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As Long as We Remember...

April 4, 2012

The Kris

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia Borneo – Since I quit teaching I can now get back to one of my hobbies, my Kris collection. A Kris is a weapon unique to the Malay world and akin to a dagger. There are pictures of these on my Facebook page, Borneo Tom.


As in most collections, the intent was to start out small and just acquire a few. Now I have more than 30, enough to equip a small army. I made the mistake of informing people of my interest and suddenly I was presented with hundreds. Most were manufactured in Indonesia for the tourist trade and I had to gently relate that I only wanted the very different and rare types.


The lore is as fascinating as the Kris itself. They are said to have magical powers that can change lives and impart the owner with special powers. Each one has a personality of its own; and, what one can, the others cannot.


Among some of the Malay people, just pointing a Kris at someone can bring bad luck and disaster. By stabbing someone’s foot prints, the person will fall ill and die. One Kris at a museum in Malaysia thirsts for blood, sneaks away after dark, kills someone then washes itself and returns to the showcase. A bad Kris was destroyed and pounded into a fine powder. It was testified by many the grains ascended into the sky on a starry night.


Because each Kris has its own personal properties, no one is quite sure what capability each possesses, the powers of Islam are employed. There are two types of Islam here in Malaysia, each represented by a color, either green or yellow. I am told we are of the yellow sort. I am not sure what that means, but I will try to find out and then share with you.


In order to rein in these powers, a Kris is wrapped or adorned with a yellow piece of cloth so it will not fly around the room. Of course, I do not believe in such nonsense. That is why each of my Kris’s has a yellow piece of cloth tied tightly around it.


Local lore, meaning the people I am associated with, relates that they have a spirit that lives with them. The apparition inside the Kris will take care of the owner and the house. When you get cut by a Kris, it will not heal because one violated the spirit. I guess he is supposed to go out and get his/her own blood and not be fed.


Some of the people associated with the Kris are warriors and could come from descendants of those who have drawn blood. Very few people have a Kris because they are usually in possession of the rulers and those who deal in the supernatural world. Most people prefer not to have them around the house because they are not sure what spirit they are imbued with, good or bad, and are very wary.


My collection comes from remote islands in Indonesia. Usually passed down from generation to generation, the current youngsters have discarded the beliefs and, sadly, sell them for hand phones and motorcycles, necessary items to conduct business. I am so fortunate to have acquired these pieces – and their spirits.


. . . . .Life is good. . . . .


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