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Why Do Padawan Have Braids Before Becoming Jedi?

Padawan braids weren’t always as strict of a requirement as they are in the prequel trilogy era. During the era of the High Republic, a few hundred years prior to “The Phantom Menace,” it’s more the prerogative of a padawan’s master. This reflects a larger shift in Jedi doctrine in the centuries leading up to the prequels, as the High Republic was a much less dogmatic time for the order as a whole.

Because the Jedi bring in (see: kidnap) members from all across the galaxy, plenty of padawans simply don’t have hair to braid. In these cases, Jedi in training would wear an artificial lookalike that carries the same meaning. Ahsoka Tano wears a string of silka beads, for instance, while apprenticed to Anakin Skywalker. When Ahsoka is expelled from the Jedi Order at the end of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Season 5, her “braid” is physically ripped from her, marking both her expulsion and her failure to achieve knight status. The Jedi Council later tries to bring her back and offers to return her silka beads, but she refuses.

Finally, in the old Star Wars Legends continuity, the different colored bands on a padawan braid also carried meaning. These colors marked things such as the age of the Jedi and their specialized areas of study.

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