Star Wars | What Is The Darksaber?
Learn about the history and power of the Darksaber in Star Wars – a symbol of leadership in the eternal battle between light and darkness.
Lightsabers are the quintessential Star Wars artifact. They are immediately recognizable pieces of technology both in and out of the official media. In canon, lightsabers are a symbol of the Jedi, the keepers of Light and Order in the galaxy. The protectors of peace, the Light Side of the Force, the ones the people of the galaxy turn to in times of darkness.
Star Wars is all about balance. The Force is always in flux, battling between Light and Dark in order to maintain that balance. So, it follows the convention that there would be a counterbalance to the lightsaber. Most would think this would be a red-bladed lightsaber held by a Sith Lord. However, that assumption is incorrect; the true counter is the Darksaber of the Mandalorians.
Spoiler Warning! This article is full of spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 3!
Who are the Mandalorians?
The galaxy is full of many sentients that all band together based on race and location. For example, Rodians (aliens like Greedo who by the way, did not shoot at Han Solo first) are all aliens from the planet Rodia. That’s what binds them together.
Mandalorians, however, are not one single race. They are a warrior clan full of different races and species. The thing that binds them together as a race are twofold. First, they are all known to be incredible fighters and mercenaries. Second, they all follow the Mandalorian Creed. According to The Armorer in The Mandalorian “Chapter 17: The Apostate”, the creed is as follows:
“I swear on my name and the names of the ancestors that I shall walk the Way of the Mand’alor and the words of the Creed shall be forever forged in my heart. This is the Way.”
That’s an abbreviated version of the Creed as it contains tons of rules about what it means to be a true Mandalorian. Some of the rules of the Mandalorian Creed include: taking care of Foundlings (young Mandalorians who have not come of age), loyalty to Mand’alor, and most importantly, do not remove your helmet.
Mandalorians are identified throughout the galaxy by their distinctive helmets. They fully cover their heads and faces, obscuring their identity to outsiders. There is a t-shaped slit in order for them to see. Each Mandalorian is able to customize their helmet and armor to suit their needs and personality.
Originally, Mandalorians are from the planet Mandalore in the Outer Rim. They originated around the year 9991 BBY and much of their culture is still the same after the fall of the Empire in 4 ABY. They were led by a leader who took the title of Mand’alor. They were constantly at war, dominating the galaxy through crusades that left worlds utterly devastated. Battles even extended to the Inner Rim where the Republic was strongest.
This led to the Jedi getting involved.
The Jedi and the Creation of the Darksaber
The Mandalorians were tearing through the galaxy at an alarming rate. However, this all happened before the communication expansion efforts to the Outer Rim of the High Republic (500-100 BBY). Meaning, the Mandalorians were not aware of the Force wielding Jedi Order. They had no way to defend themselves from the power of the Force.
Mandalorians across the galaxy worked to find ways to defeat these powerful foes. Beskar was highly sought after for their armor and weapons. This metal is impervious to blaster fire and even lightsabers. This turned the tide of war and led the Mandalorians to victory. Or at least made their clashes with the Jedi infamous.
However, like most species, there were those Mandalorians that were Force-sensitive. In 1050 BBY, Tarre Vizsla was the first natural-born Mandalorian to become a Jedi. As a Jedi, he set himself apart due to his Mandalorian roots. He was a skilled fighter and one of the best lightsaber duelists of the time.
In order to begin their apprenticeship, each Jedi must travel to a planet that has a certain type of energy crystal. The Kyber Crystal is what gives the lightsaber its power. It’s also used in large energy weapons like the Death Star. Kyber also changes the color of the blade. Most Jedi have blue or green sabers.
Of course, as a Mandalorian, Vizsla had to stand out. He created the Darksaber, a jet-black curved blade with a beskar hilt. As Vizsla grew in power, the Mandalorians recognized him as a true leader, a great Mand’alor. He created the prominent House Vizsla which is recognized as the proper ruling House of Mandalore. After his death, the Jedi of the Old Republic took his saber back to Coruscant for safekeeping in the Jedi Temple.
The Old Republic was a turbulent time, to say the least. The Jedi and the Republic were fighting a long and devastating war with the Sith, leading to the Jedi Temple being sacked. Members of House Vizsla used the chaos to gain access to the temple and steal back the Darksaber as it had become a symbol of leadership for the Mandalorians. It’s not known who led House Vizsla at the time, but they used the Darksaber to unite all the disparate clans on Mandlore where they ruled for centuries after.
As time went on, the Mandalorian ways of old gave way to the New Mandalorians. This group focused on pacifism and neutrality in an increasingly violent galaxy. They were led by House Kryze, the new rulers of Mandalore. The Darksaber, seen as a connection to their warrior past, was no longer used.
Owners of the Darksaber: Tracing the Darksaber's Timeline
As it is a symbol of the rulers of Mandalore, the Darksaber has changed hands many times. There is a large gap in known ownership between the Old Republic and the Clone Wars. However, at some point, the Darksaber fell into the hands of Death Watch, a splinter group who wanted to return Mandalore to the way they were.
Death Watch was led by a Mandalorian from House Vizsla named Pre. As the Clone Wars raged, Pre wanted to take advantage of the chaos to take control of Mandalore. Count Dooku offered the assistance of the Separatists, seeing that the warlike Mandalorians could turn the tide of the war in his favor. Pre infiltrated Mandalore and dueled Obi-Wan Kenobi in order to prevent the Duchess of Mandalore, Satine Kryze, from escaping. He failed leading to Dooku withdrawing his support. As a side note, Satine and Obi-Wan kind of have a thing together. This is important for later.
This left Death Watch defeated and without support. Enter Darth Maul, a man literally too angry to die. Maul and his brother, Savage Opress, had sabers to grind with Obi-Wan and Dooku, respectively. Vizsla promised Maul and Opress their allegiance in return for helping them.
Vizsla and company staged multiple attacks on the city of Sundari on Mandalore, playing both sides of the conflict. By “arresting” Opress and using the Darksaber during the duel, he made it clear to the citizens of Mandalore that Death Watch and, more importantly, House Vizsla were the true leaders of the Mandalorians.
Pre then, shockingly, betrayed Maul and Opress, imprisoning them both. The two escaped shortly after their imprisonment. Maul, vying for the leadership of Death Watch, dueled Pre, ultimately killing him in the duel. Maul then became the leader of Death Watch and, according to law, Mandalore. Bo-Katan Kryze, second in command of Death Watch and sister of Satine, refused to follow anyone who was not Mandalorian and vowed to bring the Darksaber back to Mandalorian hands.
Maul, a former apprentice to Darth Sidious, is extremely powerful in the Dark Side of the Force. Along with that, he’s a strong duelist and has killed several Jedi. He is honestly everything Death Watch wanted in a leader.
In order to prove his loyalty to the cause (and get that sweet revenge he wanted), he lured Obi-Wan back to Mandalore with Satine. Maul killed Satine with the Darksaber in front of Obi-Wan. This serves the dual purpose of getting Death Watch on the throne and getting revenge on Kenobi for slicing him in half.
Unfortunately for Maul, Bo-Katan swooped in to free Kenobi with Darth Sidious (Palpatine) in tow. Maul and Opress fought Sidious. Unsurprisingly, Maul was defeated and Opress was killed. Sidious captured Maul, taking the Darksaber in the process.
A group of Mandalorians, led by Gar Saxon, retrieved the Darksaber from Sidious and freed Maul. The Clone Wars is full of different battles where Maul used the Darksaber. He battled General Grievous on Ord Mantell, tried to kill Dooku many times, and returned to his homeworld of Dathomir to help the Nightsisters resurrect Mother Talzin near the end of the Clone Wars. Maul and the Darksaber remained on Dathomir for years until it was discovered by Sabine Wren.
Wren is a Mandalorian who joined up with the crew of the Ghost, a group of rebels based out of Lothal. The Ghost crew was on Dathomir to hunt down Maul. Wren and Ezra Bridger, a Jedi apprentice on the Ghost, discovered the Darksaber after Wren was possessed by a Nightsister Spirit. Wren took the Darksaber onto their ship but felt it was not hers to use, instead entrusting it to Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi Knight aboard the Ghost.
After much cajoling from Jarrus, Bridger, and Fenn Rau, a Mandalorian Protector, Wren was convinced that the Darksaber would play an important role in helping the Rebellion. Wren continued to feel reticent about using it due to her estranged relationship with her family. House Wren would be an invaluable asset to the Rebellion, but she felt responsible for the weapons she helped create that the Empire used to enslave her people.
Once her training was complete, the crew went to Clan Wren’s household in Krownest. Ursa Wren, Sabine’s mother, believed that Sabine had no claim to the Darksaber as it was not taken from Maul in combat. Wren felt dejected. Ursa used this opportunity to protect her daughter by attempting to trade the Darksaber, Bridger, and Jarrus to Gar Saxon, the Hand of the Emperor and ruler of Mandalore.
Of course, as the Empire does, Saxon refused to keep his word, initiating a massive battle at Krownest. Saxon, using the Darksaber, tried to kill Wren with sheer force during a duel, but the training that Bridger and Jarrus gave her proved helpful. She wounded Saxon enough to take back the Darksaber and forced him to yield. After the saber was back in Wren’s hands, Saxon continued the fight, resulting in Ursa killing Saxon to save her daughter.
Even though Saxon’s death was justified to save Clan Wren, this sparked a civil war between Houses Wren and Saxon, ultimately keeping both of them out of the galactic battle. After reclaiming the Darksaber, Wren stayed behind with her family to try and reunify Mandalore. Wren planned to cede the Darksaber to a worthy leader to be the true Mand’alor.
In 2 BBY, Wren led a mission to Mandalore to save her father, Alrich, from the Imperials. She was joined by Bo-Katan Kryze, a former Death Watch member. Wren knew that Kryze was a good leader and sister of the former Duchess Satine. She offered Kryze the Darksaber, but she turned Wren down since she felt unworthy to wield the blade.
On Mandalore, Wren and Kryze raided Tiber Saxon’s Star Destroyer to find Alrich and destroy the Duchess, a superweapon Sabine built when she was with the Empire. Saxon became the governor of Mandalore after Gar was killed and planned to use the Duchess to destroy the Rebels on Mandalore. Wren used the Darksaber to destroy the Duchess, leading to the destruction of the Star Destroyer and Saxon’s death.
Wren was finally able to convince Bo-Katan to accept the Darksaber. The clans and houses of Mandalore all recognized her as the Mand’alor. She dedicated her life to uniting Mandalore and honor the life of her sister and clan. All was well on Mandalore after many years of turmoil.
Peace was truly never an option for the Mandalorians. There were two threats to Mandalore that were looming on the horizon. The first was The Children of the Watch, a splinter group of Mandalorians who believed in the ancient Way of the Mandalore. These Mandalorians follow the Mandalorian Creed and believe that Kryze was not the Mand’alor as she did not win the Darksaber in combat. They left Mandalore and hid on the moon of Concordia.
The other, more prominent threat was the Empire. They lost an important resource in Mandalore and did not take that defeat lightly. This led to the Great Purge of Mandalore between 1 BBY and 5 ABY. Imperial forces destroyed city after city to punish the Mandalorians for defecting and to try to wipe them from the face of the galaxy.
This all culminated in the Night of a Thousand Tears. The Empire bombarded the planet, laying waste to all of Mandalore, leaving nothing. The sandy surface was blasted into glass. The Children of the Watch believed that this was all caused because Kryze was a pretender to the throne. The Darksaber was not hers to wield so Mandalore was cursed.
Shortly after, Kryze met with Imperial Security Bureau officer Moff Gideon and relinquished the Darksaber, hoping to the end the Purge. Well…
Following the trend, Moff Gideon continued to Purge the galaxy of the Mandalorians. The remaining Mandalorians went to the far reaches of the galaxy to avoid death at the hands of the Empire.
The Empire fell in 5 ABY. Gideon made his move to become the new Galactic warden, building up a large army and calling it the Imperial Remnant. In 9 ABY, Gideon went to Nevarro to retrieve a Force sensitive child, Grogu, from a bounty hunter named Din Djarin.
Djarin, a Mandalorian, was able to defeat Gideon, leaving him for dead in his TIE fighter. Gideon used the Darksaber to free himself. Djarin later learns from Bo-Katan Kryze that Gideon is still alive and has the Darksaber. Gideon continued to search for Grogu often crossing paths with Djarin and company.
On Tython, Gideon captured Grogu, causing Djarin to lead a raid on Gideon’s cruiser. Gideon and Djarin dueled. After disarming Gideon, Djarin takes the Darksaber.
Djarin’s first act as the rightful owner of the Darksaber and ruler of Mandalore is to give the Darksaber to Bo-Katan. She, of course, refuses as she blames herself for the destruction of the planet. Djarin keeps the saber, hoping to find a true leader to give it to.
Djarin is a member of the Children of the Watch. He travels back to Glavis Ringworld where they are hidden. The Armorer, the de facto leader of the Watch, tells Djarin the history of the blade and that he is now the leader of Mandalore.
One of the Watch members present during this conversation was Paz Vizsla. He believed that he was the rightful heir to the throne as he was descended from Tarre, the creator of the Darksaber. Djarin defeated Vizsla but was excommunicated by the Armorer as he had removed his helmet, a grievous sin according to the Mandalorian Creed. The only way for Djarin to become a Mandalorian again is to bathe in the Living Waters in the Mines of Mandalore.
This is a bit of an issue, considering the sacking of the planet, but Djarin traveled to the remains of the planet. On his way to the mines, he was captured by a cyborg and held prisoner. His saber was taken along with the rest of his weapons. Grogu, his ever-present travel companion, escaped to Kalevala where Bo-Katan was hiding. Kryze saved Djarin and returned the Darksaber to him.
Djarin traveled with Kryze to Plazir-15 where she wanted to take back the Mandalorian fleet she had gathered. She explains that she was supposed to return with the Darksaber from Gideon to continue to lead the fleet. Since she had not, the fleet became mercenaries led by Axe Woves, another Mandalorian. Once on the planet, she battled and defeated Woves, taking command of her unit once more.
Not only that, since, during the battle, Kryze had saved Djarin after her was captured, the Darksaber was no longer his. The gathered Mandalorians all agreed that, once again, the Darksaber belonged to…
The Darksaber's Final Destination: Bo-Katan Kryze (Again)
Bo-Katan took her fleet to Mandalore where Moff Gideon was making his stand. Djarin, Grogu, and Kryze battled Moff Gideon who was wearing a power suit that would enhance his strength. As the battle raged, Gideon and Kryze were locked in combat. Gideon grabbed on to Kryze’s hand holding the Darksaber and crushed it. The Darksaber fell to the ground, destroyed.
Ultimately, Gideon is defeated by a cashing light cruiser. Grogu used the Force to protect Djarin and Kryze. With the Darksaber destroyed, Mandalore was left without a rightful ruler. After the battle, Kryze and the Armorer joined forces to reignite the Great Forge on Mandalore, symbolically uniting the two major factions of Mandalorians.
The Darksaber’s Legacy
The Darksaber is a symbol for the people of Mandalore. It represents the power they have, the iron grip they had on the galaxy at one time. It’s a symbol of leadership. Something that only the most powerful among them can wield. Although it changed hands many time throughout history, the Darksaber’s power remained undiminished. The mere sight of it made people cower in fear.
Compare this to the thrum of a lightsaber and what that represents. It’s a symbol of hope and protection to those who need it in an unfeeling galaxy. It is a way to be one with the Force. It inspires people to throw off their shackles and join the Rebellion. It’s the light against the darkness.
Is The Darksaber stronger than a lightsaber?+
The Darksaber isn't inherently stronger than a regular lightsaber. Its strength lies in its symbolism and historical significance rather than enhanced combat abilities.
Is the Darksaber different than a lightsaber?+
Yes, the Darksaber is a unique type of lightsaber with a flat, black-bladed design. Its shape and color set it apart, reflecting its role as a Mandalorian symbol.
Can the Darksaber stop a lightsaber?+
Yes, the Darksaber, like a regular lightsaber, can block and parry attacks from other lightsabers. Its energy blade functions similarly in combat.
Can Jedi use the Darksaber?+
Yes, Jedi can use the Darksaber, though it's more closely associated with Mandalorians. In Star Wars lore, both Jedi and non-Jedi have wielded the Darksaber at different points.
What is the Darksaber's significance?+
The Darksaber is a unique black-bladed lightsaber, symbolizing Mandalore's leadership. It passed through various hands, representing power struggles.
How did the Darksaber change hands?+
The Darksaber was often claimed through combat or strategic duels, reflecting Mandalorian honor and leadership dynamics.
What's the Mandalorian Creed?+
The Creed binds the Mandalorians; it emphasizes loyalty, honor, and unity. It includes taking care of Foundlings and preserving traditions.