Balu Mekabun keris hilt
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Materials

Wood

Origin

Central to East Java

Dating

18th-19th century

Provenance

From a Dutch private collection

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Description

A very rare type of keris hilt from Central to East Java. 

Executed in very dark hardwood, it is carved in the form of a veiled female. Locally among Javanese scholars, the hilt is known as radon, simply "female." It is also known as Balu Mekabun (the veiled widow).

The hilt is believed to represent a Javanese variation of Durga, the Hindu warrior goddess. There is a story of Uma, companion of Shiva, who had become unfaithful to him with Brahma. Shiva, in an act of rage, turned her for 12 years into an ugly demon; Raksassi Bhatari Durga, a.k.a. Ranini. She veiled herself because her sight alone could kill mortals.1

The general style probably dates from at least the 16th century. The earliest provenanced examples in European collections are an example in the Treasures of the German Teutonic Order, accession number DO175 which entered the collection records in 1628. A second, acquired in the same year, is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, accession number PA 504.2

It comes with a custom stand and an old brass medak.

 

Notes
1. Cedric Le Dauphin; Kriss Handles from Java. Paris, 2023. Pages 64-67.
2. Ibid and Sejr Karsten Jensen; Krisdisk.

Balu mekabun keris hilt
Balu mekabun keris hilt
Balu mekabun keris hilt
Balu mekabun keris hilt
Balu mekabun keris hilt
Balu mekabun keris hilt
Balu mekabun keris hilt
Balu mekabun keris hilt

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