Kris scholar talks about his work

A feature on Haryono Haryoguritno and his life-long interest in the kris. The story also delves into the history of the kris and it’s early references in this region.

Indonesian Kris Scholar’s Labor of Love
Jakarta Globe, 18 November 2010

“The kris is a picture of perfection,” said Haryono Haryoguritno, 79, cradling a dagger from the 15th century in his hands. “It has harmony and perfect mathematical balance.”

He then stood the kris on its smoothly carved, diamond-encrusted handle, atop its scabbard overlaid in gold. Despite its oddly shaped curves, the thin blade stood perfectly balanced pointing upward, as if to assert its supremacy.

Haryono has been a kris scholar for more than four decades.

Forged from iron, steel and meteorites, the traditional Indonesian weapon is believed to have magical powers that bring the owners charm and good luck, be it on the battlefield or in their personal lives.

On Nov. 25, 2005, Unesco, the United Nations cultural organization, recognized Indonesia’s kris as part of the intangible heritage of humanity. Haryono’s 300-page proposal was instrumental in gaining this honor.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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