Thursday, December 03, 2020

Siam Society takes a stab at kris history

Jun 18. 2019
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The keris or kris is a dagger famous for its wavy blade, although some do have straight blades.

Keris can be found in those parts of Southeast Asia infused with Malay culture – southern Thailand, southern Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – but are most often associated with Indonesia and particularly Java and Bali. There they are embedded in complex socio-cultural realities as expressed in rituals, sacred ceremonies, performing arts, martial arts, epics and magic among others.

This rich tradition will be the focus of the book launch “Balinese Keris: Metal, Masculinity, Magic” at the Siam Society on July 9 at 7pm and at SEA Junction on July 14 at 5pm. 


The book, written by cultural expert Garrett Kam and published by C Zwartenkot Art Books, encapsulates major aspects of Balinese keris from their manufacturing to their gender and spiritual dimensions. It describes the keris’ rich contexts while recognising the highly accomplished art of the blade, hilt and scabbard.

At the launch, the writer will talk about his book and perform a keris dance. In a symbolic gesture, he will then hand the book over to Pornrat Damrhung, professor of theatre and dramatic arts at Chulalongkorn University, as representative of the art and culture community in Thailand. 

There will be limited copies of the book available for sale and the author will be glad to sign them on request.

Admission is free, but donations are most welcome to enable SEA Junction to continue its activities and keep events accessible to the public.

For more information and reservations, call (097) 002 4140, email [email protected], or visit


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