In Java, the Keris cleansing is a made during the holy month of Suro. It is part of a series of purification rituals which include the Siraman Pusaka (heirlooms cleansing).

To etch the blade you need the following ingredients:

  1. lime, lemon or concentrated citric acid

  2. sour coconut juice or a mild detergent

  3. water

  4. a brush

  5. a tooth brush

  6. a container, which fits the length of the blade

  7. raw orange arsenic: Realgar, or arsenic trioxide

  8. a hairdryer

  9. if you can, a hot sun is of great help


Lithography from C.W. Mieling after A. Van Pers, The Hague, 1853-1862

 It is a three step process, like any recipe, you have to add your own little secrets and the quality of the result depends on your experience... and luck.

Mutih, to clean the blade: 


The hilt is removed from the blade 

To remove the oil, soak the blade into sour coconut juice and brush it with a solution of klerak (Sapindus rarak DC), a local fruit. A mild detergent with warm water is also efficient but less exotic. If it is protected with wax, ethanol will be more appropriate.

To remove the old arsenic and the rust,  soak the blade into a solution of lime juice until the blade is white and shiny. For those who do not have limes, a solution of denatured alcohol with 10% citric acid will do the job.  

 Remove the blade once a day and scrub it under running water with a tooth brush to remove the lime solution. When it is clean, dry it in the open in the sun, or with a hair drier. Most blades will come clear in a week, some might take longer.

Marangi, to etch the blade. There are two processes:

By immersion:

Take a piece of warangan (raw orange arsenic, Realgar), pound it until it becomes powder. Mix one tea spoon of this arsenic powder in 1 liter solution of fresh lime and water.

Soak the blade in the solution. Blades react differently, some may show a very nice pattern in a few minutes, others will take hours or days. If the blade has been soaked for several hours in the arsenic bath, it might be necessary to rinse it with a lime solution to remove the excess of arsenic.

By application:

Mix the arsenic powder (or liquid) with a few drops of lime, progressively add more lime to produce a solution to fill a third of an egg cup. Let the solution sit for 30mn.

Damp a soft brush in the solution and then rub the brush on the blade. Repeat until the blade darkens. Once you get the color you want, rinse under running water. Older blades will tend to be more gray rather than black.

To prevent further rusting, the blade is dried in the sun or with a hairdryer. 

Anjamasi, to protect the blade:


Coat with a brush a thin layer of minyak or micro crystalline wax. Minyak is a mixture of several kind of oils, often based on sandalwood oil, to flagrant and protect the blade. The blade is then dried in the open air.

The warangan solution can be kept several years, you just need to add warangan each time you use it. In fact, like good wine, it improves with time.


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