Skip to main content

A symbol of good fortune 

Detail of sword (Kris), 19th century, XXVIS.285. Royal Armouries, CC BY 4.0

Kris (XXVIS.285)

The kris can be found throughout much of Indonesia, with each island having their own particular style. This example came from the island of Lombok and was made in the 19th century. Kris are known for their distinctive wavy or asymmetrical, double edged blades and angled grips. While they were often carried as weapons, kris also fulfilled important cultural and spiritual roles, and their production was highly ritualised. It was hoped that this would imbue the weapon with magical properties and bring the owner good fortune and prosperity. Each island and region also had their own traditions and cultural practices involving the kris. For the most part, both men and women would have worn them, it being considered a central part of a man's daily attire and an important indicator of status, wealth and power. Even today, the kris plays a central role in many traditional Indonesian wedding ceremonies.

View the Kris in our collection

Up Close: The Kris Blade with Scot Hurst