Biology and appearance
Sarkans were a tall species, often over two meters tall, with sharp fangs, thick scaly skins, and small claws on their fingers. The Sarkans' yellow eyes gave them excellent night vision. They were a cold-blooded species, who could die in less than twenty minutes if exposed to freezing temperatures.
Sarkan claws were not their most effective natural weapon — instead, trained Sarkan martial artists whipped or bludgeoned their opponents with their thick, muscular tails. Sarkans varnished and painted their claws for decorative purposes.
Society and culture
Sarkans were noted for the wealth of their society, thanks to the mineral riches of their home world. Sarka was the only known source of nova rubies, a gemstone common on Sarka but impossible to find on any other known world. Sarkans often wore loose robes decorated with gemstones. Though valued by non-Sarkan "barbarians", Sarkans actually considered the gems to be mostly useless.
Sarkans were also noted for their excruciatingly complex and protracted protocol rituals. For example, when greeting an ambassador, it was necessary to begin with a greeting in one of the five major Sarkan languages. This greeting had to include the greeter's life story, an account of all of the battles the greeter had won, the value and number of gems mined, and all of the mates acquired in the greeter's life. If a greeting took less than one full hour, the ambassador would either take it as an insult (thinking the greeter considered the ambassador not worth a proper greeting) or as proof that the greeter was unimportant and could be ignored. Diplomatic greetings could take up to eight hours. After the greetings came ritual dances, which could themselves take three hours. Though tailless species were excused this duty, any breach in the protocol of the dance by someone with a tail would be taken as a flagrant insult. Those who violated the protocols of the greetings or of the dances would be removed from an ambassador's presence, sometimes violently.
Sarkan culture originally revolved around a caste structure. As a hold-over of this time, Sarkans in later years almost always traveled in groups of three or more. Lone Sarkans were usually outcasts from Sarkan culture, exiled for some offense committed on Sarka.
Sarkans used a single name. Typical Sarkan names included B'neer, Demesk, Fisuran, Ganis, Jilieren, Melas, Siran, Sonus, Tybellor, and U'vala.
Sarkans valued the natural beauty of their homeworld, especially its dense jungles and its bejewelled mountains. Their few cities were located in complex cave systems, usually near underground hot springs to keep the cold-blooded Sarkans warm at night. These cave cities, while apparently crude at first glance, contained all forms of modern luxuries and amenities. The Sarkan cave networks were also connected to their rich gem mines.
When the Galactic Empire was in power, the Sarkans reluctantly relaxed their protocol requirements when dealing with Humans and while negotiating with corporations with strong Imperial connections. This changed after the Sarkans learned of Palpatine's death. Refusing to countenance any further insults, they quickly reverted to their old standards. In one incident, they surprised a representative from SoroSuub by demanding a formal greeting, and cut off trade relations with SoroSuub for several years when their demands were not met. After the fall of the Galactic Empire, the wealthy Sarkans became one of the more powerful factions in the New Republic. During the Thrawn Campaign, the New Republic and the Sarkans were negotiating a shipping treaty. In return for access to Sarkan trade, the Sarkans hoped to have the Republic establish a military presence on Sarka. By 19 ABY, Sarkan traders were seen as far from Sarka as Iphigin in the Core Worlds.
Sarkans in the Galaxy
Though the Sarkans had technology equal to most other cultures in the galaxy, they never developed space travel on their own. Aside from the occasional lone outcast, Sarkans rarely left their home world. Instead, they had the galaxy come to them for trade, setting up luxurious resorts and spaceports on Sarka to cater to the "foolish aliens" fascinated by gemstones.
One notable exception was Melas, a Sarkan traveler seen on Tatooine in 0 BBY, who was exiled from Sarka for violating Sarkan protocol rituals. Melas was an atypical Sarkan in many ways: in addition to his informality and his taste for the company of non-Sarkans, he was short, and had blue eyes.
Behind the scenes
The Sarkan puppet used for Melas in the Special Edition release of A New Hope was the same as the one used for Ketwol the Pacithhip. In order to make a new alien, Ketwol's trunk and tusks were covered with a red turban, and Melas' face was made from Ketwol's head. Melas replaced a shot of a Defel named Arleil Schous in the Mos Eisley Cantina scene.
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 45: Destroyer, Part 1
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Post-1997 releases only)
- "The Great Herdship Heist"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 15 (Mentioned only)
- The Last Command (Mentioned only)
- Specter of the Past
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Special Edition Limited (Card: Melas)
- The Last Command Sourcebook
- The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook
- Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook - Special Edition
- Alien Encounters
- Alien Anthology Addendum"—Star Wars Gamer 7 "
- Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy (Picture only)
- Ultimate Alien Anthology
- The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia