Balinese Keris, from Kusamba to Global

A document stored in one of a Dutch museum records that the Balinese Keris was made in Kusamba Village, Klungkung. Currently, there was only one metal craftsman that still makes Balinese Keris. He is Jero Mangku Pande Ketut Mudra, the craftsman of Keris Budi Luhur.

“About 20 years ago, when I was 50 years old, I replaced my father producing Keris. Previously I was a gold and silver craftsman. When I learned how to make Keris, I took the risk to leave my current job and focus on making Keris.”

A cultural practitioner from Germany who was moved to see Jero Mangku’s efforts to preserve the cultural arts heritage asked Jero Mangku to go to Solo. “For one month I collected more knowledge of making Keris with Empu Subande. Fortunately, I quickly mastered the process of making Keris using modern tools.” When returning to Bali, Jero Mangku immediately feels the enthusiast on creating a Keris for the German cultural practitioner.

“When the German Master judged my work, he also helped to publish it. He spreads information to museums in Bali, the governor’s office, mass media such as the Bali Post to foreign countries.” At that time, Jero Mangku could have up to 10 guests per month asking for a Keris to be made. His work is sought after by many tourists from Europe, Australia, Asia, to America. Some of the tourists even believe in the power of the Trimukti in the Keris.

Keris buyers usually have special requests for the materials to be used. This type of material affects the price of a Keris, it could reach IDR 30 million, even hundreds of millions if it is made entirely with gold. Therefore, Jero Mangku was greatly affected by the pandemic that hit tourism in Bali. “For now, I only got one order per month. I really hope this pandemic will end soon and Bali tourism can recover,” he said.