Keris, A Precious Traditional Sword

>The kris or keris is a distinctive, asymmetrical dagger indigenous to Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Southern Thailand and the southern Philippines. Both a weapon, and spiritual object, krisses are often considered to have an essence or presence, with some blades possessing good luck and others possessing bad.
The kris spread from the island of Java to many parts of the archipelago of Indonesia, such as Sumatra, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, South Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and to the Southeast Asian areas now known as Malaysia, Brunei, southern Philippines, southern Thailand, and Singapore.
The term keris had a Javanese origin, though it cannot be ascertained how it came about. The term "keris" may have originated from the old Javanese word ngeris which means ‘to stab’ or ‘to pierce’. Kris is a European rendering of this Javanese term.
Keris blades are usually narrow and have a wide, asymmetrical base. Blade length is highly variable. The blade is made from different iron ores and often contains nickel. A bladesmith, or Empu, makes the blade in layers of different metal. The different metals used to forge the blade gives the keris its distinctive ‘watered’ appearance. This is called pamor and is similar in concept to Damascus patterning on Indo-Persian blades and "hada" on Japanese blades. Blades are acid-etched after forging to bring out the contrasting patterns formed by the various metals used in the keris. Iron ore sources are rare in some areas of the Malay world, especially in Java. The Empu (for those highly skilled smiths in the employ of Kratons, who can pass down their title of Empu to their sons) or pandai keris (for smiths of varying skill levels, working outside of kratons), often use myriad types of metal ores that they can find to make the blade. There are tales of blades made from meteorite iron (rare and highly prized due to its spiritual significance and higher nickel content) to scrap metals from vehicles, tools, railway tracks, captured Dutch cannons and blades, and in recent times, bicycle chains. Keris blades can be straight or sinuous. With sinuous blades, the bends are called luks. Most keris have fewer than 13 luks and the number of luks should be odd, or the keris would be considered unlucky. The sinuous blade has become synonymous with the keris, especially today as it has become a popular tourist souvenir. In reality more than half of the old keris have straight blades. The luks maximise the width of wound while maintaining its weight.
A keris and its sheath have many parts. The names for these parts vary by region. The following terms apply mainly to the Javanese keris. ukiran – handle/hilt; patra – handle carvings (especially on Javanese ukiran); selut – metallic cap on the ukiran (not on all krisses); mendak – metal cup on the tang between the ukiran and the blade guard; wilah – blade; pocok – blade point; peksi – tang; ganja – guard/parrying structure; wrangka – the wide, top portion of the sheath; gandar – the narrow portion of the sheath; pendok – a metal sleeve for the gandar; buntut- end of the pendok.
The ukiran and the sheath are often made from wood, though examples made from ivory or covered in gold sheets could be found. Different regions in Southeast Asian produce different styles of wilah, ukiran, and sheaths. One beautiful material used for some ukiran and wrangka was fossilized mammoth molar, called "graham". Such a molar would be cut to reveal the dentine patterns within the molar. Aged graham sheaths exhibit an attractive orange, white, and beige stripe pattern.
Kris has a cranked hilt, which served as a support for stabbing strike. At the same time it allowed to add the strength of the wrist to the pressure on the blade while slashing and cutting. Kris has no special protection for the hand, except for the broad blade at the hilt, which offers some protection for the hand. In rare cases Kris has its blade made to rotating around the axis, fixed in the hilt. The idea was to get the blade automatically turning to slip past the ribs. This works poorly and leads to low durability of the weapon.
Krisses were worn every day and at special ceremonies, with heirloom blades being handed down through successive generations. Yearly cleanings, required for as part of the spirituality and mythology around the weapon, often leaves ancient blades worn and thin. In everyday life and at events, a man usually only wore one kris.

-taken from many sources-