Friday, 15 October 2010

Keris, ethnic weapon from Javanese ancient tradition

The most famous ethnic weapon or heirloom for Javanese people is Keris (dagger). In the ancient time, a man is not considered as a real man if he has no keris. The keris is highly valued, treated and respected with special care. This weapon is usually inherited from fore fathers. According to Javanese ancient tradition, especially in the court families, a father was obliged to give to his adult son at least a keris.

Keris is a stabbing weapon that is known in Nusantara or Indonesia, including Malay Peninsula and the southern Philippines. The use of the keris itself scattered in the area dwellers who have affected the culture of Srivijaya-Majapahit, such as Java, Madura, Nusa Tenggara, Sumatra, Kalimantan coast, part of Sulawesi, the Malay Peninsula, southern Thailand and southern Philippines (Mindanao). Kris form Mindanao do not have much in common with other areas of the keris, although also a stabbing weapon. The keris of Indonesia has been listed in UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Non-human material.

In general, keris is divided to two important parts, the blade (Wilah) and the scabbard (Warangka), to protect the blade.
A keris is considered 'good' if it has perfect physical characteristics and at the same time contains good and strong spiritual power.

Besides being used as a weapon, a dagger is also often considered to have supernatural powers. These weapons are often mentioned in many traditional legends, such as empu Gandring's Keris in legend of Ken Arok and Ken Dedes.

The procedure for the use of different dagger in each region. In areas such as Javanese and Sundanese, a dagger was placed in the rear waist peacetime but is placed in front in wartime. Meanwhile, in Sumatra, Borneo, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, a dagger was placed in front.

The history

Originally Keris that we know today is still not explained very well. Temple reliefs in Java such as Borobudur and Prambanan (9th century) more show knights with Indian-style weapons. Relief that clearly reflected this weapon are in:
- Bahal Temple (11th century AD) the royal heritage Penai/Pane in North Sumatra that are part of the Srivijaya empire

- Penataran Temple (13th century AD), relics of the Majapahit kingdom in Blitar, East Java.

Although we can not be sure when the real dagger was first formed but given the dagger in several temple reliefs on where in the 9th century there has been no relief that clearly indicates the keris, dagger-shaped still India, was in the 11th century was clearly illustrated it can be concluded that the keris has take a unique shape around the 9th century to 11th century AD

Keris of Buddhist and the
influence of Indian-China culture

Early kingdoms of Indonesia strongly influenced by Buddhist and Hindu culture. Temples in Central Java is the main source of cultural era. The surprise was the least use of dagger or something similar to it. Relief at Borobudur did not show a similar dagger.

From the archaeological discovery of many experts who agree that the proto-dagger-shaped knife blade straight with thick and wide. One of these is a kris dagger type Knaud family owned, obtained from Sri Paku Alam V. Keris is relief on the surface that contains the epic Ramayana and there are years of Java, 1264 (1342 AD), although there are doubts about the milestone.

The influence of Chinese culture may enter through the Dong Son culture (Vietnam), which is a link between Chinese culture and the Malay world. There keris sajen which has a shape similar to a dagger hilt human Dong Son.

The "Modern"

Keris which we now know is the result of a long evolutionary process. Modern keris known today is a unique dagger awl. many who believe that the dagger obtain forms at the time of Majapahit (14th century) and new Mataram Sultanate (17th century-18) but the reliefs of the temple bahal Pane royal heritage, part of the Srivijaya empire, in North Sumatra Portibi show on 10-11th century.

The form of keris as we know it today has found its form observer and collector dagger more often classified as ancient and newer keris (Javanese: nem-Neman).
Ancient Keris created before the 19th century, making use of ores and raw materials derived from natural sources and meteorites (because there is no metal ore smelting plants), so that the metal that is used still contain many types of other alloys, such as iron ore containing titanium, cobalt, silver, tin, nickel, copper etc..

Newer Keris (after the 19th century) usually only use materials of iron, steel and nickel from the smelting of iron ore, or scrap metal (per vehicle spare parts, iron bridges, railway iron, etc.) that the average is manufactured, so that purity guaranteed or likely to contain very few metals other types.

Suppose research Haryono Arumbinang, Sudyartomo and Budi Santosa (BATAN Yogyakarta nuclear scholar) in the era of 1990, showed that a keris with tough Tuban, kitchen Tilam Upih and prestige of Rice Wutah turned out to contain iron (Fe), arsenic (arsenic) and Titanium (Ti)
, according to the researchers that the keris is "an ancient dagger," for the element titanium metal, new metal is found as an element of self in about 1940, and metals which exceed the hardness of steel but much lighter than steel, widely used as a means of modern transportation (plane aircraft, spacecraft) or a rocket, so at that time the technology has not been present in Indonesia. Titanium many meteorites found on rock and iron sand usually comes from the South Coast region as well as Sulawesi. Of the 14 kris studied, the average alloy contains many other species such as cromium, Stanum, stibinium, silver, copper and zinc, as much as 13 kris contains titanium and only one dagger that contain nickel.

Newer Keris can be immediately known because of its metal content of the type of empu (kris craftsmen) to buy their raw materials in iron stores, such as iron, nickel, brass etc.. They do not use raw materials from iron ore (eg taken from mining) or stone meteorite, so it does not need to be analyzed with radioactive isotopes. So if there is suspected as a result kris engineering, or new kris kris-looking ancient, the research will be easy to express it.

The process of the making of the blade

The process of the making of the blade in the old days may last one year only for one keris. The keris maker is called an Empu. Only the respectable Empus could make a high quality keris, physically and spiritually. Empu has to do some spiritual deeds to prepare a keris, like fasting, not sleeping for several days and nights, meditation, etc.
In Principle, a keris is a personal sacred weapon, it is made by an Empu, in accordance with the wish of the consumer.

The manufacturing of keris is complicated, for short as the following :
- At workshop with good fire plate to case the row materials such as 5 kg iron plate, measuring; 4 cm wide, 2 cm thick, 15 cm long; 50 gr of nickel and 0,5 kg of steel.
- The iron is heated until it become smaller, it forges again and again.
- The 5 kg iron become 2 kg forged iron.
- The nickel inserted in between the forged iron, smolder them, forged them carefully to produce the desired 'pamor' or surface pattern.
- Afterward the steel sheet, together with above forged iron and nickel, smolder and forge again.

- In this stage the keris should be made Keris Lurus (a straight keris) or Keris Luk (keris with curves). The keris should be formed in accordance to the blue print, using several tools such as; rough fine, triangular files, grindstone and chisels.

- Afterwards the keris should be heated but not smoldered and than plated, to make the keris more durable. After it has been plated, it should be soaked in a mix solution of sulfur, lemon juice and salt. The keris is ready and its weight is about 0,4 kg.

The Physical Characteristic of Keris

There are some characteristic of keris
  1. Keris Lurus (straight Keris) and Keris Luk (curved keris)
  2. Dapur
    Dapur or shape is the keris specific form or type and identified by particular combination of parts and curved (luk). The meaning of dapur is based on certain standard which is called Pakem Dapur Keris. The names of dapur among other :
    • Sangga Buwono
    • Jangkung Mangkurat
    • Pasopati
    • Tilam Upih
    • Sengkelat
    • Jalak Nyucup Madu
    • Etc.
  3. Tangguh
    Tangguh is the estimated era of keris making. It is linked with prominent kingdoms, such as ;
    • Tangguh Kahuripan of XI AD
    • Tangguh Singasari of XII AD
    • Tangguh Pajajaran of XIII AD
    • Tangguh Majapahit of XIV AD
    • Tangguh Mataram of XIV - XVI AD
    • Tangguh Kartosuro
    • Tangguh Surokarto
    • Tangguh Yogyakarta
    • Etc.
  4. Pamor
    Surface pattern of a keris blade, the design has not been carved, it appears as a result of forging technique of different metals.
    Some pamor's name are :
    • Ilining Warih
    • Wos Wutah
    • Lintang Kemukus
    • Udan Mas
    • Mlati Sumebar
The Physical characteristic of Keris, also symbolizing its mission.
  1. Dapur : Jalak Ngucup Madu (jalak is a starling, a kind of bird; ngucup is drink; madu is honey). The wish is clear, the owner of the keris should live in prosperity.
  2. Pamor : Udan Mas (udan is rain; mas is gold). The keris has a mission to help its owner to have an abundant wealth.
  3. A. Keris Lurus or Straight Keris, symbolizing self-confidence, strong mentality.
    B. Keris Luk or Keris with Curved
    Luk 3 : symbolizing a success to achieve some wishes.
    Luk 5 : to be loved by other people
    Luk 7 : dignity.
    Luk 9 : dignity, charismatic and leadership.
    Luk 11 : to achieve high position
    Luk 13 : peaceful and stability of live.
The magical power of Keris

Believe it or not, despite its physical characteristic, keris contain a spiritual mission.The original spiritual power is the wishes of the Empu, the maker. While preparing and making a keris, the Empu, in the holy state, solemnly pray to God , the keris should contain spiritual wishes as requested by the Empu or the consumer.

It depends who is going to use the keris, the mission should be different, for instance, for the kings, begawans (priest), generals, high ranking officials, farmers, traders, fishermen, workers, soldiers, etc. So, it could be easy to understand that a keris which good for king , may be not good for a trader.

The Additional and/or Other Spiritual Power of Keris. The keris could be filled with spiritual beings, unseen by ordinary people, such as a genie, (jin or qodam) in order to protect or to help the keris owner.


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