It hasn't even been a day since the teaser for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens was released. However, you can pretty much find analyses of every moment from it all over the web. One of the most hotly debated topics is the new lightsaber design (seen below).
The lightsaber in question was actually revealed in October, when initially rumored concept art of the film's supposed villain was leaked. This character is very likely a member of the Sith, since he possesses a red lightsaber. According to Wookieepedia, most Sith sabers are red because the Sith tend to use synthetic crystals to power them as opposed to the Jedi, who use natural ones:
...The defining feature of Sith lightsabers was the use of Synthetic lightsaber crystals, as opposed to the Adegan and Ilum crystals favored by the Jedi. Almost all synthetic crystals used by the Sith featured a red coloration, as a result of the forging process used to create them, though adjustments to this process and manipulations through the Force did result in crystals of different colors.
This particular lightsaber is one that has never been featured in any film, show, or book. It's not even in the special editions; the crew made it exclusively for this movie.
Many Star Wars fans and even professional bladesmiths have criticized the design. Mainly, the decision to have two mini-lightsabers as a crossguard was censured for making no sense and being illogical.
In an interview with the Washington Post, prominent New England Bladesmith Guild member Kevin Cashen said:
The idea behind a crossguard on any blade is to protect the swordsman's hand from another person's blade.
Cashen added that the crossguard on this particular lightsaber would actually cause more harm to the user than its intended target. Specifically, if the hilt were to get too close to the hand during intense combat, the crossguard would incinerate the user's hand. This is especially the case when twirling and spinning it as the Jedi and Sith do in the movies:
That [crossguard] would be very bad to have around your hand...That hilt would just take you apart if you started to do a lot of complex spinning.
So if the crystal-powered crossguard doesn't benefit the user, what is it's purpose?
Well, Cashen also added that crossguards can be used to blindside people at close range. On the other hand, he admitted that the fact that the crossguard can harm the user does more harm than good:
The problem is the other 80 percent of the time you'd be in grave danger of searing yourself.
People have already taken to twitter to lampoon this design:
Who knows why they chose this design? Perhaps the designers were going for religious symbolism. This lightsaber, when wielded, would resemble a cross of St. Peter, which is often used to symbolize demonic evil.
Since the character using this lightsaber is most definitely a Sith member, the design likely represents his persona. Much like Satan, this character is meant to be all-powerful and malevolent, posing a major threat to the noble Jedi. The upside-down cross inspires fears in the hearts of many, as this character likely does...or maybe I'm just stretching it. To be honest though, I actually kind of like it.
Of course, nobody knows for sure what inspired this design. Maybe the saber hilt was only put in to look aesthetically pleasing. It does look more like a medieval sword this way. Plus, it gives a sense of ancient tradition to this character. Either way, we'll just have to wait and see as more of the film is revealed in the coming months.