Kris and Mandau Swords
Kris and Mandau Swords
The kris is a special type of dagger, wavy or straight bladed, painstakingly worked and hammered from meteor metal. Originating in central Java around the fourteenth century it was much more than a physical weapon. The kris is said to have a mystic spiritual or ritual power of its own. A high quality kris blade would take 3 to 5 months of consistent, committed devotion, including a week or more of silent meditation on the spirit to be reflected in the blade.
Numerous legends imbue the kris with the power of life or death simply by pointing the kris at someone. The kris is said to have a will of its own, being powerfully evil or magically healing; of favoring one owner, while wreaking havoc with another; of diverting or redirecting flames, of causing water to flow. The kris was an essential part of numerous rituals of Java and Bali in both the Islamic and Hindu traditions. These rituals could range from weddings to oath-takings to traditional dance.
Apart from its physical and spiritual attributes, the type of kris used was a reflection of one's station in life and was carried at all times. Often only royalty could carry a kris with gold in it. The dagger can be seen on figures in many of the Balinese paintings of all styles, from those in the marketplace to those in dance. Many traditional woodcarvings have special places where the kris can be rested.
The quality and value of a kris is largely determined by the way in which the metals are integrated to create the blade, producing patterns and grains. Different styles of blades and sheaths are created in various regions; styles vary from Yogyakarta to Solo to Madura to Bali.
The special daggers in our collection range in age from about thirty years to over two hundred years old. There are numerous "kris" that are now mass-produced in Indonesia available for a fraction of the cost of an authentic one. These reproductions are of no interest to serious collectors.
Also included in this collection are several "mandau" blades, as important to the Dayaks of Borneo as the kris is to the Javanese. Unlike the kris, which can only be used in battle or ritual, mandau are often put to practical use.