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"Watch out kid, this thing handles like a drunken bantha."
―Han Solo, as he piloted an AT-AT[src]

Banthas were hairy mammals that lived in the deserts of the planet Tatooine, but were bred on many worlds throughout the galaxy. They were social herd animals, and were used prominently by Tusken Raiders.

Biology and appearanceEdit

Banthas were large, quadrupedal mammals[1] with bright eyes and trampling feet.[4] They averaged in height 2[2] to 2.5 meters, and an adult's average weight was 4,000 kilograms.[4] They had extensive shaggy fur, which was brown or black in color. Both females and males of the species had a pair of sharp, spiraling horns that grew from their skull, which grew at a knob a year,[5] and a wide mouth. Banthas possessed bright, inquisitive eyes,[2] a large tail which dragged on the ground as they walked, and four flat feet with four digits.[6]

BehaviorEdit

All banthas were peaceful herbivores,[6] and lived in herds.[1]

HistoryEdit

Banthas were easily domesticated, and were bred on many worlds throughout the galaxy.[2] they were widely used as mounts, and to make food, drink, clothes, and furniture. Their milk, which was distinctively blue, was drunk plain as well as being used in yogurt, ice cream, and butter. Their meat was used for dried jerky, steaks, and burgers, and their dung was even used as a fuel. Bantha-blood fizz was a sparkling drink made from purified bantha blood, and their hide could be mashed with grains to make Ardees, also known as Jawa juice. Their hide was also tanned and turned into clothes or funiture.[4] Young banthas were known as calves.[7]

The Tusken Raiders of Tatooine tamed and domesticated banthas, and they shared a close, almost mystical bond. Every boy had a male bantha and every girl had a female one. When Sand People married, their banthas also mated, and, should its rider die, their bantha usually perished shortly after. If a bantha died before its rider, its remains were placed in a large graveyard, which was treated with great respect by Tuskens and other banthas. Tuskens never harmed or ate banthas.[4]

Bantha were the subject of several slang phrases and insults. "Bantha fodder" (or "Bantha poodoo" in Huttese[8]) was a phrase used as the equivalent of "worthless"; a person or thing deemed to have no value beyond something for a bantha to graze on, because of bantha food's unpleasant smell.[9][4] "Not give two bantha ticks (about something) meant to not care in the slightest (about something or someone), "Son of a bantha" was an insult, and "A wild bantha chase" meant a futile errand.[source?]

Behind the scenesEdit

The word 'bantha' or at least other words resembling the term, first appeared in The Star Wars: Rough Draft, where a Sith Lord was called — or had the call sign — "Banta Four". The Star Wars: First Draft, written in early 1974, introduced "Banta One" as a Rebel fighter during the attack on the Death Star. Banthas as a creature were first mentioned in the third draft of the film: Adventures of the Starkiller, Episode I: The Star Wars, dated August 1975, as "monstrous banthas" ridden by a group of savage desert nomads called the Tusken Raiders. Their attack on Luke after he spotted the beasts of burden, as happens in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, was also included. Early concept art from Ralph McQuarrie imagined banthas to be played by horses, so the earliest imaginations of banthas are considerably smaller.[10]

For banthas' first canon appearance in A New Hope, They were played by Mardji, a 22-year-old female Asian elephant. It took six crew members to make Mardji a costume that would fit her and that she would tolerate. The costume's base was a howdah, or elephant saddle, with added palm fronds to create the shaggy coat of a bantha. They then added a special head mask that was molded from chicken wire and then sprayed with foam to give it the correct shape. The dangling hairs on the underside of the bantha's mouth was made from horse hair and flexible home ventilation tubing was the base for the curving horns. While the weight of the mask for the costume was cause for concern, it was actually the shaggy tail that was made from wood and covered with thick thistles that took some getting used to for Mardji. Despite her training, Madji's trunk would occasionally pop out of her costume, but the cast and crew, including George Lucas, liked Mardji too much to get impatient. To get the shot of the two banthas that Luke spots, they used an effect called optical compositing.[10]

The moan-like sounds from banthas were bear noises, slowed down by sound designer Ben Burtt, that were given to him by documentary producer George Casey.[10]

For bantha's later appearances in the 1997 Star Wars Special Edition, Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, Banthas were entirely computer-generated.[10]

Young banthas were known as "cubs" in the continuity of Star Wars Legends, which was zoologically questionable. They were changed to be "calves" in the new canon continuity. This change was made by the Lucasfilm Story Group.[11]

AppearancesEdit

Bantha-SWE

A bantha

Non-canon appearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

External linksEdit

In other languages

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