With so many overlapping references and minute details hiding within the far flung corners of the Star Wars galaxy, you'd be forgiven for dismissing seemingly arbitrary factors such as the geekery hiding in Maz Kanata's Cantina, for example, or the reasons why Leia didn't hug Chewie. So, when faced with something as glaringly obvious as the color of a Jedi lightsaber, it's easy to assume such blatant color-coding is purely preference or rank — right?
Well, not really.
Described as "an elegant weapon for a more civilized age," there are seven lightsaber colors that are seen as legitimate by the Star Wars canon: blue, green, red, purple, yellow, white and black*. But, before we get onto discussing their meanings and affiliations, let's find out how they actually develop colors in the first place.
What are they and where do they come from?
"Long ago in forgotten times, when the Sith and Jedi fought for control of the galaxy, weapons there were, of unimaginable power. Always at their heart, a kyber crystal was." - Yoda
Kyber Crystals are found scattered around various planets in the galaxy, namely in the Crystal Caves on the ice planet IIum and in the crust of the Outer Rim world, Lothal. As Yoda says, these crystals are found at the heart of every lightsaber, and were harvested by youngling Jedi's during training and used to construct their own sabers.
These crystals harness a unique way of concentrating energy and were first used by the Sith during ancient wars against Jedi's. A giant Kyber — which was widely believed to be a thing of legend — was discovered on the remote, sink-hole filled planet of Utapu during the Clone Wars. Attempts were made by The Confederacy of Independent Systems (the Separatist Alliance), to acquire said crystal but luckily Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker got there first and destroyed it.
While these crystals were created and largely used for evil by the Sith — they're part of the Death Star's superlaser, after all — The Force was able to guide their selection and find crystals which matched their intentions as Jedi.
Although Lucasfilm has never directly addressed the meanings of lightsaber colors, they have stated that Kyber Crystals start out colorless and stay as such until united with their own Jedi Padawan via a journey named "the Gathering." When a Jedi successfully passes their rite of passage challenge, a connection with the crystal is formed — and this is when the color develops and the shade of the plasma blade is determined.
So, while it's not necessarily true that the colors are a direct reflection of a Jedi's personality, it's possible that their emotional connection has a large influence of the weapons final incarnation.
- How 'A New Hope' Transformed The Hollywood Blockbuster
- We May Already Know The 'Star Wars 9' Release Date & It's Much Earlier Than We Expected
- Like It Or Lumpy It: Chewbacca's Son Is Officially In Star Wars Canon
But what do the lightsaber colors actually mean? Let's take a look.
Used by: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker
Meaning? The blue lightsaber is probably the most standard color within the Star Wars franchise and associated with protection, consciousness and intellect.
Used by: Luke Skywalker, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Yoda
Meaning? The secondary (to the blue), but no means less powerful Jedi lightsaber color of choice, green is said to portray peace and harmony.
Used by: Jedi Temple Guards.
Meaning: As yellow sabers are primarily used by guards to keep the Sith at bay while patrolling the galaxy, one could argue that they signfy defence and protection.
Used by: Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, Count Dooku, Inquisitors, and Kylo Ren.
Meaning: It's common knowledge that the bad guys generally wield red lightsabers. While this is probably partly down to their easy distinction to an audience, it's also believed that the dark side of the Force use red sabers because of the synthetic (artificial, cracked) crystals at their core, which colors the saber red. Either way, it surely means one thing: evil.
Used by: Mace Windu and Siths-turned-Jedi
Meaning: One of the rarer colors within the rainbow of lightsaber shades, purple is said to be used mostly by Siths-turned-Jedis, and although the meaning is unclarified perhaps we can garner by this that their color indicates reformation or redemption. It could also be down to the simple fact that Samuel L. Jackson just wanted one.
Used by: Ahsoka Tano
Meaning: A source of light, the white lightsaber was first wielded by Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars Rebels and symbolizes her separation from the Jedi order.
Used by: Darth Maul
Meaning: With only one Darksaber known to be floating around, this ancient, experimental, weapon was used by Jedi in ancient times, but was stolen and appropriated by a group called the Mandalorians. It was passed down the ages through Mandalorian generations, until Darth Maul stole it during the Clone Wars. All that said, the meaning behind this lightsaber's color is unknown — or just arbitrary.
* Note, Bronze, Silver, Gold lightsabers have been spotted within the universe, but not much is known about their meanings — if you have any info to share, please sound off in the comments!
More Fun Facts about Lightsabers
1. The arrival of the green saber:
The first lightsabers ever seen on-screen in A New Hope were Obi-Wan Kenobi's (blue), Anakin Skywalker's (blue) and Darth Vader's (red). These colors remained the standard until green was introduced in Return of the Jedi, as George Lucas noticed the blue lightsaber wouldn't stand out against Tatoonine's blue sky.
2. Matching the number of lightsaber colors, there are also seven official forms of combat:
- Shii-Cho, or "the Way of the Sarlacc"
- Makashi, or "The Way of the Ysalamiri"
- Soresu, or "The Way of the Mynock"
- Ataru, or "The Way of the Hawk-Bat"
- Shien/Djem So, "The Way of the Krayt Dragon"
- Niman, or "The Way of the Rancor"
- Juyo/Vaapad, or "The Way of the Vornskr"
3. They can't cut through everything:
Such as Cortosis for example, a brown, deadly substance which, as you can probably guess, is treated, weaved and used as armor to deflect lightsaber blades.
4. Lightsabers aren't always swords:
There are Lightwhip's — which do what it says on the tin — Lightsaber Pikes and Dual Phase Lightsaber's, both which can reach lengths of up to nine ft. Guard Shoto's, found in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, that sport an additional, perpendicular handle to the blade that allows the user to harness as if it were an extension of their own arm. And, finally, the Crossguard Lightsaber, which — as the name suggests — is made up of one primary blade and two raw power vents called quillons. Brutal.
5. The first ones were powered not by Kybers but...battery packs!
The first lightsabers, or protosabers, all had external power sources — mainly because internal power cells hadn't been invented yet. So, all Jedi's had to carry around battery packs on their backs or waists, which were attached to the saber by a power chord. This epic ball-ache was overcome when the Sith developed power cells. Phew!
6. The first lightsabers used special effects which sucked...hard
They were essentially three-sided, motor-spinning, rods and the effect they created was so bad, animation was added later. Luckily for us, and you, reader of this long article about lightsaber colors, this is when George Lucas decided that lightsabers should have colors rather than his original plan of plain old pure as the driven snow, white.