Kyber vs. Kaiburr: What’s Up with the Alternate Spellings of Star Wars’ Famous Lightsaber-Powering Crystals?

This past week the internet has been abuzz with talk of the $5,000 “Kaiburr Crystal” cocktail available in the Star Wars-themed Hyperspace Lounge aboard Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Wish. And while I maintain that the drink is mostly a marketing tool– I doubt Disney is expecting many people to buy it, but it has already proven successful in getting people to talk about the Wish in general and Hyperspace Lounge specifically– it does raise an interesting question. Why are they spelling the crystal “Kaiburr” and not “kyber,” as most contemporary Star Wars fans are likely used to it?

The answer lies in the Legends-canon (once called the Expanded Universe) Star Wars novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by author Alan Dean Foster, which (according to Wookieepedia) recycled an idea from George Lucas’s early drafts of the original Star Wars film, in which the crystal (spelled “Kiber” in the script, “Kaiburr” in the novel) acted as a means for the Jedi to collect and use the Force.

Though the Kaiburr Crystal was later referenced in Star Wars video games such as The Force Unleashed and Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords, plus EU novels like Star Wars: Legacy of the Force – Tempest and Inferno, the “kyber crystal” that we know today was not introduced into the mainline Star Wars canon or named as such until November of 2012 (coincidentally mere days after The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm) when the episodes “The Gathering” and  “A Test of Strength” from the fifth season of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series aired on Cartoon Network. Since then, the word “kyber” has been used to describe the crystals that channeled energy for the lightsabers of Jedi Knights in numerous Star Wars productions, including Rogue One and at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney Parks.

As it stands in the current canon (again according to Wookieepedia), the name “kaiburr” (now with a lower-case “k”) is what kyber crystals were referred to as “in ancient times.” As far as why the powers that be at Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Imagineering chose to name the drink that way, my guess is that it’s just a neat reference to some little-known Star Wars lore. And while you and I will probably never spend $5,000 to try out the “Kaiburr Crystal” cocktail– plus the other various amenities and experiences that accompany it– on the Disney Wish, the folks that came up with the idea can rest easy knowing that they got us to talk about it.

For more information on the Disney Wish (and Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge), be sure to check out Laughing Place’s extensive coverage of its maiden voyage.