This book is written to introduce another facet of the knowledge of the krises in Nūsāntara or the archipelago, as one may refer. Historically, the term Nūsāntara dates back to the 13th and 14th century AD. The term denotes the chains of islands in the archipelago conquered by the Majapahit kingdom. Etymologically, Nūsāntara was of the Old Javanese language that means “the interspace of islands”.
The fact that kris was and still is playing an important role in the history of Nūsāntara makes the data used in this book is rather of those which had an important historical values, such as grand tales—parwa, kakawin, and kiḍuṅ—as well as notes made by early cartographers, expeditors, merchants, and seafarers.
THE ISLAND OF SUMATRA
The accounts about Sumatran Krises has been recorded comprehensively in the notes written by the seafarers, geographers, merchants, royals, and scholars alike. The fact that almost all of the Sumatran krises came from the Islamic period, the decorative patterns on the overall krises are rather geometrical and not resembling any kind of living plants and/or living animals.
THE WEST OF JAVA
The historical context of West Javanese kris can be seen through its importance throughout its lifetime, especially in the latest era being reigned by the three sultanates. All of those were known for their milestones in both fine arts and applied arts. However, trades, wars, and intergenerational heritage made the dispersal of kris went beyond cultural and generational boundaries.
THE CENTRE OF JAVA
From a kris, one can learn a tremendous amount of virtues, be it through its beauty or its symbols. It has no end of presenting its intricacies, robustness, and regal qualities. It can be inferred that kris as a traditional weapon has their different states of affairs. It is also influenced by a tremendous amount of reference. Such influences may come from an individual’s thought process, a consensus reached by the society, or even from cross-cultural influences.
THE EAST OF JAVA
The account of East Javanese history as well as the artefacts had been recorded by Mpu Prapanca in his note entitled Deśawarṇana during the premodern era of the East of Java—during the reign of Majapahit kingdom. The eminence of Eastern Javanese kris lies in its advancement of pattern welding. The kris from East Javanese tradition has always been known for its very sophisticated lamination pattern—often referred as the pinnacle of technology of craftsmanship. The oldest surviving kris has also been known to be from Majapahit era.
THE LESSER SUNDA ISLANDS AND CELEBES
The krises from the Lesser Sunda Islands and Celebes has various themes, from an attribute of royalty, to a journey of a seafarer. From these krises, one can learn the dynamic of life and the varying functions of krises. Not only that, the overall theme of all krises in Nūsāntara also encapsulated the varying notions, purposes, and virtuous values. All in all, each and every story told is merely a trigger to help the everyone to contemplate and to internalise the words and hopes of the ancestors as it was firstly intended.