Carved Whale Tooth Kris Hilt
early 19th century
height without stand: 9.3cm
This exquisitely carved kris hilt is of whale tooth. The design is a splendid example of the Madurese style of kris hilt – Madura being a primarily Islamic island off the east coast of Java and near to Bali, all of which are parts of the Indonesian archipelago.
The style, known as
donoriko, is zoomorphic but not overly so, in keeping with Islamic precepts against animal forms. The hilt has a large upper section that is rounded and bent forward with protuberances to either side. Elaborate solar or flower motifs have been carved to both the front and the back of the hilt.
As such, the hilt is a fine example of the superb carving skills of Madurese artists who were noted for their painstaking precision and elaborate decorative work (Ghiringhelli, 2011, p. 98.)
krises in Indonesia were imbued with magical properties. Elaborate examples such as this one were part of the pustaka or heirlooms of the aristocracy to be passed from generation to generation. They were considered to have magic and to imbue magic and power on their owners.
The hilt here with its elaborate and complex floral and fern-like scrolling is a small sculpture in its own right. It has a superb patina that accords with an early 19th century dating.
The hilt comes with a display stand.
Ghiringhelli, V., Kris Hilts: Masterpieces of South-East Asian Art, 5 Continents, 2011.
Keris, Penerbit Djambatan, 1988.
private collection, UK.
Inventory no.: 4163