The latest Star Wars show, The Acolyte, features a new type of character that’s never been shown in a live-action film or television show: a Wookiee Jedi. Fans have loved Wookiees ever since Chewbacca won their hearts in Episode IV: A New Hope, with his skeptical but loyal personality. Now, The Acolyte will expand fans’ horizons about Wookiees and Wookiee culture with the character of Master Kelnacca. Wookiees are already formidable warriors without the Force, making a Wookiee Jedi even more fearsome. Master Kelnacca is the only Wookiee Jedi we’ve seen in live-action. But he is not the only member of his species in the Jedi Order during the High Republic period. In fact, it could be argued that Wookiee Jedi are a staple of the High Republic as a whole. 

THE ACOLYTE's Wookiee Jedi, Explained_1

The History of the Wookiee Jedi in the High Republic Era

The Acolyte, set during the tail end of the High Republic, takes place a hundred years before The Phantom Menace. In total, the High Republic lasted four hundred years. The Jedi Order was at its most powerful during this period, with scores of Jedi from a diverse array of species scattered in temples across the galaxy. Given how the Jedi Order flourished during the High Republic, it would be strange for there not to be any Wookiee Jedi. 

The High Republic as a time period within Star Wars was first championed by a multimedia publishing initiative that introduced the era’s key players, geopolitics, and more across novels, comics, manga, and audio dramas. It kicked off with Charles Soule’s novel, Light of the Jedi, the cover of which prominently features a Wookiee Jedi named Burryaga. Standing directly behind Master Avar Kriss, the Padawan Burryaga Agaburry (or “Burry” to his friends) fiercely holds his distinctive blue lightsaber, growling at a threat in the distance. 

Simon & Shuster/ Mizuki Sakakibara

Burryaga is a beloved member of the Jedi Order because of his selfless and empathetic nature. In fact, Burry has a unique Force power where he can detect emotions with a much greater intensity than other Jedi. This makes him skilled at comforting people in distress, even using the Force to remove some of the emotional burden. He also wields a lightsaber specifically designed for his tall stature, its length nearly as great as a double-bladed lightsaber. The hilt of the saber is made from materials found only on his native planet of Kashyyyk.

The Challenges of Being a Wookiee Jedi

Being a Wookiee within the Jedi Order isn’t without its difficulties though. In Burryaga’s case, he can understand Basic, but he only speaks his native language, Shyriiwook. His master, Nib Assek, is one of the few non-Wookiee Jedi who can speak and understand Shyriiwook fluently. As Light of the Jedi shows, this can be sometimes distressing for Burry. This is particularly true in tense battle situations when he senses vast amounts of fear or danger and can’t convey it easily to other Jedi. 

Master Arkhoff, a Famous Wookiee Jedi in the Star Wars Universe

While Burryaga eventually became a Jedi Knight, there is another, more seasoned Wookiee in the Jedi Order: Master Arkhoff. Master Arkhoff is a wise mentor to many other Jedi, particularly Master Lily Tora-Asi, who was once his apprentice. Briefly appearing in Light of the Jedi, Arkhoff was a principal character in the manga series, The Edge of Balance by Justina Ireland, Shima Shinya, and Mizuki Sakakibara. There, he helped settle refugees on the planet Banchii who were displaced by the Great Hyperspace Disaster. (This took place in Light of the Jedi).

Simon & Shuster/ Mizuki Sakakibara

Arkhoff is immediately recognizable thanks to his braided beard. (Or is it facial fur? Do Wookiees even have beards?) His tall stature made him a little intimidating to the younglings at Banchii’s Jedi Temple. Nonetheless, he played a vital role in helping his former Padawan, Lily Tora-Asi, mentor her own Padawan. Unlike Burryaga, Arkhoff worked with Jedi who understood Shyriiwook.   

Master Kelnacca, the Wookiee Jedi in The Acolyte


This leads us now to The Acolyte’s Master Kelnacca. The elusive Jedi Master has hidden himself on the planet of Khofar, known for its thick forests. It has been long established within Star Wars lore that Wookiees prefer wooded environments that resemble their home planet of Kashyyyk. Though we only get a small taste of Kelnacca’s life on Khofar in episode 2 of The Acolyte, we have to assume that the Wookiee was living his best life in seclusion. 

So far, Kelnacca seems to be the only Wookiee Jedi in The Acolyte. Given how instrumental Burryaga in particular was to the very start of the High Republic initiative, it would be a treat to see other Wookiee Jedi in other live-action projects. If we can agree on anything, it’s that the sight of a Wookiee Jedi will always be a winner.