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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. Products from Banthas, such as bantha milk, bantha jerky, and ardees, were common.

Biology and appearanceEdit

Bantha herd

Banthas were peaceful herd animals.

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

BlueMilkAd

Bantha milk was a popular drink throughout the galaxy.

Banthas were easily domesticated, and were bred on many worlds throughout the galaxy.[2] they were widely used as mounts. 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, steak, and burgers, and their dung was used as a fuel. Bantha-blood fizz was a sparkling drink made from purified bantha blood. Bantha 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] Tuskens could also ride their banthas into battle.[8]

Banthas in the galaxyEdit

A common sight on Tatooine, banthas could be found wild, wandering the vast expanse of the Tatooine desert,[9] or domesticated, under the ownership of Tuskens[6] or in cities such as Mos Espa.[10] They shared their name with the White banthas of Nelvaan.[4]

Banthas were the subject of several slang phrases and insults. "Bantha fodder" (or "Bantha poodoo" in Huttese[10]) 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.[4] "Not give two bantha ticks (about something) meant to not care in the slightest (about something or someone),[11] "Son of a bantha" was an insult,[12] and "A wild bantha chase" meant a futile errand.[13]

In 20 BBY,[14] an LAAT/i gunship featured customized nose art of a flying bantha dropping a pair of bombs.[15] During the same year,[14] the rebels of Onderon owned a hunter cart with a bantha skull.[16]

During the Imperial Era, Jedi—in—exile Obi-Wan Kenobi befriended a herd of Banthas. Two were named two Dolo and Nara, respectively.[3]

By 5 ABY,[17] Malakili, a former beastmaster for Jabba the Hutt, wore a lucky braid of bantha teeth and fur.[18] later in the same year,[19] former slave Cobb Vanth had enlisted the help of a group of Tusken Raiders to drive a criminal syndicate called the Red Key Raiders away from Tatooine. The Tuskens rode into battle atop banthas. One such bantha was particularly large. The animal had an eye scarred over, fur matted with filth, and wounds with open bones and rusted gears.[8]

Behind the scenesEdit

Mardji

For A New Hope, Banthas were portrayed by Asian Elephant Mardji in a costume.

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.[20]

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, Mardji'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.[20]

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.[20]

For banthas 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, they were entirely computer-generated.[20]

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.[21]

AppearancesEdit

Bantha-SWE

A bantha

Non-canon appearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 StarWars-DatabankII Bantha in the Databank (backup link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ultimate Star Wars
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Star Wars 20: From the Journals of Old Ben Kenobi
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
  5. Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
  7. Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice
  8. 8.0 8.1 Aftermath: Empire's End
  9. Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
  10. 10.0 10.1 Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  11. Star Wars: Poe Dameron: Flight Log
  12. Star Wars 5: Skywalker Strikes, Part V
  13. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  14. 14.0 14.1 Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
  15. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Citadel"
  16. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "A War on Two Fronts"
  17. Star Wars: Galactic Atlas places the Battle of Endor during the year 4 ABY. Shattered Empire, Part IV, which shows Shara Bey and Kes Dameron settling on Yavin 4, takes place three months after the Battle of Endor, and Galactic Atlas places Bey and Dameron's move to Yavin 4 in the year 5 ABY.
    The novel Aftermath says that months have passed since the Battle of Endor. Aftermath: Life Debt begins two months after the end of Aftermath; therefore, the events of the former take place at least four months after the Battle of Endor. Since three months after the Battle of Endor is part of 5 ABY, as shown with Bey and Dameron's settling on Yavin 4, events of Life Debt must take place in 5 ABY at the earliest. On the other hand, the Galactic Atlas dates the Battle of Jakku, as depicted in Life Debt's sequel Aftermath: Empire's End, to 5 ABY as well, leading to the conclusion that Life Debt is set in 5 ABY.
  18. Aftermath: Life Debt
  19. Star Wars: Galactic Atlas places the Battle of Jakku in 5 ABY. Since the events in Aftermath: Empire's End occur prior, during and after the battle of Jakku, the novel can be dated to 5 ABY.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 SWCustom-2011 Banthas: From Concept to Screen on StarWars.com (backup link)
  21. Fry, Jason (March 20, 2017). Jason Fry's Dorkery - Author's Notes: Imperial Justice, Pt. 1. Tumblr. Retrieved on April 3, 2017.

External linksEdit

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