The hit series The Mandalorian has introduced a number of new concepts to the Star Wars canon, and it has popularized others that were hitherto rather obscure. Mandalorian iron, originally popularized in the animated Clone Wars and Rebels series, falls into the latter category. Also known as beskar steel, the alloy is featured on the live-action Disney series, causing multiple online vendors to create beskar-themed products inspired by its rapid rise in popularity. However, very little is known about this mysterious metal. We scoured the galaxy to find out all we could on beskar steel’s origins, history, uses, and deeper mysteries. Read on to learn why beskar steel plays such an important role in Mando’s cultural heritage, personal identity, and religious beliefs - and why everyone in the galaxy seems to want it so badly.
The versatility and strength of beskar in Star Wars is comparable to that of Vibranium in the MCU, mithril in Tolkien's Middle Earth, or Valyrian steel in Game of Thrones. It's nearly indestructible, able to deflect all but the most intensely concentrated lightsaber or blaster attacks. Beskar's heavy ore is made lightweight and strong by blending it with other metals like carbon and ciridium. A powerful alloy it is.
By the time of the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire Cold War, Mandalorians have come to recognize the substantial benefits of constructing nearly everything from beskar - armor, manacles, weapons, buildings, flatware, and even tomb covers. Its use seems limited only by one’s imagination - and metallurgy skills.
Beskar steel was initially introduced anonymously in the form of "Mandalorian manacles" in the 1990s Dark Horse comic Tales of the Jedi 5: The Saga of Nomi Sunrider, Part 3. The material itself was referred to as "Mandalorian iron" until 2006, when it finally got a proper name.
It was described as “beskar steel” in the Star Wars Legends article "The Mandalorians: People and Culture," penned by artist Tom Hodges. His visual concepts and web strips have had a major influence on current Mandalorian canon and onscreen conceptualizations.
Beskar was extremely rare, with Mandalore and its moon Concordia being two of the only known sources. The warrior clans of Old Mandalore established a culture of mining this durable element for myriad uses, including forging weapons and armor, constructing starships and buildings, and using it as a currency in the wider galactic market. Mandalorian religion viewed the acts and tools of combat and conquest as divine. Beskar became as central to Mandalorian identity as the Force was to the Sith.
Mandalorian metalsmiths closely guarded the secrets of forging beskar from outsiders, and passed their techniques down only to their own children. Their craftsmanship was so superior that forged works of armor were known to last for hundreds of years - even when used regularly in active combat.
The versatility of beskar steel cannot be overstated. When worked by Mandalorian smiths, it could be rendered into many valuable forms, including solid plates, laminates, wire, mesh, micronized particles, foams, and even a transparent film. Beskar steel was also known to be incredibly fickle when managed by non-Mandalorian metalworkers.
Its value was compounded by the scarcity of its natural sources, its coveted imperviousness to blaster fire and lightsabers, and the secrecy surrounding its manipulation and metallurgy. As a result, beskar steel became a valuable form of currency - one that remained stable regardless of fluctuating fiat currency values, such as the Galactic Credit Standard.