Indonesia, Royal Keris

Keris, or daggers, held considerable significance for the cultures of the Indonesian archipelago. Apart from being a superbly crafted and highly functional weapons conveying the wealth and status of the owner, the keris and its sheath are said to have special magical powers. Keris are part of formal dress, always worn tucked into waistbands.

This keris came from the island of Sumbawa is now part of Indonesia. Its design reflects the style of the Makassar courts which had invaded Sumbawa early in the seventeenth century. Its handle and sheath have been lavishly decorated with gold and semi-precious stones. There are diamonds, too, but these have been polished to give them a ‘smoky’ appearance.

Describe the shape of the keris blade.Why do you think the blade was shaped like this?

What materials were used to make the blade?

Do you think the keris was used as a weapon, or was it used more as an accessory to wear?

Research the materials and processes used to make the blade of a keris and the symbolism incorporated in its design, both as a cultural object and as a weapon.