In the Babylon-5 stories, most Minbari are bald, but some Minbari men have beards.

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The Wikipedia article on Minbari says "due to the intermingling of human DNA into the Minbari gene-pool courtesy of Valen, some males are capable of growing facial hair."

Spoiler from episodes "War Without End":

Valen was a human named Jeffery Sinclair who went one thousand years back in time to lead the Minbari. He was transformed into a Minbari through a device called triluminary. He later fathered children on Minbar.

Is there a canon source that says "only male descendants of Valen may grow beards"? Or is that an unjustified claim posted on Wikipedia?

In accordance with my "Quotes Get Votes" policy, I prefer answers that have quotes from original sources. (e.g. - Interviews with J. Michael Straczynski, quotes from scripts, or video clips from episodes, etc...)

  • 1
    I question this a bit, since the Grey Council triluminary reacted to Delenn (recognizing her as a child of Valen), but not anyone else in some time, not even Dukhat, who had a nice beard.
    – Radhil
    Mar 5, 2017 at 4:09
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    I'm still looking for quotes, but I think this is something that's pretty ambiguous. It's certainly a fan theory that Valen's genes were responsible for the ability of Minbari men to have facial hair, but as Radhil comments, the Triluminary didn't glow for Dukhat. Then again, 1000 years is enough time for genes to diffuse through the population, and maybe the Triluminary was looking for other genes than the ones responsible for facial hair.
    – Dranon
    Mar 5, 2017 at 5:53
  • @Dranon I am not asking about all the abilities of the triluminary. That would make a nice question, so feel free to post it. I just want to know if this fan theory about Minbary facial hair has been confirmed by a reputable source.
    – RichS
    Mar 5, 2017 at 6:12

1 Answer 1


From the "JMS Speaks" section of the Lurker's Guide page for Atonement:

Dukhat was not descended from Valen; yes, the Grey Council now knows who Sinclair was; and general knowledge of what happened would certainly have an upsetting effect on Minbari society, so they will continue to keep it indefinitely back-roomed....

Assuming that JMS was being entirely honest here, and since Dukhat has a beard, it is not true that only male Minbari descendants of Valen can grow beards. Combined with JMS saying

Other Minbari have had facial hair; including Draal v1.0 and Kalain in "Points of Departure." It's certainly not common, though.

it seems that facial hair is either a recessive trait, or that the vast majority of Minbari shave.

However, I am also finding references to JMS having said on a panel that Minbari didn't start growing beards until Valen appeared. Therefore, it's also possible that what the Triluminary considers to be a descendant of Valen doesn't entirely coincide with actual descendants of Valen. Given that 1000 years have passed between Valen's appearance and the time of the show, that's plenty of time for Valen's various and sundry genes to have diffused throughout the entire Minbari population. Not everyone gets the same genes, so only some can grow beards, and not all who grow beards have the genetic markers that the Triluminary is looking for.

  • Good find on the Lurker's Guide. It also mentions a specific ability of the triluminary. "The Triluminaries used by the Grey Council were made specifically for Sinclair. They activate in the presence of Sinclair/Valen's DNA." Which explains why it doesn't glow for Dukhat.
    – RichS
    Mar 5, 2017 at 6:33
  • The Triluminary doesn't test DNA, it test mind patterns.
    – John Dolan
    Jun 10, 2018 at 10:27
  • @JohnDolan I'll have to watch the episode again, but I'm pretty sure that "Atonement" says that it's DNA.
    – Dranon
    Jun 10, 2018 at 16:15

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