Balinese Danganan Keris
Region: Bali, Klungkung
Period: Late 19th century
Materials: Steel, Iron, Copper, Glass, Wood.
The keris is to be considered as one of the most iconic weapons of the Indonesian archipel.
Besides centuries of heritage, the keris is also known in Indonesian religion to posses mythical powers. The keris from the ‘modern’ period (1300-1600A.D.) are, besides functional in battle, also meant as an important symbol of status for the owner.
The ‘Empu’ (bladesmith) forges the blade to identify its future owner. Aspects such as leadership, wealth, luck or capability of consorting with bad spirits are a few of the numerous types of forging to make it suitable.
This example originates from Bali and features a fine straight traditionally forged blade with a rare type of hilt which is attributed to Hinduism, Bali’s most practiced religion. The hilt is called ‘cecekahan’ which means ‘uneven notches’ and is made of polychromed wood. Finding an original keris with its original hilt and scabbard has become more rare over the years since many keris were re-assembled with different hilts from different periods. These hilts were worn by veteran soldiers and guardians of the ‘puri’.
The hilt and blade are connected with a small copper ferrule, called ‘mendak’ which is embossed with polished glass.
Being original to the hilt and scabbard, the large straight blade shows a lovely pamor and was traditionally forged by an ‘empu’ (blade smith). Balinese keris blade can be, similar to their other Archipelago counterparts, forged straight or with ‘luk’ waves resembling a resting or active ‘naga’, the mythical dragon-snake in ancient Hinduism. The blade shows a deep contrast of carbon rich steel and inserted nickel. The blade was traditionally washed by a professional to honor its tradition and former glory. The ‘ganja’ (guard) is separated from the ‘wilah’ (blade) and matches perfectly. The blade starts wide to function as a guard and then narrows down towards the tip with a medial ridge and two fullers on both sides. The tip has a diamond cross section and is reinforced to make it more suitable for thrusting .
Condition: Very good, all pieces are original and well maintained. The blade is traditionally washed in ‘warangi’ and cleaned from rust and dirt. It is well maintained in precious oil to honor and respect the tradition of its heritage. The scabbard has an old repair.
Hilt length: 13cm
Blade length: 47cm
Blade spine thickness: 15mm
Total length: 70.7cm
Provenance: French private collection
Literature: Albert van Zonneveld’s ‘Traditional weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago’.
To give everybody a fair chance to be the first on new arrivals, hit the subscribe button below.