- "This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster. An elegant weapon from a more civilized age."
- — Obi-Wan Kenobi
Designed as much for elegance in combat as for ceremony, the lightsaber was a distinctive weapon whose intergalactic recognition was instantly associated with the Force-using wielders who first invented them, the Jedi. It was a blade made of energy emitted from a hilt most often crafted by the individual wielder to their own needs, preferences and style. Because of the unique balance of the saber, with all its weight in the hilt, it was very difficult for the untrained to wield. In the hands of an expert in tune with the Force, such as the Jedi or their fallen brethren, the Sith, the lightsaber was a weapon to be greatly respected or feared.
Through the millenia of their use, the lightsaber became synonymous with the Jedi and their values to uphold peace and justice throughout the galaxy. This perception endured despite the many early conflicts with Sith and dark Jedi who also wielded the "laser swords", as some called them.
Since the formation of the Tython Jedi after the Force Wars circa 25,000 BBY, ceremonial weapons have been an integral part of the Jedi. The first Knights used alloy swords imbued with elements of the Force through a ritual called the Jedi Forge. Combining advanced offworld technology with the forging ritual, the Jedi learned to "freeze" a laser beam, the basis of technology that would lead the Jedi toward the design of future lightsabers.
By the time of the Duinuogwuin Contention around 15,500 BBY, their studies in energy technology yielded success. The Jedi learned how to generate a focused beam of energy that arced circumferentially back to its source, creating the first portable high-energy blade. These preliminary lightsabers inefficiently guzzled power from a belt-mounted power supply and were terribly unstable. They could only be used for brief durations before overheating. Because of these flaws in design, the first lightsabers were little more than ceremonial appurtenance to the Jedi apparel, seldom worn, much less utilized.
The shortfalls that plagued the weapon's previous designs were corrected through the ages, so that by the Hundred-Year Darkness of 7,000 BBY the cumbersome and rare siege weapons of previous years gave way to elegant and commonly used lightsabers. Power output continued to be an issue, however, and required the continued use of an external power pack worn on the belt. The power cable from belt to blade tended to restrict the Jedi's movement in combat, but the newly stable blade granted them a superior advantage in hand-to-hand combat against heavily armored foes.
It wasn't until after the Great Hyperspace War that the modern lightsaber was designed. The restricting power cable and external power pack of old designs were replaced with internal power components by the time of the Gank Massacres in 4,800 BBY. An internal superconductor was introduced which transferred the returning looped energy from the negative-charged flux aperture back into an internal power cell. With this modification, the power cell would only expend power when the energy loop was broken (when the lightsaber blade cut into something), at last solving the ages-old power supply problem.
After the Great Jedi Purge, lightsabers became rare relics prized by some collectors. In the years of Palpatine's Empire, some lightsabers found their way onto the black market and were sold for untold amounts. They only truly re-entered the galactic scene with the rise of the New Jedi Order, thanks to the teachings of Luke Skywalker and the re-discovery of ancient Jedi holocrons and teachings believed lost after the Jedi Purges.
After the fall of Palpatine and the re-emergence of the Jedi, other groups of Force-users like Desann's Reborn and the Disciples of Ragnos mass-produced lightsabers to arm their fast-growing legions. By contrast, the New Jedi maintained the old ways and rituals, using their connections with the Force to personally construct their own sabers.
The color of a lightsaber blade was heavily dependent on the crystal used in its construction. For the Jedi, these crystals came in many colors and were extracted from natural deposits. Sith, however, made use of synth-crystals to power their weapons, which resulted in Sith blades being almost uniformly red. It should be noted that synthetic crystals do not always result in red blades, since Luke Skywalker's synthetic crystals resulted in a green blade. Jedi have been known to produce blades that are red or approaching that color (such as purple), but perhaps due to the force of tradition, the Jedi Order typically avoided any colors that might associate them with the Sith. Despite this, a small number of Jedi (such as Adi Gallia during the time of the Clone Wars) used a red bladed lightsaber.
Ancient Jedi wielded blades of many colors; blue, green and red, as well as purple, orange, silver, turquoise, pink, bronze, yellow, viridian, and possibly white and gold, among others; the full variety and extent of focusing gems, and consequently, of colors, is unknown.
During the days of the "Old Republic" some of the colors held significance as to which class a Jedi chose to become. The initial classes were Jedi Consular, Jedi Guardian, and Jedi Sentinel. The Jedi Consular, whose color was green, were the govermental peace keepers of the Jedi and had a grander mastery of the Force, and focused less towards the physical fighting abilities. The Jedi Guardian, whose color was blue, were the, self explanitary, guardians of peace and the force, and their training focused more so on the use of their lightsaber skill than force mastery. The Jedi Sentinel, whose color was yellow, were the keepers of Justice and Balance, (of economical and enviromental), who had a nearly evenly balance blend of lightsaber skill and force mastery.
By the time of Battle of Naboo, however, the Jedi used the caves of Ilum as their primary source of lightsaber crystals. These caves were rich in green and blue crystals, explaining the absence - with the exception of Mace Windu's and Plo Koon's blades (purple and yellow respectively) - of alternate colors among the Jedi ranks during this period. During the Clone Wars, major portions of the Ilum caves were destroyed by the Confederacy of Independent Systems. The Empire destroyed crystals on an even larger scale after the war. Bereft of these resources, the Jedi of Luke Skywalker's Order were again forced to scour the galaxy for usable crystals, creating a resurgence in more varied blades. One lightsaber in particular, created by the Jedi student Gantoris, was violet with patterns of rainbow light rippling across its white core.
The 'synthetic' red blade producing crystals favored by the Sith can create a somewhat more powerful blade than blue or green crystals, but are not as pure due to their artificial nature and can thus be undesirable as the focus of a lightsaber. Often the Sith Master would craft the crystal and gift it to his apprentice. Despite the differences in color, the function of the different colored blades is the same. Once techniques of synthesizing crystals became more well known, the restrictions on color became less of a concern, except for matters of personal taste or political statement. Various "Dark Jedi" not associated with the extinct Sith Order often retain the colors used as Jedi, though some continue to choose red for symbolic reasons. Plenty of examples exist, however, of Dark Side users who did not use red blades, and even those who were not Dark Siders who used red blades with no ill effects. This has lead many to assume that the color is merely a symbolic consideration, depending on the user.
Some have speculated that the red lightsabers are actually a product of the influence of the Dark Side of the Force. It is alleged that somehow the one constructing the saber actually "infuses" some aspect of the Dark Side into the device itself, causing the blade to change color. This might also explain why Dark Side users so often switch to red after turning. However such a notion could be explained away as superstition, and speculation based on the common practice of the Sith using red blades (after all, Exar Kun, who was one of the most feared Sith Lords of all time, wielded a double-bladed blue lightsaber). Those who embrace the Dark Side may simply wish to imitate the Sith traditions by choosing a color favored by them. That such misinformation could be spread among the general public would give the Jedi one more reason not to associate with them by choosing colors other than red.
This being noted, there were advantages and disadvantages to synth-crystals. As mentioned before, they could actually produce a blade stronger than traditional crystals, which possessed the possibility to "break the blade" of other sabers by overloading the energy matrix and instantly burning out the enemy's weapon. Although a rare occurance, it was still common knowledge and a terrifying proposition in duels. Additionally, Sith blades also seemed to be less maneuverable than their Jedi counterparts.
There is some controversy surrounding what exactly produces blade color in a lightsaber. Is it purely based on the type or color of crystal, the focusing mechanism, power level, "tuning" or some other aspect? Clearly, the crystal has some effect, but it may not be the sole factor in determining the color. It has been determined that the plasma, emitted from the power cell of a lightsaber, has no effect on the saber's color. Color is determined by a lightsaber's primary crystal because secondary crystals create effects to a lightsaber's blade.
- Archaic Lightsaber — This is the earliest-known type of laser sword, developed as a siege weapon. It required a separate power pack to work, which was often worn on the back, and later, as technology simplified power packs, a belt-worn power source. The moves that could be performed with an archaic lightsaber were more limited than those that could be achieved with a modern laser sword because of the cord that connected the hilt to its power source.
- Crystal Lightsaber — The general term used for any standard lightsaber with focusing crystals. After the miniaturization of power packs, this was the standard weapon for millennia. It typically consisted of a core crystal which determined color, and two extra crystal chambers which could enhance and personalize the saber to the Jedi that used it. There have been instances of multi-colored blades; however this was not a result of the secondary crystals. It is unknown what exactly caused this color variation, but it was most likely a result of the core crystal itself.
- Fiber-cord linked lightsabers — A form of dual-blade lightsaber. They were link together with a fiber cord, and were used like nunchaku. Asajj Ventress modified her paired lightsabers into a fiber-corded pair on some occasions.
- Curve-hilted Lightsaber — A standard design during the prime of Form II lightsaber combat, curved hilts allowed more spinning action during blade-to-blade duels. It was also more complex and gave the maker more of a challenge in aligning its crystals. This lightsaber was known to be used by Count Dooku, his apprentice Komari Vosa, and later his Dark Side Adept Asajj Ventress. Asajj Ventress's lightsabers could combine to make a curved double blade. This was also known as paired lightsabers.
- Double-bladed lightsaber— also Saberstaff or Lightstaff — A long-hilted version of the standard lightsaber. Each blade could be activated independently of one another or simultaneously. It could be one hilt or two normal lightsabers attached together. This was often even more dangerous to the untrained wielder than to the opponent. It came to be known as a Sith lightsaber because it was preferred by Sith and was possibly invented by Dark Lord of the Sith Exar Kun, whose lightsaber was both double-bladed and dual-phase. This made his personal style of lightsaber combat very complex, as he would vary the strength and length of either blade independently; sometimes letting the opponent's blade pass right through his, sometimes blocking.
Darth Maul was inspired by Kun and created his own saber staff which he used with amazing prowess. Asajj Ventress would connect her two curve-hilted lightsabers together to form a unique type of saber staff termed fiber-cord linked lightsabers. It was also temporarily popularized by the Jedi during the Mandalorian Wars, where it was more useful then the standard lightsaber when fighting the extremely skilled and powerful Mandalorians.
- Electrum Lightsaber — A lightsaber with a hilt forged from gold-like electrum was often called an "electrum lightsaber". The electrum finish gave the lightsaber a majestic, regal appearance and in the last days of the Old Jedi Order, golden and electrum lightsabers were reserved for members of the Jedi Council. Mace Windu's and Darth Sidious' lightsabers are examples of such kind.
- Dual-phase Lightsaber — Multiple crystals allowed the user to switch between two blade lengths in battle with the dual-phase saber. It was a quite common lightsaber type both in the Old Jedi Order and the New Jedi Order. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader wielded such a lightsaber, as did, for example, Micah Giett, Gantoris, and Corran Horn.
- Great Lightsaber or Lightclub — Special focusing crystals and power systems enabled this rare lightsaber to project a blade up to 3 meters in length. Gorc, a mutated Gamorrean Dark Jedi, used such a weapon.
- Short Lightsaber — The short lightsaber employed a shorter blade than the more common lightsaber. The smaller blade allowed for easier use in combat by those Jedi that were smaller in stature, such as Jedi Masters Yoda and Tsui Choi. A longer, though still short, variation was often used by practitioners of Form X: Niman / Jar'Kai.
- Forked lightsaber — This form of twin-bladed lightsaber was essentially a regular crystal lightsaber with a second emitter coming out of the hilt at a 45 degree angle to the axis of the lightsaber. The hilt was also slightly curved. One of the only known Jedi Knights to use this lightsaber style was Roblio Darté, who fought in the Clone Wars at the Battle of Parcelus Minor.
- Lightdagger — The lightdagger was a lightsaber with a shorter blade and could be used as an assault knife. Luke Skywalker constructed his own lightdaggers after the Battle of Endor. Because this type of lightsaber had a very small blade, it could be easily used by non-Force-sensitives. Black Sun vigo Darnada's bodyguard, Sinya, carried two baton-style lightdaggers. Master Sora Bulq during the Clone Wars era was known to carry a lightdagger which he used in combat with Senior Jedi Master Mace Windu.
- Lightwhip — The lightwhip was an exotic variation of the lightsaber that only specially trained Jedi could wield. It could either have a solid core of cortosis or other lightsaber-resistant minerals (see below) or it could be a blade of pure energy sheathed in deadly energy. Like the lightsaber, it emitted a coherent beam of energy, but unlike the lightsaber's, it was long and flexible to be wielded like a whip. It is believed this saber is the only one that functions just as well in water as on land, although for some reason it wasn't flexible underwater and appeared and functioned like a normal lightsaber when submerged. Known users of the lightwhip included Jedi Kit Fisto, Dark Jedi Lumiya, the Sith Lady Githany, bounty hunter Ona Nobis and the Black Sun Vigo Xist.
- Training lightsabers — The training lightsaber was used by Jedi Younglings, to practice lightsaber combat. While non-lethal, contact with the blade could cause bruising and even minor burns. This type of lightsaber was often used in conjunction with the basic Shii-Cho style of lightsaber combat.
A lightsaber blade neither radiated heat nor expended energy until it came into contact with something. The power of the energy blade was so great that it could cut through almost anything. Aside from the blade of another lightsaber, there were other materials found in the galaxy that could withstand a lightsaber blade with varying degrees of success.
- Cortosis, though a rare and expensive metal, became a common defense against lightsabers in the eras of the Sith Wars. Near the end of the Clone Wars, The Separatist army employed Cortosis Battle Droids in an attack on the Jedi Temple. Shortly after Order 66 was given, the Jedi Shadday Potkin attacked Darth Vader with a Cortosis blade during a failed ambush attempt on Kessel. There were three known methods of forging cortosis armor and weapons, each with varying effects:
- The first method was to make the armor or weapon with a cortosis weave, which utilized the ore's primary elements. When contacted by a lightsaber's blade, the cortosis fibers that were worked into the metal caused a surge that shorted out the energy blade. The lightsaber could be reactivated immediately, but it gave the opponent the momentary upper hand. The drawback to the weave was that its alloy construction was still susceptible to damage from the lightsaber attack.
- The most common (and inexpensive) method employed during the Jedi civil war era was the use of a variant cortosis alloy that resisted the lightsaber blade itself, though it did not cause the lightsaber to deactivate as its more pure form did.
- The most rare type of cortosis came in the form of a refined metal with all the impure elements removed. Thus purified, there were no "weaker" metals for the lightsaber to damage, and unique conducting elements remained to short out the energy blade. This refined alloy, nicknamed a cortosis shield was most often employed as armor.
- Armorweave was a cloth said to give some resistance to lightsabers, though the protection the reinforced material afforded was limited.
- Phrik, like cortosis, was a rare metal that could withstand the potency of a lightsaber blade, although unlike the aforementioned metal, Phrik did not possess the ability to cause the blade to short out. Phrik was most notably used in the construction of the electrostaffs wielded by General Grievous's MagnaGuards. Other notable uses of Phrik included elements of Palpatine's lightsaber and Dark Trooper armor.
- Sith Alchemy was employed during the eras of the first Sith Empire to augment the properties of the applied metals so as to counter the seemingly unstoppable lightsaber. The Sith also made use of such elements as cortosis in the forging of their swords. After the original Sith Empire, the most notorious use of Sith alchemy was in the construction and reinforcement of Darth Vader's armor.
- Mandalorian iron: A metal used by the Mandalorian warriors.
- Yuuzhan Vong bio-engineered weaponry and armor, such as the amphistaff and Vonduun crab armor held the natural, limited resistance to the lightsaber; however, weaknesses were soon found in the armor and staff. Luke Skywalker's first engagement with this bio-technology ended favorably only after striking the Yuuzhan Vong spy's amphistaff repeatedly in the same spot, weakening and ultimately killing it.
- Other counteracting materials exist in the galaxy, such as an unidentified super-conducting metal that was used for ship armor centuries before the Galactic Empire, as well as various energy shields. Some creatures, such as lava dragons, were possessed of natural armor that reflected the blade much as the blade reflected a blaster bolt.
Methods of useEdit
The lightsaber was a very versatile weapon, owing to its unique lightness and omni-directional cutting ability. It could be wielded one-handed with ease, though Jedi were routinely trained in using the saber with both and either hands, so as to be prepared for all situations. Early in the weapon's history, when the Sith were numerous, the art of lightsaber dueling flourished. In later periods though, only rarely would Jedi face an adversary with a weapon capable of repelling a lightsaber. Defending themselves against Blasters and other laserweapons was introduced in their training.
The Jedi were trained to use the Force as a conduit between the wielder and the weapon. Through this bond in the Force, the blade became an extension of their being; it moved with instinct as though it were a part of the body. The Jedi's attunement to the Force accounted for the almost super-human agility and reflex illustrated in the use of the lightsaber.
Since the lightsaber's invention, the Jedi have established varying forms of style in lightsaber combat which cater to the unique features of the weapon and the bond between it and its owner.
- "The crystal is the heart of the blade. The heart is the crystal of the Jedi. The Jedi is the crystal of the Force. The Force is the blade of the heart. All are intertwined: the crystal, the blade, the Jedi. You are one."
- — Luminara Unduli, during a lightsaber construction ceremony (audio)Listen
The lightsaber hilt consisted of an alloy cylinder about 30 centimeters long on average. The hilt acted as a casing for the high power energy which was unleashed through a series of positively charged focusing lenses and energizers. The energy beam extended outward from the base to an adjustable length, then arced circumferentially back to a negatively charged fissure ringing the emitter. A superconductor completed the power loop by feeding the transformed energy back into the internal power cell, where the energy loop began anew.
All lightsabers contain some common basic components:
- A handgrip
- An activation stud plate
- A safety switch
- An emitter matrix
- A lens assembly (focusing crystal)
- A power cell
- A power conduit
- A recharge socket
The focusing crystals were the lightsaber's central components. From these, the energy blade aquired both its potency and color.
During the Great Sith War epoch, many lightsabers were manufactured using kunda stones, a natural geologic formation from the planet Kadril which boast numerous practical applications in medicine and communications. They could also be combined with normal lightsaber lenses to produce a broader, yet still-focused, beam than is usual.
After he discovered the Kaiburr Crystal, Luke Skywalker used a small fragment of the Crystal to construct a lightsaber. The fragment of the Crystal caused the blade to be stronger and more powerful than usual.
Perhaps the most unusual lightsaber design belonged to Roblio Darté. His lightsaber was constructed like a regular lightsaber except for one thing. Aside from the main blade of the weapon, there was a smaller, second blade jutting out at an angle from the hilt.
The knowledge of lightsaber construction largely disappeared during the extermination of the Jedi, but Luke Skywalker found the records and the materials he needed to construct his first lightsaber in Obi-Wan Kenobi's hut on Tatooine. Lightsaber construction included the use of the Force to bind the components of a lightsaber together at a molecular or lower level, which enabled the closed loop design to operate with near-perfect efficiency.
Sometimes certain events necessitated a change in a Jedi's preferred weapon. A Jedi would modify the lightsaber or construct a new one to suit the demands of the situation at hand, such as with Mace Windu and his lightsaber after the Battle of Naboo.
On certain occasions, the Jedi would have to build a provisional lightsaber. This was the case of Corran Horn who, shortly after he had first left the New Jedi Order to search for his lost wife, build a lightsaber from the handle of a speederbike. While functioning reasonably well, the lightsaber would now and again flicker and switch off by itself due to a design flaw by Horn.
Concordance of FealtyEdit
- "Master Eeth Koth, I have something to return to you. It is a product of your own hands which you once entrusted to mine. In returning this lightsaber, I return your trust."
- — Master Mace Windu
The Jedi tradition of entrusting one's lightsaber to a fellow member of the order was called the Concordance of Fealty. This exchange represented a serious, even sacred bond. The exchange represented the establishment of a reciprocal, Master-less learning relationship.
Although the lightsaber was used primarily by the Jedi and Sith Force users, several non-Force users were known to have used a lightsaber:
Thall Joben once used a green lightsaber, as he explained to his droid C-3PO that he once did some work for someone who owned a speeder, but they left the speeder with him and never reclaimed it; the lightsaber was one of the things left in the speeder by the person. It is unknown if this customer of Thall's was actually a Jedi or was simply someone who killed a Jedi or a Sith and took the lightsaber from them. Most likely, it was the latter, as most Jedi and Sith do not simply forget their lightsabers.
Han Solo used Luke Skywalker's (formerly Anakin Skywalker's) lightsaber after he rescued Luke from a snowstorm on Hoth. Solo used the lightsaber to slice open the body of a dead Tauntaun, whose insides he then used to keep Luke warm while he constructed a proper shelter for the both of them.
Mara Jade's lightsaber was also used by Han to chop down Killiks shortly before the Swarm War. When he briefly lost it, Tarfang, an Ewok smuggler, viciously wielded the lightsaber to dice up Kiliks to great effect.
Han also used Leia's lightsaber to stop a riot at Bothanwui.
Darca Nyl, an ex-mercenary, used the green lightsaber of a dead Jedi during his pursuit of Lycan. Though he rarely used it in battle, it often gave him the advantage of being able to pass for a true Jedi. It was destroyed along with Lycan in a trap laid by Darca in a Force-sensitive cave on Molavar.
Suvam Tan, the eccentric Rodian inventor, was such a mechanical genius that he managed to construct his own lightsaber from scratch despite not having any Force sensitivity. It's unknown whether or not Suvam was actually able to use his lightsaber, though.
General Grievous was probably the most famous user of lightsabers without any Force ability; he used lightsabers during the Clone Wars, all of which were taken from Jedi he had either killed or defeated in battle, except for Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas' lightsaber, which was a gift from Count Dooku.
Boba Fett was also rumored to have used a lightsaber and kept in his ship at some point in his career.
Jaden Korr was able to construct a lightsaber without prior instruction in the Force.