A kris is a type of knife or dagger native to Southeast Asia and thought to have originated in Java in the 14th century, from whence it has spread throughout the region. The kris is a stabbing weapon, not a slashing one. Creese or crease is an anglicized version of the word little used today.

The kris often has a wavy steel blade, sometimes inlaid with jewels or precious metal; the wavy blade may symbolize the mythical snake-like Naga. A blade can be anywhere from 6" to over 2 ft long, with the longer kris being quite heavy. The kris has a wooden, metal, or ivory hilt and usually a scabbard as well. Often the hilt is carved in the shape of an animal's or a bird's head. The higher the status of the owner, the more elaborate the kris, but even relatively humble kris were heirlooms handed down from father to son.

In some classes of Javanese and Filipino society the kris was part of the dress code, much like the sword of the samurai. In times of peace only one kris would be worn, on the right side, but during war up to three of different sizes could be worn.

Some blades were thought to have magical powers, and people could be killed simply by having a particularly powerful kris pointed at them.

There is an interesting short essay on the kris by Toronto martial artist Ramon Villardo at

Kris (?), n.

A Malay dagger. See Creese.


© Webster 1913.

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