The Malay Keris: Artistry in Iron

Reprint 35
The Malay Keris: Artistry in Iron
Compiled by Paul H. Kratoska
260pp. Size: 150x230mm. Softcover

The storied Malay keris, with its sinuous, serpentine blade, is an example of craftsmanship that shades into art. Working with bars of iron, blacksmiths forged blades according to prescribed configurations, and used their metalworking skills to create damascene patterns on their surfaces. The hilt and sheath of a keris are themselves works of art.

According to tradition, the physical dimensions of a keris determined its value as a weapon. Moreover, Malay literary texts imbued certain keris with special powers that make them especially effective in combat.

Once routinely carried in the Malay world for ceremonial purposes and as a weapon, the keris has become a cultural artefact. Museum holdings, private collections, and the regalia of the Sultans contain notable examples, and it retains a role on ceremonial occasions.

Most of the articles in this volume first appeared in the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. The authors discuss the place of the keris in Malay society, its origins and manufacture, and beliefs associated with it. In a newly-penned introductory essay that accompanies this volume, Datuk Prof Emeritus Ahmat Adam highlights references to the keris and other weapons in classic Malay literature.


Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Editorial Note
Introduction - The Keris and Other Malay Weapons: a descriptive account of their historical origins by Datuk Prof Emeritus Ahmat Adam

Part One: The Keris

  1. T.J. Newbold on the Keris by T.J. Newbold
  2. The Keris and other Malay Weapons by A.H. Hill
  3. Keris Types and Terms by G. Hodgson
  4. Malay Weapons by Mubin Sheppard

Part Two: Origins

  1. Suggested Origins of the Malay Keris and of the Superstitions Attaching to It by G.C. Griffith-Williams
  2. Origin of the Malay Keris by G.C. Woolley
  3. The Malay Keris: Its Origin and Development by G.C. Woolley

Part Three: Manufacture

  1. On the Malay Method of Colouring Kris and Other Blades with Arsenic by L. Wray, Jun.
  2. Notes on Malay Metal-Work by Walter Rosenhain
  3. Malay Iron Work by R.O. Winstedt
  4. Notes on the Manufacture of Damascened Spear and Knife Blades in the Malay States by Ivor H.N. Evans

Part Four: Measurement

  1. Lucky and Unlucky Keris Measurements by Ivor H.N. Evans
  2. Keris Measurements from North Borneo by H.G Keith
  3. Keris Measurements by G.C. Woolley
  4. Some Notes on Keris Measurements by G.M. Laidlaw
  5. Some Malay and Aboriginal Charms and Methods for Measuring Weapons by P.D.R. Williams-Hunt

Part Five: Examples

  1. Three Early Keris by R.O. Winstedt
  2. A New Book on the Keris by G.C. Woolley
  3. Notes on Two Uncommon Varieties of the Malay Kris by G.B. Gardner
  4. The Keris Sulok or Sundang by E. Banks
  5. An Unusual Keris Majapahit by Abu Bakar bin Pawanchee
  6. Notes on Two Knives in the Pitt Rivers Museum by G.C. Woolley
  7. A Golden Keris Handle from Balingian, Sarawak by T. Harrisson
  8. Malay Cannon by G.C. Woolley

Consolidated Bibliography

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