Original Dutch East Indies Kris Dagger in Scabbard from the Island of Sumatra - circa 1880
Original Item: One Only. The kris or keris is a prized asymmetrical dagger most strongly associated with the culture of Indonesia, but also indigenous to Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore. It is known as kalis in the southern Philippines. The kris is famous for its distinctive wavy blade.
A kris can be divided into three parts: bilah (blade), hulu (hilt), and warangka (sheath). These parts of the kris are objects of art, often carved in meticulous detail and made from various materials: metal, precious or rare types of wood, or gold or ivory. A kris's aesthetic value covers the dhapur (the form and design of the blade, with around 150 variants), the pamor (the pattern of metal alloy decoration on the blade, with around 60 variants), and tangguh referring to the age and origin of a kris.
Both a weapon and spiritual object, kris are often considered to have an essence or presence, considered to possess magical powers, with some blades possessing good luck and others possessing bad. Kris are used for display, as talismans with magical powers, weapons, a sanctified heirloom (pusaka), auxiliary equipment for court soldiers, an accessory for ceremonial dress, an indicator of social status, a symbol of heroism, etc. Legendary kris that possess supernatural power and extraordinary ability were mentioned in traditional folktales, such as those of Mpu Gandring, Taming Sari, and Setan Kober.
This example is not a modern tourist item, it is the real thing dating from the 19th century.
The key to identify the older blades is to be able to find the join at the hilt end of the blade as the horn was always added as a separate piece. Later examples and modern tourist pieces were always had blades made from just one sheet of steel. This example definitely has the separate hilt end of the blade, which is then brazed or welded on.
Each section of the Dutch East Indies produced the traditional Kris Daggers but each district, Java, Borneo, and others had their own characteristics. This area is today covered by what we know as Indonesia, Malaya and the Phillipines.
The 13 31/2 inch blade on this example (17 inches overall) is made from high nickel content iron, often found in meteorite iron, giving a unique finish known as "pamor". The iron was crucible forged, much like wootz steel, giving it a lovely laminated appearance on the straight blade. Kris daggers with this type of "wavy" blade are typical for the island of Sumatra.
The blade is mounted in a figured wooden carved hilt, which depicts a mythological figure in the form of an animal, in this case a winged horse. The rest of the handle, which is "J" shaped is covered with ornate carved shapes of leaves, flowers, and other plant-based motifs. The native's religion prevented them from carving human forms or those of their god(s). This grip also has a filigreed metal ferrule where it meets the blade. It appears to be silver and nickel, and is inlaid with various semi precious stones, most of which are green in color.
It also comes complete with its original exotically designed wood scabbard (warangka), which has a figured and spalted top portion, and the lower part (galar) has a silver or white metal cover (pendoq), which is intricately engraved/embossed with plant motifs.
A wonderful example of a the legendary Kris dagger, ready to display!
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