Nominally Kashyyyk; may have originated on an unknown world
|Height of average adult||
Different shades of black, brown, and white in varying combinations
Tall, hair covered, retractable climbing claws, long life spans
- "The Wookiees, although primitive compared to us, are surprisingly capable warriors. They're pretty strong, and pick up combat techniques pretty quickly."
- ―Canderous Ordo
The Wookiees, whose name for themselves translated to the People of the Trees, were a species of hairy bipedal humanoids that were inhabitants of the planet Kashyyyk. One of the most noteworthy members of the species was Chewbacca, Han Solo's best friend and co-pilot, who played a vital role in the Galactic Civil War and afterwards.
Biology and appearance
The Wookiees' natural habitats were the dense forests of the planet Kashyyyk (though one source does imply that they were immigrants to this planet). Kashyyyk was covered with massive wroshyr trees, in which the Wookiees constructed their homes and cities. Reportedly, Wookiees were descended from tree-climbing mammals.
They had the ability to easily learn most languages. However, Wookiees lacked the vocal structure to speak anything other than their own languages.
Adult Wookiees were tall, in excess of two meters in height, and were covered with a uniform, mid-length coat of thick hair in various shades of brown. Although albino Wookiees were rare, they were not unheard of. However, such a birth was generally held to be a bad omen, as white hair did not blend in with the earth-tones of their forest surroundings.
Young Wookiees (pups) were large at birth (averaging slightly less than one meter). Wookiees possessed vicious-looking retractable claws for climbing. Female Wookiees had six breasts and gave birth to live-born young, with their gestation period nearly a year long. After birth, a Wookiee grew very fast, fully conscious and able to walk unassisted within one standard year. The average lifespan of Wookiees was around 600 years. In spite of their bestial appearance, Wookiees were highly intelligent and had mastered advanced technology, including hyperspace travel. Wookiees also possessed exceptional skill in mechanical repair. An old saying was "Give a Wookiee a knife and send him into a forest in the morning, and by evening he would have carved you a table to eat dinner on - and a house to put it in."
Wookiees were often short-tempered. When Chewbacca complained about a move in a game of dejarik that R2-D2 had made during their initial trip to Alderaan, Han Solo told C-3PO that it was not a good idea to upset a Wookiee—because an upset Wookiee would tear a person's arms out of their sockets. Despite their temper and great strength, Wookiees were usually gentle and affectionate with their friends and family. Wookiees were also among the variety of species that could develop asthma.
Society and culture
One of the most well-known Wookiee traditions was the life debt. When a Wookiee's life was saved by someone else, even a non-Wookiee, they would frequently devote themselves to a lifetime of service to their savior and their family. Chewbacca's life debt to Han Solo, later extended to his family and his close friends, is one of the most famous examples of a Wookiee life debt. Another example of a Wookiee life debt is Zalbaar's life debt to the Revan.
The most common Wookiee language was Shyriiwook. While they were capable of understanding Basic, they were universally incapable of speaking it due to their unique vocal structure. Shyriiwook was a language which was hard to hear and understand for Humans, but one Wookiee, Ralrracheen, had a speech impediment that made it easier for non-Wookiees familiar with Shyriiwook to understand him.
Wookiees possessed a fierce style of fighting, typically eschewing standard blasters and grenades in favor of bladed weapons, such as ryyk blades, as with the Berserkers, and powerful bowcasters—weapons physically weaker species could not use effectively. In addition, Han Solo once claimed that Wookiees were known to rip human arms out of their sockets when they lose in something like Dejarik.
Their fierce fighting style served as the basis of the Deal-slang expression "wookinate" which referred to the rendering harmless an enemy using excessive force, obviously referring to the great physical strength that provided the essence of Wookiee combat.
Under the Wookiee code of honor, claws were never to be used in combat. A Wookiee who used his or her claws for combat would be labeled a "madclaw" and exiled. The majority of Wookiees thus had a code of honor that prohibited the use of their claws in combat. Other Wookiees were also charged by tradition of killing those members of their kind that engaged in the practice of using their claws in combat as the act dishonored their race. Around the age of twelve, young Wookiees underwent the coming-of-age Hrrtayyk ceremony.
- "But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid."
"That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that."
- ―Han Solo to C-3PO
The Wookiees were largely believed to have originated from the planet Kashyyyk—which was part of the Kashyyyk system—though various pieces of lore had different versions on how they became the dominant species of their world. However, according to Wookiee legend, the first Wookiees to Kashyyyk were visitors either in the form of pioneers or refugees. Their own records were vague on the subject and they rarely spoke on this topic. Conventional wisdom held the view that the Wookiees were simply the most capable climbers in a hostile ecosystem that was full of predators. Their capacity to move higher up the trees allowed them to avoid their natural predators helping them to not only survive but even evolve further. Despite either view, no records suggested that there was ever a time when the Wookiees did not populate the surface of Kashyyyk. Some reports indicated that Wookiees evolved on their homeworld around 2,000,000 BBY where they established dominance in their ecosystem as climbers of the wroshyr trees.
Their world was one of the many planets that fell under the dominion of the Infinite Empire and its surface was terraformed by the Rakata for agricultural purposes. However, the collapse of their empire left the machines unattended and resulted in the abnormally large foliage with it being theorized that these machines led to the accelerated evolution of various native species. During the reign of the Infinite Empire, a number of Wookiees were taken from their homeworld and transported to the Rakatan Archipelago where slaves populated worlds such as Malata. Inbreeding amongst these slaves led to sickly genetic deformities with the Wookiees of Malata displaying a stoop-shouldered, hairless form with long front incisors used to gnaw timber thickets.
Following the Great Sith War, the planet Kashyyyk was discovered by the Czerka Corporation whose investments into the Galactic Republic's rebuilding program led to the Galactic Senate awarding them this world. This was under the justification that they had discovered the planet and thus were the rightful owners of it. After occupying Kashyyyk, Czerka declared that that there were no sentient inhabitants to Kashyyyk and ignored the native inhabitant's designation of the planet. They named the planet first "G5-623" and then, after a poll of stockholders, "Edean". Once they took control, the corporation went against the wishes of the Wookiees and even began allowing slavers to hold a free reign over the native inhabitants. As the planet was deemed to hold little value, it managed to escape the devastation of the Mandalorian Wars and the Jedi Civil War with only Czerka maintaining control over it. Their occupation was brutal and oppressive with the company treating the Wookiees as less than sentient whilst exploiting the world's native population and resources in order to gain profit. The corporation further ensured its foothold on the populace by making use of collaborators amongst the Wookiees and managed to get the support of Chuundar who had risen to the position of Chieftain. Czerka control of "Edean" was disrupted when, in 3,956 BBY, the enslaved Wookiee populace overthrew the local corporate headquarters with the help of Revan and drove all outsiders off the planet.
Several thousand years before the Battle of Yavin, the planet was visited by scouts from the neighboring world of Trandosha who were seeking sites to form new colonies. The Trandoshans were driven off by the Wookiees and forced to leave a single starship behind which gave the inhabitants of Kashyyyk the necessary jump–start in order to reach the stars. The inquisitive Wookiees easily managed to disassemble the vessel, analyze the components and eventually replicate it. This led to the first Wookiee explorers setting off into the black depths of space. In time, their explorations led them into contact with Corellian traders who had established trade relations with the Trandoshans but were not willing to ally with them against the Wookiees. This in turn led to trade negotiations between the Corelians and Wookiees but quickly devolved into the former exploiting the latter. An end to this state of affairs came when the Alderaanian Diplomatic Corps became involved in the incident who petitioned the Galactic Republic for a Galactic Senate seat to be created for the inhabitants of Kashyyyk paving the way for it to becoming a member of the Galactic Republic.
After becoming a member of the Republic, the Wookiees dissolved the unfair treaty with the Corellians and formed a new equitable trade agreement with them. In addition, they began making treaties with other worlds and new species; this saw them purchasing hyperdrive technology from the Duros, opening Wookiee cultural studies programs in Alderaan's finest universities and trading with the Verpine for the state of the art manufacturing processes. Within the Senate, many politicians spoke admirably of the "wisdom of the Wookiees" and they were perceived as a race that were in touch with The Force as they had managed to integrate nature and technology on their homeworld. Kashyyyk became a distinguished member of the galactic community. At least one Wookiee, the Jedi Master Tyvokka, became part of the Jedi Order, and by 32 BBY, Kashyyyk had diplomatic relations with the planet Naboo. During the last decades of the Republic, Senator Yarua represented both Kashyyyk and Trandosha, home of the reptilian Trandoshans.
Rise of the Empire
However, the Trandoshans resented their Wookiee neighbors; after some of them allied with the Trade Federation in the colonization of Alaris Prime, they also attempted to assassinate Yarua in 32 BBY. In 23 BBY, a Wookiee vessel was attacked over a moon of Trandosha, resulting in a Wookiee blockade of Trandosha. Peace talks to resolve the issue were conducted 22 BBY, under the mediation of Jedi Master Oppo Rancisis, but failed when it was revealed that the Trandoshans were pushing for Senatorial representation with Trade Federation backing.
During the Clone Wars, the Wookiees attempted to remain neutral at first. It was only after the death of Prince Rikummee at the hands of Separatist droids that King Grakchawwaa led his people into the war on the side of the Republic. Later during the Clone Wars, the Confederacy invaded Kashyyyk. Conquering the planet would prove an asset since it would enable the Separatists to control hyperspace route planning and use the Wookiee's secret routes to disrupt galactic trade and communication. In response, the Republic dispatched a task force led by the longtime Wookiee-friend Master Yoda to defend Kashyyyk. There, a combined force of clone troopers and Wookiees repulsed the Separatist droid invaders and their Trandoshan allies at the Battle of Kashyyyk. However, victory was short-lived. With the rise of the Galactic Empire, the Jedi were branded enemies of the Republic and hunted down by the New Order. The former clone troopers, now known as stormtroopers, then took over Kashyyyk and placed it under martial law. In response, the Wookiees rebelled against their new oppressors.
In 19 BBY, the Empire enslaved the Wookiees and bombed their cities on Kashyyyk. Any survivors that attempted to escape the beleagured world were hunted down by the Trandoshans. It was in fact a Trandoshan official who was responsible for convicing the Empire to exploit the Wookiees as slave labor due to their reputation for being a powerful species. This chain of events saw a joint venture between the Galactic Empire and the Blackscale Clan of Trandoshans with the two establishing the Avatar Orbital Platform that was used in the establishment of transportation as well as sale of Wookiee slaves. During the reign of the Empire, word from Imperial Navy Command claimed that the Wookiee's were descended from a herd of banthas that crashed on the planet from a Neimoidian trader ship. When the Trade Federation traced the tracking homing beacon, they discovered a new species on Kashyyyk who were the Wookiees.
At the advice of the Trandoshans, the Empire enslaved the Wookiees for their strength. Wookiee captives were used for countless Imperial projects including the Maw Installation and the Death Stars. However, because of their devotion to their homeworld, many Wookiees would evade the Imperial garrison to revisit their beloved forests for important Wookiee holidays, such as Life Day.
After the Battle of Endor, the Wookiees were liberated from slavery by the Alliance of Free Planets. The Nagai also attempted to enslave the species though they were repulsed by the New Republic. Sadly, the peace was short-lived. The Empire, having licked its wounds, quickly reestablished a presence on Kashyyyk and enslaved the Wookiees once more. Around 5 ABY Han Solo and Chewbacca assisted in inciting a revolution among the populace, helped in part by Lando Calrissian, Rogue Squadron, and Admiral Ackbar who took on Grand Admiral Peccati Syn in a pitched fleet-battle in the nearby Sumitra sector.
The Wookiees were represented by Kerrithrarr in the New Republic Senate and Kashyyyk became key signatory and member world of the Inner Council. The planet also welcomed trade and its city of Thikkiiana became a major exporter of computer technology. However, this made it the target of the agents of the Second Imperium in 23 ABY. A task force under Zekk raided Thikkiiana's computer stores for use by the Second Imperium in its war against the New Republic.
During the Yuuzhan Vong War, the Wookiees suffered a great loss when Chewbacca was killed on the planet Sernpidal whilst helping refugees flee from the ruined world. A memorial service was held on Kashyyyk in honor for the fallen hero. As the Yuuzhan Vong continued their push towards the Core Worlds, they passed near Kashyyyk though it was spared from their usual conquests. This was despite the fact that the world contained a wide variety of deadly lifeforms would have served as useful genetic stock for the Shapers. Military strategists in the New Republic believed that whilst the Yuuzhan Vong would have used the deadly predators they lacked the time or personnel needed for this task of capturing live specimens. It was believed that once the Yuuzhan Vong Empire had consolidated its holdings, it would have eventually turned its attention to the Wookiee homeworld. This led to the Wookiees preparing its defenses in case of any incursions to Kashyyyk.
After the liberation of Coruscant, celebrations took place on the planet. At the time of the Second Galactic Civil War, the Wookiees remained loyal to the Galactic Alliance. This remained in effect until Jacen Solo's militant actions turned the Wookiees against him and led to them joining the Confederation as well as being allies of the Jedi Coalition. During the conflict, the Wookiees participated in the Battle of Kashyyyk where they fought against the Galactic Alliance.
Darth Krayt's Galactic Empire saw danger in Wookiees, but knew better than to enslave the entire species like the previous Galactic Empire did. Instead it cut them off from the rest of the galaxy by having Kashyyyk blockaded and all Wookiee spaceports and shipyards destroyed. No Wookiees were allowed to leave or visit Kashyyyk without an Imperial order and HoloNet transmissions to the planet were completely cut off. Supplies and traders still could come and go, after swearing under penalty of death not to provide Wookiees with information of the state of the rest of the galaxy, but the Wookiees themselves were completely isolated and largely left alone.
Behind the scenes
There were many early versions of Chewbacca's appearance, including one concept art that eventually became the basis of the Lasat. His final appearance in the movie is based on a 1976 piece of concept art by Ralph McQuarrie, which in turn was based on an illustration by John Schoenherr for George R.R. Martin's novelette "And Seven Times Never Kill a Man", published in the July 1975 issue of Analog. According to McQuarrie, he was told by George Lucas that the drawing was actually from the 1930s. The Schoenherr illustration also includes a weapon that became an inspiration for Chewbacca's bowcaster.
Wookiees were present in the Star Wars saga from George Lucas's earliest drafts. In many early versions of the story which eventually became A New Hope, a crucial battle takes place on a planet full of Wookiees. This idea resurfaced in early versions of Return of the Jedi, though Ewoks would be used instead - in a DVD commentary, Lucas stated that he changed this because he couldn't reconcile the "primitive", Stone-Age race needed for the story with Chewbacca's strong technological know-how. (Note that the name Ewok is Wookiee with the syllables reversed.) In Revenge of the Sith, the long-awaited Wookiee army finally appeared on screen.
George Lucas has decreed that there can be no more Wookiee Jedi in the Expanded Universe. Notably, Obsidian Entertainment was forbidden to make Hanharr a Dark Jedi because of this restriction. Kirlocca, Lowbacca, and Tyvokka are the only existing Wookiee Jedi characters (though an unnamed Wookiee in Edge of Victory: Conquest appears to be an unknown Jedi student rather than Lowbacca), as they were developed before this policy was enacted. The Dawn of the Jedi series which was published years after the policy was enacted introduced the Wookiee Je'daii Ruhr. Whether this decree is still in place remains to be unknown.
Fans of jam bands are sometimes classified as "Wooks" or "Wookiees" due to their stereotype of having unshaven faces, long hair, and lack of personal hygiene.
Sometimes people with hypertrichosis are said to have Wookism or Wookieeism, though not a commonly accepted term.
Wookiees bear a notable resemblance to the cryptozoological phenomena of the Sasquatch, with one issue of Star Wars Tales linking Chewbacca and Han Solo to the adventurous wanderings of Indiana Jones.
In the video game Knights of the Old Republic, a historical Wookiee figure known as Bacca is spoken of. Apparently, he was the first to discover the existence of life outside Kashyyyk, an occurrence which was caused by the crashing of a probe into the Shadowlands. He forged a blade from the wreckage, a weapon which still appears in Wookiee folklore and myth.
In Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds and its expansion pack, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns, the Wookiees were shown with their own aquatic fleet, starfighters, and various mechs/heavy weapons/vehicles, as well as using various small arms besides their bowcasters (eg, missiles and thermal detonators).
In early publications, the word Wookiee was often spelled as just "Wookie".
The online Star Wars wiki Wookieepedia is named after the species.
Notes and references
- ↑ The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 117 ("rwook")
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Death Star
- ↑ Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
- ↑ Bounties to Die For
- ↑ Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Secrets of Kashyyyk
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Knights of the Old Republic
- ↑ The Unknown Regions
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide
- ↑ Star Wars: Invasion of Theed Adventure Game
- ↑ The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons
- ↑ Star Wars Galaxies: Rage of the Wookiees
- ↑ Pax Empirica—The Wookiee Annihilation
- ↑ Legacy Era Campaign Guide
- ↑ George Lucas Stole Chewbacca, But It's Okay at The Binary Bonsai
- ↑ Star Wars Insider #79 online supplement: Wookiees: No Trivia Too Small
- ↑ http://www.darkhorse.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=7257&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0