Lightsaber - The Jedi Weapon in Star Wars

Offensive and Defensive Weapon for Force-Sensitives

A Jedi Holds a Purple Lightsaber
A jedi holds a purple lightsaber, the color used by Mace Windu. Wikimedia Commons

A lightsaber is a blade made of pure energy wielded by Force-users in the Star Wars universe. In "Episode IV: A New Hope," Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi describes the lightsaber as "not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age." Despite its scientific improbability, lightsabers look very impressive on-screen and make the Jedi stand out from other characters in the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars Universe History of Lightsabers

Although Jedi first experimented with lightsaber technology around 15,500 BBY, the lightsaber did not become the standard Jedi weapon until around 4,800 BBY. That means they were millennia-old by the time of Obi-Wan Kenobi. After the purge of the Jedi, lightsabers became rare as the survivors were hunted down, and only Darth Vader was commonly seen with a lightsaber.

Luke Skywalker was given his father Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber by Obi-Wan Kenobi. It had a blue blade and was the lightsaber used to slaughter Jedi at the Jedi Temple when Anakin had fallen to the dark side. Anakin lost it to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the battle that left him nearly limbless. Luke lost this lightsaber in the battle on Bespin with Darth Vader, along with Luke's hand. This lightsaber was eventually found by Rey, who used it in battle with Kylo Ren and presented it back to Luke Skywalker. Meanwhile, Luke had constructed a new green-bladed lightsaber.

Construction and Function of a Lightsaber

Lightsabers are not mass-produced like blasters; rather, they are very personalized weapons. Creating a lightsaber is one of the final steps of a Jedi's training. The Jedi must meditate over the lightsaber crystals, imbuing them with Force energy, affecting the weapon's power and special characteristics. A well-crafted lightsaber is not just a weapon, but an extension of the Jedi's connection to the Force. The lightsaber is used at the knighting ceremony as the Padawan is elevated to a Jedi Knight, with the blade cutting off his Padawan braid.

A basic lightsaber consists of a metal hilt about one foot long and a button to turn the weapon on and off. When the lightsaber is active, a power cell sends energy through one or more lightsaber crystals. The blade projects about three feet from the hilt before the energy charge arcs back on itself, creating a full circuit.

The type of lightsaber crystal affects the blade's color. The different lightsaber colors originally indicated different classes in the Jedi Order, but this system eventually fell out of use. Red was the only symbolic color that remained, indicating the lightsaber of a Sith or Dark Jedi. See more about what lightsaber colors mean.

Uses of the Lightsaber

A lightsaber is well-suited to a Jedi's quick reflexes since it serves as both sword and shield. It allows a Jedi to deflect blaster bolts and even redirect them towards other targets. It cuts, burns, and melts through substances, including living opponents. Due to the energy beam's action, it leaves cauterized wounds so the opponent doesn't bleed profusely.

Lightsaber Variations

There are several lightsaber variations seen in the movies as well as the expanded universe. These include a double-bladed lightsaber, crossguard lightsaber, and curved-hilt lightsaber.