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KRIS TRADITIONAL WEAPON

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Shape and Materials

In the writing it is either written as Kris or Keris in the context of Balinese traditional dance called Barong and Keris dance. A kris is basically a knife with two sides sharpened edges, and pointed like a spear. During the old days of Java and Bali, keris was the magic arm which was owned only by the king and his high dignitaries. Keris has been made from various materials such as bronze, metal, and also copper. It is consist of handle and blade, and cover. The handle is made of good wood, horn, ivory, or even gold plated metal, or jewelry decorated bones or ivory, depending on the status of person who will use the keris. While the cover is made in wood with or without decoration. In java the blacksmith who made keris is called Empu and in Bali is called pande Besi. The selection of blade material is done by hearing its sound of the metal when it is hit with other metal and also by smelling it. The keris maker know good material by tasting its smell. In a manuscript about keris named Dhuwung, it is said that various metal names Kris that are good to be used to make keris such as metal karang, metal kijang, metal pusosani, metal mangangkang, metal jaler, metal estri, metal waluhin, metal katub, metal kamboja, metal ambil, metal winduaji, metal tumpang, metal wurani, metal terate, metal melela, metal rujun, metal welansi, and metal balitung. It is amazing to know that in the ancient time blacksmith had known various type of metals. But we do not know if the naming of this metal based on clear palpable character of the metal or just based on the origin of it, from where the metal was bought during the ancient trade. It looks that some names showing the name of places known until now in Indonesia yet some showing true character of the metal such as wurani. Besi wurani or wurani metalis a metal having the magnetism. Blacksmith of today only know the name of metal based on its use as part of a car. Metal used for piston handle and axis for example are considered the best metal to be used as blade, and secondly come the shock absorber metal. Other manuscript also describing about keris are Ki Darmo Soegito, Djojo Bojo, and Surabaya. Special for plating the blade is used nickle. There are some good nickels found in Indonesia, bought from Madagascar, Prambanan and Luwu ( Sulawesi).

Early Traces

The story about keris, first can be identified with the palace life was around 1222 AD, when the kingdom of Kediri east Java felt into a common people called Ken Arok. It was said that Ken Arok ordered a keris to Empu Gandring to kill the king of Tumapel, Tunggul Ametung. The manuscript of Negarakretagama describes that a talented Empu can make keris without using metallurgical techniques, and was only using his hand to massage the metal it can form the shape as wished. Indeed this statement is a corrupt thinking of the writer unless claiming the position of an Empu in the society's status, beside Negarakretagama was written around 1350 AD which is 128 years later. More reasonable explanation from the manuscript is that an Empu before he make keris first enter a meditation in his hermitage to reveal magic power and enlightenment to the process of making, a way of thinking to call instinct rather then reason. Some restrictions also used as the guidance such as selecting the good day, avoiding certain days that might affect the owner or user of the keris such as birth day, the death of parents and many others. It is believed that those days must be avoided to start making keris as it will give danger to the user.

Process of Making

The technique of making keris can be seen in two ways especially in the process of plating called " pemamoran " or plating with nickel. First technique is melting the metal and nickel together at the same time before the blade is formed, and second technique is forming the metal first then plated it with nickel, which makes the color dark blue. With the simple technique and the belief of supernatural power needed in making the keris causing the process took long time. With supernatural power it was believed that the blade will have magic power too, such as the myth of keris holder can be resistant against sharp arms, or even can emanate power to neutralize the enemies strength and even defeated the enemy from a long distance. Most of this type were made in small sizes, unlike the real arm that was used during the battle having average length of 40 to 50 cms. In Java can still be found the trace of ancient blacksmith at Prapen village central Java consist of a pool on the side of fire place. The pool was the place to cool the metal after it was burnt to be formed by hammer. According to the story of local people, it was the place of blacksmith Empu Supa who made keris for the order of Sultanate of Demak.

Where to See Today

Bali museum has some collection of keris which is grouped as ethnographic arm. In the museum the collection also got conservation by modern technique using chemical agents. The preservation of this ancient heritage is considered very important, since the production of keris this day is not exist anymore with the practical purposes except only for decoration. Although there are still one fonds to collect various type of keris but new production has only small amount and small number of collectors. In Bali keris blacksmith can be found at Kabupaten Karangasem.

At some art shops in Bali can still be found some types of keris newly made. This is aimed as the souvenir only without historical meaning. Today there are still some people hunt the myth of magic kris which are believed still being kept by families in Bali and Java even with the offer of expensive pay. Interested by tremendous amount of money many of them even had made a betting to invest their money to hunt such myth and causing the drainaged of their wealth. Many of them have felt into financial trouble. The myth of keris will continue to live, as strong as the myth about very special samurai that left by Japanese soldiers and army chief in Indonesia, people chase its shadow

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POPULAR TOURS

Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.