We are beings of peace, not war.
The urRu, more commonly known as Mystics, were a race of natural wizards that lived during the Age of Division. Like the Skeksis, they were offshoots of the urSkeks, personifying their wisdom and spirituality, but lacking their passion and innovation. Despite their separation, there was still a spiritual link between each urRu and Skeksis counterpart, a constant reminder that they were only two halves of the same being. If either was wounded, the other felt the pain and suffered an identical injury. If one died, both died.
Hunched and wizened in appearance, with multiple arms and thought spirals marking their faces, the majority of urRu settled in the Valley of the Standing Stones to live in a dream of peace under the leadership of urSu, though some became nomadic, seeking alternative paths to spiritual enlightenment. Throughout the Age of Division, the urRu mostly kept themselves isolated from the material world, refusing to interfere in the affairs of other races until the time was right. After the Garthim War, they adopted the Gelfling orphan Jen and groomed him to eventually heal the Crystal and reunify the urRu with their Skeksis counterparts.
- 1 Name
- 2 Characteristics
- 3 History
- 4 Other continuities
- 5 Background information
- 6 Gallery
- 7 References
- 8 External Links
Name[edit | edit source]
They call themselves the urRu, but I call them the Mystics...
The noun "urRu", which meant "old and wise ones", was what members of the race originally called themselves. The term "Mystics" was first coined by Kotha during the Makrak crisis, and later became a common informal name for the urRu, even among themselves. Both terms were in use among the Skeksis, with skekGra referring to them as Mystics and skekOk as urRu.
Characteristics[edit | edit source]
Biology and appearance[edit | edit source]
Mystics! Four arms, but only two legs. And neither good for much!
The urRu shared the same basic body plan as their Skeksis counterparts, sporting four arms and a tail. However, the features of the urRu were much more mammalian. They had long necks covered with manes of thick gray hair, and their faces were wrinkled with runic patterns representing their lines of thought during long bouts of meditation, with some urRu having such spirals cover their entire bodies. They walked with a swaying motion, as their long tails were not heavy enough to counterbalance the weight of their heads, made ponderous by their thoughts. Initially the urRu walked with a fully upright posture similar to their Skeksis counterparts, but as they aged their joints grew weaker, causing them to develop a seemingly permanent crouching posture.
The corona that once flowed through the urSkeks was still present in the urRu, though in a much reduced state due to their fundamentally unbalanced nature. They attempted to remedy this through various esoteric practices such as wearing weighted amulets, taking ritual baths and practicing acupuncture. Nevertheless, they still had access to urSkek abilities absent in their Skeksis counterparts, including telepathy and the power to manipulate the Uni-Verse itself. When sufficiently motivated, the urRu could even move astral bodies.
Upon dying, an urRu's body would evaporate, as if it had been merely the discarded idea of whatever superior being had initially conjured it. Nevertheless, its presence could still be felt anywhere. UrUtt cryptically claimed that the urRu died because they could no longer join their pasts with their future.
Culture[edit | edit source]
The louder a Mystic chants, the more powerful the ritual, or so they say. Personally, I think they just enjoy mumbling.
The urRu inherited the wisdom of the urSkeks, but lacked their practical knowledge. In their own words, wisdom was for understanding, not knowing. As such, their knowledge was entirely conceptual, being able to teach only by precept rather than by example, with their collective sense of guilt over the Great Division preventing them from taking spontaneous action. Ultimately, they were collectors of knowledge for its own sake, having no drive to put it into practice.
The urRu rejected the dualistic heresy which had lead the urSkeks to inadvertently separate themselves, fully embracing a triadic mode of thought in which dilemmas could be resolved when visualized in triangular form. In the words of urSu the Master: Make a triangle with past, present, and future. Then each two will explain the third.
In contrast to their jovial Skeksis counterparts, the life of the urRu was almost entirely dedicated to ritual, an obsession which permeated every aspect of their lives, from eating and walking to sleeping and talking. When talking, this manifested in the use of riddles, as they believed that a hidden connection was stronger than an overt one. Mealtimes were also long and laborious, consisting of extended periods of stirring and mixing herbal preparations in pestles decorated with spiral pathways meant to restore balance. To the urRu, true refreshment lay as much in waiting between meals as in feeding. Most of their rituals consisted of interminable, apparently pointless attempts to connect physical objects with each other or discover new forms of harmony, such as linking pebbles and feathers together with string or placing themselves at the mouths of caves to modulate the sound of wind blowing through them.
They practiced many occult arts, including divination, which they mainly practiced through prophetic sand paintings, which gave them the ability to foresee even the smallest changes in the future leading to monumental events. Geomancy, numerology and gyromancy were also practiced. The urRu were also accomplished alchemists, with J. J. Llewellyn noting several parallels with alchemical practices on Earth: they used the four standard lead ores of minium, massicot, galena and ceruse, as well as realgar, orpiment and cinnabar, though it was unknown if they utilized silver mirrors and agate mortars.
They spoke their own language, which they wrote in what J. J. Llewellyn described as a form of ogham script. It was, however, difficult for non-urRu to learn, thus they favored Modern Gelfling in interspecies communication.
Clothing and accessories[edit | edit source]
The urRu wore coats sewn by urUtt, whose spiral patterns reflected the wearer's past actions, thoughts and fate, as well as control dreams. J. J. Llewellyn noted that the overall underlying pattern resembled the Tree of Life.
They carried walking staffs called Prayer Sticks, which they held with their forearms, while their hind arms hung to the ground. Aside from their spiritual significance, the Prayer Sticks also served a practical function, helping them maintain their balance, as their tails were not heavy enough to counterbalance the weight of their heads.
The urRu had what J. J. Llewellyn described as an almost celtic veneration for the harp, as it incorporated the principles of the triangle and woven chords. UrRu harps were tuned by adjusting weighted amulets on the strings rather than through twisting pegs. Other instruments included a sounding stick which was used like a tuning fork, and a lyre adopted from the Gelfling. Aughra never understood what each instrument meant to the urRu, but noted that they never played more than two at once.
History[edit | edit source]
Origin[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Great Division
A thousand trine after their banishment to Thra, the eighteen Fallen urSkeks created a network of mirrors around the Crystal with Aughra's assistance, 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. However, one urSkek became wracked by nostalgia after hearing Gyr play an urSkek song, and allowed its darker nature to overwhelm it, with Raunip exacerbating the situation by mocking the urSkeks for being outsiders who were exiled to Thra. When the Three Suns met, the dark-hearted urSkek's rage prevented the other urSkeks from entering the Crystal and being cleansed. Instead of being purified, the urSkeks were divided into two separate beings; the cruel Skeksis and the gentle urRu.
Shortly after gaining consciousness, two urRu, urYa and urHom, were killed by skekHak, thus resulting in the corresponding deaths of both skekYi and himself. The remaining sixteen urRu were driven out of the castle, closely followed by an earthquake caused by the cracking of the Crystal. The urRu managed to halt the earthquake's progress through chanting, though not in time to save the Podling village of Noy from destruction. The urRu retreated to the Valley of the Stones, chosen for its resemblance to their old homeworld, where urSu assumed leadership.
Makrak crisis[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Makrak crisis
Some time after their banishment, the urRu sent urGoh the Wanderer to explore Thra and survey the damage caused by the Great Division. At the outbreak of the Makrak crisis, the urRu did nothing to stop the Makraks' raids, but gave shelter and care to the Podling chieftain Kotha. After the Gelfling formed the Alliance of the Crystal with the newly proclaimed Skeksis Empire, the urRu were visited by Raunip and Thall, who begged them to take action against the Skeksis and the Makraks, but their pleas fell on deaf ears, with the urRu proclaiming themselves creatures of peace, not war. They did however stop the Skeksis from carrying out their plan to commit genocide against the Makraks, and participated in subsequent peace negotiations, during which urGoh revealed the existence of the Field of Fire, a land where the Makraks could relocate and settle.
Isolation[edit | edit source]
After the crisis, urSu decreed that the urRu never interfere in the affairs of Thra's native races. With the help of Aughra, the urRu reshaped the Valley of the Stones, erecting the Standing Stones to act as generators of a web of protective energy. This energy concealed the urRu from the outside world, with visitors to the area seeing them as, at best, shadowy silhouettes, though their chants could still be heard. By the time of Thriya's expedition, the urRu were considered mythical by the Gelfling, with some believing that the chants were the cries of skekMal the Hunter. The Skeksis were aware of the Valley's existence, but chose to ignore it, as they could not attack it without putting their own lives at risk and, furthermore, considered their counterparts visionaries obsessed with their own inner lives rather than threats.
Dissident urRu[edit | edit source]
During the following 800 trine of Skeksis expansionism, some urRu grew dissatisfied with urSu's isolationism and left the Valley of the Stones, either seeking to influence events directly or searching for alternative roads to enlightenment. UrMa came to believe that the Skeksis could be reasoned with, and took it upon himself to act as an arbiter in conflicts, while urVa, who had always been considered an outsider, left the Valley and became an expert in hand to hand combat. UrLii followed suit and became the guardian of the Tomb of Relics in Grot. Some trine later, urGoh was banished to the Circle of the Suns for promoting immediate urRu-Skeksis unity. There, he met his now disgraced Skeksis counterpart, skekGra, and the two of them eventually found the Shard of the Division, which they fashioned into a weapon called the Dual Glaive, intending it to give it to the Gelfling and end Skeksis' power. UrLii was given custody of the weapon and hid it deep in the Tomb of Relics.
Intervention[edit | edit source]
During the late Age of Division, urSu's faction of urRu learned of the spread of the Darkening and the Skeksis' abuse of the Crystal, but held back, deeming it premature to take action. Soon after, the Dual Glaive and the Shard were found by the Gelfling resistance, with urVa committing suicide to prevent skekMal from murdering more Gelfling, and urMa and urSen dying after their counterparts were killed in the course of the Second Battle of Stone-in-the-Wood.
During the Garthim War, urSu adopted the Gelfling Jen and groomed him to find the, once again, lost Shard of the Division and heal the Crystal, without, however, telling him the exact nature of his mission. The urRu raised Jen with riddles, enchantments, music and dreams, giving him clothes covered in protection spirals in order to make him a worthy bearer of the Shard.
As the third Great Conjunction approached, only ten of the original eighteen urRu were left. As ten was the number of stability, urSu allowed himself to die in order that the coinciding death of skekSo the Emperor would plunge the remaining nine Skeksis into disarray. Before dying, urSu sent Jen to find the Shard and heal the Dark Crystal. After Jen managed to identify the true Shard, and escaped from the Garthim, urIm lead the urRu towards the Castle, during which time urTih died. When Jen healed the Crystal, the urRu marched into the Castle and merged with the Skeksis to become urSkeks once again.
Return[edit | edit source]
100 trine later, the eight surviving urRu returned, alongside their Skeksis counterparts, after the Fireling Thurma took a Shard from the Crystal in a misguided quest to restore her homeland's dying Mother Sun. Aughra attempted to convince them to aid in the search for the missing shard, but the urRu refused, preferring to observe unfolding events rather than intervening. urSol the Chanter secretly disagreed and gave Aughra an enchanted tuning fork, which summoned Bohrtog when played. Later, the urRu left the Crystal chamber and positioned themselves in the Castle's upper tower, where they summoned a premature Great Conjunction, causing the Castle to shatter and separate the Skeksis from their intended victims. After Thurma returned, she restored the Crystal and the urRu were once again merged with the Skeksis.
Other continuities[edit | edit source]
In the continuity established by Legends of the Dark Crystal, the urRu took no active part in the Garthim Wars 800 trine after the Great Division, though a few urRu, notably urSen the Monk, guided the Gelfling Larh during his times of self-doubt.
Background information[edit | edit source]
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
In conceiving the urRu, Henson was inspired by the trolls featured in Brian Froud's The Land of Froud and Once upon a Time. He incorporated them in his 1977 draft entitled The Mithra Treatment, in which they were identified as Bada. In Henson's notes, the Bada are portrayed as a tribe of wizards oppressed by the Reptus group (the precursors of the Skeksis). They would have raised Brian, one of the last Eunaze (which would later become the Gelflings). During the 1978 noreaster, Henson was confined to a hotel room for 72 hours, and took the opportunity to expand on the Bada, renaming them urRu and modifying their connection to the Skeksis, from simple oppressed subjects to separate branches of the same species. From the beginning, Henson saw them as beings that had purged themselves of all material desires, but lacking the will to act in the real world.
Design[edit | edit source]
Although Henson wanted the urRu to look like Froud's trolls, the latter modified the creatures to have four arms, in order not to lose his own creations' copyright. In portraying them as creatures in harmony with the world of Thra, Froud incorporated the same runic symbols seen on the world's landscape onto their clothes and skin. The urRu were designed as more connected to the natural world than the Skeksis, and the connection between the two races was suggested by giving them both the same basic shape, but with more rounded features for the urRu. Their sand paintings were based on the mandala of Hindu and Buddhist iconography.
Fabrication and shooting[edit | edit source]
The creation of the urRu suits was supervised by Sherry Amott, who had previously worked on the Muppet dog Barkley in Sesame Street, himself portrayed via a full-body costume. The actors playing the urRu had to maintain stooped postures that limited their mobility. For some scenes, it was necessary to use a platform in order to allow the actor to manipulate the head and another to move the arms. To contrast the impracticality of the suits, the urRu puppets were made in sections connected by Velcro, thus facilitating removal after shooting was done. In close-ups, the actors limited themselves to manipulating the head. To further facilitate performances, the costume designers fabricated the interior structures of the puppets with nylon boning, thus preventing the performers from overheating.
The urRu were the most difficult creatures to perform, with Henson himself noticing that he couldn't maintain a posture in the suit for more than 5-10 seconds. Jean-Pierre Amiel, a Swiss mime, was hired to teach the performers how to walk and stay still in hunched positions. Amiel also performed urUtt, the urRu Weaver, in the film.
Although Henson intended to give the urRu a more prominent role in the film, he had to cut most of their scenes, as his sponsors considered the characters boring, in contrast to the Skeksis.
Interpretations[edit | edit source]
Cheryl Henson stated that the Skeksis and Mystics represented two aspects of the entertainment industry for her father, with the Mystics being the creative side and the Skeksis personifying the stressful financial part.
Peter T. Chattaway, writing on Patheos from a Christian perspective, proposed that the Mystics represent the spiritual realm, in contrast to the Skeksis who represent the physical through their greed for both food and power.
Professor Sidney Dobrin characterized the Mystics as personifications of environmental harmony, contrasting them with the Skeksis who embody environmental destruction.
Mat Auryn, writing on Patheos from a Kabbalistic perspective, noted how the original 10 Mystics were evocative of the 10 holy Sefirot on the Tree of Life, the light opposites of the 10 Qliphoth evoked by the Skeksis.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
The Dark Crystal[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- B. Froud, M. Dow Smith, A. Sheikman & L. John (2015). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. III. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-60886-435-5.
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 2. ISBN 0030624363
- Age of Resistance – "The First Thing I Remember Is Fire". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- "Time to Make...My Move" The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Netflix. August 30, 2019
- 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.
- Cesare, A. & Compiet, I. (2020), The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra, Insight Editions, p. 30, ISBN 1683838211
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 9. ISBN 0030624363
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 49. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Spurrier, S., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #4, Archaia, USA, June 2017
- Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #11, Archaia, USA, February 2018
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 26. ISBN 0030624363
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 48. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 51. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- – Andelfinger, Nicole., Age of Resistance – The Quest for the Dual Glaive, #3, Archaia, USA, December 2019
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. p. 185. ISBN 0030624363
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. pp. 10-11. ISBN 0030624363
- Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. pp. 28-29. ISBN 0030624363
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 69. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 75. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 54. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 70. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
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- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 64. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 64. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. pp. 78. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. pp. 84. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 30. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
- Froud, B., Dysart, J., Sheikman, A. & John, L. (2012). The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Vol. II. Archaia. ISBN 978-1-936393-80-0
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- Cesare, A. & Compiet, I. (2020), The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra, Insight Editions, p. 33, ISBN 1683838211
- Lee, J.M (2020), Songs of the Seven Gelfling Clans, Penguin Young Readers Licenses, pp. 52-53, ISBN 0593095596
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- Age of Resistance – "A Single Piece Was Lost". Netflix. August 30, 2019
- Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. p. 126. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
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- Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #12, Archaia, USA, March 2018
- Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2007) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1: The Garthim Wars. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167014
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