Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1845 Balinese warrior
Subject: warrior
Culture: Balinese
Setting: Dutch wars, Bali-Lombok 1845-1908
Evolution1342 Majapahit bhayankari 1546 Balinese warrior > 1845 Balinese warrior

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Lockard 2009 p96-97
"The self-sufficient people of Bali, although divided into several competing kingdoms, relished their independence and ... put up a heavy resistance.  The Dutch triumphed only at a high cost in lives on both sides.  Beginning in the 1840s the Dutch launched a series of brutal wars to annex the Balinese.  Attacking Balinese-ruled states on nearby Lombok island, Dutch soldiers sang about their enthusiasm for war: 'And to Lombok off we go/And we are bored with peace/so we'll shoot with powder and lead/Those Balinese dead.'  The Dutch sent more armed forces between 1906 and 1908 to crush the holdout Balinese states on Bali and Lombok.  After their valiant resistance failed, the royal family of Klungkung in Eastern Bali, the last holdout kingdom, committed suicide, walking into the guns of the Dutch forces.  A Dutch account from a Batavia newspaper described the horrific scene: 'Little groups of five to six lance bearers made for the [Dutch] troops.  They were immediately shot down.  This maneuver repeated itself, then women and children began to stab themselves.  It was now obvious that the prince and all the realm's lords and most prominent people had sacrificed themselves.'  The Balinese defiance and preference for death over defeat gave the Dutch no satisfaction in their victory."


* Edgerton 1995 p98
"The inhabitants of Bali and Lombok, situated at the east end of Java, are the only islanders who still practice the Hindoo religion.  They are famous for the manufacture of matchlocks.  Wallace saw two guns, 6 and 7 feet long respectively, and of a proportionately large bore, the barrels of which were twisted and well finished, though not so finely worked as ours.  The stocks were well made, and extended to the end of the barrel.  Silver and gold ornaments were inlaid on most of the surface, but the locks were taken from English muskets." 


* Eiseman 1990 vol I p160
"The kris is a traditional Balinese short sword or dagger, sometimes wavy, usually straight, today seen only in dance performances or on days of great ceremonial importance.  By 1908, when the Dutch invaded with their muskets and rifles, the kris had outlived its usefulness as a weapon.  But the kris was never just a dagger -- it was a tenget, 'charged,' object, full of the mysterious power of steel and the secrets of smithery.  And this holds true, perhaps to a somewhat reduced extent, today.
​    "In traditional Bali, kris were often ornately decorated and bejeweled, and, thus, expensive.  The kris was one of a man's most valuable possessions, from both a sekala and a niskala point of view.  It was the essence of his authority and power.  As a kris passed from generation to generation it accumulated power and often acquired a personality of its own.  Much like our Arthurian legends, legends abound in Bali of kris with curses or special attributes.  We have a kris in Jimbaran that is considered to have been handed down directly from a god, and it is used today only to sever the cord that holds the mask on our sacred Barong, Dewa Ayu, when the time comes to separate mask and body and retire the dance troupe for a period of rest.  At all other times the kris is kept hidden in a special shrine in the temple.  Some kris must be stored without any sort of roof overhead; some are so powerful they must never pass under anything, even a gate.  It has been reported that the occasional person who runs amok -- an Indonesian word -- brandishing his kris and killing people indiscriminately, is under the influence of the kris itself, without any control over his own passions."

* Frey 1988 p45-46
"The most ornamental of the Bali types is a large upright figure made of a carved wood or mastic effigy covered with gold foil or gold-plated copper foil.  Sometimes this type of hilt is of cast brass which has been polished and engraved.  The mythological figure may take many forms.  Most often found is Bayu, who carries, in an ornate vase held waist high, a holy fluid, amrita ([S]anskrit, 'immortal') which brings good fortune and is exhalted [SIC] symbolically by a gem set into the vase. Usually also, there is a profusion of semi-precious stones or glass cabochons set into these gold figures.  Sometimes the demigod, Nawa Sari is seen; he has one arm raised to the back of his head, usually but not always, grasping a sheaf of rice.  Ravana, enemy of Rama, abductor of his wife, the lovely Sita, may be found.  He has a large head, a particularly ferocious countenance with long tusks and may be brandishing a sword or dagger. "Bali hilts tend to be large, as the Bali kris itself is often large and heavy.  Massive wooden hilts are common; a noteworthy type is a zigzag cubist or 'pleated' style that never ceases to cause speculation as to the intent of its design.  Often this hilt is made of a pale decorative wood such as kayu pelet selected to provide a single dark band across its centre.  Another wood, sono kembang, showing rich-toned dark and light colours is always pleasing.  Both woods are particularly attractive when found en suite with the wood of the sheath."

* Eiseman vol I 1990 p164
"Balinese society is heavily influenced by numerology and number symbolism.  The kris is no exception.  The magical powers of a kris are affected by the numerical relationship that exists between the proportions of its blade, and between the dimensions of the blade and those of the user's hand.  To own a kris with unsuitable dimensions would be asking for trouble."

* Draeger 1972 p182
"The Balinese kris may be seen in forms not too unlike many of the Javanese varieties.  Both the dapur luq (undulate blade) and the dapur bener (straight blade) exist on Bali.  All forging is veiled in mysticism and the pande (smith) controls this art with secretive jealousy.
​    "The Balinese kris is usually straighter in general blade outline and longer than the Javanese types.  ... [T]he average Balinese kris blade [is] some forty to fifty centimeters long, with an overall length of sixty-six centimeters. ...
​    "Occasionally the Balinese kris is called a dawung (as it is on Java) and is identified by its accentuation of the Kala-head design of its handle.  It was designed to be worn in different ways depending upon the purpose.  The normal way is on the back of the right shoulder, handle projecting to the right; ceremonial use requires that the kris be worn behind the right hip, thrust through the sash, its handle to the right."

* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/Larocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson p200 (Frederick Wilkinson, "India and Southeast Asia" 186-203)
"Balinese sheaths have a slight resemblance to those of Malaya, but are less angular.  The typical Balinese kris has a scabbard of wood with a rounded top section to house the wide section of blade; the grip is basically pistol-butt shaped but with facetted sides."

* Stephen 2005 p43 (describing the Barong mask dance)
"The meeting of Barong and Rangda suggests what Freudians would call the 'primal scene,' and for small children this scene is often interpreted as large animals fighting.  From such a perspective, the young men who rush in with their daggers and attempt to stab the Witch/Mother act out of forbidden oedipal desires for the mother -- they always aim at the abdomen of Rangda, and the phallic significance of the kris is quite explicit in Balinese cultural understanding."

* Pitt Rivers Museum online > Keris (1884.24.232)
"[A] Balinese keris ... is similar (though longer and larger), than Javanese forms [SIC]. As the last Hindu bulwark in the predominantly Islamic Indonesia, Bali saw itself as the inheritor of the ancient Majapahit Indo-Javanese culture. Although long-bladed types of keris were used for performing executions in some Malay states, it is not an especially functional weapon. However, all of the its components, from the hilt shape to the blade to the sheath, are laden with symbolism, making this a weapon of divine power.
    ... "In the areas where it spread, the keris was considered an integral part of a man's dress until the 19th century, when Dutch colonists probably put an end to the practice. The keris signified manhood and offered a magical potency that could assist its owner.
    "The blade of the keris represents a serpent. This is probably the naga of Hindu mythology, guardian of the earth's treasures. When the blade is straight, the serpent is at rest. The distinctive pattern-welding on the blade, known as pamor, is achieved by the smith layering wires or plates of pig iron and meteoric nickel steel, which he then folds and ripples into specific patterns. Several different kinds of pamor can be achieved by a skilled smith, who can give the blade a grain like wood, spots like leopard skin, and so on. Since the earthly serpent is formed of meteoric metal in this way, the keris succeeds in fusing the heavenly and the earthly.
    "Each keris has its own spirit, reflected by the blade shape and its individual pamor. It was considered important for a prospective owner to acquire a keris whose spiritual persona was compatible with his own. Only then could the weapon's mystical powers be used to his advantage. A keris could help keep disease away, ease the pain of childbirth, prevent quarrels, ensure victory in battle, extinguish fires and deter attacks by wild animals to mention but a few. Due to this extraordinary power, many keris were kept as family heirlooms. However, a keris placed in the wrong hands could create havoc and misfortune.
    [....] "A keris is considered incomplete without its sheath, which acts as its 'house' and keeps its power in check when at rest. The broad scabbard mouth, known as a sampir, is designed to accommodate the ganja and its shape may also represent the moonboat of Malay and Javanese legends. .... The combination of the mystical and the aesthetic in this weapon meant it both beautified and protected the Balinese warrior who owned it, and also embodied something of his spirit that would remain with it through the centuries."

* Eiseman 1990 vol I p168-169
"Today one does not often see Balinese people wearing kris.  But even well into this century, some villages, especially the more remote Bali Aga villages, had strict rules requiring anyone who left town to wear his kris.  This is no longer enforced.  But one almost always sees males wearing kris when they are involved in important ceremonies connected with rites of passage, such as tooth filing.  Most male dancers wear a kris.  And the members of a barong group may also wear them.  When used in one of the rites of passage or in a dance, the kris is normally slung across the back of the man, handle on the right, held in place by a long cloth belt that is wrapped over his shoulders and under his arms."


* Bali 2011 p265
"To judge by the representations of ear jewelry on statues and paintings, the cylindrical subeng were worn by both male and female deities, nobles, and men and women of the courts, whereas the drop-shaped rumbing were exclusively male.  For example, both male and female sculptural images are portrayed wearing subeng, whereas the Uma statue wears subeng and the Rawana kris stand rumbing.  The bronze statue has big holes in his earlobes, obviously to wear subeng.  In the paintings from Tabanan, Rama, Rawana, and the deities wear rumbing, and Sita and Ratih wear subeng.  But also on both parbasubeng seem to be worn by most of the other characters.  Pal leaf images of Dewi Sri usually have very large subeng.
    "Both of these pairs of ear jewelry were meant for female and male nobles of the court of Tabanan and were probably made by goldsmiths who worked to order at the palace.  The jewelery [SIC] was worn at all kinds of rituals and festive occasions, such as wedding ceremonies or temple festivals.  This kind of jewelry, first used exclusively at the courts, over time became more and more fashionable among rich villagers, especially as part of wedding costumes."


* Eiseman 1990 vol II p225
"For formal dress, most men, particularly older ones, wear a head cloth called an udeng.  Some men wear udengs for any adat occasion, even those that do not necessarily require their use.  And some men wear them all the time, just as some men in Western society wear hats.  There are almost as many ways to wear an udeng as there are Balinese.  It really matters not what style is used.  There is almost no limit to the ingenuity that one can display in wrapping a piece of cloth around one's head, and some men take great pride in the appearance of their particular favorite technique.
    "An udeng is usually a piece of square batik material that measures about one meter on each side.  Endek is never used because it is not stiff enough and will not hold pleats.  The cloth may have an overall design, but it is usually symmetrical.  In some popular udeng patterns a large plain white square occupies the center of the cloth.  The wearer folds the cloth in a triangle, rolls up the long end, and ties it to his head.  The entire udeng is tied to the head in such a way that the point of the triangle faces toward the rear and the knot is centered on the forehead.  If you really want to have class, you do not tie a complete overhand knot, but, rather make a loop like tying a single shoelace.  The tip of the triangle forms a kind of crest, symbolizing the ongkara, widely used to represent the Hindu triad: Brahma, Wisnu, and Siwa.  (It also looks stylish.)
    "Some people call this crest jambul, after the tuft of feathers found on the heads of some birds.  One can tell the personality of a man by his udeng.  Extroverts leave a big, protruding jambul that looks like the comb of a cock.   Introverts leave only a tiny tip protruding.  The jauntiness of position and tilt of the udeng tell a great deal about the wearer.  It is usual to stick a flower in the udeng so that it extends upwards either in front, in back, or both.  Stores that sell adat clothing may carry pre-formed udengs, shaped and sewed firmly in place, that fit over the head like a cap.  These offer the same kind of convenience as does the clip-on tie in the West."


* Eiseman 1990 vol II p220-221
"The traditional male waistcloth is called a sarung, sometimes kamben sarung.  (Kamben is the generic Balinese word for any cloth used to wrap the lower body.)  Sarung means 'sheath' or 'tube.'  A sarung is a two-meter length of cloth that has its ends sewed together to form a tube.  The cloth is about one and a quarter meters wide.  Visitors, especially those who remember Dorothy Lamour in Road to Bali, will be tempted to call any sort of lower body cloth a 'sarong.'  But the term is generally reserved for this tubular garment worn by men.  A man usually pulls the sarung on over his head and holds it so that the lower border hangs just above the ground.  The top edge comes up to the upper chest.  While the cloth is held against the chest by the man's chin, he gathers up the excess cloth on either side and folds it around his body.  A man always puts the right hand fold on the outside, pulling it across the front of his body to his left.  Then the top of the sarung is rolled tightly down to the hips, thereby holding it up.  It is seldom that a belt is worn.  the roll of cloth produces a considerable bulge that may be taken for a pot belly if concealed by a shirt.  ...
    "Most sarungs have a panel of a different color or design woven into the center of the cloth which, when the sarung is worn, ends up in the back.  The Javanese favor sarungs made of batik -- a type of cloth in which the design is produced by blocking out areas with wax, dyeing the cloth, and then boiling out the wax.  But the most popular sarungs in Bali are made of the native endek.  Endek is usually rayon, and the design is tie-dyed into the weft strands.  Rayon is softer than cotton, and has an attractive sheen.  In the early morning chill a man can pull his sarung up high and wrap part of it around his head as a sort of shawl.  It is usually long enough to cover the necessary parts below.  In colder parts of Bali men wear ordinary long pants -- jaler -- and use the sarung as a head wrap."

* Bali 2011 p259
"Balinese noblemen in the early-twentieth century photographs [SIC] are often shown wearing a lower garment with this distinctive checked pattern [black-and-white checked silk cloth, with each check four finger-widths square, poleng].  Checked textiles can also combine red and white threads to produce a pattern of red, white, and pink squares, with thin lines of black accentuating the pattern; however, these textiles are not considered poleng."

* Bali 2011 p262
"This garment [of endek cloth] is an outer wrap -- saput in Low Balinese, kampuh in High Balinese -- worn by a man above the main waist cloth, either tied around the waist or tied around the chest under the armpits with a separate sash.  This latter style of tying an outer wrap was common among the noble class.  Only a male member of a prestigious royal family would have worn a cloth of such quality."




* Bali 2011 p249
"This kind of knife was called wedung in Bali, the name of a similarly shaped ceremonial weapon from Java.  The word wedung is found in Old Javanese inscriptions in both Java and Bali, so it is a weapon of considerable antiquity.  Although we know how a Javanese wedung was worn as part of ceremonial court dress, we do not know how a Balinese wedung was carried.  It is also unclear whether a wedung was ever part of the ensemble of sacred heirlooms, pusaka, as was often the case with a kris.  In contrast to a kris, which has a double-edged blade, the blade of the wedung has a straight back and an S-shaped edge."

​* van Zonneveld 2001 p152-153
A short, broad machete. Its blade has a straight back and an S-shaped edge. It may be made of smooth iron, but pamor forge work also occurs. The back is sometimes sharpened along c.1/3 of its length from the point. The blade's base is straight and stands at an angle of 90° to the back. This base usually has decorations shaped as filed-out indentations or small teeth (greneng). A round 'eye' or hole (kembang kacang) is sometimes found. Furthermore, the base may be decorated with inlay work and representations of the mythical snake (naga), leaf and floral motifs. The tang (peksi) is made out of the blade's thick back rim. Between the spike and the blade, a pentagonal segment (metok) is forged. The short hilt, which is pentagonal on Java, forms as it were, an extension of the metok. The hilt is usually made of wood, but other materials such as animal tooth are also found. Its smooth upper part is flattened. ... The wedung is carried in the palace (kraton) as a symbol of servitude to the sultan for performing such tasks as the cutting of shrubs (belukar) or even the most humble work such as grass cutting. It is, therefore, no longer a real weapon but rather a work-tool carried on the left hip and used as personal decoration."  [CONTRA Stone 1934 p665]