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The Skeksis were a reptilian bird-like race that ruled over Thra for nine hundred and ninety-nine and one trine after the end of the Age of Harmony. They originated during Thra's second Great Conjunction, when the Fallen urSkeks attempted to purify themselves through the heat of the three suns shining on the Crystal. Instead of being cleansed of their darker natures, each urSkek was split into two beings; Skeksis and urRu. The Skeksis were the embodiments of the violent, materialistic side of the urSkek's nature.

Despite the separation, there was still a spiritual link between each Skeksis and urRu counterpart, a constant reminder that they were only halves of the same being. If either was wounded, the other felt the pain and suffered an identical injury. If one died, both died.[1][2][3]

Characteristics Edit

Biology and appearanceEdit


A Skeksis, during the early years of their rule.

The Skeksis had scaley, reptilian bodies, with beak-like jaws and hooded eyes.[4] Like their urRu counterparts, they had four arms and a tail. When they first appeared, the Skeksis were vibrant, agile and brightly coloured creatures,[3] though in the later years of their reign, their secondary arms became withered and atrophied,[1] and their bodies decayed.[4] Their bodies were founded upon deeply disordered principles, with only their heads bearing an intelligible pattern.[2] Unlike the urRu, who evaporated after they died, the Skeksis would crumble into dust, having no soul to slow down the process of decomposition.[4]



The Skeksis participate in The Ceremony of the Sun.

The Skeksis viewed the Great Division as a triumph, and thus had no desire to join back with the urRu.[2] The Skeksis valued power above all else, though their conception of it differed from that of their urRu counterparts. While the urRu believed that true power consisted of spiritual enlightenment, the Seksis saw it purely as dominating others.[4]

Prior to adopting mouldering robes as symbols of their power and personalities, the Skeksis wore nothing but elaborate, metallic crests and wielded fan-like display devices made from animal parts.[3] When their bodies began to atrophy and rot away, they took to wearing large ornate robes to make themselves look more intimidating. Skeksis art and architecture favoured repetetive flamboyance, and their literature was typically committed to Nebrie-skin parchment.[2] Disputes between Skeksis were usually solved through trials of strength, including Trial by Stone (Haakskeekah) and Trial by Fire,[5] though magnanimous gestures towards beaten opponents were not part of Skeksis tradition.[4]

The Skeksis sought to prolong their lives in a myriad of different ways. They eagerly awaited the arrival of the third Great Conjunction, which would have given them eternal life. However, the Skeksis had to survive long enough to live up to that event. In the meantime, they cheated death either by absorbing the light from lesser conjunctions or by drinking the essence of captured Gelflings or Podlings.[2]


Katakonditzeh tekka!

Aughra insulting the Skeksis in their own language., [4]

The Skeksis spoke both a high language for ritual and literary purposes, and a demotic one for everyday use.[4] The ritual language was difficult to translate accurately, and was ill-suited for describing long, complex processes, as it was restricted to nouns, adjectives and expletives.[2] Conversely, the demotic speech bore similarities to the Gelfling language.[4]


The Great DivisionEdit

"Look inside yourselves. Do you not wish to be whole again?"

Aughra attempts to reason with the Skeksis, [3].


A Skeksis cracks the Great Crystal.

After nine hundred and ninety-nine and one trine passed since their arrival on Thra, the Fallen urSkeks created a network of mirrors around the Great Crystal with Aughra's help, intending to trap the light of the next Great Conjunction to re-enter their world and burn out the imperfections in their souls in the process.[2] In preparation for this, the urSkeks invited delegations representing all of Thra's sentient races to watch the occasion. However, one urSkek became wracked by nostalgia after hearing a member of the Gelfling delegation play an urSkek song, and allowed its darker nature to overwhelm it. When the Three Suns met, the dark hearted urSkek's rage prevented the rest of the urSkeks from entering the Crystal and being cleansed. Instead of being purified, the urSkeks were divided into two separate species; the Skeksis and urRu.[3]

The Skeksis awoke from The Great Division filled with hate, for each other and their urRu counterparts.[2] Shortly after gaining consciousness in the Crystal Chamber, one of the Skeksis attacked and killed two urRu, thus resulting in the deaths of itself and another Skeksis. The remaining 16 Skeksis drove the urRu and the delegations out of the Castle, leaving only Aughra and her son Raunip behind. Aughra attempted to convince the Skeksis to call back the urRu, and attempt to rectify the Division. The Skeksis refused, and one of them attacked the Great Crystal, chipping off a shard.[3]

SkekSo's reignEdit

Now is the power of the Crystal seen. New life will flow from darkened light, not darkest stone. The Black Stone will no more deceive our hopes, no more receive our worship.

—Skeksis inscription., [2]


The ailing skekSo's final moments.

The Skeksis began forming factions, the most powerful of which consisted of the Chamberlain skekSil, the Ornamentalist skekEkt, and the Scroll Keeper SkekOk. This faction was dominated by skekSo, who became the Skeksis' Emperor. The reign of Emperor skekSo was initially a benevolent one, in which both Skeksis and Gelflings lived in peace. At that time, the Skeksis were a vibrant and jovial race, though these traits diminished as they aged, and their true natures became more pronounced. Centuries later, as their bodies decayed, the Skeksis began searching for ways to prolong their lives. Their first attempt resulted in the creation of the Haakskeekah Stone, which they worshiped as a possible source of new life. However, the Skeksis' Scientist, skekTek, discovered a way of extracting youth-giving essence (vliya) from prisoners through the beams of the Dark Crystal, and thus the Skeksis discarded the Haakskeekah Stone and began capturing Gelflings and Podlings for their essence. In desperation, the Gelflings consulted the flames of prophecy, and discovered that one of their own would find the shard and restore it to the Dark Crystal, thus ending the Skeksis' rule. Upon discovering this, the Skeksis first attempted to confuse the search for the shard by scattering five artificial shards on the slopes of the mountain where the Castle stood. Next, they created the Garthim, which they sent out to destroy Gelfling settlements and kill or capture their inhabitants, thus starting the Garthim War. They also created the Crystal Bats by selectively breeding the usually nocturnal xahgniathanor to tolerate sunlight and locate Gelfling settlements. [2]

During this time, only 16 Skeksis remained, and Emperor skekSo's mental and physical faculties began to diminish. This was exploited by the collector skekLach, who sought to undermine skekSo's authority by stealing the Gelfling essence reserved for him, and blaming SkekSo's loyal general skekVar.[6] After killing all but two Gelflings, both of which were hidden away, skekSo sought to prolong his life with elixirs and enchantments, but to no avail.[2] He died shortly before the third Great Conjunction, which would have granted him and the rest of the Skeksis immortality.[4]

Rise of skekUngEdit

The Great Conjunction comes. Now, we will live forever.


SkekUng Victory

SkekUng has skekSil stripped and banished.


The Skeksis merge with the urRu.

By the time skekSo died, only nine Skeksis remained, and bickering over a successor began almost immediately. As well as skekSo's former faction, two other alliances were formed; that of the Garthim Master skekUng, which included the Scientist skekTek and the Slave Master skekNa, and that of the Ritual Master skekZok, which included the Scroll Keeper skekOk and the Treasurer skekShod. SkekZok abstained from the ensuing Trial by Stone, which ended with the triumph of skekUng and the banishment of skekSil.[4]

SkekUng's coronation was interrupted when the Skeksis were summoned to the Crystal Chamber, and saw an image of Jen climbing Aughra's high hill in search of the lost shard. The Garthim were dispatched, but the Gelfling escaped, and a further survey of the surrounding area with Crystal Bats revealed the existence of Kira, another survivor. SkekSil managed to regain his position after capturing Kira, though she escaped, causing the death of skekTek in the process. The remaining Skeksis converged at the Crystal Chamber, awaiting the third Great Conjunction which would grant them perpetual life. There, they encountered Jen and Kira dangerously close to the Crystal. Despite summoning the Garthim, and managing to kill Kira, the Skeksis were helpless as Jen healed the Dark Crystal. In the ensuing panic, the urRu entered the Castle and merged with the Skeksis.[4]

Behind the scenesEdit

The precursors of the Skeksis in Jim Henson's first idea for the story of The Dark Crystal were the so-called Reptus group, which achieved power over the world of Mithra in a coup which resulted in the extermination of the peaceful Eunaze race. They ruled over all other races of Mithra from a stately mountain stronghold. As a race, they were meant to be haughty, but brutal, possessing uncontrollable tempers, with loathesome faces that contrasted with the ornate beauty of their costumes.[7]

When conceptualizing the Skeksis, Henson had in mind the Seven Deadly Sins, though because there were 10 Skeksis, some sins had to be invented or used twice.[8] Froud originally designed them to resemble deep sea fish,[9] but later designed them as "part reptile, part predatory bird, part dragon", with an emphasis on giving them a "penetrating stare."[8] Each Skeksis was conceived as having a different "job" or function, thus each puppet was draped in multicolored robes meant to reflect their personalities and thought processes.[9] Each Skeksis suit required a main performer, whose arm would be extended over his/her head in order to operate the creature's facial movements, while the other arm operated its left hand. Another performer would operate the Skeksis' right arm. The Skeksis performers compensated for their lack of vision by having a monitor tied to their chests.[10]

The word "Skeksis" was initially meant to be the plural, with "Skesis" being singular, though this was dropped early in the filming process. Now, it is mostly standard to use the word "Skeksis" for both singular and plural, though the plural form is pronounced "Skek-sees". Originally, Henson wanted the Skeksis to speak their own constructed language, with the dialogue subtitled in English. Odell created a rudimentary language named "Skexish", which he envisioned as being a "cruder", "uglier" version of the Mystic language, both of which were ultimately derived from Indo-European roots. This idea was dropped after test screening audiences found the captions too distracting, but the original effect can be observed in selected scenes on the various DVD releases.[11]

Instagram imagesEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Henson, J. & Oz, F. (dir.); Henson, J., Kurtz, G. & Lazer, D. (prod.); Henson, J. & Odell, D. (writ.) (December 17, 1982). The Dark Crystal (Motion picture). New York City, NY: Jim Henson Productions.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Froud, B. & Llewellyn, J. J., (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Froud, B., Dysart, J., Sheikman, A. & John, L. (2012). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. II. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston . ISBN 0030624363
  5. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2010) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 2: Trial by Fire. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167022
  6. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2007) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1: The Garthim Wars. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167014
  7. Jim Henson, The Mithra Treatment [DVD special Feature]. The Dark Crystal: Collector's Edition, Dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz. 1982. Colombia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2003. DVD.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Making-of. The World of the Dark Crystal. Dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz. 1982. Colombia Tristar Home Video, 1999. DVD.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Making-of. Reflections of the Dark Crystal: Light on the Path of Creation. Dir. Michael Gillis. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2007. DVD.
  10. Making-of. Reflections of the Dark Crystal: Shard of Illusion. Dir. Michael Gillis. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2007. DVD.
  11. David Odell (2012), "Reflections on Making The Dark Crystal and Working with Jim Henson". In: Froud, B., Dysart, J., Sheikman, A. & John, L. The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. II. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0

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