Mandalorian society has its own structure. As most would have noticed, it is divided into clans. There is also a different social unit: the houses. What is the difference?
A clan is the basic unit of the Mandalorian society. It is essentially akin to a family, with the exception that clan members do not need to be related by blood. Case in point – Din Djarin and the Baby. A famous Mandalorian saying (from the old canon – but knowing that important elements from the past get brought back, it is likely to find its way back perhaps even to The Mandalorian) is aliit ori’shya tal’din, “family is more than blood”.
Mandalorian houses are a somewhat difficult concept. We actually do not know much about them (yet). Generally speaking, houses can unite multiple clans and they represent rather political connections than “familial” ones. Clans in one house can follow the same goals and share the same values. While a clan may hunt together or spend other pastimes together, a house may go to war against a common enemy.
In the episode The Protector of Concord Dawn in Star Wars Rebels, Sabine Wren introduced herself as of “clan Wren, House Vizsla”. Present Mandalorians of Fenn Rau’s clan reacted in outrage because they associated her House with the Deathwatch. Its leader, the late Pre Vizsla, had been the head of both House and Clan Vizsla and was responsible for the uprising on Mandalore that cost many lives.
We should also mention the title of Mand’alor, The Mandalore. This title belongs to the sole leader of all Mandalorians. No matter their houses’ individual allegiances, all clans are expected to follow the Mand’alor when he or she calls.
The Mandalore’s title is closely connected to the Darksaber. The sword is the symbol of the Mandalorians’ ancient heritage. During the Clone Wars, Pre Vizsla wielded the sword during his attempt to take over Mandalore, until the sword was taken by Maul. This led to a power vacuum and contributed to the scattering of the Mandalorians until Bo-Katan Kryze was given the sword back by Sabine Wren. With the authority of Mand’alor, Bo-Katan called all the clans to join her in opposing the Empire. Sometime after that, however, the attempt failed and the Darksaber was claimed by Moff Gideon.
Major Known Clans
There are many Mandalorian clans in the Galaxy. Few are known by more than their name. Some clans, like “Clan Mudhorn” (Din Djarin’s clan) may consist only of a couple of members. Each clan has its own signet, usually depicted on the clan member’s armour (shoulder pad). Not every clan’s symbol is known either, however.
Major characters hail from Clan Vizsla, Clan Kryze, Clan Wren, Clan Saxon or Clan Fett (assuming Fetts are their own clan also in the new canon). Some clans, like Eldar or Rook, are known basically only by their signets. For now, let us look at some of the major clans:
Clan Vizsla dates its ancestry back to Tarre Vizsla, the maker of the Darksaber. During the Clone Wars, the clan’s leader, Pre Vizsla, based his resistance to Duchess Satine Kryze’s rule on his adherence to this ancient legacy and honour of the warriors. Its youngest known member was Paz Vizsla, the mouthy Mando who originally belittled, but later helped Din Djarin in season 1 of The Mandalorian.
Duchess Satine Kryze was the ruler of Mandalore at the time of the Clone Wars. Her pacifist ways did not sit well with many Mando traditionalists, including her own sister, Bo-Katan. As Bo-Katan later became the Mand’alor herself, we can say that clan Kryze played the central role in the modern Mandalorian history.
Clan Saxon was the third clan to play a major role in Mandalore’s political arena after the Clone Wars. Originally, they were part of House Vizsla, and supported Pre Vizsla’s rise to power. After the war, however, Gar Saxon sided with the Empire and was rewarded the title of the planetary governor (he did not have the right to become the Mand’alor). After Gar’s death, his brother Tiber followed down the same path. This gave the Saxons something of a “black sheep” repute – but perhaps some future member could restore the clan’s honour…