|Distinctions||Brown, white, or black fur|
Wookiees are a fictional species of intelligent bipeds from the planet Kashyyyk in the Star Wars universe. They first appeared in the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977. The most notable Wookiee is Chewbacca, a companion of Han Solo.
According to an interview with creator George Lucas, the inspiration for the Wookiee was Lucas' dog, Indiana (whose name is used in the Lucas-inspired Indiana Jones movies). "He was the prototype for the Wookiee. He always sat beside me in the car. He was big, a big bear of a dog."[this quote needs a citation] During the climactic chase scene in THX 1138, one of the robotic cops, voiced by actor Terry McGovern, says: "I think I ran over a Wookiee back there", and thus the word was born.
In one episode of Animal Planet's series Animal Icons, focusing on the creation of Star Wars figures, it was revealed that the Wookiees were also based on orangutans and lemurs, which are long-haired creatures that live in a warm forest climate. The net effect in terms of the Wookiees' appearance is a marked resemblance to descriptions of the legendary Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest.
Adult Wookiees are typically taller than most humans, averaging 2.1 meters (6 feet 11 inches). They possess enormous strength; Solo states that a Wookiee can pull a man's arms out of his sockets if angered or slighted, and in books and comics no humanoid species is shown to equal a Wookiee in pure strength. Wookiees have a keen sense of smell, are fully covered with a thick coat of hair, though they are susceptible to androgenic alopecia, have good hand–eye coordination and are shown to be excellent marksmen. Wookiees have been shown in many diverse environments, such as those of Hoth, Tatooine and Endor, never wearing any protective clothing or showing any signs of discomfort. Wookiees have a lifespan of several hundred years.
Wookiees also possess retractable claws, the better to aid them in climbing the great trees of their homelands. However, it is considered very dishonorable to use them as weapons in a fight (explaining why Chewbacca was never seen using them in the films). Those who do use them in combat are dubbed "madclaws" and are exiled from their community. Their leaping and movement ability in arboreal regions is shown to be comparable to that of many tree-dwelling primates, and presumably comes with a lack of fear of heights and excellent natural balance.
Despite a fearsome appearance and temperamental disposition, Wookiees are shown to be very intelligent and are very adept at handling advanced technology. Chewbacca is co-pilot of and performs maintenance on the Millennium Falcon, and also possessed a working knowledge of robotics, managing to rather haphazardly reassemble C-3PO after the latter was destroyed by Imperial Stormtroopers in the film Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Wookiees are fast learners; Chewbacca commandeers an Imperial AT-ST during the Battle of Endor and is shown effectively maneuvering the machine and operating its weapons systems. They are masters of fusion-cutting.
Wookiees greatly value morality, courage, compassion and loyalty. A sacred and ancient Wookiee tradition is that of the honor family. An honor family comprises a Wookiee's closest friends and companions. These family members pledge a commitment to lay down their lives for one another, as well as members of any honor families these individuals may have. Like the similarly sacred Wookiee life debt, Wookiees are willing to extend this tradition to members outside their species. Chewbacca considered Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, their children, and Luke Skywalker part of his honor family.
Wookiees have an understanding of Star Wars–universe warfare and fought alongside Republic forces during the Clone Wars. Wookiees were betrayed and enslaved shortly after that conflict.
The Wookiee language is Shyriiwook. Wookiees are capable of understanding Galactic Basic, but generally none are able to speak it because of the structure of Wookiee vocal cords. In the original Star Wars trilogy, it seems that Chewbacca can understand humans. His human partner, Han Solo, also shows knowledge of Shyriiwook, or can at least understand Chewbacca. In the Star Wars expanded universe novels, Chewbacca builds a miniature translator droid ("Em Teedee") for his nephew Lowbacca when the latter begins training as a Jedi, to facilitate communications with his fellow student.
Bowcasters are weapons developed and used by Wookiees. Bowcasters launch quarrels, which are crossbow bolts that through magnetic propulsion appear as elongated blaster bolts due to the velocity of the bolts. The propulsion technique gives the quarrels extremely high stopping power. Wookiees can load their bowcasters with both standard and explosive-tipped quarrels. The spring that powers the bowcaster is extremely hard to pull back; humans are generally incapable of cocking a bowcaster, although some exceptions do exist, including Jedi Knight Kyle Katarn. Some Wookiees were known to have added extra springs for multiple shots, and during the Imperial occupation of Kashyyyk, Wookiees bolted on E-11 blaster rifles to the bottom of the bowcaster for extra firepower to save their homeworld.
In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith the Wookiees live in the lush forests and giant jungles on the planet of Kashyyyk, where they originated. They live in villages among the giant wroshyr trees. George Lucas has said that he originally planned Yavin IV, home of the rebel base in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, to be the Wookiee home planet, but subsequent rewrites changed this to Kashyyyk instead, and it was ultimately shown on screen as the setting for a battle in Episode III. In the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Kashyyyk is one of the planets which may be traveled to. It shows the Wookiees' homes in the treetops while the ground level is filled with deadly creatures and mysteries. Kashyyyk first appeared onscreen in Star Wars Holiday Special.
Kashyyyk is a world enveloped in immense forests and beaches. Inland, the trees are so tall and dense that a layered ecosystem has evolved within its branches. The closer one gets to the forest floor, the more dangerous and primeval the environment becomes. Wookiees inhabit the upper levels of the forest, having built their massive cities within the interwoven canopy. The Wookiee city of Thikkiiana was one of the key manufacturers of sophisticated computer components in the New Republic.
- IMDb THX-1138 trivia
- Microscopics.co.uk article on Wookie
- Binarybonsai.com article on George Lucas
- Terry McGovern's Star Wars page
- "Star Wars: Databank|Wookies". Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- Star Wars Roleplaying Game (Second Edition, Expanded & Revised ed.). West End Games. 1996. ISBN 0-87431-435-6.
- Star Wars: Databank|Kashyyyk
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