The Republic doesn’t exist out here. We have to make due on our own.
The Ophuchi Sanctuary was the main location and headquarters of the Ophuchi Clan. Located in the Dune Sea on the desert world of Tatooine, and roughly eight standard hours outside of Anchorhead, it was built sometime around the time of the New Sith Wars after the scattered Ophuchi were brought there by the Shaman of the Whills. It also essentially became one of the final resting places of the complete Prophecy of the Chosen One.
There were numerous areas within the compound for residences, common areas and worship services. One of the more well-known known but lesser-used places of worship was a cave sanctuary nearly one kilometer away from the main compound that was adorned with cave paintings serving as prophecies. There was also a large ledge a few meters away from the cave that overlooked the Tatooine desert for hundreds of kilometers. It was in this location that Sarus told Annikin Skywalker that he believed Annikin was the Chosen One spoken of in the prophecy.
Though there was little documented history on the sanctuary, it was known that the construction was credited to the Shaman of the Whills, who began appearing to displaced Ophuchi and led them to the Dune Sea where they built the compound shortly thereafter. There was also little evidence of the sanctuary’s existence on Tatooine, though there were numerous rumors about it. The local governments on the planet chose not to investigate it and, for reasons unknown, always dismissed any accounts of it as an urban legend.
The Ophuchi Sanctuary was said by some to be an architectural masterpiece, considering the Ophuchi were more primitive than other cultures, mainly due to their rejection of major technology which was noted as being highly unlike most other societies in the galaxy at that time. The entire underground settlement, which surprised some outsiders as being more than just caves and caverns, was built with a sparkling quartz wall with rooms and features throughout that were said to have been elegant. It was a working civilization with dozens of people making their way throughout the main areas at all times carrying food, water, clothing, laundry and carrying out any other business that needed to be attended to.
The settlement had three main levels, each one held up by strong stone spires that had been chiseled out of the rock. Each level was lit by dozens of torches held up on metal supports in the stone. There was little color in the complex, as the Ophuchi had opted not to paint the stone walls in any way, aside from the cave sanctuary deeper inside the overall Ophuchi Sanctuary. The environment was a tan and brown color, something that many said went well with the environment of Tatooine considering the tan and brown nature of the deserts.
In the main common area that was found in the center of the residential complex, an area that was also used to welcome the few guests that the Ophuchi received, was a statue of the Ophuchi Prophet, a person the Ophuchi felt was very important to their history. The prophet's statue represented a man, no older than thirty-five standard years old according to some, dressed in what some said was simple and primitive warrior's attire. There were many other colorful and artistic designs throughout the statue, and because it was situated in the center of the main area some saw it as being a guard against potential outside threats. However, the Ophuchi felt that they were fortunate enough to have never tested that theory.
Because of the moisture in that area of the underground, most of the environment of the sanctuary was very cool, though the coolest and moistest area was a chamber designed to be a grand dining area for guests. It was at the end of a large stairwell and a large rotunda of rooms used for housing, and it was lit by candles rather than torches across the walls. In the center of the chamber, the Ophuchi kept a large stone boulder to be used as a dining table. When guests arrived, large feasts were placed on the top using food and supplies that were smuggled out of spaceports, which required a large amount of work on the part of the Ophuchi people because it was done covertly.
The history of the Ophuchi Sanctuary was not well known to most people, much like the history of the Ophuchi themselves. It was known that there was a schism that was said to have forced a once-great Order to split into two because of political corruption and betrayal. It was recalled as a defining event, and many that lived in the compound felt fortunate to be the descendants of it as they believed it helped to reshape the galaxy, though the history of the events was said to have been lost after they were covered up by the Galactic Republic. The ancestors of the Ophuchi were part of a small splinter faction that broke away from the Order after the schism. They left because of their dissatisfaction, and disbanded across the galaxy.
Thousands of years later, the ancient Ophuchi were supposedly contacted by the spirit of a man called the Shaman of the Whills who began appearing to the disorganized people. He led them to the Dune Sea on Tatooine where he showed them an underground oasis. They built the Ophuchi Sanctuary at this location and carved out the cave monasteries, where the Ophuchi went for spiritual guidance for the generations that followed. The Shaman of the Whills was also said to have shown the Ophuchi the so-called true path that they needed to take in order to fulfill their destinies. While there, they recorded what they knew of many prophecies and ancient stories, including the Prophecy of the Chosen One and the Prophecy of the Rana Hama.
In the thousand years that followed, many stories were told about the Ophuchi Sanctuary throughout Tatooine. There were rumors of the underground civilizations, though many did not believe them as they had always been told that the Dune Sea was an area incapable of supporting life. There were few reports of encounters with the Ophuchi and the sanctuary due to their isolationist nature, though when there were reports they were generally dismissed as urban legends.
For one day during the Invasion of Utapau, the sanctuary served as a home for Annikin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jard Dooku, Sabé Arcadia and Jar Binks. While they were there, they had a feast with Sarus, who told them about the Ophuchi people. They later went to one of the major cave monasteries where they learned that Skywalker was possibly the Chosen One spoken of in legend and that Binks was potentially the Rana Hama. While they did not know if they believed it or not, the consequences of such a visit proved to carry on for quite some time, particularly in the fact that the Jedi High Council agreed to test Annikin to determine whether or not he was fit for training within the Jedi Order.
The Ophuchi Sanctuary was home to every member of the Ophuchi Clan, and it provided them with all of their daily needs other than some foods that needed to be hunted in the wild desert. In the main common area, many people went about their daily chores. The food was baked on stones and the bread was rolled by hand by the people. The water was pumped from the ground and carried to water purification areas to make sure that it was not harmful to the people. The clothing was also washed by hand in silver water tubs with soap. All of this proved to be a contrast to a society that had created technology to do such work for the people.
The residential complex within the Ophuchi Sanctuary was the entrance to the entire compound. A sand-covered door within the sand designed to look like stone hid the entrance to the compound so no uninvited guests would be able to enter, and this door led to a short tunnel that was recalled as being dark and cold with moisture on the walls. The first thing many would notice upon entering the residential complex was that it also served as the main common area for the Ophuchi. The statue of the Ophuchi Prophet stood watching over the complex a few meters from the entrance from the tunnel, as the Ophuchi felt it guarded them from potential threats.
Within the main common area, the Ophuchi performed many of their daily tasks. Food was baked directly on top of stones and fires, and, nearby, water was pumped from the ground where it was carried to water purification areas. That limited amount of water in the Tatooine underground was dirty due to the terrain of the planet, so the purification areas would ensure that it was not harmful to the Ophuchi once they drank it. Some of the water was also used in tubs were clothing was washed by hand. Some who witnessed these sights felt as if they had gone backwards in time.
On the other side of the statue of the Ophuchi Prophet was a stone stairwell. This led to another mositure-filled tunnel, which in turn opened into a rotunda of rooms that were used for housing purposes. The housing rooms had a limited amount of furnishings, although there were matress-covered beds in each one, the number of beds varying based on how many Ophuchi were in a given family, as well as desks for the Ophuchi to work at. Each room also had a refresher, negating the need for public restroom areas. During the Invasion of Utapau, Annikin Skywalker noted to himself that the Ophuchi lived comfortably, if not somewhat primitively.
Located at the end of the residential complex's housing rotunda was a stone chamber lit by wall-mounted candles that served as a dining area for guests of the Ophuchi Clan, and it had become one of the cooler-temperature areas in the Ophuchi Sanctuary. The center of the room was a large stone table, and during a feast the top of the table would have been covered by dozens of food selections. Food choices included a selection of fruits and vegetables from numerous planets and various meats. Wine and blue milk would also have been placed next to each plate, the latter of which had become a mealtime tradition in some families and circles on Tatooine. The Ophuchi prepared food like this in honor of their visitors, as the food that they ate on a day-to-day basis was not as diverse.
Opposite the entryway to the dining area was the entrance to a catacomb that led to a cave sanctuary. Located approximately half of a standard hour from the dining area, the Ophuchi were first led to the cave by the Shaman of the Whills after he led them to the location that housed the overall Ophuchi Sanctuary. The cave was lit only by torches mounted on the wall, which also contained cave paintings that were seemingly ancient in design to those who looked at them. There were symbols of animals and people performing certain feats, and also what may have made up an alphabet belonging to an unknown group of people. Against the wall was a group of seats used for those that were visting so an instructor could explain the paintings on the wall.
Some of the cave paintings told various different stories that the Ophuchi deemed important. One was about what the Ophuchi Prophet had told his children on his deathbed, and it was a story of how his children helped to create the Order of the Whills and a "great republic" that lasted for thousands of generations. The entire text of the Prophecy of the Chosen One was written on the wall, as was a painted representation of the Chosen One's destiny. The painting showed an enslaved dove rising up and killing a serpent that attempted to corrupt and destroy him, and after the serpent was destroyed the "desert rain" fell once again.
Along with the Chosen One, two other known prophecies were painted on the wall. The first was the Argus, and it showed a group of falcons, one of them called the Argus, helping to free the dove from shackles before killing the serpent. The second was the Prophecy of the Rana Hama, which showed an exiled "frog man" monarch seek revenge against those who exiled him, and then leading his people.
Near the center of the cave was another catacomb that, after a climb Annikin Skywalker recalled as being very steep, led to a ledge on a cliff that overlooked the Dune Sea. The landscape stretched out for kilometers, and it was a place where some watched the twin suns rise and set. It was at this location that Sarus attempted to convince Annikin to accept the possibility that he was the Chosen One.
There were some locations throughout the Ophuchi Sanctuary that were used for ceremonial purposes. Wedding ceremonies would be held where two Ophuchi would wed one another. On many occassions, the two that had been married would return for birth ceremonies where the leader of the Ophuchi Clan would deliver the child or children of the two Ophuchi. There were also frequent worship ceremonies where the Ophuchi would give thanks to their prophet and their higher power.
Behind the scenes
The Ophuchi Sanctuary was loosely based on the sietchs from the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Herbert defined a sietch as a "place of assembly in time of danger", and because the Fremen lived in situations they felt were dangerous the term came to be used to designate any cave inhabited by one of the Freman tribal communities. Although the details of the layout and the different sections of the Sanctuary were created by author Brandon Rhea, other parts were, as he says, more largely based on Dune. The statue of the Ophuchi Prophet was based on a large statue in the Freman sietch from the television miniseries Frank Herbert's Dune, as well as the people going about their daily routines by baking food and washing clothes in tubs. This was a homage to the fact that the inspiration for the Ophuchi Clan itself was the Freman people from Dune and the Dune sequels, as scenes similar to that were featured in the Dune miniseries.
- Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One (First appearance)