Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1746 Javanese pendekar
Subjectpendekar warrior
Culture: Javanese
Setting: wars of succession, Mataram sultanate 18thc
Objectkeris daggers


 * Frey 1988 p50
"The Surakarta style of kris hilt is surely the most beautiful single element in all of Indonesian art.  It has an elegance, a grace and simplicity that defies description of sufficient subtlety to do justice to its exquisite form.  No picture captures its spirit; its seven smooth planes are lost to tactile sense.  The beauty of its austere form and delicate carvings is not well shown in flat illustrations.  Only a keeper or collector of these pieces can know them well, and, as in the case of Javanese pamor, familiarity causes one to succumb to the charm of the elegant ukiran."Because of its flat sides the hilt is referred to as 'planar'.  Except for the patra, the carvings on the inside faces, the hilt is otherwise unadorned.  The patra are similar to the kala (demon) masks known as tao-tieh on Chinese bronzes and are curiously like the Arctic [SIC] Haida and Tlingit totem figures."

* World of the Javanese Keris p


* World of the Javanese Keris p12
"Another enigmatic group of keris have simple blades and stylized human figure hilts made from one piece of forge-welded iron.  Western literature generally calls them keris majapahit (a term not used in Solo) and, with little proof, popularly labels them as the oldest kind of keris.  They are not worn, and the handle and blade orientation is the reverse of other keris -- the rudimentary ganḍik is on the right side of the front face.  Keris majapahit served as amulets to protect crops from disease and bring good luck; they are said to have been incorporated into offerings to the gods or ancestors.  In some the hilt is a generalized upper torso with head, in others a standing figure with bent knees, or a squatting figure.  Similar one-piece ritual daggers of bronze or iron, with anthropomorphic hilts, have been found in Vietnam and Borneo.  The Paiwan people of Taiwan also use daggers of this type but with iron blades and bronze hilts.  The distribution of these daggers suggests they are a Southeast Asian indigenous form."

* Zonneveld 2001 p69
"Later examples [of keris majapahit] increasingly resemble 'normal' kerisses. The blade is rather roughly forged.  The asymmetrical broadening at its base is far less pronounced than that of the normal keris.  The keris majapahit does not have a forged ganja, but sometimes these are indicated by scratching in the blade.  Most blades are straight, but undulating blades do occur.  On nearly all examples of such kerisses traces of welded strips of iron can be found.  Simple pamor is common.  The hilt has the shape of a more or less stylised human figure, sometimes standing, sometimes squatting.   This figurine often holds its arms folded across the chest and has a kind of small cap on its head.  Simpler examples have only a smooth body and head.  The front of the figurine usually faces the flat side of the blade.  Some examples show the figurine facing the edge (on the side where the base of the blade protrudes least).
​   "A keris majapahit was presumably never used as a stabbing weapon.  It usually goes without a scabbard.  If it does have one, the scabbard is of a more recent date, and often very plain."