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Star Wars’ Sith Tattoos Originally Had a VERY Specific Purpose

Summary

  • Sith tattoos were originally used to crown the Dark Lords of the Sith, signifying their ultimate superiority over the Sith Empire.
  • The tattoos were applied to the Dark Lords’ faces using acid-like bugs, which burned the black markings into the skin.
  • Although the meaning of Sith tattoos became lost over time, some Sith, like Darth Krayt, continued to use tattoos as a way to indicate levels of power.


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Star Wars fans are well aware that certain styles of tattoos are prevalent in many different cultures associated with the dark side and the Sith, especially during the days of Star Wars‘ Old Republic, and even a significant stretch before then. While the significance has become greatly muddled and virtually forgotten over the years, Sith tattoos originally had a very specific and important purpose.

During the more recent years of Star Wars lore (ie, between the Clone Wars and Galactic Civil War), a Sith has seemingly come to mean a ‘fallen Jedi’. Count Dooku was a Jedi who fell to the dark side and became Darth Tyrannus, Asajj Ventress was a Jedi turned Sith apprentice, Anakin Skywalker was a Jedi who became the infamous Darth Vader, and even Baylan Skoll was a Jedi before his villainous turn (even if Baylon isn’t yet confirmed to be a Sith or not). However, like the Jedi, the Sith have their own structure, culture, and connection with the Force that doesn’t rely on the corruption of Jedi – or even have anything to do with the Jedi at all. While Darth Sidious is a prime example of this (even if the Emperor is considered a Sith heretic), fans haven’t seen truly independent Sith since the days of the Sith Empire, in roughly 5000 BBY. During that time, fans saw the structure of an openly Sith-ruled government, as well as tidbits of their culture sprinkled throughout – including the significance of tattoos.


Tattoos Were Used To Crown The Dark Lords of the Sith

Star Wars' Sith Tattoos.

In Star Wars: Tales of the JediThe Golden Age of the Sith #4 by Kevin J. Anderson and Dario Carrasco, Jr., the warring Sith have an opportunity to become stronger than ever by uniting against the common threat of the Republic, resulting in the crowning of a new Dark Lord of the Sith. The opening pages of this comic depicts the new Sith Lord, Naga Sadow, receiving their badge of power in the form of a face tattoo. Except, the tattoo isn’t given with needle and ink, but is instead applied via the acid of horrifying, scorpion-like bugs. Once the bugs burn the black markings into Sadow’s forehead, they fall dead from the Sith’s face, leaving behind the tattoo that indicates Naga’s claim to ultimate superiority over the Sith Empire.

This wouldn’t be the last time tattoos were used by the Sith to indicate levels of power. In fact, Darth Krayt of the Star Wars Legacy era was a major proponent of the practice, having a number of tattoos himself. However, it’s obvious that the meaning of the tattoos were greatly lost between the times of the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War, which is when most Star Wars stories take place, and the vast majority of the established canon is focused on. Palpatine, the ruler of the galaxy and ultimate Sith Lord, didn’t have any tattoos. Neither did Darth Vader, nor Count Dooku. In fact, Darth Maul was the only ‘Darth’ with markings even resembling Sith tattoos, but it’s widely accepted that his had more to do with his heritage on Dathomir and his connection with the Night Sisters than with the Sith.

Interestingly enough, the title of ‘Darth’ in Sith culture saw the opposite effect within Star Wars history. ‘Darth’ means Dark Lord of the Sith, acting as both a title and a name, which is commonly followed by the Darth’s new Sith name. In a way, appointing someone as ‘Darth’ almost replaced the need for them to get a tattoo, as both technically mean ‘Dark Lord of the Sith’, even if that moniker, too, has become a bit more broad since the days of the Sith Empire. But, regardless of what has become of this practice or other similar ones, the fact remains that Star WarsSith tattoos originally had a very specific purpose: to crown their dark lords.

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