One of the most important steps along the road for any Jedi is creating their own lightsaber, and in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, our hero Rey finally gets that chance. This is the first time in the Star Wars films that we’ve seen a character construct their own lightsaber, rather than doing it between sequels, so it’s fitting that Rey’s lightsaber has a particularly rare feature. But just like everything Jedi-related even this rarity is steeped in Jedi history.
[Ed. note: this post contains spoilers from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker]
Before we even see her active her new lightsaber we can already tell a few things about what she’s built from the the weapon’s hilt. One thing that’s immediately clear is that Rey didn’t abandon her trusty staff — which already seemed to include a few lightsaber parts —in the creation of her first lightsaber. It appears that she’s used the end of her staff as the lightsaber’s new emitter, and that the center grip portion has the same cloth wrappings that have adorned her staff since we first saw her in The Force Awakens.
When Rey finally ignites her own lightsaber, we hear the familiar activation sound, but the visual is a bit different. Thanks to her bond with this particular kyber crystal, Rey’s lightsaber has a yellow blade. It’s the first time in any Star Wars film that a main character has built a lightsaber with such a unique color, and the first time that anyone has had a yellow lightsaber in the Skywalker Saga. But she isn’t the only Star Wars character to ever have a saber that color.
One instance of a yellow bladed lightsaber came from the 2015 in-canon novel Dark Disciple, where Asajj Ventress, a one-time apprentice of Count Dooku, buys a yellow saber on the black market. Unfortunately, with such an illicit source, we don’t know much about the history of that saber.
Ahsoka Tano, the Jedi padawan of Anakin Skywalker (and favorite of the Star Wars fans who kept up with the EU), also used a yellow-green lightsaber briefly in the Clone Wars cartoon series. This was technically a shoto lightsaber, meaning that the blade was slightly shorter so that it could easily be wielded as a secondary weapon in the Jedi’s off-hand. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about how the weapon came to have its particular color.
The most information we have about yellow lightsabers comes from their use by Jedi Temple guards. Temple guards, who have appeared in both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, carried lightsaber pikes, which were double-bladed lightsabers that were almost always yellow in color. Anytime a large group of lightsabers share a unique color in Star Wars, it’s worth examining whether or not there’s a connection. And in the case of Rise of Skywalker the symbolism seems pretty clear.
After Samuel L. Jackson personally requested a purple blade for the prequel films, the dam broke on lightsaber color traditions. Every color of the rainbow has found representation across the Star Wars storytelling spectrum, in everything from the recent Jedi: Fallen Order (where you can wield a yellow blade after beating the game) to Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land, where you can build and buy a replica of Rey’s new weapon for a cool $199.99.
The yellow blade is becoming more ubiquitous, but in the movies, it’s still one of a kind. By having their hero choose the traditional color of Jedi Temple guards, Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio set Rey up as the protector of the Jedi legacy. While we don’t know whether or not Rey had any idea of the color’s Jedi history, her yellow lightsaber does provide a nice symbolic bit of closure to her story, and a hint at what her future holds.