18th Century Javanese Kris. Surukarta Keris. Indonesian Dagger

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The Kris or Keris is the traditional heirloom weapon of the various cultures of Indonesia. Each of the Kris using cultures has a slight variation of this weapon. They are a symbol of a man’s status in society as well as being a powerful talisman. Kris blades are made using alternating laminations of iron and nickel rich iron (pamor) to give them their characteristic pattern. The blades are wide at the base, double-edged, and often wavy although many older Kris have straight blades.

The older Kris with wavy blades had fewer waves, and the waves tended to be wider apart. As Kris became more symbolic and less for offence/defence, the waves became closer together and more numerous. Modern belief holds that the higher the number of waves, the more potent a Kris’ talismanic power.

This late 18th Century central Javanese Kris has a heavy, 300mm double-edged straight blade. The blade has a flattened diamond cross section with a raised medial ridge running down to the point. The Pamor layering of the blade can be clearly seen. The blade is in good clean condition and is very sharp. There are a few small patches of shallow pitting and tarnish consistent with its age.

The Surukarta hilt is made of Gahary, a dark reddish brown hard wood. The inner section of the pommel (leaf) is decorated with an intricately carved pattern. A second carved panel appears lower down the hilt (stomach). The hilt is in good condition with a great patina. There is a small, stable crack at the bottom of the hilt. The base of the grip has a metal collar made up of concentric rings of different sized balls. The lowest ring has a pineapple leaf-type decoration over the small beads and is free moving.  The blade is firm in the hilt.

The Kris is complete with a hard wood scabbard with a white metal outer. The metal is engraved with a geometric pattern with a foliate central column to the front. The back of the scabbard has a geometric pattern and a cartouche containing script. There is a small area of loss and wear to the white metal at the top of the cartouche, caused by rubbing over the many years of daily use. The upper portion of the sheath is made of a rare, striped hardwood. The scabbard is in overall good condition and the blade is held snugly inside.


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