A kris naga basuki dagger




Indonesia, Java (Yogyakarta)


19th century


Forging, chiseling, chasing, inlaying, lacquering, gem-setting


Steel, gold, diamonds, rubies, lacquer, wood


Overall length (without scabbard) 476 mm; blade length 402 mm; scabbard length 492 mm

The shape of the blade (dapur) is known as "naga basuki", which means "king of serpents"”. The double surface pattern (pamor dwi warna) includes the "naga rangsang" and "mayang mekar" motifs that mean "attacking serpent" and "unfolding of palm flowers", respectively. The base of the blade (sorsoran) is chiselled in bas-relief depicting a serpent’s head (kepala naga). The serpent’s body "merged" with the blade. The gold kinatah decoration is composed of a serpent’s crown (mahkota) and triangular motifs (tumpal) on the base of the blade. The serpent’s head is inlaid with small faceted rubies and diamonds. The rest elements on the gold decoration are inlaid with diamonds only. The hilt is carved from brown wood in the nunggak semi style typical of Yogyakarta. The gold hilt ring (mendak) is inlaid with small faceted diamonds between beaded friezes. The wide upper part of the scabbard (warangka) is carved from wood in the bragah mangkubumen style and lacquered in black. The narrow lower part of the scabbard (gandar) has a slotted gold alloy cover (pendok blewah).

COMMENT. Kris is the specific asymmetrical thrusting dagger that is closely associated with the culture of Indonesia but also common in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the southern part of the Philippines. There are other local names for this peculiar weapon as well. The term "kris" is a European form of the Javanese word "keris", which in turn might have evolved from the Old Javanese "ngiris" meaning "to stab" or "to pierce". The kris was originated in Java probably around the 9th century and was common to the rest of the Malay Archipelago during the Majapahit era (1293-1520) through Javanese merchants and migrant craftsmen who contributed to the emergence of regional manufacturing centres and new styles. Although there are many kris variations, they all have common features. The most important and most valued part of the kris is the double-edged blade as a possessor of a certain magical power, which is related to its shape (dapur) and pattern (pamor). The relatively narrow blade features an asymmetrical wide base (sorsoran) and an integral but more often separate pointed cross-piece (ganja), which performs both protective and decorative functions. This feature distinguishes the kris from other types of edged weapons. The general shape of the blade can be either wavy (dapur luk) or straight (dapur lurus). The number of hilt forms is enormous, but almost all of them are curved and convenient for stabbing. The upper part of the scabbard, typically, is strongly expanded. Each part of the kris is an object of art and helps to characterize it in terms of origination, age, affiliation, and symbolic meaning. Apart from the surface pattern and the shape of the blade, the aesthetic value of the kris also includes the "tangguh" referring to its age and origin. The kris is not only an effective close combat weapon but also an important and inalienable element of Indonesian culture performing intricate practical, social and sacred functions.

Kris lurus is the common name for the straight-bladed krises. The word "lurus" means "straight". Although the kris is famous primarily for its distinctive wavy blade, more ancient types dated from the Majapahit era have straight blades. The straight form has retained its popularity in the subsequent time as well. The kris lurus is a symbol of unity, stability and constancy. It is also known as "keris luk satu", literally "single-curved kris".

LITERATURE: Сиваченко Е. Сталь и Золото: Восточное оружие из собрания Feldman Family Museum = Steel and Gold: Eastern Weapons from the Feldman Family Museum Collection. – Киев, 2019. – С. 578-579, №244.