Can I take a moment to talk about that structure there? It’s that shrine-looking thing at the end of LoK/episode 12 where Korra gives Lin her bending back.
That up there looks uncannily like a Buddhist stupa, a type of structure found throughout Asia that often houses relics of the Buddha and the bodhisattvas. There are are relic stupas, object stupas, commemorative stupas, symbolic stupas, and votive stupas, each having its own purpose.
The first thing that’s so very strange about it is that it’s surrounded by large, standing rocks. And the second thing that’s really strange about it is that Korra gives Lin back her bending at this specific spot.
It’s in the middle of the South Pole. Why are there stones around it? Why is it colored with earthen tones, rather than the whites and blues of the Water Tribe?
That leads me to believe that it isn’t just some random shrine.
I personally have begun to think it’s Toph’s grave, a relic to her memory and probably where she’s buried. That is, it is a stupa commemorative stupa (and perhaps even a relic stupa, if she is indeed buried there). And if that’s the case, that makes Lin getting her bending back at that particular spot especially poignant and touching because Lin is the carrier of her mother’s legacy and what better place to receive the greatest gift her mother gave her back?
There’s also a few other things that are ridiculously striking about this. According to Wikipedia, there are 8 different kinds of stupas, each symbolic of a different moment in the Buddha’s life. This stupa in particular is bell-shaped and has no extra ornamentation. That is supposedly symbolic of the Buddha’s ascension to Nirvana.
The stupa is also supposed to represent the four elements in total harmony as well as enlightenment:
- the square base represents earth
- the dome represents water
- the spire (or the steps) represent fire
- the lotus on the top of the spire of the stupa represents air
- and the steps can be said to represent the ascension to enlightenment.
And enlightenment in Korra’s case (within context, of course)? Connecting with the Avatar Spirit and realizing that she is the Avatar and that no one can take that away from her.
So whoa. You’ve got both Toph and Lin’s relationship represented here, as well as Korra’s realization of being the Avatar.
That’s how Bryke intended to end the series. And damn, that’s pretty mind blowing.