The kris, or keris in the Indonesian language, is an asymmetrical dagger with distinctive blade-patterning achieved through alternating laminations of iron and nickelous iron (pamor). Of Javanese origin, the kris is famous for its distinctive wavy blade, although many have straight blades as well, and is one of the weapons commonly used in the pencak silat martial art native to Indonesia.
A kris can be divided into three parts: blade (bilah or wilah), hilt (hulu), and sheath (warangka). Each part of the kris is considered a piece of art, often carved in meticulous detail and made from various materials: metal, precious or rare types of wood, or gold or ivory. A kris's aesthetic value covers the dhapur (the form and design of the blade, with around 60 variants), the pamor (the pattern of metal alloy decoration on the blade, with around 250 variants), and tangguh referring to the age and origin of a kris. Depending on the quality and historical value of the kris, it can fetch thousands of dollars or more.
Both a weapon and spiritual object, kris are often considered to have an essence or presence, considered to possess magical powers, with some blades possessing good luck and others possessing bad. Kris are used for display, as talismans with magical powers, weapons, a sanctified heirloom (pusaka), auxiliary equipment for court soldiers, an accessory for ceremonial dress, an indicator of social status, a symbol of heroism, etc. Legendary kris that possess supernatural power and extraordinary ability were mentioned in traditional folktales, such as those of Empu Gandring, Taming Sari, and Setan Kober.
The kris is promoted by the Indonesian government as a cultural symbol of Indonesia.: 266 While the kris is commonly associated with the Javanese within Indonesian society, other ethnic communities are familiar with the weapon as part of their culture, such as the Balinese, Sundanese, Malay, Madurese, Banjar, Buginese, and Makassar people. Kris have been produced in many regions of Indonesia for centuries, but it is particularly associated with the culture of Central Java, as it is embedded in a mutually-connected whole of ritual prescriptions and acts, ceremonies, mythical backgrounds and epic poetry.: 27 In 2005, UNESCO gave the title to kris as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity from Indonesia.
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