Keris and Other Malay Weapons
Author: GB Gardner
Keris and Other Malay Weapons by Gerald B. Gardner is a treatise on Malay weaponry, particularly on the kris, the storied Malay short sword said to possess magical qualities. The author provides a complete survey of the Keris, enumerating its parts, main types and processes of manufacture. His general classification is clear and convincing, and marks a distinct advance in the study of oriental arms; it will be of special use to museum curators. It is noteworthy that his definitions in Keris and Other Malay Weapons are given in detail and used consistently. It is now, therefore, possible to classify this interesting local weapon and to discuss its typology with an agreed terminology.
As to its origins, Gardner quotes the use of the ray sting (Ikan Pari) as a keris, and directs attention to the thumb and finger grip it demands. He, also, follows Dr. van Stein Callenfels in his early dating (seventh century A.D.) for the all-metal, anthropomorphic keris Majapahit. Apart from this strange little weapon, the hilts of keris seem to fall into two main groups, based on a bird type and a demon type, both of which are found on the mainland, extending to the Shan area. Both these basic types, when over-foliated, would seem to merge in the well-known Madura ‘flower’-hilt, which would, therefore, appear to be secondary.
In any event, the keris Majapahit remains a little anomalous. Gardner’s notes upon keris magic are of special interest; sword magic has been somewhat neglected in the Orient and is commoner than extant publications would suggest.