One distinct practice that’s seen within the Sith Order is the adornment of Sith tattoos. Although the designs and placements of these tattoos vary between species, as well as individuals, the tradition itself can be traced back to the days of the Ancients.
The original Sith “tattoos” were not tattoos at all but temporary, decorative marks. These markings have their roots in an old tale regarding a goddess and a long extinct animal of Korriban.
Stories of the Great Mother are considered to be the most well known source of “origin myths” of the Sith people. The story states the very first Sith being began life as a mowhef, a fierce, predatory animal native to Korriban. But through one final wager the mowhef found herself blessed, was given a name (Marserha) and became a Sith. When she turned into a Sith, she also retained the stripes on her arms and legs.
Even though she was the mother of all Sith, none of her children inherited the stripes.
Initially, the lack of stripes was a non-issue for the Sith. But over many generations, her children (which mostly refer to the Kissai caste) began to adopt and decorate the Mother’s Marks onto their own arms and legs.
The markings were painted on with a paste made from a native plant that would stain the skin but were temporary and faded with time. These markings were seen as way to honor their Mother and ask the gods for blessings.
Surviving records show that the marks were only ever worn on the arms and legs (and by extension, the hands and feet). This was an obvious link to both Marserha and the connection to the mowhef, but it may also have some basis in the saying: arms wield weapons and legs carry you into battle.
Over time the Six Pointed Star of Ahmurn was added to the marks since he was considered to be the father of all Sith. The marriage of the star and stripes also symbolized the union between Ahmurn and Marserha.
While the simple designs were the norm for a while, eventually the stripes began to morph into more and more intricate, artistic designs.
By the time the Exiles had arrived on Korriban, the Sith markings came in countless variations, patterns, and designs but still only worn on the arms and legs.
In the present day, some Sith purebloods have adopted tattoos but most continue the tradition of decorating their limbs the way their people have throughout the ages. Since the old gods, including the Great Mother herself, are no longer worshiped the marking are usually considered as a way of honoring the ancestors and Sith heritage.
Most of the the detailed and time consuming designs are worn during special occasions in one’s life, such as: becoming an apprentice/Lord/Darth, getting married, anticipating the arrival of a new child, in preparations for a major battle, and anything else that may be considered personally important to a Sith. There are smaller, simpler designs that are also worn, but these are mainly for decorative purposes.
Aside from the purebloods in the Sith Order, the human Sith have their own marks.
Unlike their pureblood counterparts, most human Sith have actual tattoos that are worn on the face and red in color. Both human Sith and Imperial scholars are unsure of the “when and why” this has happened. But the most accepted reason behind the tattoos seems to be that they signify traceable Sith blood within that person’s family line.
In recent times, the Sith Order has allowed aliens to join their ranks. Some of these aliens, such as Zabraks and Mirialans, have their own cultural traditions regarding the tattoos they wear and should not be confused with Sith tattoos or markings.
Others, like certain Twi’leks, come from varying backgrounds or simply do not have a significant cultural identity of their own due to personal circumstances in their lives. Some of these aliens, particular red-skinned ones, seem to cover their whole body in black tattoos. This adoption of “Sith tattoos” among the aliens are seen as a bastardization of old customs by some purebloods while others do not seem to mind one way or another.
BIG OL’ THANKS TO @thegarbagechute !!!!
like gosh… look how freakin lovely the pics are…. ;3;
insert usual disclaimers: personal headcanon, etc, feel free to use or ignore, etc.