Southeast Asia, Indonesia, ca. mid 20th century CE. A beautiful kris (keris) with a light wood carved handle that matches the top of its sheath. An artist has painstakingly carved the wooden handle to have two abstract faces on the inside of its joints. The blade is straight and narrow, aside from the characteristic flaring portion immediately below the guard. A gilded copper guard studded with eight white inlaid sapphires is between the handle and the blade. The sheath has a wide wooden opening that curves upward on one side; below that it follows the shape of the blade, and is covered in repousse tin with a large floral pattern on one side. It is accompanied by a nice black velvet carrying case with embroidered gold and blue motif. Size: 7.7" W x 19.6" H (19.6 cm x 49.8 cm)
The kris is both a weapon and a spiritual object. The oldest known are from the 10th century CE; they are thought to have originated on the island of Java. The bladesmith, called an empu, formed the blade from layers of different iron ores and meteorite nickel. In high quality ones, the metal is folded dozens or even hundreds of times. Kris were worn every day and in special ceremonies; both men and women wear them. They were passed down through families. They were used for display, as talismans with magical powers, and weapons, and as heirlooms, as accessories for ceremonial dress, and indicators of social status. Kris blades are narrow, with wide, symmetrical bases. The aesthetic value has three elements: dhapur, the shape and design of the blade, with 40 variants; pamor, the pattern of metal alloy decoration on the blade, with 120 variants; and tangguh, the age and origin of kris. In 2005, the kris became a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Provenance: private Rochester, Michigan, USA collection
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Excellent age patina over wooden and metal surfaces. Blade is in excellent condition.