Palembang, Sumatra – 19th century
Materials: Steel, Iron, Brass, Horn, Wood
A fine keris from the Palembang region of Sumatra. Sumatran keris can be distinghuised from other Malay keris due to their typical hilts and straight scabbards. The keris from Sumatra tend to show high contrasted and difficult ‘pamor‘ forms. A common feature on Sumatran keris is the ‘Jawa Demam‘ hilt which represents an anthropomorphic figure trembling with fever. It is in fact a humanoid figure being half man, half bird.
The Malay term for hilt is called ‘ukiran‘ or ‘oekiran‘ and varies in style in every region. The ‘Jawa Demam‘ is a common ‘oekiran’ shape and is often made of wood, horn or ivory. Our example here is made of buffalo horn (karbouw) and shows a fine abstract presence of the humanoid figure. The base is carved with pyramid shaped floral panels and the arms, legs and eyes can be seen clearly. The hilts base is covered with a brass cup, called ‘selut‘ which is finely chiseled with a-symetrical floral motifs and a rhombic shaped border.
A well made, double edged, thirteen- luk blade with a complex ‘pamor‘. The base of the blade shows a fine ‘sogokan‘ which is the medial ridge which is presented as a deep recess in the blade. The ”elephant snout” or ‘kembang kacang‘ is nicely forged on the base of the cutting edge. The protrusions on the blade and ‘ganja‘ (guard) are called ‘gereneng‘ and are seen as a spiritual connection to its owner. The blade (wilah) shows a complex ‘pamor‘ which is caused due to the traditional welding of the iron and addition of nickel which sows some, light ‘chrystalised stains’.
Made of wood, covered in a red varnish to preserve it in a humid climate. The scabbard mouth ‘waranga‘ is in Sumatran style, carved steep and to some, an abstract form of a European vessel.
Provenance: Dutch private collection
Condition: Very good, the blade is well maintained, the hilt shows a very small chip on the ‘jawa demam‘ snout. Further excellent.
Total length: 49.5cm
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