What Species Is Ahsoka Tano?
The Ahsoka Tano phenomenon continues to gain momentum. First appearing as Anakin Skywalker’s teenage Padawan in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), Ahsoka wasn’t immediately embraced by fans, but her popularity snowballed as her escapades during this turbulent era of Jedi history were expanded upon in the later animated TV series that further detailed the epochal conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Separatists.
On August 23, 2023, a new phase in the annals of this exciting Star Wars personage will commence with the release of Ahsoka, an eight-episode limited TV series airing on the Disney+ streaming platform. This will be the first series in which Ahsoka is positioned as the central character.
As the release date nears, many fans who haven’t been following Ahsoka’s adventures from the very beginning are trying to fill the gaps in their knowledge of the one-time Padawan from the planet Shili. What is Ahsoka Tano’s species? Where does she come from? These are valid questions that deserve to be answered.
Ahsoka belongs to the Togruta species, native to the planet Shili, but to reveal that only brings up a host of additional questions, as these beings are fairly uncommon throughout the Star Wars universe and little is known about them. Given that, it may be helpful to attempt a deep dive into the Togruta—their culture, their homeland, their biology, and other aspects of these beings. Keep reading to learn more about this compelling part of Star Wars lore.
Shili: The Homeworld of the Togruta
The planet that Ahsoka hails from, Shili, is part of the Expansion Region located between the Inner Rim and the Mid (or Middle) Rim. Aside from Shili, this bustling region includes the planets Aquaris, Kerkoidia, Sibensko, and Thustra, as well as the Ghost Nebula sector. Shili exists within the star system known as the Shili system, which contains no other planets. There are, however, several moons orbiting around Shili.
Shili is noted for its lush, colorful grasslands, dotted with attractive pine trees, and a hilly, mountainous topography. Creatures found here include kybuck (horned beings native to the planet Kashyyyk) and raxshir (sabertooth-like felines native to Shili). But Shili is known primarily as the domain of the Togruta.
The Togruta, a humanoid species, are famed for their fierce devotion to their homeworld. They prefer to live in the many mountainous regions of this planet, and it is said that the Togruta revere the land under their feet to the extent that they generally go about barefoot. Their native language is Togruti, although they are also proficient in the Galactic Basic language that is most commonly spoken throughout the Star Wars galaxy.
Traditionally, the Togruta have had a monarchical government, led by a queen called the regasa. The Togruta are known for their collectivist values and militaristic bent, but it is worth pointing out that a large Togrutan “artisan colony,” devoted to aesthetic virtues rather than warring, thrived for a time on the planet Kiros.
The Physical Characteristics of Togrutas
Although humanoid, Togrutas have a distinct appearance that makes them instantly recognizable whenever they travel to other planets. They are particularly noted for the unusual features protruding from their heads: montrals and lekku.
Montrals are a pair of conical striped horns that protrude from the top of the head of a Togruta. These horns grow as a Togruta ages, so that they progress from mere stumps in childhood to tall appendages in adulthood. Male Togrutas generally have taller montrals than the females.
These visually striking organs are not merely for show; Togrutas use them to sense physical movement in the immediate area around them via echolocation. In that way, these organs can be an enormous aid in combat, sharply reducing the possibility that a Togruta will fall victim to a surprise attack.
Incidentally, the Togruta are not the only known beings who sport montrals. The Kessurians have them too, but in these beings they protrude diagonally from the side of the head, just above the ears, and do not closely resemble the ones that lend Togrutas their singular look.
Lekku, also known as head-tails, are three striped appendages that grow from the crown of the skull and, much like locks of hair, droop below the shoulders and sometimes to the waist. A single lekku is commonly called a “lek.” The two lekku on the sides of the head drape over the collarbones, while the third, larger lek grows from the rear of the head and falls down the wearer’s back.
They grow with age, just as montrals do, but female lekku are typically longer than the ones seen on males. Lekku naturally harmonize with montrals to form what appears like a unified “mane” that is widely admired for its attractiveness.
Ahsoka’s lekku are blue and white, which is a very common color combination among Togrutas, but other combinations occur as well.
A variety of skin colors can be observed among the Togruta. Most commonly they are orange or red, but other possible colors include blue, purple, yellow, and white. Other colors can be occasionally seen as well. It has been speculated that the diversity of colors among the Togruta is an evolutionary adaptation that enables them to hide from natural predators on Shili.
In addition, Togrutas have symmetrical white facial pigmentation, which resembles “warpaint” but is actually a natural phenomenon of Togrutan skin.
The Differences Between Togrutas and Twi’leks
Togrutas are often confused with Twi’leks, the native inhabitants of the planet Ryloth, whose most notable representatives include Hera Syndulla and Bib Fortuna. It’s understandable why this confusion happens; the two species are among the very few in the Star Wars universe who have lekku protruding from their heads. Nonetheless, there are distinct physical differences between the two species that makes it easy to tell them apart if you know what to look for.
The most obvious way to differentiate the two species is to count the number of lekku they have: Twi’leks generally have two of them, while Togrutas normally have three. The two species also differ in the ways they use their lekku. For Twi’leks, lekku are prehensile appendages that can pick up objects and communicate via certain gestures that are universally understood among the species. For the Togruta, lekku have no practical function of this nature.
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For Twi’leks, lekku are highly sensitive organs, and the loss of one, through amputation or another injury, sometimes has fatal consequences. Togrutan lekku are much less sensitive. These appendages can be severed without harm to a Togruta’s overall health. For members of both species, regeneration of lost lekku is a physical impossibility.
Overall, Twi’leks also tend to be more human-like in appearance than Togrutas are. This aids Twi’leks in their ability to “blend in” when among human or near-human groups. Togrutas are more distinctive in appearance. That, coupled with the fact that they are also numerically less common than Twi’leks, explains why the Togruta tend to be more obtrusive wherever they appear among other species.
Other Notable Togruta in the Star Wars Universe
Ahsoka Tano is the Togruta most widely known to fans, but she’s not the only one whose exploits are worth following. Other Togrutas in the Star Wars universe include:
- Shaak Ti – This Jedi Master served on the High Council in the period prior to the Great Jedi Purge.
- Gupat Roshti – He was governor of Kiros, and oversaw its colony of 50,000 Togruta, during the time of the Clone Wars.
- Jora Malli – A Jedi Master during the High Republic Era, she perished in the Battle of Kur. Like Shaak Ti, she served on the Jedi High Council.
- Kirames Kaj – She was Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic toward the end of the High Republic Era.
- Elarec Yovet – She was the regasa of Shili during the High Republic Era, and also held the title of Supreme Huntress of the United Tribes.
- Auxi Kray Korbin – An advisor to Chancellor Mon Mothma, she was killed by an assassin’s bomb intended for her boss.
The continuing adventures of Ahsoka Tano will surely bring new Togruta names into Star Wars canon.
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