Lightsabers have mesmerized audiences since 1977, and have been a staple in Star Wars for just as long. Who didn’t, at one point in their life, make “wrrr” sounds as they played with a broom, paper towel roll, or anything remotely close to resembling a lightsaber? Let’s dive in and discover all we can about these elegant weapons of the galaxy far, far away.
Lightsabers are most commonly associated with the Jedi and Sith but not everyone who wields these weapons are devoted to those religions. Ren, the original leader of the Knights of Ren, was simply a dark warrior that used a red lightsaber. Ahsoka Tano, while originally raised a Jedi, continued using her lightsabers following her departure from the Order, eventually sporting a new pair of hilts with white blades.
In order to build a lightsaber, Jedi would go on a rite of passage type journey known as the Gathering.Younglings would travel to the sacred planet of Ilum, where they were tasked with finding their kyber crystals in the ice caves. The caves tested the younglings in distinct ways personal to each individual. Only when the younglings overcame those obstacles would they find their unique kyber crystal that was attuned to them. Kyber crystals are an integral part of any lightsaber, producing the energy beam that defines them. But it’s not as simple as slapping a crystal inside a hilt and getting a lightsaber out of it; there are many other pieces that make up lightsabers.
Once a kyber crystal is obtained, it’s time to construct the hilt. The hilt contains a few vital pieces including a power cell or energy core, a focusing ring, a blade emitter, and various controls. The power cell or energy core is what powers the lightsaber and is used in conjunction with the kyber crystal. A lightsaber could not be what it is without both parts. Next, the focusing ring is what controls or aligns the kyber so it can then emit a blade. A focusing ring has to be calibrated just right to produce the iconic blade, otherwise the crystal could crack and/or the saber itself would explode when activated! The blade emitter is the top part of a lightsaber where the saber spouts, once all the internal pieces are properly crafted. Finally, lightsabers have various controls such as power buttons that turn them on and off. The rest of the hilt is entirely customizable from the pommel to the grip, to the shape of the blade emitter and even the cosmetic materials that bound all the pieces together.
Returning to kyber crystals, these luminous gems typically respond to the original Force user that found it, immediately turning one of the following colors: green, blue, purple, or yellow. Red crystals are not natural and must be corrupted by the dark side to be that color. What this means is that a dark side Force wielder obtains the crystal and essentially infuses it with the dark side, forcing it to turn from its original and natural color to an unnatural crimson red. Like the Jedi who have the Gathering, a Sith’s rite of passage is obtaining a Jedi’s (or light side user’s) crystal and corrupting it. This is sometimes referred to as “bleeding” a crystal. White blades, on the other hand, go through basically the opposite of “bleeding.” Instead of corrupting a crystal to turn it red, Force users can balance the crystal, giving it an unpigmented shade. Although it’s possible other means of making or acquiring a white blade exist.
And that’s the inside scoop on laser swords.
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Emily Shkoukani is a jr. creative executive at Lucasfilm who helps to maintain the lore and continuity of the Star Wars galaxy. And sometimes, they write for StarWars.com!
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