The keris is considered a magical weapon, filled with great
spiritual power. In Javanese there is a term "Tosan Aji" or
"Magic Metal" uesd to describe the keris. The keris is replete with
the totems of Malay-Indonesian culture; hindu and islam.
The best example can be seen in the union of the paksi (tang)
and the ganja. The paksi represents the lingam, which is a phallic
symbol, while the hole in the ganja represents the yoni, the female
vagina. The union of both is considered very powerful in hinduistic
belief system as it brings life; an act of great power. Thus the
joining of the paksi and the ganja imbues the keris with the power
The waves of the keris are representative of the Naga, a
mythical snake creature. The Apart from these distinctive features, the keris comes in
all shapes and sizes imaginable. The Indonesian term for the
shape of the blade is "Dapur". At last count, there are about
145 listed and identified Dapur. This doesn't include the variations
in-between. While the conventional view of a keris is that it is
wavy, straight blades abound. The waves or "lok" are
always odd in number when counted in the traditional way; the
first lok starts above the picitan, and the second on the alternate side
of the blade and on and on till the tip. Some of the common dapur
are Sempana (7 lok) or Sangkelat (13 lok). Some blades,
have a lion or singa, snake or naga, or a praying man or pendita
instead of having a kembang kacang. The names of the dapur of
these blades follow the motive they have like Singabarong
or Nagasasra.Naga is closely associated with water
and rivers. As water is life, the Naga is a powerful symbol. Imitation
of the Naga in the keris adds power to it. In Java, the keris blade
is described in terms of the Naga; a straight blade is called
"sarpa tapa" or snake in meditation, while the wavy blade is
"sarpa lumuka" or snake in motion.
The Kembang Kacang too is symbolically powerful. In Malay
it is called Belalai Gajah or elephant's trunk. The tiny projections
under the tendril in Javanese is called Lembai Gajah, or elephant's
lips. There is no doubt that the Kembang Kacang is associated to
the elephant and hence it is linked to Ganasha, the Hindu deity
with an elephant's head; a deity of great power and strength.
The pamor in the blade adds to the belief in the keris
as a magical weapon. The appearance of the intricate patterns
in the blade through the process of forging is considered magical
and a manifestation of great spiritual power. Different types of
pamor are said to give different powers to a blade; such as the
power to deflect blows, to bring prosperity, etc. Beras Wutah
(Scattered Rice Grains) is considered lucky as a man must be
of means to scatter rice grains away. Udan Mas (Rain of Gold)
is good for the businessman as it brings rains of wealth. For an
easy life, choose an Adeg blade as the straight flowing lines
corresponds to things coming easily to you.
While different pamor connotes different qualities, purists
believe that it is not license for one to go and get a pamor that
catches his fancy or matches his desires. Pamor is considered so
powerful that it must match your status in life. If not, it will bring you
harm. For example, if you are not a man of power or war, avoid
Buntel Mayit, the Death Shroud, or you might find it consuming you.
The shape and length of the blade is equally important. Many
believe that a keris must be compatible with its owner. While pamor
is an important guide, the length of the blade, I think, has more
significance on whether the blade is compatible or not. There
are several elaborate and complex counting systems on the length
of the blade to decide on compatibility. One method is to recite
mantras or chants or prayers as they thumb the length of the blade
from the ganja to the point. When the finger or thumb reaches the
point, the chant must end and where it ends will decide the issue of
compatibility. A purist will not accept a keris if it is not compatible,
regardless of its rarity, pamor or worth.
Hence it is no surprise that many people believe that keris blades
are imbued with great supernatural powers have a life of its own.
So respected and venerated is the keris that believers in it magical
properties make offerings to it and bath it in incense every Thursday
and have it ritually washed, its pamor revitalised in a solution of
lime juice and arsenic, and scented once a year in the month of
Suro or Muharam to maintain its powers.
The keris has always been considered as protective. In
traditional Malay houses, a keris would be secured to the main
roof beam to protect the house. Stories abound of keris flying
out of their sheaths and attacking an enemy; of keris rattling
in their sheaths at the approach of danger; of killing an enemy by
just pointing at someone. There is a marvelous legend of a keris
that could help people frosee the future. Hang Jebat, a
legendary Malay hero, had a keris with holes in the sogogan
that allowed him to see the immediate future when he peered
through the holes. A keris with "combong" or holes in the
sogogan is considered a very powerful keris today.
Pamor mlumah lies lies parallel to the flat of the blade such that
if you run a finger on a blade with Pamor Mlumah, it is relatively
smooth to the touch. Common mlumah pamor are Kulit Semangka
(Watermelon Skin), and Beras Wutah (Scattered Rice Grains).
Other varieties are Bendo Sedago, Manggah(?) and Uler Lurut.
Pamor Miring, on the other hand, raises up perpendicularly or
diagonally from the flat of the blade. If you run a finger down a blade
with Pamor Miring, you will feel like your finger is going over many
tiny ridges. Most of the elaborate pamor are of the Miring class like
Blarak Ngirid (Coconut Fonds) and Ron Genduru or Bulu Ayam
Aside from this, there is also a concept of "willed" and "fated"
pamor. "Willed" or Pamor Rekan refers to pamor designs that are
pre-planned. "Fated" or Pamor Tiban is pamor left to chance, or to
the grace of God, in the process of forging. Most Pamor Tiban are of
the Mlumah class. They have very strong spiritual connotations. Some
come is shapes of animals, or a star or a circle in an unexpected
place. The most powerful are those that resemble a man.
Muharram is the traditional time of the year in the Muslim calender when keris collectors in South-East Asia would ritually clean their blades. Muharram is the first month of the Muslim year. In this regard, it is linkedto new life or rejuvenation. In Java, Muharram coincides with Suro which is the Javanese keris cleaning month. Cleaning a keris is not just a matter of maintenance. There is a mystical aspect behind the need to clean a keris. The idea is to rejuvenate the pamor and breathe new life into the keris. Many keris collectors believe that a keris has a spirit of its own and this spirit needs constantcare and attention or its power will be depleted and lost. A ritual cleaning is one of the ways to rejuvenate the power of the keris. Hence some collectors bring their keris for cleaning eventhough they are rust free and their pamor in good shape.
Ladrang(click),Gayaman,Palembang,Malayan wrangka,slorok,In Java and Bali is Timoho or Pelet (Kleinhoven Hospita Linn). Teak Gembol or Jati and Sono,In Malaya and Sumatra, the premier wood is Kemuning bunton,blewah
The hilt of a keris :strip of cloth, hair, Cirebon, North Java,seven plena hilts,the profile of a man,another deviating away some what, Madura hilts have addedmuch Dutch influenced designs such as epaulettes, crowns, coat-of-arms, helmets. One particular attractive Madura form is the "corn-cob", also heavilydecorated with foliage,Palembang,Malay or Bugis form,In Bali, you find a whole range of hilts .