Extracts from the travel diaries of Sally I.; scholar and philosopher. This documentary series, Galactic Misunderstandings, is brought to you by Starwire Discovery Programmes

Galactic Misunderstandings: Mandalorians

It has been quite the journey. When I started my first week, I was a veritable ball of preconceptions about Mandalorians, their nature and their value to the galaxy at large. In truth, I expected to have those preconceptions altered, but I did not imagine the range and variety that I experienced. It is no surprise that a culture that thrives on adaptation should have diversity, which of course means that no stereotype stands the test of every Mandalorian individual; with the exception of a few exceptionally common traits encouraged by the Resol’nare.

Sadly, while I feel better about my understanding and found many ways to extol seeming paradoxical virtues from the culture, part of suvarir—to understand—is to accept the bad as well as polish the good to a mirror shine.

Extracts from the travel diaries of Sally I.; scholar and philosopher. This documentary series, Galactic Misunderstandings, is brought to you by Starwire Discovery Programmes

Galactic Misunderstandings: Mandalorians

Perhaps the most basic factor in any culture is the presence of some kind of hierarchy. For complex systems like the Galactic Republic—a sprawling, multi-layer comprehensive bureaucracy supporting a democracy—it is quite frankly hard to keep track of power, money and resources. As you might expect, the Mandalorian system is mercifully bureaucracy-free.

In fact, the position of Mand’alor—the ‘sole ruler’—is barely defined or officially described. It is a title claimed, and if unopposed, kept. If opposed, it must be defended; traditionally violently. It is a level of accepted seniority and respected skill and wisdom to which the vast majority—if not the entirety—of the Mandalorian clans owe enough respect to obey. You could viably cry ‘dictator’ but bear with me here. Remember how much like family Mandalorians are, and join me for the final nari of the Resol’nare.

Extracts from the travel diaries of Sally I.; scholar and philosopher. This documentary series, Galactic Misunderstandings, is brought to you by Starwire Discovery Programmes

Galactic Misunderstandings: Mandalorians

As a pentalingual, you might imagine that I quite like learning the nuances of cultural communication; and you would be correct! As with many cultures, you can tell quite a lot by the flavour and cadence of the Mandalorian tongue. Mando’a, as it is called, is easily identified in a few ways (not least by the fact it keeps turning up in italics whenever I read the text-transcribed version of this documentary).

Language is another of the most obvious ways a culture distinguishes itself; even within the same language. It evolves with the people and takes on the tone and role that the culture assigns it, whether inherited or adopted from others. Mando’a is a defining element of the Mando’ade, to the point of demanding its’ own place in the Resol’nare. They are even protective of it to an extent; not all those I met were especially happy that I could speak it myself. But that just goes to show how much cultural identity there can be in language.

Extracts from the travel diaries of Sally I.; scholar and philosopher. This documentary series, Galactic Misunderstandings, is brought to you by Starwire Discovery Programmes

Galactic Misunderstandings: Mandalorians

When anyone brings up Mandalorians in conversation, whatever the context, there is one thing so iconic it makes it into just about every person’s mental image of a Mandalorian. A T-visored helmet, segmented armour, resplendent in a variety of colours of variable meaning. While there is great variety, from the light plates and flexible weave of the scout to the shielded walking tank of a heavy gunner, certain elements have a cultural consistency.

Armour is in Mandalorian’s blood, so to speak. Ancient heirlooms or fresh from the forge, it is always there. Try as I might to interpret the beskar’gam - that is, ‘iron skin’ - action of the Resol’nare in a philosophical sense, I think this one is practical even if it does have elements of symbolism, representation, and image. Like any clothing, armour can tell you something about the wearer; and Mandalorians are no exception.

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