Monday, July 7, 2014

Keris : A powerful relic weapon from Indonesia

Keris is a short traditional weapon of Malay used since 600 years ago. The weapon is quite unique in Malay world  and it's available around Malay region such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, South Thailand, South Philippines (Mindanao) and Brunei. Keris is used for self-defense and also as the greatness equipment for the king. It's also as a symbol of the greatness of Malay people. The most famous keris is Keris Taming Sari which is used by Hang Tuah, a famous Malay hero.

Keris originally from Java islands and the ancient keris has been used between 9th century to 14th century. This weapon consist of 3 parts : the eye of keris, the head, and the cover. Keris is often associated with a mystical power by the Malay people in the past. Somepeople believe that keris has its own power. Keris, according to Malay culture must be kept well by making a sacred ceremony for it on certain days such as in Thursday night. Another ways like pouring the citrus (lime) liquid into the keris as the way to keep the purity of its metal. In Central Java, generally, the groom in marriage ceremonies usually use complete javanese costume with keris placed in his waist. Why the groom uses keris as in a wedding party? Keris, in Javanese people is a symbol of manliness and superiority and sometimes when the groom can't attend the ceremony because of certain causes, he will be represented by a keris. Keris also as a symbol of the power.

Actually, the view of Keris started from the belief of the Javanese in the past. The source of the existence of the living creatures in the earth is come from agrarian philosophy, which is the merging of the elements of man and woman. In this world, God creates the living creatures (human, animals, or vegetation) in two different sex, a man and a woman. The belief on agrarian philosophy was very fundamental in the environment of Keraton (the term for a king's palace in javanese) such as Keraton Kasunanan Surakarta, Keraton Yogyakarta, and many more. At first, the belief is originally from Hinduism, which is followed by the Javanese in the past. Also appear some beliefs about Ibu Pertiwi - Bapa Angkasa as an integral part of javanese philosophy.

The belief of agrarian philosophy in the Javanese society is realized in the form of Kirab Pusaka (A ceremony for the relic items (include weapons) which have magical power), which is held before the date of one Suro in Javanese calendar. The relic items usually are sharp weapons like spear, big knife named "Bendho" and many more. The parade of the prime relic weapons of Keraton walk surrounding the complex of Keraton and at the same time, the carriers and the followers focusing their mind and feelings also praise and invoke to the Lord of the universe, invoke the Lord's protection, happiness, inner and outer well-being.

Here's a video about Kirab Pusaka. Wacth and enjoy it :D

The main function of the sharp relic weapons in the past were for self-defense against wild animal and enemy's attack or to kill the enemy. But at this time, the main function of it has changed. In the peace time, sometimes people use keris as a costume complement for the great ceremonies or in wedding party. So, Keris will be decorated with diamonds in the head part of keris. Even its cover made of beautiful carved metal, coated with gold as a pride. Keris also become one of high precious comodity.

The relic weapons isn't just about keris and javanese spear but also almost all regions in Indonesia have famous relic weapons such as Rencong from Aceh, Badik from Makasar, Trident, Balinese keris, and so on.

When Sultan Agung and his army attacked to Kadipaten Pati by the war title ; Garudha Nglayang, Supit Urang, Wukir Jaladri, or Dirada Meta, the soldiers who accompanied him used spears where it's carved with image of Kalacakra. The power of those relic weapons wasn't only from its materials like steel, iron, nickle, even it's mixed with meteorite stones but also its making was accompanied with prayers to God with a spiritual effort from the master. The spiritual power of God was believed by the people as powerful magical power so it will affect the opponents become more weak and terrified.

Once there was an opinion based on scientific test towards sacred keris and the result said that it expended invisible energy. Interestingly, keris which is used as a complement of javanese traditional groom dress is completed with the garland of roses and jasmines placed in the head of keris. It's not just a garnish, but it has meaning to remind the people not to be emotionally, wild, anger, act arbitrarily like Harya Penangsang's character.

The relation with Arya Penangsang is when Aryo Penangsang made war against Sutawijaya, because of Harya Penangsang was an anger, emotional, and uncontrolled, his stomach was punctured by Sutawijaya with the spear of Kyai Plered. His intestine already out of his torn stomach. In the condition wanted to revenge with full of rage, then he tied his intestine into the head of keris on his waist. He continuously attacked the enemy. At the time, when Arya Penangsang wanted to stab his enemy with keris of Setan Kober placed on his waist, when he unsheathe it, his intestine cut off by the eye of his keris. Arya Penangsang died in a great war that killed thousands soldiers. From that war, the idea of placing garland of flowers on the head of keris appear.

Relic weapons such as spear, keris, and many more, will inflict the incredible courage sense to its owner. The people know it as "PIYANDEL" means the enhancer of self-confidence, even the relic keris or relic spear, which is given by the King into royal nobleman contains the trust of the King. However, when the King's trust is tampered with the bad attitude of the royal nobleman, the relic keris can be asked back by the King.

The relation between keris with its cover especially by the Javanese is interpreted as intimate relationship, fused to reach the harmony of life in the world. This interpretation gave rise to a famous philosophy, "Manunggaling Kawula Gusti", unity between courtiers and the King, the unity between human and its creator, the unity between the people and its leader, makes life always more peaceful, happy, healthy and prosperous. In addition of mutual respect between each other, also have to know yourself in work according to portions and each function correctly. Nevertheless, the meanings contained in those relic weapons as art objects of national culture, which contains various aspects in the Javanese life today are threatened its development because of technology aspects is less enthused compared with legend and magical aspects.

The Recognition of Keris

After the recognition of wayang as world heritage in 2003, Keris has its turn on 25th November 2005 in Paris. The recognition of Keris as the world heritage is a fresh news in the midst of  adversity of Indonesia lately.

Keris, as well as Kabuki (Japanese theatre), and traditional show from India, Ramlila, which explain about Ramayana epic. Samba from Brazil and Mak Yong, a traditional form of dance-drama from Malay. They're still exist until now

Actually, there're 64 cultural heritages, which are proposed from several countries to be recognized as world heritage by the UNESCO. However, after going through the valuation from several juries which convene on 20 to 24 November 2005 where Putri Basma binti Talal from Jordania is choosen as the chairman, only 43 objects recognized as masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. Meanwhile, masterpieces which recognized by UNESCO from 2001 and 2003, include wayang, are about 47 in number. Thus, the total of world heritage masterpieces which recognized by UNESCO are 90 in number. Estimated, around hundred thousands dollars a year will be used to preserve Keris and Wayang.

"Through the momentum of the recognition from UNESCO, we should rearranging the view about Keris", Ir Haryono Haryoguritno said. He's one of the Keris expert, which lead research team in field and discussion for a year since August, 2004.

After attending Keris communities in Central Java, East Java, Madura, Bali, & Lombok, Haryono which accompanied by Waluyo Wijayanto from the association of keris enthusiast of Damartaji and an Indonesian lived in Australia, Gaura Mancacaritadipura, summarize their research in a thick report for UNESCO. Also submitted two films about keris culture with durations of 10 minutes and 120 minutes. While today, most mainstream media more often expose "negative views", which related to Keris, according to Haryono, Indonesia should realize that the world today appreciates the ancestral heritage of Indonesian, which in every opportunities always be ignored by Indonesian itself. "Keris nowadays, described in television and it can fly, shine, and closely with shamanism world" Waluyo said. Also layman, which is always connecting Keris with Mpu Gandring and Ken Arok where he killed Mpu Gandring through Keris he booked. Mpu Gandring cursed Keris he made, which actually unfinished and it cursed 7 offsprings of Ken Arok, include Ken Arok itself.

We have to admit that we're very far behind with Singapore and this country has used Keris as identity pride on their airline services. The airlines of this country like Singapore Airlines used name of Keris on their VIP waiting room, named Keris Lounge. Also KrisFlyer, a service for the one who often use airline services. KrisMagazine for their magazine name, and KrisShop for the service of souvenir sale in the plane.

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