Zonai

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The Zonai are a recurring group of people in The Legend of Zelda series.(BotW)[1][2]

Although the Zonai people are never actually seen or mentioned in Breath of the Wild, with only implications from the remains of their civilization— the only explicit instance of "Zonai" in that game is the name of the Zonai Ruins location— their existence as an ancient people and backstory was expanded upon in Creating a Champion. The Zonai are significantly elaborated upon in Tears of the Kingdom, where they make an in-person appearance for the first time and are shown to have been integral to the founding of the Kingdom of Hyrule depicted in the game.

Overview

Characteristics

The Zonai were a powerful Magic-wielding tribe of people.[1] They are an ancient tribe who came from the heavens and are said to be descended from the gods.[3] From those gods the Zonai were given the Secret Stones, which could amplify an individual's magical abilities.[4] When the Zonai first descended to the surface, the ancient Hylians mistook them as gods.[5] The largest concentration of Zonai architecture is in the Faron Region, with the Zonai Ruins there allegedly being their home.[6]

They were rumored to be barbaric and are accordingly spoken of only in whispers.[1] Tears of the Kingdom reveals that the Zonai had an animalistic appearance with vaguely sheep-like features, very large ears, and a third eye on their foreheads. Contrary to the aforementioned rumors, they are shown to have had a highly advanced civilization in the sky and were viewed by the Hylians as gods. One of them, Rauru married a Hylian woman named Sonia, and together they founded the kingdom of Hyrule.[7] During this time period most of the Zonai were already gone, with only Rauru and his sister Mineru remaining.[8] 10,000 years before Breath of the Wild, the Ancient Hero who wielded the Master Sword and fought beside the princess and Divine Beasts to defeat Calamity Ganon was a Zonai.[9][10]

The Barbarian Set is an Armor Set that belonged to an ancient, warlike tribe from the Faron Region, possibly related to the rumors of the Zonai being barbarians.[1] Though no explicit connection between this warlike tribe and the Zonai has been made, the three pieces of the Barbarian Set are found in the Lomei Labyrinths which are of Zonai construction, and the Faron Region was also home to the Zonai Ruins. However, the Barbarian Set does not match the visual style of other Zonai clothing.

History

Breath of the Wild

No records remain of the history of the Zonai.[1] However, it is known that they suddenly disappeared thousands of years prior to the Era of the Wilds.[1] Many of their ruins seem to have been built in relation to the Ancient Shrines, which date back to the Era of Prosperity estimated to be roughly 10,000 years prior to the Era of the Wilds.[1]

Tears of the Kingdom

Some backstory is given to the Zonai when Link and Zelda venture beneath Hyrule Castle, where Zelda begins to recognize the signature architecture of the Zonai. She tells Link what she knows from her studies: "The Zonai are said to have lived long ago, in the time of earliest legend. They possessed godlike powers and had a prosperous civilization in the sky.:[11] Among the only things historians knew about the Zonai is that they existed during the period where the kingdom of Hyrule was founded.[12] The Zonai lived on the Sky Islands and created Constructs to serve them.[citation needed]

Hyrule was founded by the Zonai King, Rauru in union with the Hylian priestess Sonia. According to Ganondorf, during the time of their reign, Rauru and his older sister Mineru were the only remaining Zonai;[8] what exactly happened to the other Zonai, such as if they all perished or simply returned to the sky, remains unclear. Rauru and Sonia also set up the Shrines of Light to seal away monsters.[13] During the Imprisoning War, Rauru sacrificed himself to seal Ganondorf underground, while Mineru placed her soul within the Purah Pad which was given to a Steward Construct for safekeeping.

The fact that Rauru and Sonia are seen along Hylians using Zonai designs as well as Kazul's research that the Thyphlo Ruins were not built by Zonai but by contemporary Hylians to commemorate the sages[citation needed] may indicate that some ruins previously thought to be Zonai in origin may have actually belonged to associated Hylians.

The Ancient Hero's appearance somewhat resembles that of a Zonai and his armor is identical to the Zonaite Armor, but given his slightly different features and the fact that he lived during the first Great Calamity only 10,000 years prior, this remains unconfirmed.

Culture

As the Zonai disappeared long before the events of Breath of the Wild, the only known remnants of their civilization are the many Zonai Ruins they left behind throughout Kingdom of Hyrule. Zonai architecture appears to have been based heavily on pre-Columbian Mesoamerican architecture. The Surface Zonai Ruins present prior to the Upheaval differ significantly in appearance to the ones found in the Sky and the Depths in Tears of the Kingdom. The Surface ruins are more modern than their Depths and Sky counterparts. Their age can be determined by the designs on them and materials they are made of.[14]

Zonai constructed Zonai Towers across Kingdom of Hyrule, though their purpose is unknown. They may have been used for magical purposes,[1] although it is impossible to confirm this idea.[1] For some reason, though they are known as Zonai Towers, they resemble contemporary Hylian architecture.[note 1]

Tears of the Kingdom features Zonai Technologies prominently, including Zonai Devices, Constructs, and various Bows, Shields, Weapons, and Armor.

Symbolism

A new symbol, featuring several motifs from Tears of the Kingdom

The Zonai made use of a unique spiral symbol,[1] which can be found on most objects related to them. The Zonai crest appears on the 65 Cube Patterns found throughout Hyrule Kingdom in Breath of the Wild. The Zonai spiral pattern can also be seen on the tiles along roads once populated by the Zonai.

The Zonai depicted each piece of the Triforce with a different animal relating to its qualities. The Triforce of Power was represented by Boars,[16] an animal heavily associated with Ganon who received the Triforce of Power during the Era of the Hero of Time. The Triforce of Wisdom was represented by Owls,[16] which have real-world symbolism attached to wisdom and knowledge. The Triforce of Courage was represented by Dragons.[16] As the Zonai also worshiped a water Dragon,[1] Dragons are the most numerous animals depicted among the three with a large collection of them throughout and leading to their palace surrounding the Spring of Courage.[1]

There are seven known statues of Boars throughout Kingdom of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild: beside the road northwest of the Lakeside Stable, in the southern part of Sarjon Woods, beside Sarjon Bridge, in the Damel Forest northeast of Sarjon Bridge, in the pond west of Dracozu Lake, in Pagos Woods, and in Finra Woods.

23 Owl statues can be found throughout Kingdom of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild: two Owl statues appear at the start of the road east of Sarjon Bridge, three in Ebara Forest, one at Rodai Lake, two at Floria Falls, one in the Bronas Forest, two at the entrance to the Thyphlo Ruins, one in the Bottomless Bog surrounding the Thyphlo Ruins, and 11 inside the Thyphlo Ruins.

A total of 90 Dragon statues can be found in Breath of the Wild: six at the Thundra Plateau, four in the road from Drenan Highlands to the Thyphlo Ruins, 30 inside the Thyphlo Ruins, and 50 along the path leading up to the Spring of Courage.

Symbols of Dragons are often used in pairs, with their heads facing opposite directions. This motif can be seen most notably on many pillars and on the walls of the Lomei Labyrinths, as well as in the logo and throughout the Sky Islands of Tears of the Kingdom. Lotus petals are commonly used in Zonai architecture, adorning walls and towers. In Tears of the Kingdom, lotus buds also appear prominently in the architecture in the Sky and the Depths and within a new symbol combining an Eye Symbol with spread wings, similar to the Royal Crest.

Religion

The Zonai were known to worship the Triforce, though they often used their own visual language to represent the three pieces. In addition, the Zonai worshiped a water Dragon and constructed several Dragon statues along the Dracozu River leading to their palace.[1]

Language

Various characters of a script associated with Zonai artifacts

In Tears of the Kingdom, glyphs resembling Oracle bone script appear throughout the various structures on the Sky Islands in the Sky that resemble Zonai architecture. These glyphs have not been deciphered, however. These glyphs can also be seen in the teal wisps emanating from Rauru's Right Arm.

Geography

The Zonai Ruins in Faron are believed to be the home of the Zonai,[6] as a large amount of ruins can be found spread throughout the jungles of the Faron Region. However, several other Ruins with Zonai architecture can be found throughout Hyrule. Some of these Ruins seem to have been built in relation to other ancient peoples, such as the Hylian Spring of Courage located within the water Dragon shrine in their palace in the Zonai Ruins.[1]

Curiously, the modern Hyrulean ruins in Toto Lake as well as the Ancient Hylian Ruins, recognizable through their Loftwing motifs and fluted columns, at the base of the North Akkala Foothill, overlooking the Rist Peninsula from the southern hill, at the Lodrum Headland, and at Lake Totori South are labeled as Zonai Ruins on the map's legend on pages 412 and 413 of Creating a Champion.

Members

The Zonai disappeared from Kingdom of Hyrule thousands of years prior to the Era of the Wilds and no records of them exist.[1] As a result of this, no members other than Rauru, Mineru, and the Ancient Hero are known.

Gallery

Nomenclature

According to Senior Lead Artist, Makoto Yonezu, the name "Zonai" is an anagram of the Japanese word  (Mystery).[16]

Names in Other Regions
LanguageNamesMeanings
Japan
Japanese
ゾナウ (Zonau)Corruption of 謎 (Nazo) (mystery)
The Federal Republic of Germany
German
Sonau 
This table was generated using translation pages.
To request an addition, please contact a staff member with a reference.

Notes

  1. Early designs of these Zonai Towers from Breath of the Wild show that these Towers originally used a specifically Zonai-themed design, as seen in concept artworks and in the 2016 Breath of the Wild demo.[15] The reason for this change is unknown, though the current Hylian-style Zonai Towers were still attested to be the same structures in Creating a Champion.[15][1]

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 Creating a Champion, Dark Horse Books, pg. 413
  2. "Zonai Ruins" — Map (Breath of the Wild)
  3. "Long ago, my people, known as the Zonai, came from the heavens to the surface of the world. It was said they were the descendants of gods..." — Mineru (Tears of the Kingdom)
  4. "They bore treasures from these same gods--secret stones, capable of amplifying the abilities of those who possessed them." — Mineru (Tears of the Kingdom)
  5. "When your Zonai ancestors first descended upon these lands long, long ago, they must have seemed to be gods." — Ganondorf (Tears of the Kingdom)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Creating a Champion, Dark Horse Books, pg. 359
  7. "What an unexpected answer. We are the king and queen who founded Hyrule, after all. Or at least we were the last time I checked." — Rauru (Tears of the Kingdom)
  8. 8.0 8.1 "It is unfortunate that the noble Zonai no longer grace this world with their presence. All except you and your sister, that is." — Ganondorf (Tears of the Kingdom)
  9. "This item is said to contain the spirit of a hero who once saved Hyrule. That hero's aura will envelop the wearer." — Ancient Hero's Aspect (Tears of the Kingdom)
  10. "Ah. I see that you are wearing the attire of the ancient hero. How amusing. You almost look like that figure depicted on the screen..." — Impa (Tears of the Kingdom)
  11. "These carvings... I'm sure they're Zonai in origin. I've seen designs like this in my studies. The Zonai are said to have lived long ago, in the time of earliest legend. They possessed godlike powers and had a prosperous civilization in the sky. Many history books tell us about the Zonai, but none gives us the full picture. Much is still unknown about them." — Zelda (Tears of the Kingdom)
  12. "One thing historians have been sure about is that the Zonai existed during a time of great significance... When Hyrule itself was founded." — Zelda (Tears of the Kingdom)
  13. "The subject here is the actions King Rauru and Queen Sonia undertook not long after Hyrule's founding. With the kingdom established, they were worried for their people, so they set out to eradicate the monsters troubling them. They created structures called Shrines of Light to seal the monsters away so that they could never be revived." — Wortsworth (Tears of the Kingdom)
  14. "All those Zonai ruins that were here before the Upheaval... Ancient as they are, it seems the ruins that fell from the sky are even older! You can tell because the design and materials of the two types of ruins are distinctly different. What do you think about that? Did you learn something?" — Juga (Tears of the Kingdom)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Creating a Champion, Dark Horse Books, pg. 343
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 "The ruins are primarily animal themed, but with the history of the Triforce from an ancient perspective in mind. The designs are symbolic—using dragons (courage), owls (wisdom), and boars (power). And yes, their name is a pun. "Zonai" is a take on nazo, a word meaning "mystery" in Japanese. [laughs]" (Creating a Champion, Dark Horse, pg. 342)