Kebudayaan Indonesia



Keris is a short sword which has a sharp point in its both sides. It antique’s shape makes Keris easily distinguished from other swords. The characteristics of Keris are unsymmetrical shape in its base, lath arch, and most of them have a decoration (damascene) which shows the fibers on its lath. Keris has been used more than 600 years by Malayan like Malaysia, South Philippines (Mindanau), South Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, and Indonesia.

The Function

A traditional Malayan thinks that Keris is not only a sword that has a function as a weapon to defense them self, but also as the Malayan’s symbol of sovereignty.  It is also considered as a magic thing, so the Malayan’s should give some mystic rituals to Keris, such as bloating it on Thursday night or giving a sour lime to keep the metal still in a good condition.

In Indonesia, Keris is one of an everlasting culture, and Unesco has already recognized it as one of culture heritage in the world. Some cultures still use Keris in their ceremony and ritual, such as Javanese culture. For Javanese, Keris is usually use as a complementary for groom’s dress. This happens because Keris is an emblem of heritage and also a symbol of male virtility. Otherwise, Keris also has a spiritual function like the ceremony of Malam Satu Suro (Satu Suro Night) in Yogyakarta palace. On Malam Satu Suro, the entire weapon, like spears, giant knife, and also Keris, are paraded around palace while the people pray to God ask for prosperity, happiness, and protection.

The History

Keris is estimated have been use in Indonesia, especially for Javanese, around 9th century. It can be proven by one of the 9th century-Borobudur’s-relief. This relief shows someone who carries a weapon likes Keris. However, the weapon does not have the skewers degree yet and also the hilt is still uniting with the other laths. Keris also considered as a heritage weapon from Dongson (Vietnam) and ancient Tiongkok. It came from Tiongkok, through Dongson, and then entered Nusantara. This assumption appears because there are similarities between Keris and another weapon from those two cultures. On that time, Keris considered as a holy thing, so that the people cannot use Keris carelessly. Keris is not only use as a weapon, but also as an offering complement. By that time, people believe that Keris has a spiritual energy, so people should to do a ritual, such as a tribute to Keris. Actually, the tributes to the metal things are influenced by from India culture (Siwaisme). It can be proved by Dakuwu statue that was found in 6th century. This statue tells about India’s iconography which shows Wesi Aji, such as Trisula, Kudhi, Arit, and Keris Sombro.

Next, the study of Karangtengah statue from 824 century told about Keris’ name on its equipment list. On the other hand, in Poh statue, found in 904 century, told Keris as a part of an offering for a tribute ritual. However, the information cannot be proved until now. In a Javanese study (Padhuwungan), Keris in Padamasa era is Budha Keris and Sombro Keris.

The experts believe that Budha Keris is the initial shape of Keris before it has its typical form. On that time, the shape of Keris is similar with Dutch sword. According to Ma Huan’s (the expedition member of Ceng Ho) notes in 1416 said “Orang-orang ini [Majapahit] selalu mengenakan pu-la-t ou (belati? atau beladau?)yang diselipkan pada ikat pinggang. [...], yang terbuat dari baja, dengan pola yang rumit dan bergaris-garis halus pada daunnya; hulunya terbuat dari emas, cula, atau gading yang diukir berbentuk manusia atau wajah raksasa dengan garapan yang sangat halus dan rajin.”(people here (Majapahit) is always wears pu-la-t-o (stiletto? Or skewer?) Which is tucked on their belts? [...] which is cretaed from metal, with difficult motive and has a fine rib on its leaf; the hilt from gold, horn, and ivory, which is carved with human or giant face shape). This note indicate that Keris is a weapon that is always use by the people to defens themselves, and in the 14th century, Keris got its exact shape.

The Philosophy

Keris a heirloom that recognizes by the Malayan, especially Indonesian. Keris evolves and persists over time until today. The armored, the creator of Keris, is very strict in detail creation of Keris, such as shape, model, and also the ornament. Every detail in Keris has a specific meaning, according to the armored as the creator. The armored created Keris with persistence, sincerity, and also a high feeling. However, the main function of Keris is for an admiration, not to kill people.

For Javanese, life is full of a symbol; one of the symbols is Keris. Keris is a symbol that helps people to always life in a right side. A short concept of Keris make Keris is only knows as a magic heirloom. In fact, Keris also bring a very good moral message. The merging between Keris and its crock means as an intimate relationship between king and his/her people, people and their leader, and also people and God.

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