Bringing kris back into Balinese families
A few days before Tumpek Landep, the Balinese Hindu religious festival for weapons, the Denpasar administration has organized an exhibition and seminar on kris (wavy dagger) in an effort to re-popularize the cultural heritage that has earned global recognition.
In olden days, each family in Bali had at least one kris and through the cultural event, the administration is trying to bring kris back into Balinese families.
The exhibition, which runs until Saturday, displays the works of dozens of kris makers from Bali and Java. It is being held in front of Jagatnata temple, on the eastern side of Puputan Badung field in downtown Denpasar.
The kris on display are of various sizes, different styles, as well as varying adornment. Some are kept in plain, unadorned wooden sheaths, others have luxurious sheaths adorned with silver plates with intricate designs. Some boast gold-plated hilts, others show off with gemstone-studded hilts. All underline the fact that the kris is more than just a weapon. It is also a work of art.
Denpasar industry and trade agency head Wayan Gatra said the exhibit aims to preserve a piece of cultural heritage, as well as promote the works of the contemporary kris makers.
“We would also like to reintroduce the old tradition of one family possessing at least one kris. In ancient times, a kris was a precious family heirloom that was passed down from one generation to the next.”
Balinese men of the ancient times, Gatra recalled, always wore kris during formal gatherings.
“We could deduce a person’s social status and family background from his kris.”
A kris and spear maker, I Made Dana, disclosed that the demand for kris had increased lately. Orders came from Bali, as well as Java, mostly from kris collectors. He had also started producing souvenir kris to cater for demand from tourists.
Tumpek Landep will fall on Saturday and visitors to Bali will be able to observe a unique celebration in which Balinese Hindus present offerings to weapons and other objects made of metal, including cars, motorbikes and even computers.