- "We Kurtzen focus aspects of our lives' energies in items such as these. When our inner self lacks a particular aspect, we use these objects to bring ourselves into balance."
- ―Arrizza, on totems
The Kurtzen were a pale, hairless, humanoid species from the planet Bakura. They were the only sentients native to the world; few in number, they became a minority when Human settlers arrived in 150 BBY. Kurtzen suffered from a degenerative genetic disorder that limited their population growth. Although medicine provided by the Human settlers helped them overcome the disease, Kurtzen comprised only five percent of Bakura's population by 4 ABY. Despite this, it was unusual for more than two children in a family to reach adulthood. Kurtzen society was divided into tribes and clans.
The Kurtzen were peaceful nomads with stone-age technology when first encountered by Human representatives of the Bakur Mining Corporation. Kurtzen religious beliefs centered on a universal life force that could be channeled via clothing and personal effects called totems or life trinkets; scholars speculated that such beliefs developed as a response to population decline. However, by the time of the Galactic Civil War, younger Kurtzen were largely abandoning their old ways in favor of adopting Bakuran Human culture. Indeed, the Kurtzen were extremely grateful for having received medical and technological assistance from the Bakuran Humans, and they gained representation in the newcomers' government. At the time of the Invasion of Bakura, two out of the forty members of the Bakuran Senate were Kurtzen. Most of the Kurtzen population was concentrated in the Kishh district on the continent of Braad, and after Human colonization, the uninhabited eastern continent of Kishh'daar was reserved for Kurtzen settlement once their numbers warranted it.
Biology and appearance
- "Suddenly, the shaman took one of the boy's totems, which he had been wearing around his neck, and held it up. The boy stood up and, throwing his head back, swallowed the small, beaded object, string and all. I was certain something so large would cause him to choke, or would get stuck in his digestive tract. But according to the shaman, they do this all the time, and with the passing of the totem, so, too, passes the disease."
- ―Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole, on a Kurtzen healing ceremony
The Kurtzen were a species of sentients with a humanoid anatomy consisting of a head, a torso, and four limbs. Their hands featured five digits apiece, one of which was an opposable thumb; the tip of each finger was capped by a fingernail, and the hands could grow callused with hard work. The Kurtzen's white skin was free of hair, which made it shiny in at least some members of the species. The height of an adult member of the species ranged from 1.2 to 1.7 meters, with 1.5 meters being the average.
The Kurtzen face was largely humanoid, with two eyes above the protruding nose. Below this was a horizontal mouth; two ears grew at the sides of the head. The nose was broad and relatively flat. The top of the head was covered in thick, knobby protrusions of skin that grew in rows from the back of the forehead to the crown.
Kurtzen were able to breath Type 1 oxygen–nitrogen atmospheres. Their diet included the meat of ungulate species native to their homeworld, Bakura. Their digestive tract allowed a Kurtzen to swallow a large object and pass it within a single day. The Kurtzen had at least one sex, male. They suffered from a high rate of infant mortality; usually no more than two children survived to adulthood per family, even with access to advanced medical care. Kurtzen were considered old at age 60.
Society and culture
- "As I watched the Kurtzen healing ceremony, I was enthralled by the use of music, color, and imagery."
- ―Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole
Kurzen were known for their mild temperament, quiet demeanor, and non-confrontational attitude. For much of their history, they divided themselves into tribes and clans that trekked through the forests of the planet Bakura as nomads with stone-age technology. These groups roamed from one camp to another following their prey, herds of ungulate species. Kurtzen families were close, and Kurtzen celebrated when good things happened to kin.
- "We believe that the power of life focuses in the objects we surround ourselves with. Either inadvertently or intentionally, the things we gather reinforce who we are, making us stronger or, at times, weaker. In a balanced life, the internal and external worlds reflect each other perfectly. When a life is imbalanced, internal and external aspects must be adjusted accordingly."
Traditional Kurtzen culture was profoundly religious. Their spirituality emphasized the concentration of life energies into small, physical items, known as totems or life trinkets. By keeping these objects close, a Kurtzen invited good fortune. The objects were used to draw in a particular type of energy thought to be lacking internally. Conversely, a Kurtzen who was surrounded by the wrong sorts of objects invited negative energies into the body that could bring harm. The ultimate goal of these practices was to bring the internal body into balance with the external world. Scholars theorized that this philosophy of channeling invisible forces grew to prominence when the Kurtzen population first entered a period of population decline. Shamans served Kurtzen communities as religious leaders.
Rituals intended to heal the sick similarly operated on the principle of bringing the body into harmony with its environment. In one healing ceremony, witnessed by the Shi'ido Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole, a shaman prayed over an ailing boy while others circled the individual and chanted. When the patient's eyes opened wide and glazed over, the shaman placed a totem in the boy's mouth, which he swallowed. When the totem later passed, the shaman averred, the disease passed with it. In another ritual, witnessed by the Human Jedi Knight Leia Organa Solo in 28 ABY, the healer was not a shaman but the Kurtzen maintenance worker Arrizza, who endeavored to cleanse the spirit of the Jedi Knight Tahiri Veila. He first closed his eyes and clasped a totem in his hands, entering a trance. Speaking an incantation sotto voce as he worked, Arrizza placed the totem on the patient's forehead and chest, bowed, deeply inhaled, exhaled, and backed away. The Kurtzen noted that the healing could take as little as an hour, or as long as a year—or that it might not work at all. Organa Solo noticed that Arrizza's mental signature changed when he fell into a trance state.
Kurtzen clothing was designed to enhance the wearer's openness to spiritual forces, channeling energy from the exterior into the wearer's inner being. Thus, their taste in clothing ran toward neutral-colored garments, including sleeveless and short-sleeved robes and tunics, aprons, trousers, and boots. The airiness and openness of these garments and their color were all intended to attract the universal power of life to the wearer. The typical Kurtzen wore a belt around the waist made of a broad strip of animal skin and containing multiple pouches. These could hold totems important for religious and tribal purposes. They wore clothing made from patched leather as well. Some Kurtzen wrapped their wrists in bands.
- "I once knew someone who died from overheating on the job. You got to look out for each other down here."
- ―Arrizza on being a sanitation worker
After their world was colonized by Humans, many Kurtzen began to abandon their own ways for those of the newcomers. Thus, by 3 ABY, much of their tribal culture was becoming endangered. The change manifested most strongly between the older and younger generations. While adults and elders endeavored to preserve the old ways, many younger Kurtzen had little interest in such practices, preferring instead what the Kurtzen considered "Core World philosophies." The same applied to the technology introduced by the offwordlers; most Kurtzen older than sixty were uncomfortable with equipment introduced from the greater galaxy. The exceptions were droids, which almost all Kurtzen distrusted, and advanced medical care, which Kurtzen recognized as essential to their continued survival.In fact, the medical aid given the species by the Human colonists made the Kurtzen devoutly loyal to the Bakuran Humans. Because Bakurans in general distrusted droids, some Kurtzen took on menial tasks that, on other worlds, were normally reserved for such automatons. These jobs including sanitation work, an occupation that required the use of hostile environment suits with clog-prone coolant lines.
After Bakura's Human colonists established their own government on the world, they offered the Kurtzen representation in their Senate. The Kurtzen retained a degree of control over the Kishh district of the Braad continent, their native region, although they were still expected to adhere to Bakuran law and, during the regime of the Galactic Empire, Imperial law. While the Bakuran colonists distrusted most non-Humans, they trusted the Kurtzen. The species largely abandoned its nomadism and established settlements in the district. By 28 ABY, certain Kurtzen had come to feel like social outcasts on Bakura, relegated to inferior status in the Human-dominated society. The Kurtzen spoke a language named for them, but they were also capable of speaking Galactic Basic Standard.
- "Like Riina, my people have been cast out and ostracized from the place in which we feel we belong. It almost killed us, but as have many others in such situations, we found our own way to survive."
The Kurtzen evolved on the planet Bakura, where they developed a stone-age tribal culture based on forest nomadism. Due to their homeworld's remote location in the Wild Space region known as the Shiritoku Spur, the Kurtzen remained the sole sentient denizens of their world until 153 BBY. That year, Human scouts discovered deposits of metal and crystal and decided Bakura was a prime site for colonization.
Beginning in 16 BBY, the Kurtzen were suffering from high levels of sickness and malnutrition, as well as a genetic disorder exacerbated by their small population. The Bakur Mining Corporation offered the Kurtzen a deal: access to advanced medicine and technology in exchange for land and permission to mine. The Kurtzen gladly agreed. In 150 BBY, Human colonists chartered by the Bakur Corporation arrived to establish a mining settlement. The offworlders brought new technology with them, including droids. However, the droids rebelled—an event later referred to as the Bakura Droid Uprising—and the Kurtzen learned to forever distrust mechanicals. Nevertheless, the Humans' technology nullified the genetic disorder and allowed Kurtzen populations to recover.
The arrival of the offworlders had other unintended effects, however. The Kurtzen largely abandoned their nomadism, for instance, establishing settlements in the Kissh district of the Braad continent. Meanwhile, subsequent generations maintained fewer and fewer of their traditions such that, by 4 ABY, the elders feared their children would abandon Kurtzen culture entirely. The elders thus instigated a program to preserve the old ways and teach them to the children.
Bakura was opened to further colonization during the Clone Wars. The Human population joined the Galactic Empire in 1 ABY, and by 4 ABY, the Kurtzen had two senators appointed to the forty-member Bakuran Senate to represent Kishh; these senators were not allowed to vote on issues that pertained to the Empire, however. The Kurtzen retained sovereignty over Kissh, provided they adhered to Bakuran laws. The Humans also set aside the uninhabited Kishh'daar continent for Kurtzen settlement for such time when the Kurtzen population warranted it. Despite access to advanced medicine, the Kurtzen numbered fewer than 68 million—only five percent of Bakura's population—in 4 ABY. Although the population was slowly increasing, these numbers remained relatively stable even after the fall of the Galactic Empire and the rise of the New Republic. Bakura rejected New Republic membership, but the Kurtzen's rights expanded after the end of Imperial rule. Bakura normalized relations with the rest of the galaxy in this period, so medical and technological aid to the Kurtzen increased.
The old ways were still active when Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole visited Bakura; his remarks about a Kurtzen healing ritual appeared in the work The Essential Guide to Alien Species, which was published after the fall of the Galactic Empire. The species' totem-based faith was still strong in 28 ABY; that year, the Kurtzen Arrizza accessorized the environment suit he used as a sanitation worker with a belt of pouches, in which he carried totems. Arrizza became allied with an intelligence organization known as the Ryn Network and with their operative Goure Conor during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of the galaxy. In this capacity, Arrizza helped the Jedi Knight Tahiri Veila and Conor infiltrate the Bakuran Senate Complex to access its internal data networks. Arrizza also knew Kurtzen healing rituals, despite his position as a sanitation worker. He performed one such ceremony for Tahiri when she found herself battling her altar-ego, Riina Kwaad—the result of having undergone shaping by the Yuuzhan Vong named Mezhan Kwaad. Arrizza used a pendant to the Yuuzhan Vong god Yun-Yammka as a totem during the ceremony and declared that Tahiri would have to come into equilibrium with the other identity, not exorcise it.
Kurtzen in the galaxy
A few Kurtzen left Bakura to explore the rest of the galaxy. For instance, in 8 ABY, a Kurtzen participated in an auction at Mawbo's Performance Hall on the planet Tatooine. The Kurtzen attempted to win a holocube that purportedly showed an image of the Human Anakin Skywalker as a nine-year-old boy. The Kurtzen lost a bidding war with the Squib Sligh, working as a proxy for the Human smuggler Han Solo.
- The Truce at Bakura Sourcebook
- Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Third Edition, Revised and Expanded
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- Rebellion Era Sourcebook
- Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Atlas
Notes and references
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species, p. 75
- The Truce at Bakura Sourcebook, p. 67
- The Essential Atlas, p. 42
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons, p. 30
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic II: Refugee, Chapter 3
- Rebellion Era Sourcebook, p. 154
- The Truce at Bakura Sourcebook, p. 66
- The Truce at Bakura Sourcebook, p. 61
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species, p. 74.
- Tatooine Ghost, Chapter 3
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species, p. xi
- Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds, p. 7
- The Truce at Bakura, Chapter 5
- The Truce at Bakura Sourcebook, p. 62
- Tatooine Ghost timeline