In the West we tend to think of knives as utilitarian objects with little spiritual value outside the world of neo-paganism and Wicca. However, this is far from the case with the asymmetrical bladed Kris of Indonesia, which has a spirit and life force of its own. Furthermore, each Kris has a personality which it is believed can be benevolent or malevolent.
The Kris probably came into being around 1361. A Kris can be past down to the family line for generations and some of the more ancient Kris have blades worn down by yearly ceremonial cleanings. Usual only one Kris is worn at a time, unless the wearer is a warrior in which case he may wear three: one which was a family heirloom, one which was a gift from his father-in-law, and his own.
The interaction between the blade and its owner is crucial, its positivity or negative can be tested by making cuts on a leaf, or placing the Kris underneath one’s pillow. If good dreams ensure the Kris is fortunate for its possessor, in contrast, nightmares suggest the Kris is not compatible with its owner. However, that does not mean the Kris is inherently flawed, it is simply it has a personality clash with its potential master or mistress.
The bond between a human and the Kris is said to be so strong that a Kris will on end and attack its owner’s enemies without human intervention. Furthermore, the Kris is so important to its owner that before battle a warrior offers a sacrifice to it at its shrine. Equally, it is very bad luck to point a Kris at someone, so before battle drills with real Kris special rituals are enacted to ensure that no one is harmed. In contrast, the Kris is also used in traditional dances.
More recently the Kris has developed a political symbolism and is associated with Malay nationalism. Its image also appears on certain coins in Borneo; far from being an obscure spiritual symbol the Kris is obvious a vital part of certain Indonesian cultures.