UKIRAN or Hulu (Malay Peninsula)

Ukiran is the term used in Java for the Keris hilt, in Malay it means "carving". In the Malay Peninsula, the word Hulu is preferably used.

Keris hilt shapes varies from region to region. It is one of the prominent ways of recognizing the origin of a Keris. However, the Ukiran does not always match the Warangka. For instance a Keris owner might want to combine the magnificence of a Madura Ukiran with the elegance a Surakarta ladrang Warangka

Some collectors specializes in Ukiran and they can be valued more than the keris itself. A special care is taken in making the hilt from selected woods, ivory, horn, precious metal or fossilized teeth. The Ukiran and Warangka craftsman is called a Mranggi, he is an artist with a deep knowledge of traditional symbolism. The engraver is called the Pengukir.

The generic shape of the Ukiran symbolizes a god in a squat position. 

To allow the blade cleansing , keris hilts are removable, they are wrapped on the tang with a strip of cloth or string to keep it in place. 

The following woods are used to make Ukiran :

Tayuman (Cassia Laevigata), extremely fine harwood 

Kenaung or Kemung (Diospyros ebenum), often referred to as ebony 

Gahary (Aquilaria malaccensus), a pitch black shiny wood .

Gemia (Bouea microphylla), reddish wood

Setar (Bouea macrophylla), reddish-brown wood

Ketannga (Memillia caloxylon), yellowish-brown

Bongor (Lagerstroemia speciosa), reddish-brown

Kemuning (Murraya Paniculata)
Kendayaan (Bauhinia malabarica) 
Sonokeling (Dalbergia latifola), Indian rosewood, Palissandre, purple, black or light brown with dark streaks

To obtain its color, the Ukiran is bathed in a mixture of mashed red leaves of pacar (Lawsonia inermiss Lann), then into coconut oil mixed with sambakeling berries (Bixa orellana inn) and finally they are polished.

Ukiran shapes by region: 
Click on pictures to see more
Central Java North Java East Java Madura Bali
Sumatra Northern Sulawesi Pekaka
 
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OLD BLADES - Malay World Edged Weapons.  Copyright 2000 - 2007
Revised: 2007-05-20