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Early Madurese Kris with Marine Tusk Hilt & Gold Mendak

Madura, Indonesia
17th century & later

length: 46cm, weight: 277g

Available - Enquire


UK art market

This wavy-bladed sword or kris has a prominent and intricately carved marine tusk hilt. The blade has been chiselled with a winged singha or lion motif. The singha is well executed with much detail in relief.

The design of the hilt 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 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.)

The hilt 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 spiky, cauliflower-like protuberances to either side. It is finely carved all over with serrated floral motifs about a mid section that features a series of fine open-work slices.

The iron blade  has a fine pamour created by layers of nickel and iron.

The shaft ring (mendak) is of gold decorated with fine granulation work.

Traditionally, 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 blade and hilt of this example are in fine condition with no evident losses to the carved hilt. There is no scabbard.


Ghiringhelli, V., Kris Hilts: Masterpieces of South-East Asian Art, 5 Continents, 2011.

Hamzuri, Keris, Penerbit Djambatan, 1988.

van Zonneveld, A., Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago, C. Zwartenkot Art Books, 2001.

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