Let’s look at the importance of Mandalorian armor, known as beskar’gam, which holds among both its people and Star Wars galactic history.
Warning: This article contains some spoilers from episode one of The Mandalorian season 2.
Mandalore yielded not only a pristine planet filled with jungles, seas, and other ecosystems but an invaluable resource to its inhabitants called beskar or “Mandalorian iron.” This unique ore was found exclusively on the planet of Mandalore and its neighboring moon, Concordia.
The Mandalorians used beskar to fashion the first of many full-body armors and helmets that would eventually become the defining trademark of both the people and their culture.
Beskar armor was so intrinsic to the Mandalorians’ identity that they referred to it as beskar’ gam or “iron skin.” There was even a sect among the Mandalorians who believed that not even the helmet should be removed in front of other living beings. To do so would be tantamount to committing sacrilege.
Furthermore, not everyone was considered worthy of wearing beskar’gam. Those considered aruetiise (ah-roo-ay-TEE-say) — that is, outsiders or traitors — were especially frowned upon. This applied to any individual(s) that failed to follow any of the resol’nare (RAY-sol NAH-ray), the six guiding tenets that defined the expectations of being a Mandalorian. An example of this can be seen in the opening episode titled “The Marshall” of The Mandalorian season 2.
In Chapter 9, the title character, Din Djarin, meets a sheriff named Cobb Vanth living in the small Tatooine town of Mos Pelgo. Vanth is seen wearing the familiar green scuffed-up armor of Boba Fett, which we later learn he traded some Jawas a camtono of valuable Silicax crystals for. After Djarin discovers Vanth wasn’t a Mandalorian, he demands the sheriff remove the armor. In fact, the Mando was so deeply offended by this affront to his people he was prepared to have a shootout inside the cantina.
Fortunately, this standoff was averted and the two later struck a deal for the armor to be returned in exchange for ridding the town of a krayt dragon. Although Djarin was successful in reclaiming the armor it isn’t likely to be in his possession for long. This is especially true after a mysterious individual (played by Jango Fett actor Temuera Morrison) was seen watching him pass by.
The evolution of the Mandalorian armor
According to legends, there were many variations of the beskar’ gam that were worn by the Mandalorians. The prototype of these was the Crusader armor, which was forged around 4,000 years before the battle against the first Death Star (BBY). This archaic version was worn by the Taung — the progenitors of the Mandalorians — and was more organic in appearance compared to the later additions. Its chief purpose was to serve as protection during melee combat.
Under the leadership of Mandalore the Ultimate the armor underwent its next evolution as other species were incorporated into their culture. The Ultimate’s right-hand, Cassus Fett, would later push for unification in the armor’s design so as to create a more consistent appearance among the different species of Mandalorians. Thus was forged, the Neo-Crusader beskar’gam. This version holds historical significance for being the armor worn during the infamous Mandalorian Wars in 3964 BBY.
The next significant leap in the design of beskar’gam didn’t occur until nearly 2,000 years after the end of the Mandalorian Wars. By this time, the once-mighty Mandalorians had been greatly reduced in number due largely to the Candorian plague. Pirates and raiders added further insult to the surviving Mandalorians by preying upon them within their own traveling routes. This streak of bad luck finally changed for the better with the arrival of a former Mando mercenary named Aga Awaud who would become Mandalore the Uniter circa 1051 BBY.
The Uniter would help Mandalorians not only in reclaiming their warrior status but also in bringing great prosperity to his people through his initiative known as the Return. The Uniter’s time in power also brought about a change in how the Mandalorians’ armor was forged. Taking inspiration from the Mand’alor himself, this mass-produced Shock Trooper-style armor was fabricated into separate components to allow for better maneuverability and speed.
This would remain the template for the Mandalorians beskar’gam from then until the Great Purge when the Galactic Empire stripped Mandalore of its beskar and forced all surviving Mandalorians to go into hiding. This made the precious ore both very expensive and sought-after. It also gave those within the underworld motivation to hunt down any Mandos that they came across, as seen in the confrontation that Djin Djarin had with the Abyssin warlord Gor Koresh and his gang.
Throughout its long history beskar’gam has been worn equally by both men and women with no clear distinctions. As a matter of a fact, the only distinctions between the Mandalorians’ armor was based on the class of warriors that wore them. This included such types as: Elite, Executioner, Hunter, Stalker, Shocktrooper, Techie, and Super Commando. The latter of these was what most fans associate with the Mandalorians as it was the style worn by Jaster Mereel, Jango Fett, Boba Fett, and Din Djarin /Mando.
Family heirlooms and sigils
Mandalorians’ armor also carried a historical significance to its people as pieces of beskar’gam from fallen warriors would be passed down to members of their clan. In this way, one’s lineage could be traced back generations from these inherited pieces. Sabine Wren’s armor was an example of this as it was said to be over 500 years old!
Lastly, acts of valor or other important achievements gave Mandalorians the right to bear a sigil or signet on their armor. These often became symbolic of the clans whose members had some significant victory that was displayed on both their armor and elsewhere.
An example of this is the signet of the mudhorn that the Armorer had fashioned for Djin Djarin, representing the Clan of Two. It symbolized the bond between him and the Child who had helped him defeat the beast. The most common sigil that has become synonymous with the Mandalorians collectively is called the kyr’bes or mythosaur skull. This is the strange skull that is seen on Boba Fett’s pauldron.
The Mandalorians and their arsenal
More than just looking cool, Mandalorians’ body armor was also highly-resistant to attack. Unlike the Imperial stormtroopers whose plastoid armor was notoriously weak to blaster bolts — and let’s be honest, most everything else — the Mandalorians beskar’ gam was impervious not only to blaster fire but lightsabers as well.
Besides rocking a hard shell Mandalorians also came equipped with a deadly arsenal that made them formidable opponents to nearly anyone — Jedi and Sith included. This shouldn’t be surprising considering they are a people whose ancestors fought city-sized dinosaurs.
The vambraces worn by the Mandalorians usually contained a multitude of hidden weapons. These included: flamethrowers, vibroblades, whipcords, and miniature missiles called “whistling birds.” The latter of these was used by Din Djarin in a memorable confrontation with some stormtroopers — as seen on The Mandalorian episode “The Sin.”
Mandalorians’ beskar’ gam was also equipped with a jet-pack that contained an explosive rocket for dealing a devastating blow to any problematic adversaries and/or obstacles. A demonstration of this weapon’s destructive power can be seen when Cobb Vanth uses it in the flashback scene of “The Marshall” against the Mining Collective. It is also one of Boba Fett’s coolest and most devastating attacks that he does in the videogame Masters of Teräs Käsii.
Another noteworthy fact about beskar’gam deals with the significance of their colors. The symbolic color index for the Mandalorians armor is:
- Black = Justice
- Blue = Reliability
- Gold = Vengeance
- Gray = Mourning a lost love
- Green = Duty
- Orange = A lust for life
- Red = Honoring a parent
Using the above index as a guideline can help tell us a lot about a character such as Boba Fett. First, the gray tone of his jumpsuit was reflective of the loss of a loved one — such as his father Jango. Next, the red/maroon color on his helmet and vambraces represented honoring his parent. Furthermore, the green color of his breastplates spoke of his sense of duty. Finally, the gold pauldron with the sigil of the red mythosaur on it represented his belief in vengeance, while also honoring his parent. This again is reflective of his feelings towards what was done to his father on Geonosis. It seems Boba has some real daddy issues. Just sayin’.
Even the muted colors of Djin Djarin’s beskar’gam give us some insight into his character. The brown tone is thought to represent his valor, which is appropriate given his heroic actions thus far. Interestingly, the silver tones are thought to be symbolic of him seeking redemption, perhaps this has something to do with the sins of his past life prior to the first season of the series.
So, that about sums it up. There is much to appreciate about the Mandalorians’ armor, whether it’s the design of it or the significance it has to this people’s culture. What is your favorite version of beskar’gam? If you could design your own, what would it look like? What colors and sigil would it have? Feel free to leave your comments below.
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