A kama was a flexible leather armor accoutrement worn from the belt. Inspired by the belt-spats of the Thyrsus Sun Guard, but adapted for wear by Mandalorian warriors, the kama became a traditional garment and recognized symbol of Mandalorian culture. Though the indigenous fighters of Rotas V would also take up the use of kamas as command skirts, it was the adaptation of the Mandalorian kama by the clone soldiers of the Galactic Republic’s Grand Army that drew the traditional half-kilt widespread galactic attention.
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Sturdy and resilient, kamas protected the legs of the wearer from low-flying shrapnel and debris kicked up by the chaos of battle, and were known for their ability to shield the wearer from the down-draft of a jetpack’s rockets. Coming in a variety of colors, over time, many kama wearers chose to don the distinctive armored accessory as much for ceremonial value as protection.
A kama was a kilt-like piece of flexible, anti-blast armor worn from the waist. They were fastened to the wearer’s belt with a number of snaps. Highly distinctive, and typically made of sturdy leather, kamas were valued for the protection they offered a wearer’s legs from low-flying debris, shrapnel, and against rocket down-wash when worn in conjunction with a jetpack. While donning a kama, humanoid beings tended to stand up noticeably straighter, and the weight of a kama on the wearer’s hips added a telltale swagger to their gait. Kamas came in a variety of colors, including grey, yellow, and blue, and were sometimes customized with personalized markings or colored trim along the garment’s edges.
Among the earliest examples of belt-worn leg armor of the likes of the kama were those worn by the heatbeamer infantry of the army of Xim the Despot, used to protect their legs from the superheated exhausts of their namesake weapons. Later, the Sun Guard of Thyrsus wore similar protective belt-spats as part of their armor, which in turn inspired the Mandalorian people—with whom they clashed numerous times throughout history—to adapt the kama for themselves. The kama evolved into a traditional element of the Mandalorian culture, worn by hunters and soldiers alike, and it grew to be associated strongly with the Mandalorian people by the varied citizens of the galaxy. Kamas saw significant use by specialized units of Mandalorian soldiers under the reign of Mandalore the Uniter, and over time, the indigenous pro-Republic fighters of Rotas V also took up the custom of wearing kamas. Even after the pacifistic New Mandalorian faction broke from the warrior clans in the aftermath of the Mandalorian Excision of 738 BBY, and relinquished traditional Mandalorian armor as part of their proscription of violence, several members of the peaceful sect continued to wear kamas as part of their wardrobe. Following the rise of the radical and violent Mandalorian splinter group known as Death Watch, several of its members that specialized in jetpack operations adopted the use of kamas for protection.
As the Grand Army of the Republic came into existence on the watery world of Kamino, with it’s clone soldiers cast from the genetic material of Mand’alor Jango Fett, and instructed by the predominately Mandalorian training sergeants of the Cuy’val Dar, the army took on several Mandalorian influences. One such element that was passed on to the clones from their instructors was the kamas. The Grand Army’s Advanced Recon Commandos were the first to don kamas with their armor, and both the Alpha-class and Null-class ARC troopers wore dark grey kamas edged in the color that coordinated with their military rank. Their early and iconic use of the kama led to the development of a saying among the ARC trooper’s commando peers and friendly rivals, that “ARCs are all mouths and kamas.”
Shortly after the outbreak of the Clone Wars, when the Grand Army was deployed to fight for the Republic against the droid army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, the ARC trooper Alpha-17 was called upon to begin a training program wherein standard army clone officers would be trained with ARC skills, and encouraged to develop their battlefield independence. Upon graduating from the program, many of these new ARC-trained officers elected to wear pauldrons and kamas just as their ARC trooper instructors did. These officers, in turn, authorized their assistants and proven subordinates to customize their own armor with the addition of accoutrements such as kamas and other specialized accessories. ARC trooper officers including Echo, Fives, Blitz, and Havoc donned kamas with personalized markings and patterns.
Initially, Republic leadership was reluctant to allow the proliferation of kamas through the ranks. As kamas were thought of primarily as the garb of Mandalorians, a people that had clashed with the Republic and the Jedi who now led the Grand Army numerous times throughout history, their use by the clone soldiers was seen as potentially controversial. However, opinions were swayed into support of the traditional half-kilt after it was pointed out that the indigenous Republic fighters of Rotas V had also worn kamas into battle. Many in the Republic referred to the clone officers’ kamas only by the generalized term “command skirts,” and emphasized the connection to the Rotas V fighters over the kama‘s ties to the Mandalorian culture. In time, kamas became standard accessories on the specialized armor worn by cold assault troopers, flame troopers, and the soldiers of the Galactic Marines. Though several standard army troopers and clone commandos teasingly derided kamas as mere skirts, more fashion than function, kama-wearing clone troops found this criticism spurious in light of the protection the leather armor afforded them against crippling injury from low-flying shrapnel and debris on chaotic battlefields; many jet troopers in particular found kamas to be good protection against jetpack down-wash.
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Though he had been one of the many clone soldiers to jokingly mock the kama, clone commando RC-8015—known by the nickname “Fi”—eagerly took possession of the discarded kama left behind by the ARC trooper Alpha-30 after he deserted from the Grand Army on Gaftikar. Fi subsequently scraped the blue edging off of the lieutenant’s kama and kept the grey, kilt-like garment in his pack. After he suffered severe brain trauma during the Republic’s later assault on Gaftikar that left him in a comatose state, Fi was cared for by the Jedi Knight Bardan Jusik, who used the sight of his recently acquired kama as a motivational tool to aid in the wounded soldier’s recovery. As he made his slow recuperation on the Mandalorian homeworld of Mandalore—smuggled away from the galactic capital of Coruscant and the Republic medical system that had refused him long-term care because he was a clone soldier, and delivered into the care of the clan of his adopted father, Kal Skirata—Fi took to wearing his kama as part of the suit of Mandalorian armor he had acquired from the body of Ghez Hokan at the conclusion of Omega Squad’s first mission. As Fi’s adopted brother, the Null-class ARC trooper Ordo, was deserting the Grand Army in the aftermath of the Confederacy’s attack on Coruscant, he elected to keep the kama from his ARC trooper armor. Though he left the other pieces of plastoid behind, Ordo wrapped his clone trooper helmet in his kama and walked out of the then-empty Special Operations Brigade Headquarters in his own set of Mandalorian armor.
By the year 19 BBY, numerous shops and merchant stalls situated along the length of Chortav Meshurkaane—”Gem-Cutters Street”—in Keldabe, the capital city of Mandalore, sold a number of leather goods including kamas on the city’s twice-weekly market days. That same year the Clone Wars came to an end, and the Republic was reorganized into the Galactic Empire under the authority of the former Supreme Chancellor, now the newly crowned Emperor Palpatine. Under the Empire, the armor worn by the clone troopers of the now Imperial Army was ordered to be returned to its original white, with unit colors and markings scrubbed away, while accoutrements such as kamas were removed. However, after transitioning to stormtrooper armor, some elite and specialized units were allowed unit markings and old accessories like pauldrons; kamas made a notable return as a part of Imperial snowtrooper armor.
In 41 ABY, after tentatively reconciling with her previously estranged grandfather, the now reigning Mand’alor Boba Fett, the young bounty hunter Mirta Gev chose to follow her heritage and immerse herself in Mandalorian culture. As she did, Gev upgraded the simple set of grey armor plates that she had used as a bounty hunter to a full set of traditional Mandalorian armor, with saffron-colored plates forged of beskar iron. Gev also acquired a yellow-colored kama to match her armor plates, and wore the kama on the day of her wedding in 41 ABY to the Mandalorian soldier Ghes Orade. Goran Beviin, another Mandalorian and mutual friend to both Gev and her grandfather Boba Fett, donned a dark blue kama in coordination with his cobalt-blue armor when he attended the celebratory festivities alongside his husband, Medrit Vasur, at the Keldabe home shared by Gev and Orade.
Nearly a century later, in 127 ABY, numerous Mandalorian soldiers fighting under Mand’alor Chernan Ordo against the forces of the Fel Empire at the Battle of Botajef wore kamas attached to their armor. Ten years after the battle, the Mandalorian couple Tes Vevec and Hondo Karr both adorned their armor with kamas; Vevec wore a maroon-colored kama, while Karr’s was black, matching the color of his armor.
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