“This is the Way”: Inside the World of the Mandalorian

The Star Wars at Dragon Con Goes Virtual fan track presented a panel via their YouTube channel Sunday evening that focused on the culture of the Mandalorians. Joining moderator Thomas Harper were Bryan Young, Alexa Shipes, Tom Hutchens and Kyle Bennett. The panel sought to “unpack” and shed some light on Mandalorian culture now that we have seen the first season of The Mandalorian on Disney+.

Mandalorian culture is one that enshrines the ethos of the warrior, and the question of its evolution was one of the first. Hutchens, who is very grounded in the Legends material, pointed out that a martial culture is one of the important elements from Legends that made its way into the new canon. This theme of the Mandalorians as a warrior people came up time and again throughout the hour in a number of ways. During a moment in the conversation when comparisons were being discussed between historical military orders and the Mandalorians, Bryan Young pointed out that the deep history of the Mandolorians was the tale of a race of conquerors, whose style reminded him of the Napoleonic conquests. In these earliest days, the Mandalorians came into contact with and fought the Jedi. This explains the development of their weapons arsenal which was specifically designed to compensate for their inability to fight using the force.

The creative artists who built the world of Mandalore did not construct a monolith. There are different clans/groups with their own views. In the case of the Mandalorians presented in the new series, they appear to be a group embracing an older orthodoxy. Din Djarin refuses to remove his helmet in the presence of another human being and refuses to put down his weapons when negotiating with the Jawas. The armorer refers to an adage that to be a Mandalorian is to be both “hunter and prey,” and if it is that the Mandalorian considers his weapons to be part of his religion, is it not the case then that the armorer is a king or “priestess”?

Bennett discussed the parallels he saw between Mandalorian martial culture and that of ancient Sparta. Young took this a step further and focused on the influence of Bushido/Samurai culture. He argued that Din Djarin was the equivalent of a “Ronin,” which refers to a samurai who has been dispossessed of noble overlordship and is a wanderer.

Young pointed out that Mandalorian culture is one in which everyone, male and female, is trained as a warrior. It is a “baseline.”  Given that there are no gender biases or constraints,  sexism does not place limits on Mandalorian society. There is an old Mandalorian adage that calls upon parents to train sons to be strong, and daughters to be stronger. The panelists pointed out that battles occurred between male and female Mandalorians, and when they did gender simply did not matter.

Foundlings fed right into the thematic arc the panel discussed in that the adoption of war orphans was another element of the Mandalorian ethos that made its way from the Legends material into the new canon. Much remains to be resolved and explained but the burden upon  Din Djarin to either get the child back to its own kind or raise it as his own is clearly part of that fundamental creed that defines these Mandalorians. To them “this is the way.”

This fascinating discussion can be found on the Star Wars at Dragon Con YouTube channel.

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