2717

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Early Malay Kris Perkaka with Ivory Hilt

Northern Malay Peninsula
16th century & later

length: 46cm, weight: 272g

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Provenance

private collection, UK

This kris does not have a scabbard – it comprises the blade and the hilt. It was acquired in the UK and almost certainly has been in the UK since colonial times.

The blade most probably dates to the 16th century. It is essentially straight but with the merest suggestion of waves, and double-edged. It has a superb snake skin-like pamour created by layers of nickel and iron. As such it would have been an heirloom (pusaka) blade and would have been used and re-used in successive kris ensembles as was common with blades that were felt to be heirloom and have magical properties.

The  hilt is of carved elephant ivory. It has a wonderful honeyed patina and has a zoomorphic form most usually referred to as a jawa demam. It is likely that the hilt is later than the blade and possibly is 18th century.

The hilt ring is decorated with applied granulation work. It appears to be of copper and is much worn.

The item is in very fine condition. The blade is an excellent example of a watered blade and is in excellent condition. The hilt has excellent patina.

References

Noor, F. & E. Khoo, Spirit of Wood: The Art of Malay Woodcarving, Periplus, 2003.

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