The kris – the blade of glory
Surrounded by mythological mystique, the kris, with its distinctively asymmetrical, wavy blade, is regarded today as a spiritual insignia of heroism and invulnerability. With meticulously carved, delicate details on the rare wood and precious metals, the dagger – indigenous to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand and the Philippines – also evokes cultural refinement in modern times, and is the pride and prized possession of vaunted museums and avid collectors.
The intricate decorations on the kris, evoking intrinsic natural elements such as water, wind, fire, earth and the soul, represent the highest level of Malay creativity. Made by craftsmen called empu, the kris also has delicate inscriptions on the bottom of its blade – a trait not found in any other dagger. Male attire was once considered incomplete without a kris as an accessory, but in contemporary society, it’s a treasured family heirloom handed down through generations and worn during sacred ceremonies such as weddings.
The traditional artistry of the kris continues to be regaled in royal Javanese courts and studied by enthusiasts such as award-winning Singaporean author Isa Kamari, who owns more than 50 such antiques and is working on a novel about a kris collector.
Singapore Airlines first adopted the kris in the 1970s, as a hallmark of its exemplary service, and the word ‘kris’ now graces many of its features and offerings. The Airline’s frequent-flyer programme, for instance, is called KrisFlyer, and its inflight magazine, SilverKris. Its inflight entertainment system is called KrisWorld, while its online retail store, which allows for duty-free shopping onboard flights, is named KrisShop.