Keris Customs

Wearing Keris

In Java, a man would normally wear three Keris according to his social status:  One on the back and one on each side.  The one on the left side (the first to be drawn) would be the last acquired or received as a traditional wedding gift from the parents of his bride.  The Keris on the back may be tucked into the folds of a sarong or at waist height.

Handling Keris

The hilt (Ukiran) is fixed to the round Peksi by means of a small strip of wound fabric. A delicate balance is achieved between the blade being sufficiently tight not to separate from tho hilt, but also loose enough to allow it to rotate as needed.

The base of the blade is held between the thumb and index finger at a depression called the Picitan, the handle directing naturally to rest in the hollow of the palm. The Ganja guards the hand with rough-shaped teeth (Greneng) that also allow the trapping and blocking of the opposing weapon.

The keris is held parallel to the ground in a manner that allows it to slide between the ribs to reach the vital parts. 

Keris Pusaka in the Home

Keris are kept in a place reserved for sacred objects passed down through the generations (Pusaka). In a family home, pusaka objects are normally kept in a cupboard that is dedicated to them. Keris can be placed in a wall display or in the hands of statue from a pantheon of divinities.

Ethics in Society

1. When holding the unsheathed keris, do not point the tip of the blade keris at someone. Always point it to end up a bit askew or point it to the ground.

2. Do not remove the keris from the sheath without the permission of the owner. To request permission is to respect the keris owner.

3. If you do begin to remove the keris from the sheath, you must continue until it is entirely unsheathed. Do not hurry to put the keris back in the sheath before the keris is ready. Do not get the impression that the owner of the keris will not also viewing the unsheathed keris.

4. The person who removes the keris from the sheath must be the one to put it back. Do not allow any other person do this.

5. Do not sheath the keris if you are not a previous owner of the keris by inheritance, except when the owner of the keris is requesting that you do so.

6. Try not to give or receive a keris from the others in a way that is sideways, and especially do not give or receive it at a distance.  The persons giving and receiving the keris should face each other.

7. Never give a bad assessment of the keris in front of the owner unless he asks for an  assessment.

Magical Customs

1. Pointing a keris at someone is thought to mean that they will die soon. In ceremonies or demonstrations where ritualized battles are fought with real keris, the fighters will perform a ritual which includes touching the point of the blade to the ground to neutralize this effect.

2. Relative to the Hulu (handle), when held in the hand the keris blade should always make a certain angle, never perpendicular.  This represents an omen that someone, of any rank and position, should always be respectful.

Keris Care  (see "Siraman")

1. Keris must be cleaned once a year each. Cleaning is good overall. Cleaning is intended to be for one year storage. Any rust on the keris should be cleaned and removed in order not to damage the keris. After cleaning, the keris is rinsed with water and allowed to dry completely.

2. Keris are cleaned once each week with an oil free of alcohol. This helps protect against rust. The best type of oil you can use is a very light oil that contains a mixture of oil of sandalwood, jasmine and kenanga or appropriate "taste" of each as the owner prefers.

3. Storing the the keris in the home should also consider high storage. A humid place is not suitable. A high place for storage is so that our children do not easily reach them. The keris is a dangerous sharp object.