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Thread: Exeutioner's Kris (keris)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Rugby, UK
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    528

    Exeutioner's Kris (keris)

    Continuing my recent forays into Malayan blade collection I picked this up the other day:
    Catalogue Description:
    19th Century Long Bladed Executioner's MalayanKris. 22 inch straight double edged blade. Large top forte. Two shortchiseled top fullers. Polished horn grip with oval turned in pommelcarved with a flower and foliage design. Contained in its woodenscabbard with large throat. Old repair to chape.

    My Stats:
    Weight, sword: 12oz (0.34kg), in scabbard: 1lb (0.46kg)
    Length overall:26.75'' (68cm) Blade: 22''(56cm)
    POB: 3.5'' (9cm)
    Profile taper: 2.43'' (61.7mm) at widest part of ricasso, 0.69'' (17.5mm) justafter ricasso 0.67' (17.2mm) mid blade, 0.49'' (12.5mm) 2 inchesfrom tip.
    Distal taper 0.56'' (14.6mm) at ricasso, 0.11'' (2.9mm) mid blade. 0.08'' (2mm) 2 inches from tip.

    The blade is pamor (pattern welded) but does not have a particularly involved or attractive pattern. The large forte is nicely caved though. I don't think that the hilt is horn but rather a dense hardwood. I know these are known as executioner's blades but is that accurate? I know I collect swords but I don't really want them to have been involved in ritual murder. Is there any way of reliably dating these blades? As usual all information or opinions gratefully received.
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    The journey not the destination

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Brisbane, Australia
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    618
    These are often/usually described as "executioner's keris", but from what I've heard, it was usual (at least in Java) to use a "normal" keris for executions. True, straight and narrow might be good for an execution keris, but it wouldn't need this kind of length, and shorter would be better. More likely, the "keris panjang" (long keris) is/was a symbol of rank or status.

    In any case, most were not used for executions. I have heard that real executioner's keris often had talismanic marks on the blade, to protect the executioner from harm.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  3. #3
    Guy, that is a lovely Panjang. Timo is correct, the term executioner's keris has developed mostly (i believe) as a marketing point (while i respect your feelings on the matter it is a fact that many collectors enjoy owning blades with bloody histories). The Panjang was mostly a blade of rank and status. Of course, having a certain rank may have meant you had the power to execute which may be how the name developed in the first place, but it is highly unlikely that many of these keris were ever used for that purpose.
    The sheath probably had a buntut at the end of the stem of either black horn or ivory. Your hilt might be horn. Sometimes it's hard to tell. Better, closer photos might tell.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Rugby, UK
    Posts
    528
    David
    These are as close as I can get.
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    The journey not the destination

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