Minbari are bipedal humanoids in appearance with distinctive bony, antler-like head ridges that grow from the temples, wrapping back around to the nape of the neck and up to the crown.
Tall and large, Minbari are completely bald, possessing very little body hair beyond eyelashes, though in a slight oddity some males have been known to be able to grow beards. This may be a simple genetic throwback or ethnic variation as even on Earth, certain groups are themselves less capable of facial hair growth. Minbari earlobes are small compared to those of humans or Centauri and are located at the base of the neck, just below the mandibular angle.
Minbari physiology is extremely resilient and able to keep functioning even after suffering substantial blood loss, multiple amputations, or other injuries that would easily kill a human. This at least partially stems from a very robust metabolism and high levels of endurance that allows Minbari to breathe in relatively low oxygen atmospheres and can typically go without food for as long as two weeks. However, their unique biochemistry means that they cannot imbibe alcohol without suffering a drastic psycho-chemical reaction. Those that consume even a small amount suffer from sudden and extreme psychotic impulses accompanied by violent, homicidal rages.
Minbari do not perspire the way humans do and instead secrete a kind of fluid while they sleep that serves a similar function. As a result, Minbari do not bathe to maintain personal hygiene but instead ritually use a chemical that strips away the outer layers of their skin each day, as a symbol of being constantly reborn. Though Minbari reproductive organs are essentially similar to that of humans, Llort, and Hurr, their internal anatomy is significantly different. One of the more notable differences is that Minbari females do not menstruate, at least not in the same way as human women.
The Minbari are one of the many races known to have been altered by the Vorlons to produce telepaths which, while not as powerful as their human counterparts, are nonetheless in typical Minbari fashion highly trained, extremely disciplined and easily capable of working in harmonious groups. Culturally, psi ability is considered to be as a gift and a calling and by tradition, telepaths are freely trained, fed, clothed and otherwise provided for so that they are able to openly offer their services to those in need.
Minbari are a relatively long lived race, typically living over a century, with the record being somewhere around 120 years. 1,001 is deemed a fantastic, unreachable age. Strangely enough, the combination of human and Minbari DNA appears to be conducive to increasing the lifespan of a given subject well beyond what either race would normally expect; Delenn lived to well over 140 years old, as did Valen (counting his years as a human). It is unknown if this is a result of the genetic hybridisation itself, a side effect of the transformative process of the Chrysalis Device or merely a fluke or coincidence.
The Minbari's distinctive head bones are actually two separate and distinct ridges. At birth, Minbari infants posses two very small, soft ridges that sprout from the temple and grow and close at the back of the skull, forming the appearance of a single structure. The ridges grow in stages, each stage advancing another few millimetres and do not fully develop until child is approximately one cycle old. By that time the two soft ridges should join at the back of the head and harden into a firm exoskeletal structure.
In its natural state the boney structure is smooth, interrupted only with subtly layered ridges in a pattern that resembles the growth rings of trees or antlers. Minbari however choose to style and sculpt the ridges into certain styles, a process achieved through laborious carving and ritualized binding. This practice of body modification is broadly similar to the ancient Chinese foot binding or Mayan head shaping once practiced on Earth, but is by no means as crude or damaging. From a cultural standpoint, it is akin to the Human and Centauri practices of cutting and styling hair and nails or the Narn practice of buffing their spots.
The binding itself is done with strong moulds (sometimes made from native Minbar crystal) applied to the bone at a key developmental phase and kept under continuous pressure, though care must be taken to keep pressure away from brain and neck. By tradition the moulding process takes place during adolescence, in a developmental period when the bones undergo rapid growth. The final binding ritual is considered something akin to coming of age ritual that marks a passage into adulthood. Once the bone is set, it will essentially hold its basic shape for the rest of its life, though adult Minbari will continue to carve to keep it looking neat and symmetrical.
Within the ridge structure itself is a veiny layer of very raw and tender flesh, akin to the quick under fingernail. Carving too deeply or carelessly will cause a substantial amount of discomfort and bleeding which is why carving is kept to the outer edges only. Members of the Warrior Caste almost exclusively favour a rough, jagged look, that they like to think makes them appear ominous. Some males of the other castes also adopt this more rough hewn style, but not for the same desired effect. Non-warrior females, especially those of the Religious Caste tend to favour smoother, much more rounded and elegant styles. Female warriors on the other hand tend to adopt the same style as male warriors.
Culture & Society
The Minbari are a deeply spiritual, highly ritualistic and disciplined people. They seek conformity and enlightenment above all. Honor is everything and they generally do not lie, except to save another or to help another save face. From birth to adulthood, they are taught to be selfless and learn the importance of service to all aspects of life. Working for generations, they create a legacy for themselves and are ready to sacrifice their lives, their blood, or their honor for others.
Since spirituality and discipline are their way, Minbari are less likely to act on their passions. They have a ritual for everything and usually listen very carefully to words of wisdom. This is unlike Earth culture which is much more free-spirited and impassioned, where people default on their passions and sometimes forget the lessons of the past. Their sacred law forbids the killing of Minbari by Minbari, a rule which has held since the time of Valen. Before Valen, it was common for the castes and clans to war amongst each other. The sacred law was briefly abandoned during the Minbari Civil War of 2261.
Minbari society is segregated into a caste system. The three castes are the Worker Caste, Warrior Caste and Religious Caste. Each Minbari is born into a particular caste but may join another if they feel strongly that their calling in life lies there. The castes are divided into clans which have their own leaders and family houses, or "Fanes".  Since the time of Valen, the three castes lived in peace with one another, though at times there has been friction, particularly between the religious and warrior castes. The workers, although given equal representation in the government, were often caught in between these rivalries and forgotten until Delenn reorganized the Grey Council in favor of them.
Minbari didn't produce and consume news and information in broad terms. Rather, they understood and were told what they needed to know from those higher up in society or from one another. Partly, this was due to respecting the privacy of the affected individuals.
Minbari religious beliefs hold that the universe is both alive and conscious and that it manifests in all forms of sentient life, giving all individuals a piece of itself.  Such a philosophy is a form of Pantheism or Pandeism. There is also a belief in a collective soul and collective reincarnation. Thus, each generation of Minbari are reborn into the next. While Minbari generally do not worship individual gods, they do have a representation of a higher being, known as Valeria. Valen founded the Grey Council and is also thought of as divine by the Minbari.
- When a Minbari introduces him or herself, they bow with their hands in the shape of a triangle. One hand is curled inside the other, while the thumbs point to each other forming the apex of the triangle.
- Minbari fashion is usually an external expression of one's own caste. A warrior would be seen wearing an elaborate black uniform with many buttons or badges, while the religious and worker caste outfits are much plainer but varying in color depending on their purposes.
- Lying is absolutely forbidden except to save face for another person. An accusation of lying is a deadly insult.
- Minbari consider sleeping in the horizontal to be tempting death, which is why Minbari beds are tilted at a 45° angle that, while uncomfortable for other races, can be mastered with practice and proper mediation. The practice stems from a characteristic of Minbari physiology that had presented a real danger in the past, but by the time of the Third Age the risk was much less. Nonetheless, the tradition had become deeply entrenched.
- Among Minbari, the number three is considered sacred, and it appears throughout their culture. Minbari count in base 11, using ten fingers and a head.
- Minbari humor is based primarily on puns and on failure to achieve enlightenment.
The Minbari have three basic languages one for each caste; Feek, Lenn'a and Adronato, the language of the religious caste. Every Minbari understands the languages of the other castes, at least in their pure official forms, if not some of the regional dialects, however it is considered a taboo if the warriors or the religious castes speak the language of the workers. In addition to these three basic languages, Minbari have 97 dialects and sub tongues.
Food and Drink
Perceptions by Other Races
"Minbari... Pale; bloodless. Look into their eyes and see nothing but mirrors-infinities of reflection."
- – A Soul Hunter
The Minbari have beliefs opposed to that of the Soul Hunters. The Soul Hunters believe that because of the Minbari's hesitance to let their souls be preserved they are letting their souls die needlessly. 
Other races sometimes perceive the Minbari as humorless and unpassionate, but this is not true.
There is a common saying that while Minbari do not lie, they do not tell the whole truth either.
Behind The Scenes
- The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
- To Dream in the City of Sorrows
- Soul Hunter
- Ceremonies of Light and Dark
- The Summoning
- The Quality of Mercy
- Soul Mates
- The Nautilus Coil - Human teeps were the Vorlon's "pride and joy"
- Dust to Dust
- Draal suggests that Delenn has forgotten the Principles of Sentient Life and will soon have forgotten her old friend. Delenn asserts that she wouldn't forget him even if she lived to be 1,001. The units are not mentioned, but are assumed to be years defined by a standard calendar.
- The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
- CIS - 5/22/1996 7:21:00 PM
- The Official Babylon 5 Magazine: Issue #21 (March 2000) - Page 39 (transmision from 'The Great Machine' by Fiona Avery)
- There All the Honor Lies
- JMS post on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated - 5/1/1996
- Moments of Transition
- Divided Loyalties
- Passing Through Gethsemane
- Soul Hunter (episode)
- Messages from Earth
- To Dream in the City of Sorrows - (p.28)
- War Without End, Part II
- The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari
- Day of the Dead
- Dining on Babylon 5
- Confessions and Lamentations
- JMS post on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated - 5/15/2000 8:40:00 AM
|First Born · Vorlon · Shadow · Walkers of Sigma-957 · Thirdspace Aliens · The Hand · Asmodeus' race|
|Minbari · Centauri · Human/Neanderthal · Narn · Dilgar · Drakh|
|Drazi · Brakiri/J/Lai · Gaim · pak'ma'ra · Abbai · Yolu · Hyach/Hyach-do · Markab · Llort · Grome · Hurr · Cascor · Balosian · Onteen · Iksha · Vree|