) tall or (12 feet) tall since some are twice our own height, they have a smooth cyan-colored skin, large amber eyes, and long, sweeping tails. They are the only known extraterrestrial species discovered to have human-like consciousness and intelligence. They have developed a sophisticated culture based on a profound spiritual connection to other life on their moon, each other, and an encompassing "spirit" they call Eywa.
Each Na’vi is born with three fingers and one thumb on each hand and four toes on each foot, unlike the Avatars of the Humans who have four fingers and one thumb on each hand and five toes on each foot because of the fusion of DNA.
The Na'vi seem to have a different evolutionary ancestor to other creatures that share two pairs of eyes and three pairs of arms-legs-or-wings, but they have a Queue which provides the ability to make a bond with the environment.
On the whole, the Na'vi are quite similar to humans, both in appearance and anatomically. They are, however, much larger and typically stronger than humans. Na'vi are normally about 3 meters in height. This may be in part due to Pandora's lower gravity than Earth, which, after time will cause a person to "get soft" (as Colonel Quaritch put it).
Their skeletons are reinforced with naturally occurring carbon fiber, making their bones extremely rigid and hard to bend-(but they easily crack under focused pressure).
Their hands are graceful, with three very long fingers, and one opposable thumb. However, it should be noted that human-grown Na'vi (the Avatars) have four main fingers in addition to the opposable thumb just as in the human hand.
The faces have high cheekbones and large yellow eyes, with irises significantly larger than those of humans. When open they dominate the face, like those of a cat or lemur. The ears of the Na'vi are long and pointed and are able to swivel around much like that of a dog or a cat. The mouth is also large, but similar to a human's, with a faint cat-like bifurcation of the upper lip. The nose also faintly resembles that of a cat's, but this is only visible in close-ups. The teeth are white, with pronounced canines, upper and lower. The Na'vi species do obviously eat meat, but they are assumed to be generally omnivorous.
The Na'vi have tails which are long and mostly prehensile, but more like the tail of a panther than a monkey. A complex pattern of iridescent dots and lines, mostly symmetrical, runs over the body, seemingly following the lines of the nervous or circulatory system. These are bioluminescent chromatophores, and they glow in the dark like fireflies. The Na'vi can communicate with these, and in fact they are constantly shifting and changing color to indicate mood and emotion, without conscious control. Na'vi have hair only on their heads and the very ends of their tails, and what people often mistake for a large braid is hair that covers an external part of their nervous system.
The Na'vi (and almost all other animal life on Pandora) anatomy includes a Neural queue which is similar in appearance on the Na'vi to long braided human hair, but is in fact an extension of their nervous system. It may look like that because the Na'vi braid it or because they have evolved the normally separate neural whip (as the structure is called on animals) pieces, as on most all over animals, into one. It is used to form Tsahaylu, a connection with other living things, like other animals that possess a neural whip or antennae (such as the Pa'li and the Ikran) and plants such as the Tree of Voices.
This queue looks like a long braid, with many little pink, hairy, worm-like neural fibers on the end. The Na'vi use this organ to establish a neural-level connection to nearly any part of the Pandoran ecosystem. This connection is total, so both partners are in full control of the connected beings. The connection can serve many purposes, but is mostly used to enable a Na'vi rider to command his or her mount with his or her mind and with apparent little effort, and without use of their hands, which frees those up to use a weapon. This also enables her/him to use the mount's sensory organs. This also means that a Na'vi rider feels the pain when the connected animal is being hurt. In the case of communication with plant life, the vast network of connected nodes (plants) serves as a biological memory for Na'vi ancestors, and perhaps much more.
The bonding of queues, Tsahaylu, with an Ikran is a rite of passage that all young Na'vi must endeavour. It is known as Iknimaya. The bond is one that lasts for a lifetime after the first flight has occurred. The Na'vi connect their queues during mating to create a strong emotional lifelong bond.
- Smooth skin is iridescent, cyan color. Long, prehensile (able to grasp) tails. High cheekbones, feline ears and large amber coloured eyes. Bioluminescent markings aid in identification and mood display. Average life span is similar to that of a human.
- Despite skin color, Na'vi have red blood (possibly because they are carbon-based life forms).
- Waist is narrow and elongated. The shoulders are very wide, creating a V-shaped upper back. The neck is long and body slender. Musculature sharply defined, giving no sense of emaciation despite thin proportions.
- Skeleton is reinforced with naturally occurring carbon fiber. Average male is 3 meters (9.8 feet) tall, females slightly smaller.
- Three long fingers plus opposable thumb on hands; four toes on feet. It should be noted that the Na'vi/human hybrid Avatars have five digits on both hands and feet.
- Highly evolved nervous system includes a "Queue" which resembles a long, rather ostentatious hair braid. This seemingly conventional braid actually sheathes a remarkably intricate system of neural tendrils that can be connected to similar structures of other life-forms. See Queue.
- They have roughly four times the strength of the average human.
- Reproduction mechanics similar to humans and other Terran mammals.
The Na'vi are fundamentally different from many other Pandoran mammals:
- They only have four limbs, while many other medium-to-large-bodied animals have a total of six limbs.
- They have only a single pair of eyes, while most other beings have two pairs of eyes, one primary set and another, smaller set.
- Nearly other animals have two nerve clusters extending backward from the head, while the Na'vi only have a single nerve cluster located in their queue.
- Many animals possess twin air intakes on the shoulders that supply air and keep their internal body temperature down, while the Na'vi possess no such structures.
So we may conclude that the Na'vi either diverged a long time ago from the common Pandoran evolution tree, or in fact they are outsiders to this world. This latter theory is supported by the fact that the Na'vi and the humans have so much in common, including such rituals as kissing or the covering of the genital areas. However, the queue present in all Na'vi contradicts this theory. They presumably share a common ancestor with Prolemures, which also have hair and a single pair of eyes.
The Na'vi are humanoid creatures that live in various territorial clans across Pandora. Their culture is non-technological, and a premium is placed upon young men either growing up to be fearsome warriors, or dying in the effort. Like all creatures on Pandora, their fate is controlled by the sentient intelligence they worship as "Eywa". They have no choice but to live in harmony and natural equilibrium with their surroundings. If they become too numerous, Eywa will devise a way to limit their numbers before they cause an ecological imbalance. Understandably, the Na'vi have therefore over millennia developed a healthy respect for their surrounding environment. In return, the environment has provided them with sufficient food and shelter, creatures to ride for ground and air transportation, and an ambient, comfortable temperature throughout the atmosphere of Pandora, plus a curious absence of pesky insects and harmful microorganisms. Not surprisingly, when provided for so thoroughly by Eywa, they have failed to develop tools and weapons for purposes beyond primitive warfare with the surrounding clans and hunting. Culturally, they are comparable to Ancient African tribes, Native Americans, Polynesians,and Australia's Indigenous people with trace similarities to the Norse people of northern Europe. Lacking in any tradition of science, they view Eywa as an all-knowing, all-powerful mother goddess, and have developed a complex religion around their interaction with Eywa, centered around the Tree of Souls, which grows only in rare locations across Pandora.
The Na'vi are monogamous creatures who mate for life. The mechanics of reproduction are similar to that of humans and other Terran mammals. However, their unique physiology provides the Na'vi with a level of intimacy unknown on Earth. Cultural anthropologists believe that when an appropriate mate has been selected (which can take many years), the male and female Na'vi will connect queues (called Tsahaylu) to create an emotional bond that lasts a lifetime. The intertwining of queues is both highly erotic and profoundly spiritual, but does not in itself lead to reproduction.
Traditionally, once a Na'vi male has passed the tests on the path to manhood and has been accepted into the clan as an adult, he is not only allowed to make his bow from the wood of the Hometree, but he is also expected to choose his woman. After the woman has been chosen, the new couple are mated before Eywa.
Jake Sully chooses Neytiri to become his mate, and she accepts and mates with him under the Tree of Voices following his acceptance into the Omaticaya clan as 'One of the People'.
Once Tsahaylu is made between the couple, the ultimate in intimacy, pleasure that is unfathomable to humans, causes the somewhat unwillful sharing of the couple's good memories, and is a sign of Eywa's acceptance. If a couple can be foreseen to not have a pleasant or happy future, Eywa has been known to reverse the feeling produced by making Tsahaylu, a sign to the couple that mating would only, in simple words, ruin their lives together, and therefore prevents the mating, because of its lifelong span. After the resulting embracing and kissing, the couple is sent to sleep by Eywa, and the two dream hintings of their future together. The couple will experience the pleasure of Tsahaylu from the moment of connection, until they awaken and have completed mating, when they disconnect and return to the clan, mated for life.
Little apparel is worn by the Na'vi. Cloth, most likely woven from native flora of the Pandora is the basic garment worn by all Na'vi. It is possible that very little clothing is worn by the Na'vi because it is simply what is needed for the Na'vi to work and live taking minimally from the environment. Clothes appear to also show the ranking of one in the hierarchy of a clan. For example, the Omaticaya clan leader, Eytukan, wore a garment made of brilliant or precious materials in comparison to a simple clothing piece worn by an other clan members. Accessories are added to a Na'vi's attire as he or she moves up in the clan hierarchy. For example, Jake Sully, as an apprentice clan member, wore only an undecorated loincloth; as he learned more about the Na'vi culture, however, he wore armbands and necklaces to display his ranking.
Although their society is essentially Palaeolithic, the Na'vi have developed a complex culture based on a profound spiritual connection among all creatures, and to the deity they call Eywa. They are expert hunters and gatherers as well as artisans who celebrate the interconnectedness of nature through story and song.
The Na'vi have no far-reaching political structures on the scale of nation-states, but are organized into relatively structured clans. Occasionally different clans from far-reaching areas will cooperate in times of great crisis. The only known event that has caused all clans to join together is when they are led by a "toruk makto", a Na'vi that has managed to ride and control a Great Leonopteryx, uniting all clans under him. By the events of the Avatar film (c. 2154), this has only ever happened five times, and the last toruk makto lived four generations ago.
Pandora is largely a jungle world, and thus many Na'vi tribes are similar to the Omaticaya clan that lives near the RDA mining operations at Hell's Gate. Evidence on other clans is sketchy, however, and it is vaguely implied that clans from other biomes may display some regional variation in culture.
- Tree Clans of the Jungle - jungle-dwelling clans that live in Hometrees.
- Horse Clans of the Plains - live in the plains which are beyond the jungles, within traveling distance of the Omaticaya. While the Omaticaya ride Direhorses when necessary, the Plains Riders have heavily based their way of life around riding them. They seem to favor facial piercing with bone somewhat more than the Omaticaya.
- Ikran Clans of the Eastern Sea - live on the coastal cliffs, within traveling distance of the Omaticaya. While the plains clans are more reliant on Direhorses than the Omaticaya, the Ikran clan is more dependent on Mountain Banshees, that make it possible to reach otherwise inaccessible cliffs. While the Omaticaya decorate their bodies with stripes of warpaint when going into battle, Ikran clan appears to wear body-paint much more often, and far more of it. It is possible that this is for status reasons: the female lead warrior of this clan was decorated in large patches of red body-paint in complex shapes.
When Jake Sully, as the sixth Toruk Makto (Rider of the Last Shadow), rallied "all the clans" to aid the Omaticaya in driving off the RDA and protecting the Tree of Souls, fourteen clans were said to answer the call (since Jake mentions fifteen clans, counting the Omaticaya in). Thus there are at least that many clans that the Omaticaya are within traveling distance of.