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Introduction Cloth & Textiles Traditional Art Modern Art The Keris
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The Keris

These daggers with their wavy blades are famous the world over. Going back as far as Hindu Javanese of Majapahit in the 13th century, these beautiful daggers are much more than a weapon - they are a revered symbol of the man who owns it and each Keris is deeply believed to have a life and spirit of its own. Indeed there are stories of kings, too busy with affairs of the palace to attend their own weddings, letting the Keris stand in as the groom. And not just any will Keris will do, a Keris must be matched spiritually to its owner to protect him from harm.

Since the Keris is found in many parts of Indonesia, there are correspondingly many different styles of blades, handles and sheaths - none any better than another just personal preference. In Bali the Keris is usually quite large and has a wavy double edged blade ( be careful when you unsheathe it, it's sharp! ) with an ornately carved handle (or hilt) representing one of the gods from the Ramayana epic. Also with the Balinese Keris the area connecting the blade to the handle is embedded with semi precious stones as is the sheath. As a comparison, the Keris from Java are usually smaller and less presumptuous and the Keris from North Sumatra are usually with straight, one sided blades.

An old, valuable Keris can easily fetch US$ 5,000. but an average Keris is about US$ 200 - US$ 500. When buying, attention to detail is everything. Look closely at the area that joins the blade to the handle, does the handle look new and the blade old?, is the blade intricately forged? etc.