Keris: Bali’s Mystical Dagger

Culture | Written By, Namhar Hernanto |

The widespread tales that a Keris traditional dagger possesses magical powers that allow it to fly or move by itself, even inside a locked cupboard have fascinated many. When making one, the empu (spiritual person who makes Keris) can infuse into the dagger any spiritual qualities and powers the owner desires. 

Many superstitious Keris owners conduct sacred rituals to wash or ‘bathe’ their Keris daggers during certain auspicious times such as the first month of the lunar year or full moon. The mystical powers of Keris themselves are said to come from their celestial origin due to the use of meteorite iron. 

Keris

The making of a Keris is preceded by ceremonies, offerings, and magical spells to strengthen its supernatural powers. During the era of Balinese kingdoms, warriors often laid offerings for their Keris. It’s even said that the king of Klungkung saved his kingdom by using his sacred Keris against the great eruption of Mount Agung in 1963. Legend has it that by pointing his Keris skywards, the king was able to cut off the flow of the lava, leaving his area untouched. 

In Bali, the powers of Keris extend to preventing fires, agricultural failures, and many others. Likewiseits is believed that Keris can also bring great fortune, such as bountiful harvests. Furthermore, Keris can have tremendous killing power. Some are rumoured to stand on their pointy tips when their real names are called by their masters. 

Today, a magical Keris is a family heirloom, often passed down from fathers to their sons; some are sold in antique shops where they eventually loses their powers if not attended to and treated with reverence. 

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