George Lucas has made it his life goal to keep Star Wars fans busy by giving them a lot of things to unpack after each installment in the franchise. One thing that has consistently caused a stir in internet forums and Star Wars conventions are the iconic lightsabers.
May it be the Ventress’s double-doubles, Kylo Ren’s crossguards, or Anakin’s cursed lightsaber, Lucas’s weapon of choice is one of the most anticipated and talked-about items in the Star Wars universe.
So naturally, the whole theater collectively gasped in shock the moment Mace Windu walked into the screen with a purple lightsaber in tow.
We all know the color of a lightsaber reflects the personality and intentions of the person wielding it, but purple lightsabers are so rare that it’s difficult to pin down what it really means. But amid all the fluff and unlikely conspiracy theories about its significance, here’s everything we know so far to be true about purple lightsabers.
When did we first see the Purple Lightsaber?
As already mentioned, it was the Republic’s Clone Wars tactician Mace Windu who was first seen with a purple lightsaber.
Before he became a Jedi Master, Mace was a powerful padawan who could see shatterpoints in the Force. This allowed him to catch rare glimpses into the future. In one of his visions, Windu saw an older version of himself with a purple lightsaber, and he immediately knew it was the weapon he was supposed to build.
However, there was one major problem, and even the Jedi Council knew it: purple crystals can only be mined in Hurikane, an obscure planet in Wild Space inhabited by unidentified crystalline beings.
Without knowing how he would be received on such a planet, Mace set off on his own to negotiate his way into getting the crystal he needed in order to fulfill his destiny. As luck would have it though, Hurikane’s sentient inhabitants did not appreciate his unannounced appearance, and the young padawan was practically chased off the planet.
One inhabitant attempted to attack Windu, but he was able to use the Force to dispel his opponent. The crystalline ended up injured, and had to be reconstructed by Mace himself, who quickly realized that he may have gone too far.
In showing mercy and good conscience, Mace won the Hurikane inhabitants over, and they ended up presenting him the Hurikane Crystal he had been asking for. Having secured the material, Mace was finally able to build the purple weapon he was always meant to carry.
What does the purple lightsaber signify?
To this day, there remains a rich debate on whether or not purple lightsabers hold any deep significance in the Star Wars lore. This is especially true since it was revealed that Mace Windu only got a purple lightsaber– because Samuel L. Jackson asked for one. Apparently, Jackson simply wanted to be able to pick himself out from the crowd whenever there are large fight scenes in the movies.
What was George Lucas supposed to do? When someone with a wallet that says ‘Bad Motherf*cker’ on it asks you for a favor like this, you oblige.
That said, of course the creators had to make this decision make sense, or risk getting all their loyal fans riled up. So in one word, here’s how the expanded Star Wars universe explained what’s up with purple lightsabers: duality.
Since purple is a combination Sith Red and Jedi Blue, lightsabers of this hue are thought to signify equal affinity with both sides of the Force.
Case in point: Windu practiced the seventh form, a rather rare and unpredictable combat technique, which draws power from the dark side of the Force, and is therefore more popular with those affiliated with the dark side. Despite this, he was never tempted to join the dark side.
This theory of what purple lightsabers meant is supported by looking at the other notable characters who used one, both in canon and in expanded universe writing.
Notable characters who used it
Take Revan for instance, who started out as a commanding force for the Galactic Republic during the Mandalorian Wars. It would seem that he always had the dark side within him, as he was eventually reborn as the Sith Darth Revan, who went on to cause serious chaos in the Republic.
Another notable character who used a purple lightsaber was Mara Jade Skywalker, who used to be an Empire assassin for Palpatine, before he saw the errors in his old master’s ways and ended up becoming a Jedi Master and an essential ally to Luke Skywalker. This is such a huge paradigm shift for Mara, given that she originally planned to destroy Luke to fulfill Palpatine’s last wish, and the duality is aptly represented in her deep magenta lightsaber.
More than anyone else in the Star Wars universe, the purple lightsaber-wielder who most exemplified man’s duality is Kyp Durron. He made significant contributions both to the Light and Dark sides of the Force. He briefly fell to the dark side in 11 ABY, and is credited for many deaths in the middle of his rampage against the Imperial Order. While incarcerated in the spice mines, he nursed deep anger and desire for vengeance. Once out, he was responsible for the destruction of many Imperial targets, even killing his own brother along the way, all under the influence of Exar Kun. With the latter’s power diminished though, Kyp was able to break free from his trance, and proceeded to become Skywalker’s most promising student, and ended up becoming a pioneering Master in the New Jedi Order.
Aside from their vacillating allegiance to either side of the Force, those who use purple lightsabers are observed to be reserved, sympathetic, and compassionate, but vulnerable to their own temperaments. Given the choice, purple saber wielders prefer to operate alone, and are often in deep introspection, probably to try and unearth their true purpose despite being drawn to both the Light and the Dark.