A North East Javanese keris handle
The keris can be defined as the most iconic and spiritual weapon of the Indonesian archipel. In many cases the hilt resembles the spiritual or religious belief of the owner. This example comes from the North East Coast of Java and depicts the ancient Hindu diety Rakshasa.
North Coast Java, early 19th century
A finely carved hilt, or ‘Oekiran’ depicting the Hindu humanoid Rakshasa. The hilt is of excellent quality and detail. The face and hair of the Rakshasa is very well executed and so are the proportions of arms and legs. The handle has a very nice smooth, natural patina.
A Rakshasa is a humanoid being in Hindu mythology. As this mythology influenced other religions, the rakshasa was later incorporated into Bhuddism. Rakshasas are also known as ‘Maneaters’ . A female rakshasa is known as a Rakshasi. Rakshasas were most often depicted as ugly, fierce-looking and enormous creatures with two fangs protruding from the top of the mouth and having sharp, claw-like fingernails. They are shown as being mean, growling like beasts and as insatiable man-eaters that could smell the scent of human flesh. Some of the more ferocious ones were shown with flaming red eyes and hair, drinking blood with their palms or from a human skull. Generally they could fly, vanish and had ‘Maya’ (magical powers of illusion), which enabled them to change size at will and assume the form of any creature.
A very fine example dating from the late 18th to early 19th century. Finely carved with a lot of attention to details such as the face and hair.
Dimensions: 9.7 x 2.7cm
Copyright by Peter Andeweg – 2020
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