Have you ever been driving along, lost in thought, when you suddenly realize you don’t remember how you got from point A to point B during a portion of your drive? Obviously, your subconscious took over, and guided you safely to your destination.
Well, the same thing happened to me in my journey of Star Wars fandom.
Somewhere between Bloodlines, Republic Commando (both by Karen Traviss), and The Clone Wars, I fell in love with Mandalorian culture. How did that happen?
Let me preface the rest of this entry by stating that I am in no way an “expert” on Mandalorians. I have just picked up a information here-and-there, being attracted to certain aspects of the people and their identity. Sort of like threads in a quilt square. Someday, I hope to piece it all together, and have one, big Mando quilt with which to wrap myself! 🙂
There are so many things about the culture that have somehow blazed a path through my emotions and my psyche. These are the things that seem to have impacted me the most, and have piqued my interest even further. Let me take you on a little “Mando road-trip…”
As a people, Mandalorians originally had no homeworld, per se. They were nomads, creating their own culture. In this way, they are very much like the Jedi and the Sith: cultures that created themselves through a shared sense of purpose. This is noteworthy, because it shows how strongly devoted its people are to upholding their traditions and customs.
Eventually, many Mando’ade (Mandalorians) settled on Concord Dawn, which is where Jango Fett is said to hail. He was actually adopted. Mando’ade were known for their adoption practices. If a child needed a home, you could be sure a Mandalorian family would welcome him/her into their home. What a noble commitment these people have to the family as a pillar of the community! Some of this adoption is out of necessity: with a lot of Mando’ade being warriors, bounty hunters, mercenaries, etc. (obviously a high job accident rate), adoption helps keep the culture alive and strong.
Speaking of family, men and women are pretty much expected to perform the same jobs, even though there are some “traditional” roles that are carried out. There are actually no gender-rules in Mando’a (Mandalorian language). Both men and women are expected to be warriors, raise their families and defend their homes. Men train the boys to be warriors (from the age of 12 or 13, I think). Women see it as an insult to be called gentle, fragile or delicate. Now, if you call her a bad mother…watch out!! To me, this is an amazing example of an equalitarian society, where gender does not pigeon-hole you as being one thing or another. Cool.
Marriage and adoption are as simple as stating that you are married, or that you are family. No big, court-driven procedures. You simply state a certain pledge, and it is done. I imagine this is because with their nomadic ways, many Mando’ade couldn’t exactly drive to the nearest court room. I like this idea, because it seems as though the commitment comes straight from the heart, not bound by a piece of paper. It may not be the most practical for legal division of property and possessions, but I just like the notion of the “intention” behind the pledge. Very noble. Aliit ori’shya tal’din (family is more than blood)!
Ahhhhh.the armor! Beskar’gam. It translates into “iron skin”, which just goes to prove how incredibly central the armor is to the Mando’ade. I have learned that true beskar’gam is made from beskar, which is a type of metal made from an almost impermeable type of iron, coupled with the wicked iron-working skills of a Mando metalworker. Tough stuff! It is passed down from one generation to the next, which is how Boba got Jango’s armor. Again, this transfer, albeit a possession, is a symbol of commitment, and a pledge to uphold tradition.
One thing I wish the powers-that-be would’ve kept in the original work-ups of Boba’s armor for Episode V is the usage of jaig-eyes. These are placed on a helmet as a symbol of skillfulness or expertise in battle. There has been a lot of debate about the use of jaig-eyes in cosplay costumes, but we’ve obviously seen them quite a bit – Captain Rex being the first example that comes to mind.
All of the markings on beskar’gam have a certain mystique to them, a personalization to the armor that makes each and every one as unique as a fingerprint. With the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels, we will be treated to the armor stylings of the artistically talented Sabine! Love it. (By the way, if anyone can hook me up with someone who can help me make a Sabine cosplay costume, I’d appreciate it!)
Farming. Mando’ade are as skilled at farming as they are in battle. This has always appealed to me because for the past 23 years, my husband and I have owned a dairy farm. Only recently have we made the decision to leave that life, and let me tell you, it was one of the hardest decisions we have ever made. I understand what it is like to BE the farm. It’s in your veins, your soul. I have no doubt that this is yet another reason I’m in love with Mandalorians!
Lastly, I am completely enamored with the whole concept of training the Clones. Why did the Republic decide to hire men like Kal Skirata to instruct them, specifically requiring the troops to be trained in Mando tradition, customs and language? They even called him “Kal’buir”, which means “Papa Kal.” Why would the Republic want that instilled in the troops? Doesn’t that foster a sense that they hailed from somewhere else, thus planting the seed that they weren’t “just soldiers?” I have pondered this question time and again, with no satisfying answer…Vode an (brothers all)…! You can also read more about my obsession with Clones here:
I will leave you with a few links that I, myself have bookmarked. I’m determined to learn Mando’a (the Mandalorian language)! Hopefully, with the help of these resources, I finally can!
Thanks to Johnamarie Macias (@BlueJaigEyes) for allowing me to link her tutorial videos!
The second is actually a Quizlet site! For those of you who may be students or teachers, you are probably familiar with it:
Next, is the original dictionary from Karen Traviss, who wrote the Mando’a language herself (there is a downloadable file if you click directly on “dictionary”).
Lastly, I added a video link for the song “Vode An,” which is sung by troops in battle. It was popularized by the Republic Commando PC game. My youngest son was obsessed with the game for a while, so I got to hear it quite a lot (yay)! I included it for no other reason other than it gives me the chills every time I hear it!
Vor’e (thanks) for reading! If you have any questions, direct comments, or ideas for a blog subject, you can contact me directly:
You can also find me as Rogue 7 at Star Wars in theClassroom:
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Captain Rex pic: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Jaig_eyes
Jaig Eyes images:http://thewookieegunner.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/jaig-eyes-sidebar160.png?w=160&h=127
Sabine Image: http://boards.theforce.net/threads/sabine.50018458/page-13
Kal Skirata Image: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Kal_Skirata