When requesting for aid with the trade-off, the Governor and his wife display their respect for, or rather, subject themselves towards Azula by bowing with their heads held so low that their foreheads touch the ground. This action is known as "kowtowing," a deep sign of respect that was usually performed before the Emperor of China and was protocol during the Imperial period of China. Although it is no longer seen as a neccessity today, during those times, if not performed, the emissary risks ultimately losing all favor with the Emperor. Despite common misconceptions, the action was more of a deep sign of respect than religious worship, also the person was only required to kowtow once in the Emperor's presence, as displayed correctly here, not nine or more times as often illustrated/satirized. The name comes from the Chinese phase kou tou, which means, "knock with reverence."