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In Bali Indonesia Keris as the Symbol of Life

8 January 2021

Although today is no longer the royal era, many people still collect kris dagger. Its function is clear and no longer as it used to. It is no longer a symbol of social status or weapon to defend one’s self or fight in the war, but tends to become a symbol of cultural property, religion or may become an investment. It is not surprising if the prominence of dagger is now rising. It is certainly encouraging. After all, a kris dagger is a symbol of cultural life of the community of our ancestors. It may not be forgotten, but should be preserved.
One of the kris dagger makers, said that kris is a symbol of life. Keris symbolizes male-female, father-mother, sky-earth and phallus-yoni. Phallus, sky and male as the symbols of father is represented by the kris dagger, while the female, earth and yoni symbolizes a woman (mother) represented by the sheath itself.
If the kris dagger has been put into the sheath, it will result in harmonious, balanced and lucky nature as well as avoid from danger. Worldly heaven will be created at the same time. Typically, the encounter between the sky and earth occurs during rainy season. Sky (father) making the rain causes the water fall to earth (ground) causing plants and vegetation to flourish. When the soil is fertile, the plant proliferates, it is a grace, Keris maker said.
In the belief of Hindu community in Bali, when people get married and make a house, they surely wear a kris dagger. Bridegroom always carries a kris dagger used to stab a mat held by the bride. Sticking the kris dagger into the woman’s mat will get harmony. Kris is also a means to make a home base. Kris with the branch of erythrina and kwangen (conical offerings) is plugged into the earth for three times to result in harmonious encounter. The ceremony is called nuur ibu pertiwi in order to find safety and balance that creates harmony.
dagger kris bali indonesia
The word keris or kris is derived from Balinese word keker meaning ‘a command’ or kekeran meaning ‘protector’ and the ris or aris meaning ‘wisdom’ or ‘balance.’ This has strong relationship to one’s psychiatry and ancestor. The more experience, the deeper the history to be discovered because the kris has symbolical and philosophical meaning.
Kris is also serves as protector to keep the house. Therefore, many kris daggers are made sacred, dipasupati (spiritually animated) and always given the offerings. They are even enthroned in a pelangkiran (wooden offering platform), family shrine and taksu shrine.
Actually the kris is not magic. And it will become magic when it is made a ceremony and animated (pasupati). Most importantly, Balinese believe that the dagger has a power. Kris functions as a weapon to defend one’s self, complete ceremonies and beautify the interiors as ornament.
Broadly speaking there are three kinds of understanding on the kris dagger, namely the verbal, faith and intellectual understanding. Then, the United Nations declared that kris dagger belongs to Indonesia as seen from seven aspects, namely the oral, design, iron, steel, workmanship, motif (either abstract or figurative streaks on the kris blade as the result of a material blend forged repeatedly) and balance. Besides, it also has eight intangible criteria namely related to the history, art, social, symbolism, technology, tradition, philosophy and mysticism. Most people consider that kris dagger has magical power.
Kris has various designs such as straight, horizontal, leaning to the side and inward curvature. Historically, Balinese kris dagger is part of the legacy of the Majapahit Kingdom. Philosophically, Balinese kris is seen as a symbol of the life teachings for Balinese people