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One of the luxuries of living over here is that you meet some fascinating people that have truly traveled. They know the nooks and crannies and some have lived in crazy places I can only imagine. Yesterday the AWA (American Women's Association) held a coffee at a collector's house. She is from the US, but has been living in SE Asia since the mid 80's. Her house was absolutely amazing - it looked like a museum. I think my favorite thing that she and her husband had collected was the Indonesian Kris. Their collection was absolutely spectacular. This isn't one of the hilts from her home (Wikipedia, yay!), but she had some of similar quality and beauty:
This particular style was Balinese. The Java and Sumatran Kris styles are much simpler and the more valuable scabbards (to the locals) in those areas are the ones made with beautiful wood. They have a wicked looking blade, and each blade has an intricate design on it, with very exacting standards depending on the region where it comes from.
Men carry them on their backs usually. Even though they can be used as a weapon, they're more objects of power, or a talisman. We were told that people will sleep with these under their pillow for protection. Supposedly the spirits will take the Kris from under your pillow and slay your enemies while you sleep. You know it has worked if you wake up the next morning with blood on your pillow. Fascinating, and such beautiful objects.