The East Indies Museum keris gallery features a large assortment of traditional weapons from the Indonesian, Malay and Philippine archipelagos. Our primary focus is on the keris which is the iconic, asymmetrical dagger famed for its distinctive wavy blade. However, we also have numerous examples of equally important straight-bladed kerises as well as other kinds of daggers, swords, spear heads and functional cutting tools. An important aspect of museum-quality traditional weapons from the region are the accoutrements used to dress the blades. These include finely-carved handles and sheaths made from rare and now extinct woods as well as ivory, horn and bone. Various parts of the keris and keris dress were often embellished with intricate gold and silver work as well as precious stones. In the past, the keris was used for self-defense, however even after the advent of firearms, kerises retained an important ceremonial role. Heirloom blades ("pusaka") were handed down to descendants and worn during special occasions such as weddings and other important occasions. Many people feel that certain, exceptional keris makers (empu) were able to infuse some of their exotic creations with mystical powers. For this reason, these kerises are revered as sacred and are treated with special care and respect. It is not uncommon for an owner of such a keris to make annual ritualistic offerings to appease its 'spirit'.

     A short film about keris by Unesco

Guest Participation Partisipasi Tamu Scholarly Collaboration Sitemap