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"My people, the Twi'leks, have an ancient and rich history of non-violence. We prefer intellect and cleverness to outright brutality."
Tott Doneeta — (audio) Listen (file info)[10]

Twi'leks ((pronounced /'twilɛk/) or /'twaɪlɛk/), sometimes referred to disparagingly as "Tail-heads", were an omnivorous humanoid species originating from the planet Ryloth. They tended to eat cultivated molds, fungi, and rycrit meat. Their distinctive features included colorful skin, which varied in pigment from individual to individual, and a pair of shapely prehensile tentacles that grew from the base of their skulls. The tentacles, called "brain-tails", "lekku," "tchun-tchin", or "head-tails", were advanced organs used for communication and cognitive functions. Twi'leks possessed a fairly standard humanoid vocal structure and were capable of learning most alien languages; however, they usually preferred their native language of Twi'leki, which incorporated subtle movement of the lekku. When they wished, they could even communicate in complete secrecy using their versatile brain-tails. Twi'lek females were often used as slaves or dancers because of their beauty.

Biology and appearance[]


Tae Boon, a pink-skinned Twi'lek male

The Twi'leks were a sentient species of mostly hairless[11][12] mammals,[13] with the exception of eyelashes to aid in keeping out the sand and heat of their homeworld, Ryloth.[source?] They were humanoid in form, with two legs and two arms.[14] Boc Aseca had body hair under the armpits and on his chest, and Hawk Ryo had a beard and eyebrows.[source?]

The Twi'leks were omnivores.[14] This diet was essential given that food was scarce on their homeworld, Ryloth. Twi'leks possessed multiple stomachs, an unusual trait that enabled them to eat almost any food. When traveling off their homeworld, Twi'leks rarely refused food, which frequently led to obesity among starfarers. Twi'lek society also considered obesity a sign of affluence and success.[15] Males had humanoid ears, and some females had humanoid ears while others had ear "cones".[source?] In obese Twi'leks, ear flaps enlarged to store fat.[16]

Although unsubstantiated, some in the New Republic speculated about a possible relation between the Yevetha and Twi'leks.[17]


Bib Fortuna Force Collection

Bib Fortuna draped one of his lekku around his torso

The two most striking features of a Twi'lek were their broad range of skin coloration within the species, and a pair of brain-tails. The brain-tails, also called "tchun-tchin" or "lekku," protruded down the back of the skull and contained part of a Twi'lek's brain. The very word "Twi'lek" was believed to be derived from semi-Basic "twin lekku." A Twi'lek's brain-tails served many purposes in their daily lives and culture, such as storing fat and being used as erogenous zones. The Twi'leks' native language of Twi'leki, or Ryl, was spoken using a combination of words and subtle movements of the lekku. Newborn Twi'leks had no lekku.[18] While some headdresses were cultural decoration to denote status, quite a few were originally introduced as "muzzles" to prevent enslaved Twi'leks from communicating in a language that non-Twi'lek handlers could not understand. Long or shapely lekku were considered great status symbols, and often went hand in hand with respect, influence, and wealth. Larger lekku brought with them some indistinct positive connotations.[source?]

A Twi'lek's brain-tails were highly sensitive, and grabbing them forcefully was so painful that it could easily incapacitate almost any Twi'lek. Sometimes, damage to the brain-tails caused lasting damage to the Twi'lek's brain. They could be replaced by cybernetics, however, as in the case of Rianna Saren. Their brain-tails were a source of great pride to Twi'leks, especially when confronted by other species. The name "tchun-tchin" actually referred to each lekku—"tchun" being the left lekku and "tchin" the right. In casual conversation the Twi'leks would usually refer to their lekku as "tchun" or "tchin."[source?]



One of Senator Orn Free Taa's aides was a Lethan Twi'lek

The Twi'lek species developed and mutated in such a way as to provoke changes in their skin pigmentation,[15] which resulted in many races and subraces.[3][19] These races were all physically identical, except for their skin color.[20] The wide and vivid variety of skin coloration included[8] many variations of blue, red, yellow, orange, deep green,[21] white,[9] pale brown, pink,[22] and lavender.[8] Some Twi'leks even exhibited varied phenotypes, including stripes,[21] orange with red mottling, red with pink palms,[23] and blue with pink lips.[16]

These variations in pigment occurred with differing rates of rarity across the Twi'lek population. For example, the red-tinted Lethan Twi'leks were one of the rarest subgroups,[16][20] perhaps even the most rare,[20] with only one in a million having red skin.[24] By contrast, the blue-skinned Rutian Twi'leks were more common among the population.[15]

Society and culture[]

"We are not one homogenous people any more than humans are."

A female Twi'lek uses her seduction skills.

Some female Twi'leks were considered to have a natural grace and exotic beauty that made them a popular target among slave traders, becoming dancers and status symbols for members of the Hutt Cartel. Slavery was the main currency of Ryloth, which was tolerated by the Galactic Republic.[26] Some saw it as a chance to make money by kidnapping or selling orphaned children, while others saw slavery as a way of saving children from growing up in Ryloth's harsh environment. A number of Twi'leks believed that slavery was an efficient way to proliferate their species and preserve their culture, as the Twi'leks lacked their own means of inter-planetary travel. Twi'leks that managed to escape from captivity usually turned to a life of thievery or prostitution, making use of their powers of seduction.[source?]

Twi'leks preferred to "ride the storm" rather than "defeat it," as a proverb went, and avoided taking a stand on most issues. This was exemplified when, during the Clone Wars, their politicians were loyal to the Republic but other individuals kept negotiations open with the Separatists.[26]

While many Twi'leks lived as merchants or even criminals, the species also had a proud and honorable warrior tradition. A Twi'lek Mandalorian fought at the Battle of Vanquo during the Mandalorian Wars in 3964 BBY. Twi'lek warriors invented the Chir'daki, or Deathseed, starfighters that married the TIE fighter cockpit to the S-foils of the X-wing starfighter as well as using a rotation system similar to that of the B-wing starfighter. During the Bacta War, Twi'lek warriors assisted Wedge Antilles in the fight against Ysanne Isard.

Diptych Sith

A Twi'lek Sith

When meeting a stranger or guest for the first time, Twi'leks would usually exchange gifts or something else as a welcome. When welcoming a large number of beings they would usually throw a party and use their traditional dances as entertainment. As Cham Syndulla once said, "it is customary to share what we do have." Twi'leks, when on Ryloth, lived in simple mud brick dwellings that protected them against the scorching heat of their homeworld. They often decorated them with native textiles and simple things. When in a city, Twi'leks used more standard dwellings with technology though they were still modified to survive Ryloth's environment.[source?] Some Twi'leks worshipped an unnamed goddess.[27]


Twi'lek society was divided into clans, with each clan having its own city. Each city had its own government, which was led by a five-member head-clan. These five Twi'leks would lead the society in all matters until one member of the head-clan died. At that point, the remaining members of the head-clan would be cast out into the barren landscape on the day-side of the planet, presumably to die, thus allowing the next generation to take over. If the next generation was not yet ready to claim their inherited positions, then a set of regents would be selected to rule until the proper time.

Twi'lek names[]

"The joining of personal and clan names is, among us, a sign of belonging. Breaking the names apart is a statement of the distance between that person and his people."
Aayla SWSB

Twi'lek Jedi Master Aayla Secura, born Aaylas'ecura

Rather than having separate personal and clan names, a Twi'lek would have a single name that combined these two elements. The personal portion of the name would be selected with the clan name in mind, often involving an intentional alteration of the words or a shift in the letters to change the meaning of the name as a whole. This change was meant to symbolize a way of unity. A Twi'lek's name would also be split into multiple parts if they were exiled as a criminal, as this was considered very dishonoring.

In some cases, Twi'leks combined the multi-part name of a non-Twi'lek into a single name, often changing the pronunciation in the same way that they would alter their own given names and clan names. For example, Twi'leks often pronounced Wedge Antilles's name as Wedgan'tilles so that his name meant Slayer of Stars—if a Twi'lek were to use the Galactic Basic Standard pronunciation, it would mean, in a generous translation, "one so foul he could induce vomiting in a Rancor."[28]

An example of a true Twi'lek name was Nawar'aven. This name would be split into two parts when used outside of the local culture, becoming Nawara Ven (the clan name in this case being Ven, but the name Nawara was selected with the intention of moving the last a into the second half of the name, thus changing the meaning).

This naming convention did not appear to be in use during the waning days of the Galactic Republic, when even prominent Twi'lek leaders such as Ro Fenn and Pol Secura preferred using their core names even in private conversation with each other on Ryloth.


The Twi'leks' primary language was Twi'leki, which was also known as Rylothean or Ryl. Although it primarily utilized subtle body language and thus was difficult to understand, they also utilized enunciable words in the language, and it was as widespread as Galactic Basic. The Lekku language, on the other hand, was exclusively used by Twi'leks, since it entailed body language.

Some of those who spoke Galactic Basic Standard, at least during the Clone Wars, possessed an accent that placed particular emphasis on certain vowels, such as dropping the "s" if it was at the end of a word, or saying a high-accent vowel in a way that indicated a low-accent vowel, and vice versa.


Early history[]

Twilek expanded gear-EtU

A female Twi'lek explorer

According to Ashaa, the Mother Machine, the Twi'leks originated as a synthetic life form she created under orders from the Rakata, as part of experimentation they hoped would give them insight into the loss of their connection to the Force.[29] This would place the origins of the species circa 25,200 BBY.[26] However, despite the fact that the Mother Machine's creation of her "children" on the planet Belsavis postdates the fall of the Infinite Empire,[30] an advanced Twi'lek civilization was already present on Ryloth in the year 36,453 BBY, when a visiting Tho Yor starship took a group of Force-studying mystics to Tython.[31]

Around 10,000 BBY, the Twi'lek homeworld of Ryloth was discovered by the Galactic Republic. Although their society was still in a primitive state,[8] the Twi'leks had spent the past several centuries in relative harmony with one another,[32] and they joined the Republic soon after being discovered.[26]

Twi'lek society consisted of a series of clans of various sizes. When the galaxy took a sudden interest in Ryloth's wealth of ryll spice, the Twi'lek clan leaders increased production of the drug and prepared to ship it offworld.[33] Unfortunately, the clans were inexperienced in the galactic economy, and Hutt criminal cartels soon took control of the planet's mining operations. The Twi'leks were enslaved and labored in their own mines for the profit of the Hutts, or were sold outright on the open market. After generations of slavery, the Twi'lek species became far more numerous across the galaxy than on Ryloth,[26] and most felt little connection to their own homeworld.[32]

Homeworld reclaimed[]


A Twi'lek male

Sometime after 3643 BBY,[34] the Twi'lek clans regained control of their planet from the Hutts, but the prosperity of their ryll mines still made them targets of pirates and mercenaries. To ensure their continued wealth, most of the Twi'lek clan leaders chose to deter such threats by selling their own people—in particular, their women—into slavery.[33] The sale of Twi'lek dancing girls was continually tolerated by the Republic, and slavery remained Ryloth's primary currency as it had for past millennia, while the ryll trade fueled the planet's black market economy.[26]

Behind the scenes[]

The name Twi'lek was coined in the 1987 West End Games publication The Star Wars Sourcebook.[35] The name was not spoken in any of the Star Wars films.

George Lucas himself has used the Expanded Universe name Twi'lek, as evidenced by a remark of his during the production of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith that is documented in an Episode III Set Diary entry.

The Twi'leks featured in The Clone Wars all speak with French accents. According to Dave Filoni, Lucas specifically requested this.[36] This is also done by a few audiobook readers.

The books Order 66: A Republic Commando Novel and Imperial Commando: 501st state that Twi'leks and Humans are not inter-fertile, whereas The Clone Wars television series has portrayed Twi'lek/Human hybrid children, as clarified by Star Wars: The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia. It has not yet been clarified if this is possible naturally, or if Twi'lek/Human pregnancies require some level of genetic engineering before being viable.

The game Star Wars: X-Wing has a training mission to be played around the planet "Twi'lek." "Twi'lek" is another name for Ryloth.

In the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Chop'aa Notimo's generic blaster-wielding thugs are Twi'leks.

Female Twi'leks are among the playable species for Jaden Korr (canonically a human male) in Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Korr is also portrayed as a female Twi'lek in Hoth: Under the Ice.

Twi'leks are among the default playable species for players who choose the Smuggler, Jedi Knight, Sith Inquisitor or the Jedi Consular class in Star Wars: The Old Republic. However, since patch 1.2, they can be unlocked for any class. If they choose to take dark-side options, their basic skin color fades toward white.



A Twi'lek citizen

Non-canon appearances[]

Ambiguously canon appearances[]


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Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Star Wars: Force and Destiny Core Rulebook
  2. Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition
  3. 3.0 3.1 Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition Core Rulebook
  4. SWAJsmall "Out of the Cradle" — Star Wars Adventure Journal 2
  5. Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
  6. 6.0 6.1 Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
  7. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars — "Supply Lines"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Ultimate Alien Anthology
  10. Tales of the Jedi audio drama
  11. The Essential Guide to Characters
  12. The New Essential Guide to Characters
  13. Alien Encounters
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Essential Guide to Alien Species
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Star Wars: The Official Figurine Collection
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary
  17. Before the Storm
  18. Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi - Redemption
  19. Star Wars Roleplaying Game Revised Core Rulebook
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Star Wars: Episode I Insider's Guide
  21. 21.0 21.1 The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
  22. Mos Eisley Adventure Set
  23. Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels
  24. Rebel Heist 2
  25. Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 The Essential Atlas
  27. Tales of the Jedi 1
  28. 28.0 28.1 X-Wing: The Krytos Trap
  29. Star Wars: The Old Republic
  30. Star Wars: The Old Republic, "The Mother Machine" (Inquisitor) Codex entry.
  31. Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm 1
  32. 32.0 32.1 Holonet icon allegiances Twi'lek on The Old Republic Holonet (content now obsolete; backup link)
  33. 33.0 33.1 The Official Star Wars Fact File 96 (TWI19–22, Twi'leks - Oola)
  34. SWTOR mini STAR WARS: The Old Republic - Question ! :) - Page 3 on The Old Republic's official website (backup link) places Star Wars: The Old Republic about ten to twelve years after the signing of the Treaty of Coruscant, which is dated to 3653 BBY by Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia. The Old Republic—The Lost Suns 2 takes place ten years after the treaty, one week after the mission to Nar Shaddaa, and around the time of the SpecForce Incident. Since the mission and the incident are respectively part of Act I of the Jedi Knight and Republic Trooper's storylines, and the Trooper's Act I occurs concurrent to Act I of the Smuggler storyline, the general events of the Prologue and Act I for all classes can be assumed to occur in 3643 BBY.
  35. The Star Wars Sourcebook, page 81. Bibliography is listed on page 142; none of these sources contains the name Twi'lek.
  36. StarWars "Liberty on Ryloth" Episode Featurette on StarWars.com (backup link)

External links[]