5154

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Royal Kris with Diamond & Ruby-Inlaid Ivory Hilt

Surakarta (Solo), Central Java, Indonesia
early 19th century

length: 49cm, weight: 662g

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Provenance

private collection, UK

This splendid ceremonial kris is from the Surakarta (also known as Solo) in central Java, and is undoubtedly a presentation kris from the kraton or palace.

The hilt is magnificent. It is of intricately carved ivory and has stylised zoomorphic form. It is set with dozens of diamonds and zircons in gilded silver settings. Two large rubies on either side serve as ‘eyes’.

The hilt is carved with a tiny ‘nose’ which is an identifying characteristic of Surakarta compared with krises from nearby Yogyakarta which do not have such a ‘nose.’

The wavy, damascened blade has been chiselled with a snake or a python rather than the more usual naga. Tiny diamond chips have been set into both sides of the blade to serve as ‘eyes’ for the snake, which also has remnants of gold highlights. And most unusually of all, is that the snake has a tiny, moveable tongue that has been coated in gold.

The scabbard is of wood with a sheet brass over-sheaf (pendok slorok) but it is secondary to the hilt and blade and serves simply to protect the blade. (Part of the rim of the wrongka or uppermost part of the sheaf, which is the ladrang style, is chipped away.)

Overall, this is a rare and magnificent kris.

References

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

Wassing-Visser, R.,Royal Gifts from Indonesia: Historical Bonds with the House of Orange -Nassau (1600-1938), Waanders Publishers, 1995.

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