THE KERIS OF KNAUD

The Keris of Knaud is named according to Charles Knaud (Batavia 1840 - Amsterdam 1897), a Dutchman, raised in Indonesia, strongly attracted by the mystics of Java. He was taught the secrets of Javanese magic by a dukun (shaman) and became himself a well known physician. His reputation was so great, that Paku Alam V (1878-1900), ruler of a small enclave in Yogyakarta,  who's son was badly sick because of what he believed to be black magic (guna guna), called for him. Charles Knaud was able to cure Paku Alam's son and as a reward, was given one of the most precious pusaka from the court: an ancient Keris.

The Keris of Knaud is of the buda type, an earlier shape with a straight, short, wide and thick blade. However the Keris of Knaud is very unusual because it is partially covered with a thin copper layer embossed with scenes from the Ramayana and the Javanese year 1264 (1342 AD) is engraved on the iron blade. Keris are not normally dated. The ganja is one piece with the blade and the pesi is shortened due to rust. 

Assuming the date is original, the Keris of Knaud would be from the heyday of the Majapahit kingdom. However, because of its special features, questions surrounds this dagger. Was the keris old when it was decorated with the embossed scenes? Was is it actually made in 1342 AD, or is the date to celebrate an important event that took place at that time? Is it a weapon or a ceremonial dagger?

The Keris of Knaud was lost since 1903. According to a story, it had been stolen by the Japanese during the second world war during their occupation of Indonesia. The true story came to light very recently. It had been buried in the garden of the Knaud family during the Japanese occupation and then was sent to the Netherlands. To bring luck it had to be periodically incensed by a dukun and since there was no dukun in the Netherlands, it was kept in a bank safe.  

KIT Tropenmusuem, Amsterdam, was approached in the autumn of 2002 by a club of keris collectors who told the keris was in the hands of Kurht Knaud, a descendant from Charles Knaud. Since February 2003, it is exhibited as a loan to the museum.

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OLD BLADES - Malay World Edged Weapons.  Copyright 2000 - 2007
Revised: 2007-05-20