The warrior Jaffa class was the foundation of Goa'uld power. The Jaffa ancestors were descendants of the Tauri, however they were bred to have an abdominal pouch, similar to that of a marsupial, in which they carry a larval Goa'uld, or symbiote, to maturity.
The planet Dakara is sacred to all Jaffa and is considered to be the very cradle of their existence. The temple at Dakara was the site of the first prim'ta ritual, the rite of passage in which the Goa'uld first gave the Jaffa their strength and longevity and which had bonded the Jaffa in servitude to the Goa'uld ever since. In the thousands of years since, much of Jaffa tradition and way of life had been designed to instill among the Jaffa a dependence upon the Goa'uld. When a young child came of age, he was called to the religious life of his god, and in the prim'ta ritual, or ceremony of implantation, he received his first Goa'uld symbiote and became a true Jaffa. Both male and female children would undergo the prim'ta ritual and receive training in the ways of the Jaffa, however women usually entered service as priestesses whereas the men were trained as warriors. The female warriors of the Hak'tyl are unique in Jaffa culture. Also unique were the Sodan, Jaffa warriors who thousands of years ago turned against their god. Although they carried a symbiote and preserved the ways of the Jaffa, they served no Goa'uld and wore no tattoo.
There is no direct communication between a Jaffa and the symbiote he carries, although in rare instances basic primal images have been shared. Instead, the symbiote functions as the Jaffa's immune system, granting perfect health, protection from many diseases, toxins, and radiation, remarkable restorative powers, and long life. The daily ritual of kelno'reem, or deep meditation, allows the symbiote to maintain the balance of health. Removal of a symbiote would eliminate the immune system and result in death within hours.
When a symbiote reaches maturity in 7 to 8 years, its ability to function as a Jaffa's immune system begins to break down. It must then take a host, and the Jaffa must take a new symbiote, extending his life span to nearly 140 years, the approximate age when a new symbiote would be rejected. A Jaffa cannot sustain a symbiote as a host as long as he carries a larval Goa'uld, however the naquadah introduced into his system gives him the ability to sense the presence of a Goa'uld in others.
In addition to serving as incubators for the Goa'uld larvae, the highly trained Jaffa warriors also served as the army of the Goa'uld, an army protected by the restorative powers of the Goa'uld larvae they carried. Through intense Bashaak training according to the Rules of Engagement, a young Jaffa became a warrior. Jaffa discipline is unwavering. A Jaffa would not kill from behind, instead vengeance is exacted face to face, and Jaffa children are born with the knowledge that weakness will not be tolerated. In fact the Jaffa word "kek" means both "weakness" and "death," for if one is weak, one may as well be dead.
Each Jaffa bore a forehead tattoo indicating the Goa'uld he served. A gold tattoo, representing the rank of First Prime, is made by cutting the skin with an orak knife, and pouring pure molten gold into the wound. Ninja Jaffa, a sect loyal to Anubis, wore robes and carried swords in addition to the more traditional staff weapons.
Although the Jaffa are a race of warriors bred specifically to serve the Goa'uld and enslave humans throughout the galaxy, they eventually came to be viewed by the SGC as a race indoctrinated from childhood to believe that the Goa'uld are their gods, and whose dependence upon symbiotes allowed them no choice but to serve. However, as dissent spread within the Jaffa ranks, nurtured by leaders such as Bra'tac, the Jaffa began to rebel against their false gods. The belief that a Jaffa's true strength is derived from the symbiote he carries slowly fell into question, and the drug tretonin gradually came to be seen as a means of freedom from enslavement. The Goa'uld no longer trusted the Jaffa priests with their young as they once did, and the Jaffa Rebellion eventually led to the defeat of the System Lords and the development of a free Jaffa Nation.
See Also: Jaffa Tattoos
Cross Reference: Adal, Ambush of Kresh'taa, Arkad, Aron, Artok, Ba'kal, Bashaak, Birra, Bo'rel, Bra'tac, Cha'ra, Chulak, Dakara, De'vir, Dol'ok, Drey'auc, Fro'tak, Gerak, Goa'uld, Goa'uld Language, Hak'tyl, Horus Guard, Inago, Ishta, Jaffa Child, Jaffa Nation, Joma Secu, Junior, Kah'l, Ka'lel, Kar'yn, Kelno'reem, Latal, Lok'nel, Mala, Mastaba, Maz'rai, Moac, M'zel, Neith, Nesa, Nictal, Ninja Jaffa, Nisal, Oshu, Prim'ta, Rak'nor, Rebel Jaffa, Rite of M'al Sharran, Ronan, Rules of Engagement, Rya'c, Ryk'l, Serpent Guard, Se'tak, Setesh Guard, Shak'l, Shan'auc, Shaq'rel, Shol'va, Sindar, Sodan, Symbiote Poison, System Lords, Tara'c, Tass'an, Teal'c, Te'rak, Tolok, Trelak, Tretonin, U'kin, Va'lar, Yat'Yir
First Introduced: Children of the Gods
Significant Episode Reference: Bloodlines, Rules of Engagement, Crossroads, Threshold, The Warrior, Allegiance, The Changeling, Orpheus, Birthright, Death Knell, Sacrifices, Endgame, Reckoning, Threads, Avalon, Origin, Ex Deus Machina, The Fourth Horseman, Stronghold, Counterstrike, Talion