View Full Version : Twi-lek Skin coloration- what's the skinny?

Reverend Strone
16 April 2002, 11:36 PM
This one got lost in the ether between servers, so pardon me for reposting it, but here goes-

From what I've read in such publications as the Visual dictionaries and the like, it seems the official line on Twi-leks is they naturally come in a variety of vibrant skin tones, as we see in the movies.

I'm not sure I buy that one, so here's some alternatives.

What if Twi-leks are actually fairly blandly colored, as per Bib Fortuna's complexion, and the extreme hues we've seen in the movies since then are a result of a fashion fad. Is skin-dying all the rage on Ryloth at the moment? Perhaps Twi-leks dye their skin like we dye our hair? Does it denote status or social rank, or is it just a way to attract attention?

Another take might be the genetic engineering explanation. Others who know their Ryloth history better than I might be able to correct me here, but it seems the Twi-lek homeworld has been a hotbed for slavery over the years. What if, in the interests of breeding more exotic and sought-after slaves for the galactic slave trade, Twi-lek DNA has been engineered to produce these bizarre and exciting skin tones? Perhaps the more unnatural and exotic looking the tone is, the more potentially valuable the slave? Not all the population need be colored in this way, but it would stand to reason that most who have ended up offworld might.

Looking at the films, I've come across a whole gamut of skin hues. Please chip in if I've missed any.

Pale pink/white- Bib Fortuna (ROTJ & TPM)
Pale Green- Oola (ROTJ)
Pale Blue- Lyn-Me (ROTJ-sp ed)
Deep Blue- Sebulba's Masseusses (TPM)
Bright Blue- Orn Free-Ta (TPM)
Red- Orn's Courtesan, Shaka (TPM)

Amber- Dex's Diner Dancer
Purple- Dex's Diner Dancer

Any thoughts or corrections?

darth maim
17 April 2002, 12:24 AM
Why is it so hard to believe they have varying skin hues? Just look at humans... we have a wide variety of skin tones ourselves and nikto's have I believe 4 skin tones in thier race....

Reverend Strone
17 April 2002, 12:39 AM
It was simply a comment on the extremes of Twi-lek skin tones. Humans are a variation on a single hued theme- brown. All human skin tones are basically different shades of that one hue.

Twi-leks are so vividly different, I wasn't able to rationalize that diversity and the apparent intensity of such colors in a feasible biological sense. Red or orange are about as far from blue or green as you can get. So maybe there was a simpler, more rational answer.

Of course, that's all just in my own humble opinion.

17 April 2002, 07:28 PM
For starters it shouldn't be bib fortuna (sp?) in PM. It should be another. Bib became Jabbas Major Domo (sp) In the time of the empire I believe.

Now as to skin colors. Baboons have blue pigmentation in areas. When we blush we get an increase in red blood to the surface of the skin. Albinoism. and theses are terran mammals. If you take into account that that mammals from other planets would have deviant evolution you can look at such creatures as cuddle fish who can change skin pigmentation by controling chemical reaction. or if you look a reptiles with patterns and colored scales. If they evolved from such creatures a certain color may have been more adventagious in one setting than another. Then you have person to person differances, do they get any sun light Inter breeding between colors ect. I find it easy to beleive. I'd be surprised if the history of their planet didn't have a major war between colors. I mean if you have all the primary colors and some secondary colors you have at least six original groups, and as we have so easily proved we can easily tell the differences of us and them (there is always somebody for the roll of them) and on a hostile world such as theirs with a small habitable section wars must have happened with a frequency that we may not even uderstand. So my point is maybe there were even more colors that didn't survive to the date that saw them unite to save themselves from the offworld slavers and the like.

Talonne Hauk
17 April 2002, 07:36 PM
Darn it, Reverend, you always ask the good questions when I don't have my books around! But what I read (somewhere:rolleyes: ), is that Ryloth is situated in a system whose star has wild radiation fluctuations, hence the wide variety of skin pigmentations. Now as it's been mentioned above, there are mammals on Earth that have a variety of pigmentations, and our sun is pretty stable. My question is this; why do Twi-leks' have a smooth skin tone, as opposed to mottled patterns?

Jett Darkstar
19 April 2002, 01:17 PM
I have one more Twi'lek skin tone to add to the list....

WARNING--Possible Slight Episode II Spoiler!

George's daughter has a bit part in AotC and she will be playing a purple-skinned Twi'lek girl.

Reverend Strone
19 April 2002, 05:34 PM
Yeah I missed another one too-

Yellow- Orn Free-Taa's other assistant (TPM)

These are good answers guys, and I'm enjoying this discussion.

Regarding the examples stated for extreme colourings in nature, lets look at each one-

Cuttlefish- have chromatophores that dilate and contract to produce varying colour hues. They serve the purpose of chamouflage and communucation.

Baboons- in particular, Mandrils, have bright pigmented areas for display, but these are the same throughout their species. One individual is not completely different to the next of the same sex or age.

Albinoism- a mutation, but still a variant on the base hue of the species.

Reptiles with bright scales- again, consistant across a species, not particular to individuals to the degree to which Twi-leks seem to exhibit.

All the above examples have evolved these colour schemes for some biologically advantageous reason. It's difficult for me to come up with a biological reason why a single species would evolve such extreme differences in skin tone right across the colour spectrum even to the most unnatural colours with totally different chemical pigment bases (and smoothe tones too, as was pointed out by Talonne Hauk).

There doesn't seem to me to be a good natural reason for it that I can buy, so why not a simple explanation, they dye their skin for cosmetic reasons?

Of course, this is just idle speculation, and I'm not real worried about it, or serious enough about it to get pent up. I mean, this is a sci-fi show- the designs are secondary to the story, so biology only need be applied so far, but it is an interesting discussion point right?

Talonne Hauk
19 April 2002, 06:54 PM
Well, I'm still without my books, so take this answer with the grain of salt it richly deserves. I would assume there are some wide variances in their skin pigmentations due to wild radiation surges and the like. That's plausible, to me. I think we're seeing the widest variances in the females. Perhaps this is to give women an edge in natural selection. I've read the Naked Ape by Desmond Morris, and he theorizes that the reason women wear makeup is to simulate sexual flush, and thus appear more alluring to men. The only female Twi'lek we've seen that wasn't brightly colored was Oola, Jabba's dancing girl/slave. It seems a reasonable assumption that she wasn't interested in being all that alluring to Jabba, and hence she wouldn't take the effort to make herself up. So my guess is a compromise between what the good Reverend has theorized and my original assertion. There is a wide variety in skin tones, but it is accentuated by makeup.

20 April 2002, 09:41 AM
Who says that they are all the same species (I'm not sure that's the word we are looking for after all there are more then one type of gorilla but isn't gorilla the species of them all?)
I'm thinking along the lines of Homo sapien sapien, Homo sapien neanderthalus, and other Homo Sapiens, and possible hybridisation. The in the group of Homo sapien sapien you have the negroid, mongoloid and caucazoid groupings for skull structure and skin variations. Then look at the mongoloids the skin in their group varies greatly from pale to dark.
Now take twi'leks Maybe they have Twilek sapien sapiens and twilek neanderthals and some hybrids and each has it's equivalent to the three groups above and of course the interracial unions.
Science isn't sure that the neanderthal is dead, it may have just interbred with Humo sapien and we all care a little with us.
Now the idea of the Mandril pigmentation has something important. It's a mark of destinction. What if the twilek ancestors were less subtle. The brightest blue attracted mates so that naturally got carried on to the next generation. The weaker pigments of blue aren't neccesarrally lost (beta males have kids too and if they can be hidden long enough to avoid the alphas homocidal attacks then those genes last too.)
But with high radiation causing mutation at a greater rate then on earth then some evolutionary wag may have decided that red in a group of blues is more exotic and will get me more attention.
as for the cuddle fish idea I was just thinking. Well if they can turn red blue white and black but ended up in an environment where they had no use for a red white or black the maybe evolotion would favor the ones who can maintain the blue longest . then it would favor those that didn't have to use any effort to be blue and the color change ability is lost. Now say that applies to all the seperate colors.
Just some thoughts.

Reverend Strone
20 April 2002, 02:29 PM
Some real nice theories Talonne and Jaggard ! I'm liking the sound of those. Anyone else got any new theories?

22 April 2002, 10:37 PM
Being of light complexion, I have tried some of the various tanning lotion available from cosmetic giant Twi'ven Klein. Personally, I don't think that they offer a decent all over coverage that comes from birth. Although, I do look very good in a nice paisley.

Reverend Strone
18 August 2002, 11:16 PM

Having just read Shadows of the Empire (finally got rounf to it), I happened upon an obscure reference to a Twi'lek having a garish skin-dye job! :)

While I wouldn't call it an official endorsement of my theory of Twi'lek skin colour origin, at least it suggests I'm not alone in my theory.

(Gets up and walks around with chest puffed out in a spirit of self-exoneration).

19 August 2002, 11:26 AM
I remember reading another discussion about Twi'leks and reading one persons thoughts on the multi-colorations being because of the lack of rotation of Ryloth. Those Twi'leks that live in settlements facing the sun end up with brighter skin coloration (this could be explained evolution wise as a need to blend in with the brighter area) and those on the dark side of the planet having darker skin tone. More then likely the reason you find more darker skin tones in the galaxy (as far as seen in the movies and some degree in the books) is due to less degree of danger of coming in on Ryloth on the dark side, thus avoiding the radiation, for the most part, from the sun.

Personally I don't see it as that hard to believe. You have to bare in mind that Twi'leks are normal in more then just their skin tone. They have freakin brain tails for crying out load! A clear indication of just how messed up their evolution must have been. Not to mention it is a Sci-Fi setting with thousands, if not millions of different species of sentient beings out ther, each with their own sub-race like you find in Humans. Heck, look at cats and the different coloration patterns and body shapes. Yeah, it is still a variation on a loose them, but who is to say that Twi'leks don't have their own theme that we can't understand since they don't actually exist!

As for the body paint reference in SotE, I always took that to mean a bad tatoo job, as I have read several times in EU books of Tat's being refered to as body paint. Heck, I have heard of Tatoos being called body paint in real life!

Anyway, in the end, just like with my previous thread on the SWAG board about where head tails start, it is all perspective and once own take on it. I choose to believe that it is an evolutionary trick because it makes the most sense and is the best supported from what I have seen and read. And I like the idea of hot chicks with additional sensual organs and a wide variety of skin tones to choose from :D

1 September 2002, 09:41 AM
Okay, here it goes...

Reverend Strone stated

<<<"It was simply a comment on the extremes of Twi-lek skin tones. Humans are a variation on a single hued theme- brown. All human skin tones are basically different shades of that one hue.

Twi-leks are so vividly different, I wasn't able to rationalize that diversity and the apparent intensity of such colors in a feasible biological sense. Red or orange are about as far from blue or green as you can get. So maybe there was a simpler, more rational answer.">>>

While this is true that all human skin tones are based upon variations of the same hue, we must also take into account that we are in fact all living under the same yellow sun. And while human pigmentation will act in known and foreseeable paterns under different light waves, we can not assume the same for aliens.

My belief is that Twi-Leks may possess a skin pigmentation that reacts in a greatly varied manner under different lighting condistions. They may also indulge in cultural practices that enhance or alter their skin colouration on purpose.


Reverend Strone
1 September 2002, 11:43 AM
Some nice thoughts Forst, and a good rationalisation. Thanks for sharing them. It's true that different light/radiation would provoke different colouration responces in pigment that evolved to cope with whatever wavelengths are being projected in their ghome system. In that case it is much harder to speculate with any accuracy on what the results would be. Very good point.

I suppose I just like the idea of it being cultural rather than biological because it's somehow simlper in my mind, and conforms to the mental picture of Twi'lek pride that i have in my imagination, but I can buy your explanation too.

Thanks again.