This Weapon is Your Life: A Study of Historical Lightsabers

The traditional weapon of legendary Jedi heroes



Described to Luke Skywalker by Obi-Wan as an elegant weapon for a more civilized age, the lightsaber has become one of the most recognizable icons from the saga. The lightsaber fulfilled an important symbolic role in A New Hope. When Luke gets his father’s lightsaber, the young farm boy receives his talisman, a powerful symbol of his heritage. Similar moments in mythology occur when Arthur Pendragon receives the sword Excalibur or when the Norse hero Sigurd gets the sword Gram which he will use to kill the dragon Fafnir. In this feature we’ll have a look at the lightsabers of four Jedi who played a crucial part during the events of the Star Wars movies.

Qui-Gon Jinn’s lightsaber
The lightsaber used by Qui-Gon Jinn during the Invasion of Naboo wasn’t as ornate as the weapon used by his former Master, Dooku. Qui-Gon built his saber so it could be used to handle both classic and other fighting techniques. The metal hilt was 28.50 centimeters long and 3.80 centimeters wide. Qui-Gon used an Adegan crystal for his green saber. This lightsaber’s special feature were many micro-power cells, inserted in the ridged handgrip. Those cells gave Qui-Gon more control over the power levels of the saber. The weapon had a red activator button and a charging port at the side.

 After Qui-Gon had been mortally wounded by Darth Maul on Naboo, Obi-Wan Kenobi grabbed the lightsaber with the Force and used the weapon to slice the Zabrak in half. Obi-Wan temporarily gave Qui-Gon’s weapon to Anakin Skywalker after he had built a new lightsaber. Eventually the lightsaber ended up in a memorial in the Jedi Temple.

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Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsabers

The lightsaber used by Obi-Wan Kenobi during the Invasion of Naboo was constructed to resemble Qui-Gon’s weapon. Padawans usually did this to show respect to their Master. Obi-Wan’s weapon had one power cell, but the handle was scalloped to give Obi-Wan a firm handgrip. The metal hilt, measuring 28 centimeters long and 5 centimeters wide, ended in a ball which contained a reserve power cell. Kenobi used a single Adegan crystal for his blue lightsaber. There also was a button to alter the length and the intensity of the blade. Obi-Wan lost this lightsaber when it got kicked into the abyss of the Theed Generator Complex by Darth Maul. Although Maul rose from the dead after falling into the same pit, Obi-Wan’s saber was lost forever.

After briefly using his former Master’s lightsaber, Obi-Wan constructed another weapon almost similar to the one he had lost. He used this weapon during the Separatist Crisis and during his journey to the missing planet Kamino. When Obi-Wan got captured on Geonosis, his lightsaber was seized and it was never seen again. During the Battle of Geonosis, Obi-Wan used a blue saber tossed at him by Sephjet Josall.

Kenobi constructed another lightsaber at the start of the Clone Wars. This weapon was different in design and featured a thin neck and a ribbed handgrip. The saber was 29.20 centimeters long and 5 centimeters wide. A single Adegan crystal was used. This blue lightsaber sure carried a lot of historical weight. Obi-Wan used it during the Clone Wars and in his two legendary duels against his former friend and Padawan Anakin Skywalker. When Darth Vader struck down Obi-Wan on the Death Star, Kenobi’s lightsaber and cloak dropped to the floor. By then the gleaming metal of the hilt had weathered by the harsh conditions of Kenobi’s stay on Tatooine.

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Anakin Skywalker’s lightsabers
As a Padawan Anakin first used Qui-Gon’s lightsaber before he constructed his own weapon on the planet Ilum. Instead of building a lightsaber that followed the design of his Master, Anakin broke with this tradition. His  saber was built for power with a thin cylindrical metal alloy and carbon hilt. It was 25.40 centimeters long and 3 centimeters wide and a single Adegan crystal was used. Despite several warnings from his Master that his lightsaber was his life, Anakin once again lost the blue lightsaber when it got damaged beyond repair by the infernal machines in the droid factory on Geonosis. During the Battle of Geonosis and in the duel against Dooku, Anakin used a green saber tossed to him by Nicanas Tassu.

The second lightsaber constructed by Anakin would become a legendary weapon. The design didn’t differ a lot from the previous one, though this saber featured a lot of technical interfaces that had grown out of Anakin’s passion for technology. The hilt, which featured a quick recharge plug and interfaces to adjust the length and the power of the blade, was 28 centimeters long and 5 centimeters wide.  Anakin used this weapon during the Clone Wars and lost it when he was defeated on Mustafar by Obi-Wan. Kenobi took the lightsaber as a painful memory of their friendship and of his own failure. Nearly twenty years later Anakin’s son Luke received the lightsaber as a gift from Obi-Wan. The saber served Luke well until his memorable duel against Darth Vader on Cloud City. The lightsaber was last seen falling into Bespin’s atmosphere.

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As Darth Vader, Anakin would construct a new dual-phase lightsaber with a red synthetic crystal. The design was a bit more dark, but it looked very similar to the one that had been taken on Mustafar.


Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber
After the ominous revelation of Darth Vader, Luke ventured to Obi-Wan’s hut on Tatooine where he found instructions to build his own lightsaber. The design closely resembled that of Obi-Wan’s last saber, but Luke added field energizers to give the saber a stronger and more reliable blade. Luke used one green synthetic crystal for his weapon. The hilt was made from metal and salvaged material and it measured 28 centimeters tall and 5 centimeters wide. When Vader saw that his son had constructed his own lightsaber, he realized that Luke had indeed become powerful in the Force. Luke defeated Vader with this lightsaber, but he tossed it away when he refused to join the Emperor. Luke accepted his fate as a Jedi and confronted the Emperor with the Force as his ally. At the end, Anakin’s compassion for his son’s suffering ended the Emperor’s reign over the New Order.

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New and familiar lightsabers will without any doubt continue to play an important part of the Star Wars legacy in The Force Awakens and other future feature films.

Sources: The Official Star Wars Fact Files, Star Wars: Lightsabers (2010), Vader: The Ultimate Guide (2005), The New Essential Guide to Weapons & Technology (2004), Mysteries of the Jedi (2011).

Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider (Rogues Gallery), to the ‘Build the Millennium Falcon’ magazine and has written four character back stories for ‘What’s the Story?’.

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