Season 3 of the hit Star Wars series “The Mandalorian” is about to kick off. Wondering why some Mandalorians take their helmets off when others don’t? Confused about the difference between Mandalore and Mand’alor? Does the timeline for the history of Mandalore seem convoluted? (It is.)
We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know (and much, much more) about Mandalorians, their culture, and their homeworld of Mandalore.
Legends vs. Canon
Before Disney purchased Lucasfilm, the Star Wars universe had been spread wide and far. So far, in fact, that there were a lot of conflicting details and storylines, given the large amount of creative freedom given to writers and other creators.
When Disney took over, they had to decide how to move forward regarding what was then known as the “Extended Universe.” Ultimately, they decided to take everything that fell outside George Lucas’s original creations — that is, Episodes I-VI and “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” — and call it Legends.
The term Legends is very intentional. It allows the powers that be at Disney and Lucasfilm to say, “hey, we liked that; let’s use it.” Legends implies that these are myths in the Star Wars universe, tall tales that sometimes hold a bit of truth.
Almost everything Disney has made or that has been produced under the official brands since the purchase is part of canon. That includes “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Rogue One,” “The Mandalorian,” and more. It does not include select video games, comic series, kids’ books, and the LEGO universe. (Sorry, no Scarif Beach Parties.)
Mandalorians in Legends
George Lucas famously improvised a lot of things, including Boba Fett’s iconic armor and the term “Mandalorian.” The Legends creators took that and ran, and thus, a lengthy and detailed history of Mandalorians and an exploration of their culture was born.
It gets pretty murky here. Between the canon material from “The Clone Wars,” “Rebels,” and “The Mandalorian,” there have been a lot of things used, changed, or omitted from Mandalorian lore.
“Attack of the Clones” brought Jango Fett into the canon universe, establishing him as a Mandalorian warrior. After the Disney canon was established, Lucasfilm representatives would go on to say that the Fetts were not actually Mandalorians. However, further canon materials have since called Jango a Mandalorian.
Most recently, “The Mandalorian” season 2 established that Jango Fett was, in fact, a Mandalorian foundling. Jango’s convoluted history is a good example of what we’re dealing with when approaching the history.
We’ll keep the Legends information to a minimum, discussing it only when necessary.
Now that we’ve dredged through the background, let’s dive in.
Who Are The Mandalorians?
“When one chooses to walk the way of the Mandalore, you are both hunter and prey.”
Technically, the Mandalorians get their name from a group of people originating from the planet of Mandalore. But the explanation given in “The Mandalorian” that aligns with the current canon declares Mandalorian as a creed, not a race.
The Mandalorians are a culture of (mostly) warriors who (mostly) live by a creed and (usually) wear beskar armor. Beskar is a type of steel found on Mandalore and is said to be one of the strongest materials in the galaxy. It can stand up against a lightsaber.
The warrior culture was predominant, but that wasn’t to say that the Mandalorians didn’t have a rich culture with art, cuisine, and more. For example, cubism went through a period of popularity during the Clone Wars. Pictured above is a cubist mural of the Jedi-Mandalorian war, as seen in the capital city of Sundari.
You can even sample Mandalorian cuisine at Docking Bay 7 on Batuu — the Pirjanad Hot Chicken Tip Yip uses a spicy Mandalorian sauce. (Fun fact: Pirjanad became canon when the dish debuted at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but it didn’t get its origins in Legends. It was first referenced in “Welcome to Mandalore,” a fanwork by Mia Mesharad.)
Mandalorians traditionally belonged to Clans, such as Clan Kryze, Clan Wren, and Clan Vizsla. But as the conflicts grew, many of the different clans aligned with one another in the face of greater issues.
The bulk of the Mandalorian Civil Wars came down to a disagreement over what it meant to be a Mandalorian. The Old Mandalorians consisted of the warrior clans who wanted to maintain the ways of their ancestors. While Death Watch was exiled specifically to Concordia, the Old Mandalorians were simply exiled from Mandalore after the war and ended up scattered across the galaxy.
Death Watch was an extremist group that splintered off from the Old Mandalorians. They not only wanted to uphold the warrior culture but also conquer other planets and groups. After the war, Death Watch was exiled to the moon Concordia, where they were presumed to have all died off.
The New Mandalorians were led by Duchess Satine Kryze from Kalevala, a planet in the Mandalore sector. They sought to move Mandalorian culture beyond violence and, after the large death toll during the wars, succeeded in bringing about an era of peace for Mandalore.
The Nite Owls were a small group of elite warriors led by Bo-Katan Kryze. Originally a part of Death Watch, they split off after Maul won the Darksaber from Pre Vizsla.
Children of the Watch
The Children of the Watch is the term used by Bo-Katan to describe Din Djarin’s Tribe. They seem to be related to Death Watch, given that the Mandalorians who rescued Djarin from his home planet of Aq Vetina have Death Watch sigils on their armor. Not much background has been given for the Children of the Watch, but presumably, they are a splinter group. Their adherence to their Creed and refusal to take off their helmets in front of others follow the old Mandalorian ways.
What Is The Creed?
“This is The Way.”
Simply put, we don’t know. The Creed adhered to by Din Djarin, and his Tribe does not allow the removal of their helmets. This is essentially all that has been confirmed in canon.
This is one of the areas where it’s unclear how much they are pulling from Legends. In Legends, the Mandalorians followed the Resol’nare, a set of six tenets including education, armor, self-defense, tribe, language (Mando’a), and leader (the Mand’alor).
Why Does Mandalore Look Like That?
The season 3 trailer revealed our first look at live-action Mandalore, as pictured above. It’s in absolute ruins, something that has been referred to in previous seasons. Moff Gideon mentioned The Night of a Thousand Tears, and Boba Fett mentioned the planet was “glassed.” In “The Book of Boba Fett,” the Armorer describes the events of the final destruction of the planet’s surface.
Mandalore was once a lush planet filled with flora and fauna. The destruction was started by the Mandalorians themselves. Due to their combative nature, fights often broke out between the different clans and sects. The wars led to so much ruin that the planet could not support much in the way of life, and the Mandalorians built sealed dome cities.
Some of the land was tenable until a war broke out between the Jedi and the Mandalorians, which ended with Mandalore’s surface turning into a wasteland. The screenshot above from a season 3 teaser trailer shows what is likely a flashback to Mandalore before its full desolation, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Life continued in the domed cities until political unrest led to the Empire deciding that if they couldn’t control Mandalore, they had to make sure no one did through the Great Mandalorian Purge. The Purge culminated on the Night of a Thousand Tears. The Empire, including Moff Gideon, used Arc Pulse technology, which was designed to target beskar and incinerate its contents, to lay waste to the planet. Very few Mandalorians on the planet survived.
Sometimes spelled Mandalore (not to be confused with the planet or its system), the Mand’alor is the ruler of the Mandalorians — not the planet exclusively, but the people who adhere to the Creed, wherever they are in the galaxy. This is particularly important approaching season 3 as following the Purge, the surviving Mandalorians are scattered.
The current version of canon states that the Mand’alor is the person who wins the Darksaber in battle. Ergo, Din Djarin may be the Mand’alor at this time, but that has not been made explicitly clear.
In “The Clone Wars,” this rule was not established, and several people rose to power without winning the Darksaber.
Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian Jedi, created the Darksaber. It was passed down through his descendants until it belonged to Pre Vizsla. Pre partnered with Maul to overtake Mandalore but ultimately lost the Darksaber in a battle with Maul, who would become the ruler.
Pre Vizsla had been leading the Old Mandalorians (and Death Watch) into the civil wars. After Duchess Satine Kryze took over, she established a different governing system for the planet, including a Prime Minister. She did not wield the Darksaber.
Mandalorian warrior Gar Saxon wanted to be Mand’alor, and though he never held the title, he was appointed Viceroy of Mandalore by Emperor Palpatine.
Eventually, Mandalorian Sabine Wren stole the Darksaber from Maul and gave it to Bo-Katan Kryze. Kryze would lose the saber in battle with Moff Gideon during the Great Purge. Gideon would lose the Darksaber in battle with Din Djarin.
In what may be an attempt to retcon the lore, The Armorer implied to Din Djarin that Mandalore’s desolation was a result of Satine and Bo-Katan Kryze both attempting to rule Mandalore without having properly won the Darksaber in battle, invoking a curse upon the planet.
Manda-this, Manda-that: Exploring Mando’a
Mando’a, the language of Mandalore, was established in Legends. However, canon material including “Episode II,” “The Mandalorian,” and “Star Wars: Rebels” have used both the written and spoken versions of Mando’a.
Mando’a is written vertically, as seen in the chain code on Boba Fett’s armor from “The Mandalorian.” The chain code identifies the armor as belonging to Boba Fett, having inherited it from his father, Jango Fett, a foundling from Concord Dawn whose mentor is “Jaste” (likely confirming Jaster Mereel, who was Jango’s adoptive father in Legends).
The canonical explanation for the many uses of the words “Mandalore” and “Mandalorian” is chalked up to translations from Mando’a into Galactic Basic. The terms in Mando’a are distinct, as seen in the examples below.
|Manda||the soul or essence of being Mandalorian in all senses|
|Manda’yaim||the planet Mandalore|
|Mand’alor||the ruler Mandalore|
|mandokar||having Mandalorian qualities|
These aren’t the only Mando’a words to use the base “manda” or “mando.” However, that is not to imply that all Mando’a is confusing in this way. Most of the established vocabulary is varied, and many phrases and words are created by combining other words in Mando’a. For example, the Mand’alor is a combination of Manda’yaim, the planet, and alor, which is a term for a leader (such as a clan leader, battalion leader, etc.). The word for the capital city is aloriya, a portmanteau of alor and oriya (city).
If you’re interested in learning more about Mando’a, check out some terms and phrases you may have heard (and ones you may hear), or visit mandoa.org for the full known dictionary.
More Phrases and Terms in Mando’a
|dar’manda||one who is no longer Mandalorian;
considered to be without a soul
|solus, t’ad, ehn, cuir||one, two, three, four|
|Mando’ad draar digu||A Mandalorian never forgets|
What to Expect in Season 3
Din Djarin is going to Mandalore to seek absolution after removing his helmet. The Armorer tells him the only way is to cleanse himself in the waters beneath the mines of Mandalore.
The trailer shows Mandalore in multiple states of destruction. Given the larger amounts of Mandalorians and the prevalence of Bo-Katan Kryze, it’s safe to assume we will see flashbacks of what the planet used to be.
The trailers also see the return of the Armorer and Paz Vizsla (yes, of the aforementioned Vizslas). As Djarin struggles with his identity as a Mandalorian, we will likely learn more about the Children of the Watch.
The tidbits of history so far, including information about the Darksaber and the first live-action use of spoken Mando’a, have all come from the Armorer so far in her mentor role to Djarin. If you missed those scenes, they occurred in episodes 5-7 of “The Book of Boba Fett.”
Disney+ currently has a “Mandalore Culture Episodes” category for further exploration. You can also read a refresher of the story so far on StarWars.com.
“The Mandalorian” season 3 debuts tomorrow on Disney+. Pedro Pascal returns as the titular Mandalorian Din Djarin, along with Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan Kryze, Emily Swallow as the Armorer, Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon, and Carl Weathers as Greef Karga.
Season 4 of “The Mandalorian” has already been written, according to Jon Favreau.
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