The braid on the back of a Na’vi’s head in Avatar is essential to understanding the species. It’s sacred to a Na’vi and the most cherished part of their body. Why is that, and what does that tail do? Even though it isn’t mentioned in the movies, the tail is called a queue, but it’s not just the Na’vi that have it. Why does every being on Pandora have a queue?
The queue of a Na’vi and every other creature on Pandora allows them to connect to one another. It gives them direct access to the neural pathways in which the whole world is bound. All living things on Pandora can connect spiritually through the queue. It is not known why they have it, but it might have simply been the will of Eywa to create all inhabitants of Pandora in such a way so that they may connect to her and each other.
Pandora is as complicated as physics, so a simple answer won’t cut it if we want to understand the queue, Na’vi, and Eywa. So let’s dig a little deeper and make sense of the wonderful ecosystem that the planet of Pandora is and how the queue is involved in all of it.
Grace Augustine mentions in one of the movie’s first scenes that there are more neural pathways on Pandora than in a brain. This might not seem like a lot considering Pandora is an entire planet, and the human brain has a volume of only 1.3000 cubic centimeters. Still, the number of neural pathways a brain has is 1 trillion, and Pandora has more.
Pandora sounds sciencey, but that’s not the case at all. Pandora’s inhabitants are very spiritual; they all worship the Great Mother, or Eywa, as they call her. Eywa is perhaps a living and breathing entity. Still, if you consider that the entirety of Pandora is one big brain, this makes every other being of Pandora a part of Eywa.
Is the queue hair?
Think of a queue as a tail that grows from the head and has a neural whip and protective casing. During the first movie, we could only theorize that the queue was hair. Still, in the second Avatar movie, we see a newborn member of the Na’vi whose hair hasn’t grown yet, so the queue is visible, and it’s obvious that it’s like a tail. That is why it hurts so much when somebody pulls it.
But to answer the question, the queue is hair in no way, shape, or form; it’s just that hair can grow on it to hide how it usually looks. The Na’vi also use the braid to protect the queue and nourish the braid for the rest of their life. Whenever a member of the Na’vi takes the queue and decides to connect to another being of Pandora that also has the queue, the protective layer opens up. It reveals the neural whip that then connects.
What happens when a connection is made?
Members of the Na’vi like to use the term ”I see you” a lot. It has a deep meaning incomprehensible to an ordinary human. ”I see you are an expression of respect and love, and each member of the Na’vi approaches making the connection with the same respect and love. When a connection is made, the pupils dilate, and the two beings almost become one, Think of it as symbiosis. Still, both members of the connection now share each other’s thoughts, see each other’s memories, and become bonded.
Not all bonding of queues is the same, though. For example, once the bonding of queues occurs with an Ikran, the creatures the members of the Omaticaya use to fly, the bond lasts for a lifetime. An Ikran chooses its rider, and the rider chooses its Ikran. An Ikran won’t allow a connection to be made and will, instead, try to kill his potential rider. The bond is sealed once the first flight occurs.
How does the Na’vi mate?
If mating is considered a bonding of souls, as a spiritual journey both participants go through, it’s only natural that the Na’vi used the queue to mate as well, and it is true. The Na’vi are naturally monogamous and mate for life. The bond both participants make is sacred and not to be taken lightly.
The connecting of those neural pathways between all creatures, not just your mate, is called Tsaheylu and translates to bond. Tsaheylu allows the participants to connect mentally and share information with one another.
What does the queue mean to the Na’vi?
The queue is the biggest part of a Na’vi’s identity. If someone were to cut off a Na’vi’s queue, it would be worse than death. This is because that same member wouldn’t be able to connect to any being of Pandora ever again, they wouldn’t be able to pray to Eywa, and they wouldn’t be able to access the network that connects all living things on Pandora.
Death is a part of life, and the Na’vi believe that all energy is borrowed, and once we have gone full circle, we have to give it back. That is not to say that death isn’t painful to the Na’vi; it’s just that they accept it and welcome it with both hands because they never truly die. They return and become a part of Eywa, and their memories live on in the network.
What we learned about the queue from Tulkuns
Tulkuns have their queue inside their mouth, so for a Na’vi to bond with a Tulkun, the Na’vi must enter a Tulkun’s mouth and access the queue. When Lo’ak does this with Payakan, they form two bonds, the bond of trust and the bond with their queues. Once you bond with a Tulkun, you are a member of the people. That’s how the Metkayin tribe sees it. The Metikaya tribe sees that you’re one of the people once you bond with your Ikran and take the first flight.
Tulkuns are to the Metkayins spiritual brothers and sisters. They share stories of happiness and sadness whenever they meet again once the Tulkuns migrate. When Lo’ak bonds with the outcast Tulkun Payakan, Tulkun shows him his memories. Once you’ve made the connection, it seems that this happens to every other Na’vi, and that’s when their pupils dilate.