In Star Wars, the Padawan hair braid is far more culturally significant among the Jedi Order than a simple fashion statement.
The Jedi Order in Star Wars It has a rich history of codes to abide by and a meaningful outfit to wear, creating an entire culture around these peacemakers of the galaxy. One of the time-honored traditions of the Jedi that has intrigued fans for decades is the Jedi Padawan hair braid.
The Jedi Padawan hair braid was mainly seen in the prequel films that Obi-Wan Kenobi used when he trained with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and Anakin Skywalker when he was a Padawan with Obi-Wan. While it may seem like a poor fashion statement, the hair braid is actually a culturally significant symbol among the Jedi Order.
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Why do Padawans have hair braids
It was customary for a Jedi Padawan to wear a longer section of their hair in a braid starting at the base of their neck. The braid was a symbol among the Jedi Order that the individual is classified as a Padawan, the first level to become a Jedi. Instead, non-human Padawan who did not have hair or fur on their heads to braid were given a braid of silk beads to show their Padawan status. An example of this is Ahsoka Tano, who was a species of Togruta that had no hair on her head, so she had to use an alternate material to mark her Padawan status when she trained with Anakin during the Clone Wars.
When the Padawans completed their training and passed the Jedi Trials, meaning they were ready to ascend to Jedi Knight status, the braid of hair was ceremoniously cut off with a lightsaber. This makes the hair braid a practical signifier of rank in identifying Padawans, and a ceremonial tradition to mark the graduation of a Jedi to the next rank. However, if a Padawan was expelled from the Jedi Order, his braid would be pulled off, as a symbol of shame for any transgression he committed.
Importance and history of the Padawan braid
The Padawan braid is more of a tradition than a strict rule of the Jedi. In practice, the decision whether or not to wear the braid was left to the individual Jedi Masters. In one case, a mischievous Wookiee infant tore the braid off a Padawan named Reath Silas, who was worried that his teacher Jora Malli would grow him back to remain a member of the Jedi Order.
For the Padawans, having the hair braid was a conscious symbol of their apprentice rank in relation to more experienced Jedi, but that only made the removal of the braid even more special as the Jedi Trials passed. In a way, this idea echoes the tradition of the tassel twist, which college students perform at their graduation ceremony.
Other Jedi Padawans took pride in wearing the hair braid as they embraced the steps they had to take to achieve a more honorable rank. Ahsoka Tano did her best to get her silk bead braid back from bounty hunter Cad Bane after she stole it. However, Ahsoka’s braids dilemmas didn’t stop there. Later, Ahsoka was wrongly accused of a bombing of the Jedi Temple and was removed from the Jedi Order. As part of this shameful expulsion, Ahsoka’s braid was ripped off, dealing a crushing blow to her faith in the Jedi High Council, as they believed the false accusations against her.
Since the hair braid was such an easily distinguishable symbol of a member of the Jedi Order, many Padawans cut their braids after the execution of Order 66 to hide from the Jedi purge. The culture of the Jedi Order had to be abandoned for practical reasons after Order 66 forever changed the ways of the Jedi Way.
The Padawan hair braid is just another form of pomp that the Jedi engage in to make the completion of Padawan training a meaningful ritual. Even so, being a Padawan is pretty tough on the ego, which makes the mandatory rattail salt on the wound.
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