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The Origin of the Saberstaff in Star Wars: Why the Sith Redesigned Lightsabers

by Lidia Lucovic

The iconic saberstaffs in the Star Wars saga made their first appearance in a Legends comic, well before their onscreen debut in the prequels. Their origin is closely associated with the Sith Order, and the most famous saberstaff belongs to Darth Maul, who dueled Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. However, it was the ancient Sith Lord Exar Kun who first wielded such a weapon. Kun’s intentions when crafting the double-bladed lightsaber underscored key differences between Jedi and Sith, despite both factions using lightsabers.

Four years before The Phantom Menace, the saberstaff made its debut in issue 3 of Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi – The Sith War, by Kevin J. Anderson and Dario Carrasco, Jr. After falling to the dark side and becoming a Sith Lord, Exar Kun dueled and defeated his former Jedi Master with his unconventional saberstaff, taking advantage of its enhanced offensive and defensive capabilities. While the saberstaff is a more offensively aggressive weapon than the classic single-bladed lightsaber, it is also less precise and often more vulnerable to damage, making it a fitting weapon for the original lightsaber design, just as the Sith Lords are to the Jedi Knights.

Although Exar Kun was one of the most powerful and famous Dark Lords in Sith history, he was also one of their most unconventional. Exar Kun never gave himself a Darth title, nor did he change his blue-bladed former Jedi weapon to a red-bladed one (although he did imbue his weapon with the dark side). However, he became a legendary figure in Sith history who left a lasting impression on galactic history. Exar Kun’s invention of the saberstaff is one such innovation, as the weapon was widely used by both Jedi and Sith after its invention.

The saberstaff design is rather simple, consisting of two single-bladed lightsabers fused by the pommel. Its two blades allow quicker and more aggressive offensive strikes and a greater defensive screen against blaster bolts. However, the weapon’s larger size made its hilt far more vulnerable than a single-bladed lightsaber. Saberstaffs are often a more intimidating weapon than even a standard lightsaber, and this, combined with their Sith origin, led them to be referred to as “Sith Lightsabers” for a time.

Just as single-bladed lightsabers are a Jedi creation that the Sith adopted and modified, saberstaffs would go on to be crafted and wielded by Jedi, using lightsaber crystals uncorrupted by the dark side of the Force. The Sith created the saberstaff as a more aggressive lightsaber variant, but the Jedi soon adapted to the weapons, exploiting their weaknesses and building their own iterations to use against the Dark Lords.

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