5155

Rare, Early Silver-Gilt Nyamba-Hilt Kris

Java, Indonesia
17th century

length: 48cm, weight: 570g

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Provenance

private collection, UK

This fine, old kris dates to the 17th century and possibly to the late 16th century. It comprises the blade, a scabbard encased in engraved silver, a hilt encased in gilded (gold-plated) silver, and a gold hilt ring set with faceted zircons.

The blade is a desirable three-luk blade. The top of the blade is chiselled on one side with a flaming-maned singha figure. The other side, the sorsoran side, is chiselled with a small humanoid or fetus-like figure known as a putut giving the name to kris of a putut kris. Such a motif dates to the period of the Mataram sultanate (late 16th to early 18th century) and is extremely rare. The blade’s damascening or pamor is worn from polishing however, no doubt on account of the kris’ significant age.

The hilt is in the rare form of a pointy-nosed nyamba figure, a wayang character.

The scabbard is beautifully engraved with floral motifs based on stylised orchids and scrolling foliage.

An example of a putut blade is ilustrated in Hardi (2010, p. 142).K rises are imbued with special powers in Indonesia and rarer examples are especially magical. The possessor of a putut kris will find that his debts are forgiven, for example!

The kris has various age-related imperfections. There is minor, light denting to the scabbard, some loss to the silver to the top of the scabbard, and some loss to the top of the hilt. But this kris is unusually old and rare.

References

Hales, R., Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hale CI Ltd, 2013.

Hardi, H.,et al,Keris untuk Dunia / Keris for the World 2010, Paguyuban Pelestari ari Tosan aji Nusantara, 2010.

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