Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Magical Lore Of Keris (马来短剑的信仰)

Keris used to be weapons of old days. Today, a keris has become a collector’s item. Well, there are people collect keris as antique; but many people collect keris due to their magical properties too. The price of keris ranges from USD100 to USD10,000 and above… this is especially true for ‘special’ types of keris.


There are stories told if a keris is used to point at a person, old Malay believed that by this mere act, the person can be killed. Along the same line, some Malays believe of a form of magic called ‘ilmu tuju’ which coupled with appropriate incantations, pointing of a finger, keris or human bone to a person can bring bad luck or kill the person.


A keris pusaka or heirloom keris can be used to stab onto the footprints of a person can also bring disaster or even death to a person. Some old keris are said to possess a watcher or khodam if someone like to call it. These types of keris are said to be thirst of blood and they will fly out from their sheaths during certain nights of the week, normally on Thursday or Friday night to kill people and after they are quenched with blood; they shall return quietly into the sheaths.


It is believed that a keris in the collection of Taiping Museum has this capability. There is another heirloom keris in Kraton was said to be particularly bad tempered and it was ordered by the ruler to have it destroyed.


Some people also believe that a keris pusaka can rattle in its sheath if its owner are facing with danger hence alerting its owner. Another type of keris known as keris majapahit has dual identity: a male and a female; it can also be used to transfer flames from a place to another place as well as performing the ilmu tuju.


In Java, guts or brains of snakes are brought into contact with the keris in the hope to make the keris more deathly. The power of a keris pusaka is said to increase upon slaying of a person too. An execution keris that has been used to kill many people is considered as scared.


Many people keep a keris in their house because they think the keris can trap a thief so that the thief cannot leave the place, the keris can also make firearms fail to work, in some instances even flood waters can be held back or even volcano flows.


Some Javanese empu (blacksmith) even pointed out that his keris will fly out of their sheaths during the full moon when the Queen of the South Sea holds her court at seashore.


Having said so, either it is lucky or unlucky that it is not easy to make or come by a magical keris. Believers believe it is only by the will of the God that one can own one of these treasures. In short, only a virtuous man/woman can get a piece by chance. If a keris does not fit a person, then everything in his/her life shall go wrong.


Whatever case that might be, the cult of keris is still very much alive in Malay Archipelagos until today.


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