Jan 25, 2012

The Master Keris Maker

Click picture to view video.

The kris or keris is a dagger strongly associated with the culture of Indonesia, Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Brunei. The kris is famous for its distinctive wavy blade but many have straight blades as well. The numbers of waves is always odd numbered, ranging from three to thirteen. A kris' aesthetic value covers the dhapur, the form and design of the blade, the pamor, the pattern of metal alloy decoration on the blade, and tangguh referring to the age and origin of a kris.

The making of a kris was the specialised duty of craftsmen called empu. A blade smith, or empu, makes the blade in layers of different iron ores and meteorite nickel. Some blades can be made in a relatively short time, while more legendary weapons take years to complete. In high quality kris blades, the metal is folded dozens or hundreds of times and handled with the utmost precision.

This clip shows traditional keris maker Muhammad Daud of Malaysia making keris'es in the traditional way without metalwork assistants or motorized grinders. He is part of the fast fading generation of traditional Malay craftsmen.

Picture Credit: Yazir Tamizi

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