Names are important in stories. They are identifiers of character and purpose. This series looks at the hidden meanings of names in the galaxy far, far away.
‘Padme’ translates to ‘lotus flower’ in Sanskrit, a classical language of South Asia. Lotus flowers are native to most of Asia and have appeared in religious and cultural imagery for thousands of years. They are significant in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, and have appeared in Egyptian hieroglyphics and ancient Greek folklore. Lotus flowers and water lilies are different plants, but they grow in the same environments and share imagery, particularly in modern times.
Across various religions and cultural beliefs, lotus flowers represent:
- the womb of life and femininity, particularly pink lotuses
- overcoming adversity
- purity, particularly white lotuses
- connection and compassion, particularly red lotuses
- transcendence, spiritual purification, and liberation (Nirvana), particularly blue lotuses
‘Amidala’ is an Italian name that means ‘beautiful flower’. It is also thought to be a variation on “Amida”, an alternate name for the Buddha “Amitabha” and “Amitayus”. Amitabha is Sanskrit for “infinite light” and Amitayus for “infinite life”. They are the same being, a spiritual manifestation of the transcendence represented by the blue lotus above. The Jedi afterlife with blue Force Ghosts was inspired by these principles.
Prior to her adoption of Amidala when elected Queen of Naboo, Padmé’s surname was Naberrie. In Egyptian, the name “Nabirye” means “Mother of twins.” Naberrie and Nabirye are homonyms (identical pronunciation).
These three names are an interesting blend of geography and culture. Padmé’s wardrobe is likewise a blend of traditionally Eastern and Western aesthetics.
Handmaidens and the Knights of Ren
Five young women were chosen to support and protect Queen Amidala as Haidmaidens. They all adopted names similar to Padmé.
- ‘Eirtaé’ appears to be unique to Star Wars. Similar names include ‘Arie’, Hebrew for ‘lion of god’, ‘Era’, Hebrew for guardian, Etoile, Norse for ‘star’.
- ‘Rabé’ is a vegetable related to Broccoli.
- ‘Sabé’ is a pet form of ‘Sable’, a Middle English name meaning ‘black’ and ‘sleek’.
- ‘Saché’ is a variation of ‘Sachi’, an Indian or Japanese name meaning ‘fortunate’.
- ‘Yané’ means ‘while going away’ in Sanskrit. Although there appear to be people named Yane, there is no meaning attached to it as a name.
As Senator, Padmé was usually accompanied by one or two handmaidens.
- ‘Cordé’ is a variation of ‘Cordae’, which means ‘peace’ or ‘harmony’ in Latin.
- ‘Dormé’ is a conjugation of ‘dormire’, ‘to sleep’ in Italian.
- ‘Moteé’ is a variation of ‘Moti’, derived from Saskrit, meaning ‘pearl’.
- ‘Versé’ appears to be unique to Star Wars but most likely translates to verse, the writing in poetry.
- ‘Teckla’ is a variation of ‘Tekla’ a Greek name meaning ‘glory’ or ‘fame’.
Like Padmé (and Anakin), Ben Solo takes on an alternate name when he ascends to power, and with it comes a group of companion-protectors, the Knights of Ren. ‘Ren’ is a Japanese word for ‘lotus flower’ or ‘water lily’.