The Kris in Java and Bali, Indonesia
The kris (kiris, kriss) is an Indonesian double edged weapon that accompanies traditional attire and is used in dances and ceremonies. Many people believe it to be magical, functioning as a protective amulet. The layered metal forms patterns in the blades, which are either straight or undulate like a snake from the hilt. The woman's kris is short, while the man's is long.

The drawing and painting below from the Museum Puri Lukisan in Ubud, Bali, depict the kris in use.

The Dagger Dance by Nyoman Lempad.

Detail of The Princess of Koripan is Abducted by Bagus Togog.

The kris is often worn on the back, stuck into the sash.

Yogya Palace guard with Kris.

Two stone figures at the entrance of Pura Kehen in Bangli, Bali, are shown with a kris on their back. The groom inserts a kris into a woven mat during the wedding ceremony.

They were traditionally made in Java from an alloy of local iron and meteoric (natural alloy of iron and nickel) materials. These are on display in the Bali Museum, Denpasar, Bali.

Although originally only made in Palace workshops, krises are now made in private studios with locally mined iron and nickel. The skill was traditionally passed on from father to son, but today it can be taught to unrelated apprentices. The pictures below where taken at Meteor, Sorogen RT. 05 RW, II, Kel. Jagalan - Solo, Java, Indonesia, Telephone: (0271) 683193), which is managed by Agustinus Daliman PR.

Nickel is flattened, then cut.

Soft iron, nickel, hard iron, nickel, and soft iron are stacked.

The fire box is cleaned out and refilled with fresh charcoal.

The stack is superheated, then forge welded together to form a layered billet.

The billet is flattened, cut in two, then forge welded together again - over and over..

. . .until a multilayered billet is produced. Two billets are pictured here side by side.

The billet is hammered  flat, then one of the above patterns selected.

The edge of the forged blade is ground.

Lemon and soap are used for the final cleaning.
A variety of patterns are achieved by twisting or punching the billet, hammering it flat, then filing it smooth.
Agustinus prepares a scabbard for the blade, then wraps the tang with cloth, and pushes on a carved wooden hilt.
Agustinus and his workers have produced many beautiful blades.

Beautiful kris sheaths and hilts are made in Bangli, Bali.

The sheath is made from sandalwood (whose natural oil protects the blade). The sheath is covered with gilded silver and the very top is carved ivory or wood. The hilt is carved wood with bezel set-stones.

The ivory to be carved is marked with a pencil . . .

. . . filed, carved with a knife, then sanded with fine emery paper.

Gamelan in Bali, Indonesia  
Woodcarving in Bali, Indonesia
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Songket Weaving in Bali, Indonesia
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Mexican Jeweler, Francisco Garcia Guevara
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Polish Icon Maker, Dr. Miroslaw Mrozowski
Cloisonne enameling in Beijing

Recommended Book:
The Kris, by David Van Duuren, Pictures Publishers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1998.
The Javanese Kris, by Isaac Groneman, C. Zwartentot Art Books, Leiden, The Netherlands,  reprinted in 2009.

Recommended Guides:
Competent bilingual guides (with their own vehicles) are essential. Mr. Ignatius (Telephone 0816 683 202) was my excellent guide in Java. Rudy (arranged through Tutut) was my fabulous guide in Bali.

Web page, photographs, and text by Carol Ventura in 2007. Please look at Carol's home page to see more about crafts around the world.