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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

other of Javanese traditional dagger

The keris (pronounced "krees") is a traditional dagger found throughout SE Asia. It is believed by most scholars and experts to have originated in Java in the 14th century AD, however this is a contentious subject and its origins are still uncertain. A well-known oral legend links keris origins to a mythical cultural hero known as Prince Panji. Panji is said to have lived in 920 A.D. He is the main character of many stories telling of his adventures and romances. The keris comes in many shapes and styles, but the characteristic feature is the base of the blade called the ganja, where the blade widens to form a pointed guard. This feature distinguishes a keris from other types of edged weapons. The keris is no ordinary dagger. Though it was historically used as a weapon, it has always been an intricate part of Indonesian culture in which it plays practical, social, and mystic


A keris smith is called Empu, an honorary term meaning "lord/master". One can only obtain this title with skill, spiritual depth, and knowledge of appropriate ritual required for making a keris. Making a sacred keris in not a simple or quick process. First, the Empu must choose an auspicious day to begin. He must then eat only plain while rice and drink only water for two to three months prior to beginning. . A person desiring a keris discusses his wishes with an Empu. Choosing a keris is not a light decision. One must choose a keris appropriate to his social status and position. A keris with gold on its hilt or sheath, for example, is traditionally reserved for royalty, as gold is thought to be a gift from God. If a person chooses a keris not suited to his status, it could cause harm to him and others. It is so intimately connected with its owner that a man and his keris are considered one and the same. If a man cannot be at his own wedding ceremony, his keris can represent him.
The main parts of a keris are its blade, sheath and hilt. Each part helps to characterize the keris in terms of origination, era, owner, and symbolism. The blade is the most valued part, in that it holds the sacred power of the keris. There are two main constituents of the blade: the pamor (the damascene design on the blade) and the dapur (the shape of the blade). A combination of metals is used in the making of a keris. Keris smiths make different blends of iron, steel, nickel and sometimes meteorite. The Javanese consider kerises made with meteorite to be particularly powerful. The meteorite is obtained from a meteor that fell in Prambanan, central Java, in 1729.
The smith heats thin layers of metal, pounding and folding and fusing these layers together. He continues reheating, adding more layers and refolding, sometimes more than sixty times, until the desired product is achieved. The forging and technique of folding and pounding of different metals creates a variety of designs on the blade, called pamor. To bring out details of the pattern, a mixture of lime juice and arsenic is applied to the blade, which turns the iron and steel black, while the nickel remains white. This creates a beautiful contrast, highlighting the pamor design.
Pamor comes in many varieties, each having a particular symbolism. pamor can be divided into rekan and tiban, respectively meaning "willed" and "fated". A rekan/willed design is planned by the smith. A tiban/fated pattern is unplanned-left to God's will. These patterns have very strong spiritual connotations. pamor is further classified into particular patterns. The pattern on this particular keris is called "wos wutah", which means "scattered rice grains". It is thought to bring luck, tranquility, and a peaceful life. Wos Wutah is of the tiban class, which gives it strong spiritual power and energy.
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