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When Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace came out, it was years after audiences had experienced a sense of closure concerning the Star Wars trilogy. The thought that there would be a prequel to explain how the Sith Lords could exterminate the Jedi and how an archvillain like Darth Vader could have been Luke’s father excited fans around the world. We expected young Vader and an evil Sith Emperor, but we had no idea Darth Maul and his double-bladed saber were coming our way. A lightsaber that could be used like a staff? A Sith Lord that could defeat two Jedi at the same time? All disbelief seemed to evaporate when those magnificent fights were seen on the big screen.
Bottom Line Up Front
You get triple the bang for your buck with this article because Darth Maul wielded not one but three different types of lightsabers: the Saberstaff, the Darksaber, and his Ferrule! Check them all out here, including origins, designs, and history, and if you like what you see, don’t forget to hit the Maul Merch at the end. My favorite is the Saberstaff from SeanSoloSabers. Who says you have to be a Sith Lord to swing a Saberstaff?
Maul’s Saberstaff, the Double-Bladed Lightsaber
Darth Maul was inseparable from his Saberstaff during his debut. Like King Arthur’s Excalibur, Maul’s Saberstaff has a story all its own.
The basic concept for Darth Maul’s iconic double-bladed light saber was quite simple. Two lightsabers were fused end-to-end. Because it was using two lightsabers instead of one, more than one kyber crystal was needed. It was made of standard alloy metal and, like most Sith blades, was red when ignited.
The hilts were also equipped with blade modulation controls. This allowed Maul to ignite either of the two blades rather than both at the same time. Maul, by choice, didn’t always fight with both blades. This weapon was often referred to as Maul’s Saberstaff.
Like most lightsabers, Maul’s weapon focused on the creation of a plasma blade.
First, a diatium power cell was needed to power the saber. Then a power assembly was needed to support the power cell and to direct and recycle energy. The power assembly included the following elements: power field conductor, power vortex rings, and inert power insulator.
Probably the two most valuable components of a lightsaber were its two kyber crystals. The larger of the two is the primary crystal, and the smaller one is the focusing crystal. The focusing crystal is what gives the blade its distinct color. A crystal energy chamber was needed to support these crystals along with the following components: the primary crystal mount and the energy gate.
The emitter assembly was the third and final section of the weapon. It included the blade energy channel, the cycling field energizers, the energy modulation circuits, and the blade arc tip. All of this, of course, would have been encased in a metal alloy hilt. Legend has it, however, that the Wookie Jedi Master Tyvokka constructed his hilt from wood.
What made Maul’s design more complicated was that he had to double up on all components. He also needed a more sophisticated modulator system so that he could have complete control of his plasma blade activation and deactivation: both blades, top blade or bottom blade.
While fans may have had their first contact with a double-bladed saber in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Maul’s was not the prototype of this weapon. The design is much older. Darth Maul built his double-bladed saber while he was a Sith apprentice under Darth Sidious. While an apprentice, Darth Maul managed to gain access to a Sith holocron. Maul based his saber design on ancient plans found within the holocron.
It was also during his apprenticeship under Darth Sidious that Maul learned Juyo, the 7th Form, also known as the Ferocity Form. This style of lightsaber dueling was dedicated to the double-bladed saber. At the time of the Galactic Republic Era, would have been known to Jedi only through legend, not direct experience or practice. If fact, it is alleged that Darth Sidious was the only lightsaber duelist to have mastered all forms of lightsaber fighting.
The first known use of a double-bladed lightsaber was in the hands of Exar Kun, a fallen Jedi from the Old Republic Era. Even after his death, he survived for another 4,000 years. That means that the original plans for Maul’s double-bladed saber had preceded the Zabrak for millennia.
The Darksaber: Maul’s Other Saber
Of course, hardcore Maul fans know about the Darksaber. Maul acquired it after his duel with Pre Vizsla and used it in his duel with Darth Sidious.
The hilt was of standard material, thin and rectangular with an angled cross-guard. Of course, what made the weapon unique was its black blade of plasma. Unlike other lightsabers that appeared to be straight tubes of plasma, the dark saber was curved and ended with a distinctive point. One meter in length, the edges had white light.
This white light crackled and screeched when it came into contact with another lightsaber blade. When it cut through the air, the blade whistled. The blade also seemed to have attraction properties, especially when coming into contact with other lightsabers.
While most lightsabers represent light at great intensity funneled through kyber crystals, there is debate about whether the Darksaber was merely black light or something else. Some say it represented the absence of light. Some go one step further and say it was a portable black hole shaped into a blade. Its kyber crystals were black.
In terms of 21st-century science, this is impossible on many levels. A one-meter-long black hole would never be able to retain its blade shape. Rather, the pressure of its mind-boggling density would force it into nature’s most efficient weight-bearing structure, a globe. Second, a blade or sphere of that size would be impossible for any normal being to lift because it would weigh hundreds of thousands, if not millions of kilograms. The gravitational pull of such density would spaghettify everything within thousands of kilometers! But then again, what is the pitiful knowledge of scientists compared to the ungodly might of Sith Lords and Fallen Jedi!
The Darksaber was forged by Tarre Vizsla about 1000 years before it came into Darth Maul’s possession during the Clone Wars. Tarre Vizsla was the only Mandalorian to be a Jedi and was possibly the most powerful Mandalorian ever. After Tarre Vizsla’s death, the Jedi kept the Darksaber against the wishes of the Mandalorians to study it and understand its design. They were not successful and paid dearly for their misappropriation of Mandalorian property.
Although it had traded hands many times, it was considered to be a symbol of the right to rule Mandalore. It was a sentient blade that could choose its wielder based on its assessment of worthiness. Generally, this worthiness was a combination of both the ability to conquer and the user’s alignment with the interests of Mandalore.
Maul’s Ferrule: The Spinning Double-Bladed Saber
After Maul’s loss to Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano, Maul was able to use ancient Sith plans to construct a new double-bladed lightsaber on planet Melachor. By this time, however, the Clone Wars had ended with the Jedi purge of Order 66, and the Galactic Civil War had begun.
Maul’s second double-bladed lightsaber was different from the old model in one major aspect. It had a crescent-shaped, alloy-metal, upper-grip guard at the center of the two blades. This was undoubtedly due to the influence of blades used by the Inquisitorium, the most notable exponents of the Spinning Double-Bladed Saber system. Distinct from the Inquisitor blades, however, was the fact that the upper grip guard did not form a complete circle. Rather, it was broken and bent outwards.
The Inquisitorium-influenced hilt was also much shorter than Maul’s original double-bladed saber. When not in use, Maul inserted the hilt inside the top of a cane to serve as a ferrule. This allowed the fallen Sith Lord to conceal his true identity and his true power by appearing to be an old man with a stooped posture.
Not much is known yet, about the origins of Maul’s Ferrule. I’m sure there will be more literature added to the Star Wars canon concerning his time on Melachor before he met with Ezra Bridges.
I have a theory, however. I believe that his ferrule, a spinning double-bladed lightsaber, was composed of captured Inquisitorium sabers. He was a target of their dark order, and several had been sent to hunt for him. It would not be unreasonable to believe that the former Sith Lord and former apprentice to the most powerful beings in the galaxy at that time had hunted his hunters and used their weapons after their slaying. Since he had reforged his double-bladed saber after it had been sliced in half by Obi-Wan, it stands to reason that he could have reforged captured Inquisitorium weapons to suit his designs.
The History of Darth Maul’s Arsenal
Apprenticeship as a Sith Lord
Maul was an adept student of the undisputed most powerful Sith Lord of the Galactic Republic Era, Darth Sidious. It was during this apprenticeship that he would acquire the title Darth Maul and eventually forge his double-bladed saber through some plans that had been hidden in a forgotten entrance of the Sith archives.
He first tested his new weapon on Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis, slaying her in a duel on the moon of Drake. After slaying a Padawan, Maul was ready to try his luck with a Jedi Master. His brief first duel with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn on Tatooine was cinemas’ introduction to the double-saber in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. However, this duel only showed the single-bladed application of his double-bladed saber. His double-bladed application would appear later in the film, during his climactic clash on Planet Naboo.
When audiences first witnessed this most famous duel between Darth Sidious’s mysterious apprentice and two legendary Jedi Knights, Masters Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, during the Battle of Naboo, the Zabrak’s double-bladed saber style was baffling for the Jedi, and it was difficult for them to counter. Whether it resulted in a win, a loss, or a draw is a matter of opinion for historians. Maul was defeated in that both his double-bladed saber and his body had been bisected by Obi-Wan. However, it was a pyrrhic victory because the Padawan’s master had been slain, taking The Plan one step further.
The Clone Wars
Maul survived his battle with Kenobi and was later recovered by his brother Savage Oppress and had his legs replaced with robotic legs through the dark arts of Talzin of the Night Sisters, later to be revealed, mother to both Darth Maul and Savage Oppress. Because his double-saber had been cut in half during his duel with Kenobi, part of his double-hilt had been lost, and Maul only had one functioning saber-blade remaining. Savage, on the other hand, used a double-bladed lightsaber much like Maul’s.
Regardless, he used his single-bladed saber to battle Kenobi again, this time on Raydonia. While Maul fought Kenobi, his brother Savage fought Asajj Ventress. While the Jedi was unable to defeat Maul during that engagement, he and Ventress managed to escape.
In the Outer Rim, Maul used his single-bladed lightsaber to slay Jedi Knight Finn Ertay and wrest control of a gang of pirates from Captain Hondo Ohnaka. At Florum, Maul dueled with Kenobi yet again while his brother fought and slew Jedi Adi Gallia. This time, however, Kenobi managed to gain the upper hand and proved a match for both brothers simultaneously, severing Savage’s arm.
After the Zabrak brothers’ defeat, they were found by the Mandalorian subversives known as Death Watch. Their leader Pre Vizsla made an alliance with the Zabrak brothers. Together they overpowered criminal organizations like Black Sun and the Hutt Clan as Maul used his single-bladed lightsaber to deadly effect. The result was the formation of a super syndicate, The Shadow Collective.
Soon after, Maul’s alliance with Vizsla came to a lethal end. Knowing that Vizsla was bound by honor not to refuse a challenge and that the winner of such a challenge would be the undisputed leader of Deathwatch, Maul forced Vizsla to engage him in a deadly duel. Vizsla was armed with the legendary Darksaber but was no match for the Zabrak former Sith Lord. Maul ultimately defeated and decapitated the Mandalorian with his own Darksaber.
His victory was short-lived, however. Darth Sidious, feeling threatened by Maul’s growing power, paid his former apprentice a visit. The Zabrak brothers fought desperately against the most powerful being in the galaxy. Maul fought with the remaining single blade of his old lightsaber in one hand and his newly acquired Darksaber in the other.
Alas, for the Zabrak brothers, their last stand was to no avail against the awesomely powerful Darth Sidious. Savage was slain, and Maul was enslaved and tortured.
Maul eventually recovered both his freedom and the Darksaber to engage Separatist droid forces at the Battle of Zanbar. Although he lost the battle, he used his Darksaber against General Grievous in a duel that ended conclusively. Maul later reforged his old lightsaber to again wield a double-bladed saber against wrongfully banished Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano. To the former Sith Lord’s great surprise, he was no match for Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan, and he lost his weapon for good.
The Galactic Civil War
A few years into the Galactic Civil War, Maul returned to the Star Wars saga with a spinning double-bladed lightsaber. Maul used his new weapon to devastating effect against the Inquisitors, killing Seventh Sister and Fifth Brother with the help of new Jedi allies and force-sensitive Ezra Bridges. He would eventually betray his allies and use his new lightsaber to blind Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus. Despite this disability, the newly blinded Jedi managed to use his other senses, magnified by the Force, to defeat Maul.
Maul would continue to use his new, spinning double-bladed saber in conflicts with Jedi and rebels until he tracked his nemesis to Tatooine by uniting a Sith holocron with a Jedi holocron. Obi-Wan Kenobi was by then a much older man, choosing to live as a desert hermit in order to protect the Chosen One, Luke Skywalker.
In the lonely wilderness of a desert night, Jedi Master and former Sith Lord dueled for one final time. Maul was surprised by how much he had underestimated the old master, for this was not like the other duels. It was not a climactic battle that went back and forth and kept the audience in suspense. Rather, the duel was but a few seconds. Like any great martial artist, Kenobi turned his enemy’s strength against him.
He knew that Maul would use the same old trick and try to strike Jedi in the head with the hilt of the double-saber, just as he had done with Qui-Gon Jinn. But Kenobi was ready and waiting for that moment and cut through Maul’s hilt just as he had done so long ago when he had cut the Zabrak in half on Naboo. This time, however, the old Jedi Knight had learned from his mistakes and made sure that this wound would be mortal. As Maul expired, so ended the former Sith Lord’s use of his three iconic weapons: his original double-bladed saber, the Madalorian Darksaber, and his spinning double-bladed saber.
Multiple companies are producing their own replicas of Darth Maul’s lightsabers.
SeanSoloSabers offers a complete double-saber set at a price that varies from $380-$500, depending on special sales opportunities and types of blades. The two hilts included are easily detachable and attachable and come with all of the modulator controls that Maul would have used. It also comes complete with two neopixel blades. The hilts come in either silver or black, and the blades come in varying types and lengths.
This is a good value because prior manufacturers made consumers buy each hilt and each blade separately, with one bladeless hilt alone costing $130. Therefore, if you could get your hands on a complete double-bladed set that includes two blades and two hilts with connectors for as low as $380, you have a good value.
Transcendent Custom (TC) Sabers offers a complete double-saber set that includes two connectable hilts and two neopixel blades ranging. Soundboards come in RGB Baselit, Proffie, or Neopixel. Hilts can vary in color, and blades can vary in length. At the time of this writing, the set is at a 30% off sale and is available for $260.
SeanSoloSabers also offers a Darksaber for $444 that comes with a neopixel blade and hard case. SeanSoloSabers come with a 1-year warranty and a lifetime of tech support. I saw the video and it looks pretty realistic in comparison to the one seen on Disney’s The Mandalorian, but the sound quality could be better.
Those who like a less extravagant Mandalorian weapon can opt for Fun.com’s Darksaber at $49.99. The blade is not neopixel, but it does light up. Rather than diatium batteries, which our hard to come by in the Milky Way Galaxy, it is powered by 3x AAA batteries.
Maul’s Spinning Lightsaber
I took a look at what was out there, and I don’t personally feel that any models commercially available at this time are worthy of this article. However, I would like to mention that people have been making some pretty good replicas on their own through 3D printers.
Question: Why did Maul stop using the Darksaber?
Answer: It is implied that the Darksaber became heavy and unwieldy for the former Sith Lord after his defeat at the hands of Darth Sidious. Whether it was because the Darksaber had judged Maul to be unworthy after his loss to Sidious or whether it had concluded that Maul was no longer serving the best interests of Madalore will have to be decided by the historians.
(Technically, Maul did use Darksaber after his defeat in his battle with General Grievous, but that was in Dark Horse Comics and simply, for canon purposes, IMHO, isn’t on par with the Star Wars films and TV series projects.)
Question: Did Maul have any redeeming qualities?
Answer: Yes. In his own way, he loved his brother Savage, his mother Talzin, and, to some extent, the young Ezra Bridges.
Question: Which duelists did Maul defeat and which ones defeated him?
Answer: Maul defeated and/or killed the following worthy opponents that could fight with lightsabers: Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, his own brother Savage Oppress, The Secret Mandalorian Pre Vizsla, Seventh Sister, and Fifth Brother. He lost to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Karris, and Darth Sidious. His brief single combat with General Grievous was a draw.
Darth Maul first mesmerized audiences with his unique weapon, so much so that his creators refused to allow him to stay dead. While resurrecting dead characters can easily be overdone, the writers of Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels handled the return of Maul with great care. Part of this care involved not only reinventing the character but his weapons. This rebirth, as expressed in his changing weapons, justified his reintroduction into the story to show his evolution.
Both in his actions and his frightening physical appearance, he is the incarnation of the drive for revenge. The reason he couldn’t die was because his hate was so strong. This character arc made him more than a comicbook villain; he became a mirror for ourselves. Just as his hatred crippled and ultimately killed him and his family, so it could do to us and those who matter most. And so, Star Wars becomes more than just entertainment; it becomes a visually unforgettable allegory of the battlefield inside us all.
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