- "Baby banthas are quite cute, you know. A terrible shame to see one cut in half.…"
- ―Darth Vectivus
Banthas were sturdy and easily domesticated mammals used as beasts of burden that were found all over the galaxy. The common bantha, or Bantha majorus, was the most commonly known species, with the other subspecies considered generally rare.
- "Banthas are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals."
- ―Mace Windu
The bantha was one of the most adaptable herbivorous creatures in the galaxy and could be found on several worlds including Tatooine. They were able to survive in almost any extremes of environment and could go without food or water for several weeks. Although bantha subspecies had diverged from their baseline ancestors, most shared similar characteristics. They were quadrupeds that were covered with long, shaggy fur and had large curved horns. A common bantha adult (Bantha majorus) was between two and three meters tall and could weigh up to 4,000 kilos. Their lifespan was between 80 and 100 years and they reached sexual maturity at the age of 20. Some sentient species had been known to ride banthas, such as Tusken Raiders.
Bulls tended to be larger than the cows and both genders grew a pair of spiral horns. Most female banthas achieved just a single spiral during their lifetimes, while a male could achieve two full spirals before its death.
The distinctive spiral horns of the bantha grew at the rate of a knob each year. Thickness and condition of the horns were an indication of the bantha's health and environment. Bulls fought each other by butting heads in ritual combat. The spirals on their horns could cause the pair to become entangled, which almost always meant death for both banthas, as the pair would soon collapse from exhaustion and eventually succumb to death by dehydration.
Banthas used their dexterous, sensitive tongue, as a sort of hand used in pulling up grass and shrubs from the ground. Also located on the tongue were breathing and scent spiracles. Male banthas also raised their tongue as a way to signal their readiness to mate.
Banthas traveled in herds of up to twenty-five individuals, led by the oldest, strongest female. A herd which grew too large was split, with the second oldest and strongest female taking the new herd. The gestation period was 30 months and the newborn's birth weight was about 50 kilograms.
Female banthas produced blue milk from mammary glands that was consumed by sentients as a drink. Bantha dung was another useful byproduct of the species, as it smoldered for a significant amount of time, and was used by the Tuskens as cooking fuel.
Banthas had three-nailed hooves that were typically trimmed by their owners.
The bantha was domesticated on most worlds and were used for pulling heavy loads, transportation and even as war beasts. The meat and hide of the bantha were much sought-after. While the origins of the bantha were unknown, every world on which it existed laid claim to it as being its homeworld. There were at least three distinct subspecies found on the planet Tatooine: the common bantha, the dwarf bantha, and the dune bantha. Noted for their docility, the dwarf race (also referred to as "miniature banthas") made amiable pets, as in the case of Ebenn Q3 Baobab's companion, Nuke.
Banthas of Tatooine
The bantha was an integral part of Tusken culture on Tatooine. When a Tusken Raider child reached the age of seven he or she was ceremonially presented with a bantha of the same age as a companion-for-life. The youth learned to care for the creature, and the two built a mystical bond. When the bantha reached maturity, the male Tusken Raider would saddle his companion and ride it into the desert for adult initiation ceremonies.
When Tuskens married, the couple's banthas would also mate. Often, the resulting calf would be of the same gender as the Tusken child.
The banthas of Tatooine were known to form deep bonds with the Tusken Raiders of the planet and often committed suicide if their riders were to die first. Banthas that died naturally were placed in vast graveyards, which other banthas treated with a kind of ceremonial reverence.
After the Battle of Yavin, Imperial sandtroopers began using banthas, in addition to the Dewbacks, as mounts. The Rebel Alliance officer Droma Ordo therefore led a mission to decrease the Bantha population around Anchorhead to reduce the number of Imperial patrols. Ironically, the Rebels were using banthas to transport their supplies around the same time and Imperial Captain Jasha also tasked a spacer to hunt down banthas near Bestine.
The bantha in culture
- Dim-U was a religious order based in Mos Eisley that worshiped the bantha.
- In one version of the Corellian sport of Phrenbi, banthas were used as mounts.
- As an insult, people were referred to as "bantha fodder" ("bantha poodoo" in Huttese).
- Banthas were the focus of a children's story called "The Little Lost Bantha Cub," which was the favorite bedtime story of Jacen and Jaina Solo.
- Stuffed banthas were popular toys among children in the galaxy. Wookiee Lumpawaroo enjoyed his when he was young.
- Bantha meat was often eaten by Tatooine locals, in the form of bantha steaks, bantha burgers, bantha rump, and jerked bantha meat. The milk of the female bantha was used to produce bantha butter. Even the blood of the bantha was utilized to create bantha-blood fizz. Bantha Breakfast Biscuits were also believed to be derived from the bantha. The dining establishment BanthaQuik! served bantha in their Tusken Special, one of their most popular meals. The cookbook Essential Cooking Skills detailed how to best cook banthe meat.
- Bantha hides were often used in making clothes or furniture.
- The phrase "grease the whole bantha" was used on Agamar to indicate that total commitment was necessary.
- The phrase "wild bantha chase" referred to banthas.
- Chagrian bouncer Burloo was nicknamed "Bantha."
Behind the scenes
In the original version of A New Hope, the bantha was played by a trained elephant named Mardji in a fur costume. In some cases, Mardji's trunk can be barely visible beneath the bantha costume. Re-releases and the prequel trilogy featured digital banthas. Their vocalizations were also done with a slowed-down bear's roar.
In 1997, Galoob released the first-ever licensed toy bantha as part of its Action Fleet line of micro-sized toys. In 1998, Kenner made an action figure-scaled bantha. A reissue with different fur and figures came out in 2007. For The Star Wars Holiday Special, a toy bantha was created, although it was never released as a toy to the public.
Banthas appear in the video game LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. The player cannot control the bantha directly, but by hopping onto one using any other humanoid character, the bantha can be put to their use. Banthas in the game are extremely slow, and if you hop on one in the level in which they appear, Tusken Raiders come and attack the player.
|BanthaA-SWE1R.ogg (info · help)|
|Example of a bantha's cry|
|BanthaB-SWE1R.ogg (info · help)|
|Another example of a bantha's cry|
Notes and references
- The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
- Stay on Target
- The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide
- Republic 82
- Star Wars Episode I: The Gungan Frontier
- Star Wars Character Encyclopedia
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope script
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 59 ("bantha")
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Star Wars 10
- Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
- Alien Anthology
- Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide
- Star Wars Galaxies: Starter Kit—Rebel Quest: "Rebel Bantha Hunt" on Tatooine
- Star Wars Galaxies: Starter Kit—Imperial Quest: "Imperial Bantha Hunt" on Tatooine
- The Black Sands of Socorro
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Dark Apprentice
- Legacy of the Force: Tempest
- "Death-Hunter"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 9, p.205
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided—Data Storage Unit: "ESSENTIAL COOKING SKILLS"
- Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon
- Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Bartyn's Landing"—Star Wars Gamer 7 "