An asymmetrical dagger, native to many regions of South East Asia, the kris is both a weapon and a spiritual object.
The kris was seen as a secondary weapon in battle, to be used by warriors who had lost their main weapon which was usually a spear. it was also carried daily by commoners for self defense. During more peaceful times, the kris was part of traditional ceremonial attire.
The blade of the dagger is usually narrow with a wide asymmetrical base. Ancient blades dating from around the time of the Majapahit empire (1293-1400 AD) often have straight blades – more recently the blades have become wavy- always an odd number of waves ranging from 3 to 29.
In Bali the kris is associated with the dragon and water, the waves in the blade symbolize the movement of the serpent.
In Java the kris was said to contain all the natural elements- earth (metal) formed by fire, stoked by wind and water for tempering. The dagger is said to have a spirit or a soul as well.
The blade was made with layers of different metals- a simple one could be made in a short time but high quality blade could take years to finish, as the metal is folded many times and ritually treated as well. The technique of folded metal results in a characteristic finish that is called “pamor” in Malay. Many different specific patterns of pamor are possible, each with its own name and meaning.