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"We of the Sheikah tribe have long been heralded as a people of great wisdom. Our technology became the key to sealing Ganon away during the Great Calamity, some ten thousand years ago. At one point, our technology was praised as the power of the gods...but eventually the people turned on it. Turned on us. Our creations came to be viewed as a threat to the kingdom. The Sheikah became outcasts, forced into exile. Some, like us, chose to cast off our technological advances and strove to live normal lives. Others fostered a hatred towards the kingdom that shunned them. These sad souls swore their allegiance to Ganon. They now call themselves the Yiga Clan. Their sole mission is to eliminate all who stand against Ganon. Please, dear hero... be careful out there."
Cado

The Yiga Clan are an enemy group from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Yiga Clan consists of Sheikah who abandoned the Royal Family of Hyrule and pledged their allegiance to Calamity Ganon. The clan is headed by Kohga a century after the Great Calamity though has existed even before the Great Calamity a hundred years before Breath of the Wild. Their secret headquarters is the Yiga Clan Hideout, which is located at Karusa Valley of the Gerudo Desert. Mighty Bananas are very important to them to the point of obsession; Yiga Footsoldiers and Blademasters are attracted by them, and will drop them after being defeated

Background

Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

It is revealed by the Sheikah Cado that after having proved to be key in sealing Calamity Ganon 10,000 years ago, the ancient Sheikah technology was at first praised as the power of the gods. However, the people of Hyrule began to fear their technology as a threat to the kingdom. As a result, the Sheikah became outcasts and lived in exile. Although most Sheikah chose to cast off their technology and live simple lives, others fostered hatred towards the kingdom of Hyrule for shunning the Sheikah despite all they had done for it, leading them to swear allegiance to Ganon. This resulted in the creation of the Yiga Clan, who dedicate themselves to eliminating all who stand against Ganon.

The Yiga adopted the upside-down sigil of the Sheikah, representing their resentment of the clan, as their own symbol and setup their base of operations within Karusa Valley in the Gerudo Desert. From there, the Yiga Clan would attack and strike down anyone who even thought negatively of them or Calamity Ganon, specifically targeting members of the Sheikah, the Hyrulean Army, and the Royal Family. The clan gained a notorious reputation for cruelty, with some even regarding the organization as "pure evil", and used underhanded tactics to gain information, recruit, or simply murder in cold blood. Others however, such as Cado, saw the organization as lost souls who were being manipulated by Calamity Ganon, who simply saw them as useful pawns to further his own goals of destroying Hyrule and the world beyond.

According to Zelda's Diary, it is revealed the Yiga Clan were active 100 years ago shortly before the events of the Great Calamity. At one point, the Yiga Clan attempted to assassinate Princess Zelda before she could awaken her sealing powers which were a great threat to Calamity Ganon's return. However Zelda's appointed knight, the Hylian Champion Link heroically defended her from the Yiga Clan blades, causing Zelda to open up to Link about her insecurities and apologize for her harsh treatment of him. The Yiga Clan's assassination attempt on Zelda can actually be seen in Link's Recovered Memory #7: "Blades of the Yiga" where it is shown they attacked Zelda at Kara Kara Bazaar in Gerudo Desert. Zelda was attacked by three Yiga Footsoldiers all wielding Vicious Sickles. They succeed in cornering Zelda when she had momentarily wondered off alone during a visit to Gerudo Town taking advantage of Gerudo law that forbid the Voe Link from following her before leaving while was Link busy enlisting Chief Urbosa's aid in entering the village via disguising himself as a Hylian Vai. However fortunately Link managed to reach the Bazaar in time to effortlessly defeat the Footsoldier trying to kill her, causing the other two to retreat in fear of the Hylian Champion's strength which left Zelda staring at Link in amazement.

Around the same time, in Urbosa's Diary Urbosa mentioned that the Yiga were plotting to resurrect Ganon and were making plans to steal the Thunder Helm from Gerudo Town, implying that the organization may have played a key role in Ganon's return to Hyrule. While Ganon continued to build up his power, more and more monsters emerged throughout the land, odd disasters took place, and the Yiga escalated their own activities, targeting Princess Zelda and the Champions in order to prevent their roles in fighting their master from coming to fruition. One such attempt involved disguising themselves as traveling merchants to attack Urbosa and Princess Zelda, as they spoke and walked through the Gerudo Desert. The attempt ended in failure, as Urbosa deduced their true identities and valiantly and effortlessly fought them off, choosing to spare their lives only out of respect for the princess.

However despite their failure, Calamity Ganon managed to turn the tables on the Champions and their allies when he corrupted the four Divine Beasts with his blights which killed their champion pilots. Link was ultimately injured defending Zelda from Guardians at Fort Hateno, causing Zelda's powers to fully awaken. Even with Link incapacitated, the Yiga failed to kill Zelda who used her power to seal herself and Calamity Ganon in Hyrule Castle. The Yiga Clan's activities during the Age of Burning Fields is unknown but it is implied that they continued to hunt down the enemies of Ganon such as surviving Knights of Hyrule and Hyrulean Soldiers. However they were unable to eliminate Zelda and Link's Sheikah allies Robbie, Purah, and Impa who split up in order to survive long enough to aid Link. Impa remained in Kakariko Village to lead the Sheikah still loyal to the Royal Family and Sheikah who came to reject the evil ways of the Yiga Clan, while Purah and Robbie left to establish the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab and Akkala Ancient Tech Lab respectively with all three of them avoiding being killed by the Yiga for 100 years. Additionally Kass' Sheikah mentor who was the Royal Family's court poet also escaped them allowing him to pass on knowledge of legends relating to various Shrines through songs he taught to Kass before succumbing to old age. Kass would inadvertently aid Link by providing him clues to activate or reveal the Shrines while on a pilgrimage he made to fulfil his master's last request all of which escaped the Yiga Clan's notice due to the poet's method of ensuring the information would be pasted down to Link whom the poet was certain would return.

Story

"- Beware of bandits! - Incidents of travelers being attacked in this area are on the rise. Travelling alone at night is dangerous. The Tabantha Bridge Stable up ahead can guarantee your safety."
Sign

Link first learns of the Yiga Clan while in Kakariko Village and after "Seek Out Impa", Yiga Footsoldiers appear disguised as Hylian travelers, though one even acts as a Hylian merchant selling Mighty Bananas near Zelo Pond in Lanayru Wetlands. All disguised Yiga Clansmen are identified as simply Traveler and some demonstrate odd behavior such as trying to recruit Link, appear crying about needing a Hearty Salmon, or asking what he thinks about Master Kohga. Some appear as female Hylians though their true gender is unclear though some disguised as female Hylians show admiration for Kohga in a fan girl-like manner even implying they find Kogha attractive. The appearance of disguised Yiga Clansmen changes as they are simply disguised as random travelers thus any travelers who appear differently than before are likely a Yiga. A Sign for the Tabantha Bridge Stable in Seres Scablands warns of a rise in bandit activity implying Yiga Clansmen engage in robbing travelers as a disguised Yiga Clansmen appears near the sign pretending to be a lost female traveler searching for Gerudo Desert. Some of these Yiga Clansmen know Link's name and heroic status. They are also aware of the Shrine of Resurrection and Link's Slumber of Restoration.

Sometime before the events of Breath of the Wild, the Yiga Clan after nearly a century of careful planning (as Urbosa was aware of a plan to steal it before the Great Calamity) had managed to steal the Thunder Helm, a valuable heirloom of the royal Gerudo family line, with its recent heiress being Riju. This was an impressive feat as Gerudo Town is heavily guarded and the guards are keen lookouts due to men occasionally attempting to unlawfully enter. The Gerudo having once been a tribe of thieves were greatly ashamed of the theft and the guards becamed determined to locate the Yiga Clan Hideout and retrieve it to restore Gerudo honor and punish the Yiga Clan for stealing it. Until the Thunder Helm is reclaimed from the Yiga, Link cannot go and reclaim the Divine Beast Vah Naboris, as the Divine Beast uses powerful lightning that not even the Rubber Armor set can nullify. Upon learning Link is the Hylian Champion when he enters Gerudo Town in disguise as a Hylian girl, Riju requests his aid in retrieving the helm in exchange for her help in entering Vah Naboris. She and Buliara direct him to Gerudo Guard Captain Teake whom is leading the hunt for the Yiga as Buliara refuses to leave Riju's side. After asking around among Teake and her subordinates for the possible location of the Yiga Clan Hideout, Link eventually manages to find it in Karusa Valley. Link must then sneak his way through the hideout where he confronts Master Kohga to reclaim the Thunder Helm.

After managing to successfully sneak his way through the hideout, defeat Master Kohga, and reclaim Vah Naboris, the Yiga become more aggressive and begin pursuing Link out in the open. Some random travelers are Yiga in disguise, and will mention Master Kohga's defeat before they start attacking. Like many enemies Link encounters, the Yiga defeated by Link will respawn on the night of the Blood Moon. Unlike other enemies, Yiga in the field teleport away when Link defeats them, which means that it is possible that Ganon does not actually revive them, and the ones killed in the Yiga Clan Hideout are replaced by other ones. This would also explain why Master Khoga is not revived by Ganon after being defeated however Ganon may have intentionally left Kohga dead as punishment for his failure (much like how Ganondorf punished Phantom Ganon by imprisoning him in the Gap Between Dimensions in Ocarina of Time) and/or due to the fact that Kohga's death lead the Yiga Clan to become even more determined to kill Link out of revenge thus turning Kohga into a martyr for the fanatical Yiga Clan which Ganon took full advantage of. Kohga was also a lazy leader whom left most of the work to his subordinates while he spent most of his time moping about their hideout, thus Ganon may have simply chosen not to bother wasting his energy with reviving him.

If someone should decide to turn their back on the Yiga and leave for whatever reason, like Dorian did because he had fallen in love with his wife, the consequences for such an action, as revealed in the Shrine Quest "The Stolen Heirloom", can range from extortion, such as targeting the lives of either the deserter or the loved ones of the deserter unless orders are carried out, to death of either the deserter or their loved ones.

During the Quest "Captured Memories", at Kara Kara Bazaar Link can recall his memory of saving Princess Zelda from three Yiga Footsoldiers a century earlier.

In the "Champions' Ballad" DLC, after obtaining the Three Naboris's Emblems and beating Thunderblight Ganon once again in the Illusionary Realm, a cutscene will reveal that two Yiga Footsoldiers attempted to kill Urbosa, who was in Princess Zelda's company. Urbosa prevails, striking one in his stomach with the butt of her sword and calling down a burst of lightning to electrocute the other. Urbosa allows the pair to live out of respect for the Princess, and the footsoldiers stagger off, disappearing in a cloud of smoke.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.

Weaponry and abilities

The Yiga Clan wield a variety of unique weapons designed for killing and striking fear into their enemies. These include the Demon Carver blade, Vicious Sickle, Windcleaver swords, and Duplex Bow. Yiga Footsoldiers commonly wield Demon Carvers, Vicious Sickles, and Duplex Bows, while Yiga Blademasters primarily wield a Windcleaver. Their Duplex Bows and Windcleavers are well known among weapon enthusiasts as even the young Hylian child enthusiast Nebb has heard of them. Demon Carver wielding Footsoldiers only start appearing after Master Kohga's defeat and are the strongest single-handed weapon used by the Yiga Clan. Like Lynels and Wizzrobes, rank-and-file Yiga Clansmen only wield weapons associated with their enemy archetype and like Lynels do not share these with other enemy archetypes.

The boss of the Yiga clan, Master Kohga attacks with large Boulders and large metallic spiked balls both of with feature the Yiga Clan symbol on them. The boulders can only be dodged while Link can use Magnesis Rune to use the spiked balls to use them against Kohga. Despite his lazy leadership style, Kohga is a respected master of the Yiga Clan's esoteric arts whom most Yiga are fanatically loyal to. However Ganon himself is implied to be using their misplaced anger and resentment to turn them into fanatical loyal pawns much like Ganondorf's treatment of the Gerudo and Zant. Ganon shows no loyalty towards them as he never revives their beloved leader and only revives lesser footsoldiers and Blademasters who are more focused with Link's elimination. Kohga himself also apparently understood he would not be revived as he swears the Yiga Clan will avenge him rather than saying he would return from death.

The Yiga Clan are masters of disguise and stealth, often taking the appearance of harmless Hylian travelers to catch their targets off guard. However unlike normal travelers, they are unnamed and are simply referred to as "Traveler" in their dialog box. Yiga are shown to be capable of disguising themselves physically and vocally as both males and females, when in uniform all Yiga look the same and have the same ambiguous voice. It is unknown if the Yiga transform bodies or even gender or if their disguise is what they actually look like out of uniform. One Yiga appearing as a female Hylian remarks that they find Master Kohga to be dreamy and even finding his pudgy belly attractive though their true gender remains ambiguous as they could be a male admirer of Kohga or they simply act that way while disguised as female Hylians to trick Link into believing their some Kohga fan girl in an attempt to get him to underestimate them. Yiga Footsoldiers in general are often known to be somewhat fanatical or mentally unhinged which shows in some of Link's interactions with disguised Yiga who occasionally say odd things that give them away. Yiga Blademasters are shown more disciplined and capable compared to Yiga Clan Footsoldiers. Yiga have a strange fascination and obsession with Mighty Bananas, to the point Link can use them to distract Yiga in the Yiga Clan Hideout. One disguised Yiga who pretends to be a merchant, will even sell Link Mighty Bananas while in disguise before attacking him afterwards. Yiga often drop Mighty Bananas when killed as well. Regardless the Yiga Clan as a whole are shown to be quite capable as they were able to steal the Thunder Helm from the well guarded Gerudo Town and kill Dorian's wife (who was a Sheikah herself) when he turned his back on the Yiga Clan.

The Sheikah still loyal to Hyrule are shown to view the Yiga as a serious threat, to the point that even walking around Kakariko Village at night was considered dangerous for all but the most experienced Sheikah warriors. It is also implied that Robbie has Link show him his scars during the Robbie's Research side quest to prove his identity, to ensure he was not a Yiga in disguise as Robbie is an enemy of Ganon who has been working developing ancient weaponry for Link to aid him in his quest. Like most of Ganon's allies and minions slain by Link, the Yiga Blademasters and Yiga Footsoldiers are apparently revived at midnight every Blood Moon when Ganon's power is at its peak. However Master Kohga is not though this may be punishment for his lazy leadership and failure to kill Link similar to Phantom Ganon's banishment to the Gap Between Dimensions by Ganondorf in the past.

Along with the Guardians, the Yiga Clan are the only enemies in Breath of the Wild who are not depicted as being monsters. As Sheikah, the Yiga are notably the only humanoid enemies in Breath of the Wild. Despite not being monsters, they appear in the "Monster" section of the Hyrule Compendium (though it should be noted that all enemies and bosses appear in that section regardless if they are monsters or not).

Yiga Clan Armaments

Hyrule Compendium

Yiga Footsoldier

"The lowest-ranked members of the Yiga Clan. They're been dispatched all across Hyrule with a single task: seek out Link and end his life. They're a crafty bunch, sometimes disguising themselves as simple travelers or villagers to get the jump on you. Be wary of suspicious people you encounter. They're very agile and carry a bow and a one-handed sword."
— Hyrule Compendium

Yiga Blademaster

"These are the elite soldiers of the Yiga Clan. They favor the windcleaver blade and are extremely agile despite their bulky build. At this Yiga Clan rank, they have mastered a technique that allows them to manipulate the very earth. By striking the ground, they can create stone pillars and blasts of air."
— Hyrule Compendium

Master Kohga

"The leader of the Yiga Clan, a group formed with just a single objective: eliminate Link. He sends his minions all over Hyrule in search of you but tends to spend most of his own time napping and generally loafing about. Despite this, his mastery of the esoteric arts has earned him a deep respect. Even if he were to die, his followers would never give up their one and only task."
— Hyrule Compendium