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.
- Photo: Star Wars Rebels / Disney XD
It's Strong Enough To Deflect Blaster Bolts And Lightsabers
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.
- Photo: Tales of the Jedi / Dark Horse Comics
Before 2006, It Was Known As 'Mandalorian Iron'
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.
- Photo: Star Wars Rebels / Disney XD
Beskar Is An Integral Part Of Mandalorian Culture
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.
- Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars / Cartoon Network
Beskar's Worth Is Valuable And Stable In A Time Of Economic Upheaval
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.
- Photo: The Mandalorian / Disney+
Mando Gives A Portion Of His Beskar To The Next Generation
In both Star Wars canon and the dictionary, foundlings are abandoned orphans who have been found and cared for by someone other than their parents. “Mando" himself was once a foundling, as we learn watching the show.
Donating resources like beskar to the foundlings of his enclave is a thoughtful way to pay it forward to future generations, while also ensuring that Mandalorian culture and metallurgy will carry on.
Mandalorian Culture Was Scattered By A Mysterious 'Purge'
Sometime during the Imperial Era, a horrific conflict took place between Emperor Palpatine’s clone army and the Mandalorians. This became known as the “Great Purge,” and most facts about it are obscured at this time. However, it is clear that most of the Mandalorians were wiped out in the encounter, and that the Empire pillaged their precious beskar mines.
As a result, the surviving Mandalorians were scattered and forced to operate in secrecy. These horrific acts also made beskar all the more rare and valuable. Known thereafter as “the Tribe,” “Mando” and his fellow enclave dwellers were among these survivors.