Darth Vader grotesque
Year1980[citation needed]
LocationWashington, D.C.
Coordinates38°55′50″N 77°04′17″W / 38.9305°N 77.0715°W / 38.9305; -77.0715
OwnerWashington National Cathedral

The Darth Vader grotesque is a limestone grotesque by Jay Hall Carpenter. It is located at the Washington National Cathedral in Northwest, Washington, D.C., United States.[1][2] Though sometimes seen as a graffito or form of vandalism on the church (due to the pop culture subject matter contrasted with the holy building), it is a deliberate approved addition.

The Darth Vader grotesque is one of many grotesques that are part of the National Cathedral's rain control system. The grotesques deflect rainwater by bouncing it off the tops of their heads and away from the stone walls.[3]

In the 1980s, during the construction of the northwest tower, a children's competition was run by National Geographic World to draw grotesques for the building. Christopher Rader won third-place, with his drawing of Star Wars villain Darth Vader. The head was sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter and the stonecarver was Patrick J. Plunkett.[4] The Darth Vader grotesque is difficult to see with the naked eye, and binoculars are generally needed to spot it. It is located on the north side of the cathedral. Other winning designs were a raccoon, a girl with pigtails and braces, and a man with large teeth and an umbrella.[5]


  1. ^ "Darth Vader at the National Cathedral". Stationstart.com. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Darth Vader Grotesques – National Cathedral – All Things Star Wars on Waymarking.com". Waymarking.com. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  3. ^ "What does Darth Vader have to do with the Cathedral?" (PDF). Extremecraft.typepad.com. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Washington National Cathedral: Darth Vader". Nationalcathedral.org. Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
  5. ^ "Darth Vader 'Gargoyle' – Washington National Cathedral" (PDF). Cathedral.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2017.