Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Keris: The Malay Weapon

Keris is primarily a dagger with a handle set at an angle to the blade, a sort of pistol grip in fact, to enable the wielder to thrust. This double-edged dagger with wavy or straight blade is unique because it is only found within the Malay Archipelago.

The word keris was derived from the Old Javanese term ngiris, which referred to the action of slicing or wedging. Originating from Java in the 9th century and subsequently spreading throughout the Malay Archipelago, the keris was commonly known to be a defensive weapon.

The keris being short, a short handle is enough for it’s original form; but as men fought, the keris became longer and heavier.

In the Empire age of Indonesia, such as Majapahit, keris was used as a weapon for civil society. Keris was well known as a weapon which had strong, tough, and light blade. In the era of Demak – Mataram kingdom, the most famous Keris was keris Nagasasra Sabukinten.

The first iron workers and keris makers in Malaya were called pandai besi. They were supposed to be verse in magic, and to have a secret which enable them to govern this metal. In ancient times, pandai besi were considered among the elite occupations and assumed to be a principal contributor in creating early concepts of understanding the behavior of metals, particularly iron.

Keris can be divided into two parts: mata/bilah (blade) and hulu (hilt). Its distinctive wavy edges known as luk, are always odd in number, from three to thirteen waves. One of the most attractive characteristics of the blade is the watermark pattern called pamor.
Keris: The Malay Weapon

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