Jedi Padawan Braid: A Long, Woven Symbol of Rank
A Jedi Padawan braid is a long, woven strand of hair worn by some Jedi Apprentices (i.e. Padawans) within the Jedi Order until they ascend to the rank of Jedi Knight. The braid, typically worn over the right shoulder, denotes the rank of Jedi Padawan.
After a Padawan passes the Jedi Trials, the individual ascends to the rank of Jedi Knight, ceremoniously removing the Padawan braid as a rite of passage. If the Jedi Order finds a Padawan in violation of the Jedi Code, the organization may rip off the individual’s Padawan braid and expel them from the Jedi Order.
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Not all Padawans wear the iconic Padawan braid. A Padawan, particularly an individual without hair, may alternatively wear decorative Silka beads or use other rank identifying features.
During the High Republic era, a Jedi Master determines if their Padawan must wear a braid. During the Clone Wars, Barriss Offee frames Ahsoka Tano for murder. The Jedi Order rips off Ahsoka Tano’s Padawan braid and expels her from the Jedi Order. When her master Anakin Skywalker managed to clear her name of any wrongdoing, the Jedi Order presents Tano her braid and offers to reinstate her position in the Order. Having lost faith in the Jedi Order and Jedi Council, Tano declines the offer and leaves the Order for good.
The Padawan Braid After Order 66
At the end of the Clone Wars, Chancellor Palpatine enacts Order 66, a secret Clone trooper order designating all Jedi as traitors of the Republic. Nearly all of Jedi of all ranks perish during the ensuing Jedi Purge. Surviving Padawans–including Cal Kestis and Caleb Dume (Kanan Jarrus)–flee the emerging Empire, go into hiding, and remove visual indicators of their Jedi training and heritage. As fugitives of the Empire, the former Padawans shed their identifying braids and stow or destroy other identifying items like Jedi robes and lightsabers.
During the final years of the Galactic Empire, Luke Skywalker learns the ways of the Force under the guidance of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Skywalker does not wear a Padawan braid during his training. Additionally, Luke Skywalker’s new generation of Jedi apprentices, including Ben Solo, do not appear to wear the symbolic woven hair strand either.
Padawan Braid for Cosplay
If you’re looking for a Padawan Braid to complement a Jedi costume, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge sells an officially licensed cosplay piece called a “Padawan Hair Braid”. The clip-on hair piece come in: blond, brown and black. The Padawan Hair Braid is available for purchase exclusively at Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities at Disneyland and Disney World.
A few other officially licensed clip-on hair braids have been made over the years, but are discontinued or hard to come by. Rubie’s Costume Co. released a Jedi Braid to complement their Star Wars costumes. Additionally, Hasbro released a play set Jedi Braid with Holographic Royal Starship & Holoprojector.
Alternatively, search for thin braid hair extensions or learn how to make your own braid at home with the help of a Padawan Braid tutorial video or article.
Behind the Scenes
The Padawan braid first appears in Star Wars Canon in the film Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). In the film, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker wear Padawan Braids.
The movies Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) contain continuity errors where the Padawan braids of Obi-Wan Kenobi (TPM) and Anakin Skywalker (AOTC) are depicted on the respective individual’s right shoulder in some scenes and on the left side in others.
An Obi-Wan Kenobi Padawan braid, worn by Ewan McGregor during the filming of Star Wars Episode I, sold at an entertainment memorabilia auction for £1,400 in 2019. Originally from the collection of Sue Love, chief hair stylist for Star Wars Episode I, the piece “shows signs of production use including glue remnants at the top, minor wear and loose strands of thread.”
In real life, a Padawan braid be characterized as type of rattail, a hairstyle briefly popular in the 1980s.