Weathering is: scratching, scuffing, tarnishing, damaging or otherwise aging of a lightsaber hilt. The intention of weathering is make the hilt look used, as if it’s been battle-worn, or just make it look like it’s not brand new, ‘right out of the lightsaber factory’, so to speak.
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Many lightsaber enthusiasts like weathering because it adds character to the hilt, especially is somebody does the weathering themselves by hand. There are many different ways to weather a hilt, but every scratch, dent, tarnish and rust spot tells a story. Each scratch, dent, tarnish and rust spot can represent a different battle or a different experience. If you were a real Jedi or a real Sith, you would likely carry your lightsaber where ever you go for your entire life. Weathering represents a long, hard life of lightsaber use and abuse.
Weathering also lines up with George Lucas’ philosophy for the Original Trilogy. Lucas envisioned a ‘lived-in’ Star Wars universe where objects looked used rather than brand new. The ‘lived-in’ universe concept diverged from many other science fiction stories of the time where everything in space seemed flashy, new, and futuristic. In the ‘lived-in’ Star Wars universe, droids like C-3PO and vehicles like Luke’s landspeeder are scraped, dented and scuffed. Similarly, Ben Kenobi’s lightsaber appears if it’s been tarnished, aged, baked and sandblasted by punishing Tatooine conditions for decades.
By contrast, ships, speeders and objects in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy do look shiny and new. The seemingly new and shiny objects embody the prosperity of Republic before the rise of the oppressive Empire. It’s weird to image a weathered version of just about Prequel Trilogy lightsaber. The only exception is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s ‘shiny and new’ Revenge of the Sith lightsaber, which ultimately ages into Kenobi’s heavily weathered A New Hope lightsaber.
Aside from the Obi-Wan Kenobi Revenge of the Sith lightsaber, it’s strange imaging a weathered versions of any of the other Prequel Trilogy lightsabers. Imagine a weathered Qui-Gon Jinn lightsaber or Darth Maul lightsaber or Count Dooku lightsaber. It’s weird.
So is weathering more appropriate for lightsabers of certain eras? Is it more appropriate for Original Trilogy era lightsabers to be weathered than it is for Prequel Trilogy lightsabers to be weathered?
Ultimately, as with just about every lightsaber customizing decision, preference for or aversion to weathering comes down to personal taste and personal interpretation.