A Batara Bayu kris hilt




Indonesia, Bali


Late 19th or early 20th century


Casting, chasing, gem-setting


Gold, rubies, rubies, spinels, amethysts, glass


Length 126 mm

The hilt is made of gold as a figure of a deity sitting on a throne and holding in his right hand a wish-fulfilling gem (cintamani) or a magic vessel with an elixir of life or amrita (toya mreta). He is dressed into a patterned sarong and wears a diadem, a belt, earrings, and numerous bracelets. The miniature figure is skillfully chased and set with different-sized cabochon rubies and several red and green colored glass cabochons. Another eight large cabochon rubies, spinels and amethysts are inserted into the hilt cup (selut).

COMMENT. The presented kris hilt is an excellent example of the togogan style, which is common on the island of Bali, as well as in East Java. The name of the style comes from the word "togog", which means the image or figure of a deity. Balinese hilts depicting Hindu mythical heroes, deities and demons are carved from bone or wood, but more often they are made of gold or silver and set with precious or semiprecious stones. Probably, this hilt depicts either the god (batara) Bayu, who is the Indonesian version of Vāyu, the Hindu god of the wind. He is considered the spiritual father of Hanuman and Bima (Bhimasena), the most most powerful of the five Pandava brothers, the protagonists of the Mahabharata, one of the two major epic poems of ancient India. Thanks to his bulging eyes and a formidable grin, the depicted character resembles the mythical demon lord Ravana, although he does not have protruding fangs that are characteristic of the evil demons in Vedic, Hindu and Buddhist mythology called raksasas. A similar gold hilt is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (inv. no. 28.23.2).