Damasking of the keris, part 2

” FASL IV. MEASUREMENT OF KRISES
” Measure the kris with a string below its aring (a
jutting out of the blade near its bottom) to its point ;
cut the string and fold it trebly ; cut off one of the
trebles, and with the remaining two measure up the
” FASL IV. MEASUREMENT OF KRISES

” Measure the kris with a string below its aring (ajutting out of the blade near its bottom) to its point ;cut the string and fold it trebly ; cut off one of the trebles, and with the remaining two measure up the blade of the kris, then make a mark how far the string reaches. Measure the blade across at this mark, and find how many times its breadth is contained in twothirds of its length; cut the string into as many pieces. These form the sloca, or measure, of which the kris consists. If none of the string remain over, the blade is perfect, if a minute portion remain, it is less perfect, but if half the breadth remain, or more, it is chelaka, unlucky.”

Newbold adds :

“The krises most preferred are those of the kinds termed Simpana, Cherita, and Sapokal. The kris panjang is worn generally by the Malayan aristocracy and bridegrooms. I have seen some beautiful specimens of this weapon in Rumbowe*, worn by the chiefs of that state. The blades resembled that of a long, keen poniard of Damascus steel; the handles of ebony, covered with flowered gold, and sheaths richly ornamented with the same metal; they are used in the execution of criminals. Malays do not prize their krises entirely by the quantity of gold with which they may be inlaid, but more for their accurate proportions agreeably to the measurement which is laid down in their treatises on this subject; the damask on the blade; the antiquity and a certain lucky quality that they may possess either from accurate proportions, the damask, the having shed human blood, or from supernatural endowment, like the famous sword ” Excalibur”. This property is termed betuah, which signifies literally exempt from accident, invulnerable. The reverse is termed ckelaka, ill-omened. They believe the betuah in some cases imparts invulnerability to the possessor of such a kris, which is handed down as an heirloom from father to son, and honoured as something divine. The kris is, as with the Javanese, an indispensable article in dress on particular occasions, and there are numerous regulations regarding the wearing of it. The Undang-Undang Malacca 1 contains strict injunctions, which are observed to this day, against a person of inferior birth wearing a kris ornamented with gold.”

Source: Walter William Skeat. MALAY MAGIC: An Introduction To The Folklore and Popular Religion Of The Malay Peninsular. London: MacMillan & Co. Ltd. 1900.

[*]Rumbowe – Rembau in Negeri Sembilan

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