Lightsabers are the weapon of choice for Jedi and Sith alike. These weapons are prestigious and not wielded lightly. The lightsaber, also referred to as a laser sword or space sword by those who were unfamiliar with it. The lightsaber also became synonymous with the Jedi Order’s values to uphold peace and justice throughout the galaxy. This perception endured, despite the many conflicts with lightsaber-wielding Sith and Dark Jedi.
In the early incarnations of the Star Wars storyline, lightsabers were not exclusive to the Jedi and other Force-users. Early concept art depicts lightsabers being wielded by Rebel and Imperial soldiers alike. George Lucas later limited the lightsabers to exclusively the Jedi to make them feel more unique, and heighten the mystique of the Jedi. Also, in early drafts of the script, lightsabers were referred to as “lazerswords.”
The first lightsabers came into being when the precursor Je’daii Order combined advanced off-world technology with a forging ritual, learning how to “freeze” a laser beam. The earliest known functional lightsaber was the First Blade, built on Tython before the Force Wars by an unknown Je’daii Master known only as the Weapon Master. With the formation of the Jedi Order after the Force Wars, ceremonial weapons were an integral part of their order. For millennia afterward, the Jedi continued to use bladed weapons like swords, as lightsabers had not yet been refined for regular use.
The extreme lack of stability that plagued the weapons’ early designs were gradually corrected through the ages, and the cumbersome and rarely used siege weapons gave way to elegant and much more commonly used lightsabers. However, while these archaic lightsabers were far more stable than their ungainly predecessors, they still suffered from energy consumption issues, requiring the belt-worn power pack of previous generations. The power cable tended to restrict the wielder’s movements in battle and prevented the usage of Force-powered and long-range telekinetic saber combat. However, despite the shortcomings, the highly stable blades granted them a superior advantage in hand-to-hand combat against heavily-armored foes and saw a great deal of use during the period of the Hundred-Year Darkness.
A lightsaber blade is a mass-less form that does not emit heat or use up energy, other than that it emitted as visible light until it came into contact with something solid. The power of the energy blade was so great that it could cut through almost anything, although the speed through which it cut depended on the density of the subject. One important note about lightsaber wounds is that they rarely bled, even when a limb had been severed. This is because the energy blade cauterized the wound as it passed, and thus even a severe wound did not tend to bleed heavily.
Both green and blue became standard blade colors for Jedi lightsabers in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Mace Windu’s purple-bladed lightsaber, as first seen in Attack of the Clones, was a personal request from actor Samuel L. Jackson as a way to make his character stand out among other Jedi. Jackson’s favorite color is purple and he frequently requests the characters he plays to use an item of the color.
Lightsaber crystals were used to show a Jedi’s chosen class. Blue said that you were a Jedi Guardian, a Jedi who used the Force on a more physical level. Green indicated a Jedi Consular, a Jedi who preferred to reflect on the mysteries of the Force and fight the dark side at its heart. Yellow indicated a Jedi Sentinel, a Jedi who honed his or her skills in a balance of combat and scholarly pursuits.
The colors of a blade were produced by crystals in which the user had to imbue it with the Force. To do this, the Force-user was required to meditate on the crystal for many days.
Various blade colors appear in the Expanded Universe and other Star Wars products. The original Kenner figure of Luke Skywalker in his Tatooine costume from Star Wars was released with a yellow-bladed lightsaber. A multitude of other colors has since been used, including orange, silver, cyan, viridian, gold, bronze, and even black.