- "It's not wise to upset a Wookiee."
- ―Han Solo
The Wookiees, whose name for themselves translated to the People of the Trees, were a species of hairy bipedal humanoids that were inhabitants of the planet Kashyyyk. One of the most noteworthy members of the species was Chewbacca, Han Solo's best friend and co-pilot, who played a vital role in the Galactic Civil War and afterwards.
Biology and appearance
The Wookiees' natural habitat was the dense forests of the planet Kashyyyk (though one source does contend that they were immigrants to this planet). Kashyyyk was covered with massive wroshyr trees, in which the Wookiees constructed their homes and cities. Reportedly, Wookiees were descended from tree-climbing mammals.
They had the ability to easily learn most languages. However, Wookiees lacked the vocal structure to speak anything other than their own languages.
Adult Wookiees were tall, in excess of two meters in height, and were covered with a uniform, mid-length coat of thick hair in various shades of brown. Although albino Wookiees were rare, they were not unheard of. However, such a birth was generally held to be a bad omen, as white hair did not blend in with the earth-tones of their forest surroundings.
Young Wookiees (pups) were large at birth (averaging slightly less than one meter). Wookiees possessed vicious-looking retractable claws for climbing. Female Wookiees had six breasts and gave birth to live-born young, with their gestation period nearly a year long. After birth, a Wookiee grew very fast, fully conscious and able to walk unassisted within one standard year. The average lifespan of Wookiees was around 600 years. In spite of their bestial appearance, Wookiees were highly intelligent and had mastered advanced technology, including hyperspace travel. Wookiees also possessed exceptional skill in mechanical repair. An old saying was "Give a Wookiee a knife and send him into a forest in the morning, and by evening he would have carved you a table to eat dinner on - and a house to put it in."
Wookiees were often short-tempered. When Chewbacca complained about a move in a game of dejarik that R2-D2 had made during their initial trip to Alderaan, Han Solo told C-3PO that it was not a good idea to upset a Wookiee—because an upset Wookiee would tear a person's arms out of their sockets. Despite their temper and great strength, Wookiees were usually gentle and affectionate with their friends and family.
- "The Wookiees, although primitive compared to us, are surprisingly capable warriors. They're pretty strong, and pick up combat techniques pretty quickly."
- ―Canderous Ordo
One of the most well-known Wookiee traditions was the life debt. When a Wookiee's life was saved by someone else, even a non-Wookiee, they would frequently devote themselves to a lifetime of service to their savior and their family. Chewbacca's life debt to Han Solo, later extended to his family and his close friends, is one of the most famous examples of a Wookiee life debt.
The most common Wookiee language was Shyriiwook. While they were capable of understanding Basic, they were universally incapable of speaking it due to their unique vocal structure. Shyriiwook was a language which was hard to hear and understand for Humans, but one Wookiee, Ralrracheen, had a speech impediment that made it easier for non-Wookiees familiar with Shyriiwook to understand him.
Wookiees possessed a fierce style of fighting, typically eschewing standard blasters and grenades in favor of bladed weapons, such as ryyk blades, as with the Berserkers, and powerful bowcasters—weapons physically weaker species could not use effectively.
- "You go on ahead, I'll wookienate that scout walker."
- ―Deal-slang for: "You go on ahead, I'll destroy that scout walker."
Their fierce fighting style served as the basis of the Deal-slang expression "wookinate" which referred to the rendering harmless an enemy using excessive force, obviously referring to the great physical strength that provided the essence of Wookiee combat.
Under the Wookiee code of honor, claws were never to be used in combat. A Wookiee who used his or her claws for combat would be labeled a "madclaw" and exiled. Around the age of twelve, young Wookiees underwent the coming-of-age Hrrtayyk ceremony.
The Wookiees are believed to have originated on the planet Kashyyyk, part of the Kashyyyk system, though some of their lore seemed to claim otherwise. In the millennia before the rise of the Galactic Republic, Kashyyyk was a member world of the Infinite Empire. Its surface was terraformed by the Rakata for agricultural purposes, but the collapse of their empire left the machines unattended, resulting in the abnormally large foliage.
Later, Kashyyyk was discovered by Czerka Corporation, which enslaved the native Wookiees. They named the planet first "G5-623" and then, after a poll of stockholders, "Edean". Czerka control of "Edean" was disrupted when, in 3,956 BBY, the enslaved Wookiee populace overthrew the local corporate headquarters with the help of Revan and drove all outsiders off the planet. It was presumably some time after this before Kashyyyk decided to join the Galactic Republic.
- "But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid."
"That's 'cause droids don't rip people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that."
- ―Han Solo to C-3PO
The Wookiees were welcomed into the Republic through dealings with the Corellians and Alderaanians. At least one Wookiee, the Jedi Master Tyvokka, became part of the Jedi Order. Eventually, Kashyyyk was even represented in the Galactic Senate. During the last decades of the Republic, Senator Yarua represented both Kashyyyk and Trandosha, home of the reptilian Trandoshans.
However, the Trandoshans resented their Wookiee neighbors; after some of them allied with the Trade Federation in the colonization of Alaris Prime, they also attempted to assassinate Yarua in 32 BBY. In 23 BBY, a Wookiee vessel was attacked over a moon of Trandosha, resulting in a Wookiee blockade of Trandosha. Peace talks to resolve the issue were conducted 22 BBY, under the mediation of Jedi Master Oppo Rancisis, but failed when it was revealed that the Trandoshans were pushing for Senatorial representation with Trade Federation backing.
During the Clone Wars, the Wookiees attempted to remain neutral at first. It was only after the death of Prince Rikummee at the hands of Separatist droids that King Grakchawwaa led his people into the war on the side of the Republic.
Later during the Clone Wars, the Confederacy invaded Kashyyyk. Conquering the planet would prove an asset since it would enable the Separatists to control hyperspace route planning and use the Wookiee's secret routes to disrupt galactic trade and communication. In response, the Republic dispatched a task force led by the longtime Wookiee-friend Master Yoda to defend Kashyyyk. There, a combined force of Clone troopers and Wookiees repulsed the Separatist droid invaders and their Trandoshan allies at the Battle of Kashyyyk.
However, victory was short-lived. With the rise of the Galactic Empire, the Jedi were branded enemies of the Republic. The Clone troopers then took over Kashyyyk and placed it under martial law. In response, the Wookiees rebelled against their new oppressors.
At the advice of the Trandoshans, the Empire enslaved the Wookiees for their strength. Wookiee captives were used for countless Imperial projects including the Maw Installation and the Death Stars. However, because of their devotion to their homeworld, many Wookiees would evade the Imperial garrison to revisit their beloved forests for important Wookiee holidays, such as Life Day.
After the Battle of Endor, the Wookiees were liberated from slavery by the Alliance of Free Planets. The Nagai also attempted to enslave the species though they were repulsed by the New Republic. Sadly, the peace was short-lived. The Empire, having licked its wounds, quickly reestablished a presence on Kashyyyk and enslaved the Wookiees once more. Around 5 ABY Han Solo and Chewbacca assisted in inciting a revolution among the populace, helped in part by Lando Calrissian, Rogue Squadron, and Admiral Ackbar who took on Grand Admiral Peccati Syn in a pitched fleet-battle in the nearby Sumitra Sector.
The Wookiees were represented by Kerrithrarr in the New Republic Senate and Kashyyyk became key signatory and member world of the Inner Council. The planet also welcomed trade and its city of Thikkiiana became a major exporter of computer technology. However, this made it the target of the agents of the Second Imperium in 23 ABY. A task force under Zekk raided Thikkiiana's computer stores for use by the Second Imperium in its war against the New Republic.
During the Yuuzhan Vong War, the Wookiees would still continue to serve the New Republic and its successor government the Galactic Alliance. After the liberation of Coruscant, celebrations took place on the planet.
Behind the scenes
Wookiees were present in the Star Wars saga from George Lucas's earliest drafts. In many early versions of the story which eventually became A New Hope, a crucial battle takes place on a planet full of Wookiees. This idea resurfaced in early versions of Return of the Jedi, though Ewoks would be used instead. (Note that the name Ewok is Wookiee with the syllables reversed.) In Revenge of the Sith, the long-awaited Wookiee army finally appeared on screen.
The word Wookiee has taken on a brand new meaning lately in informal discussions of the law, due to an episode of the animated television series South Park. In that episode, real-life attorney Johnnie Cochran successfully wins two trials by confusing the jury with ramblings about Chewbacca that distract them from the actual issues of the case. Fans later dubbed this strategy the Chewbacca Defense, and an otherwise unexplained reference to a Wookiee in a legal discussion is likely to mean something that is being used as a red herring, as Chewbacca was used in the episode.
George Lucas has decreed that there can be no more Wookiee Jedi in the Expanded Universe. Notably, Obsidian Entertainment was forbidden to make Hanharr a Dark Jedi because of this restriction. Kirlocca, Lowbacca, and Tyvokka are the only existing Wookiee Jedi characters (though an unnamed Wookiee in Edge of Victory: Conquest appears to be an unknown Jedi student rather than Lowbacca), and they were developed before this policy was enacted.
Fans of jam bands are sometimes classified as "Wooks" or "Wookiees" due to their stereotype of having unshaven faces, long hair, and lack of personal hygiene.
Sometimes people with hypertrichosis are said to have Wookism or Wookieeism, though not a commonly accepted term.
Wookiees bear a notable resemblance to the cryptozoological phenomena of the Sasquatch, with one issue of Star Wars Tales linking Chewbacca and Han Solo to the adventurous wanderings of Indiana Jones.
In the video game Knights of the Old Republic, a historical Wookiee figure known as Bacca is spoken of. Apparently, he was the first to discover the existence of life outside Kashyyyk, an occurrence which was caused by the crashing of a probe into the Shadowlands. He forged a blade from the wreckage, a weapon which still appears in Wookiee folklore and myth.
In early publications, the word Wookiee was often spelled as just "Wookie".
The online Star Wars wiki Wookieepedia is named after the species.