Ritual + Culture / A BALINESE GOLD KRIS HILT INDONESIA, LATE 19TH-EARLY 20TH CENTURY
HK$25,000 - HK$30,000
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A BALINESE GOLD KRIS HILT
12 cm high
An exquisitely carved Royal Balinese gold and gem-encrusted kris hilt in the form of a wrathful figure. Profusely decorated with rubies and sapphires, the cast gold surface is moulded around a core material and decorated with elaborate repoussé work and incised detailing.
The figure is depicted seated on a rock, holding a swath of cloth with both hands by his chest, his face with large fangs and ferocious expression. Long and perfectly defined curls flow down his back and his body is adorned with elaborate jewellery. A Garuda face with gem-set eyes is depicted at the back of the figure's head.
Sometimes referred to as rakshasa (ogre), this type of hard to identify wrathful figure is often seen adorning the hilts of Balinese krisses. Other noteworthy examples are depictions of the monkey god Hanuman and his spiritual father, the wind god Batara Bayu.
Deeply rooted in the Malay world in both ritual prescriptions and mythology, the kris has played a particularly important role in Balinese society. Standing as pusaka, a powerful sanctified heirloom and serving as a strong marker of socio-economic status, a kris could only be made by Pande blacksmiths who claim status higher than that of a Brahman.
This example of a Balinese kris hilt is particularly noteworthy for the quality of its crisp sculptural detailing and fluid modelling of form.
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Stark, P. and Content, D. (1992). Gold & silver auction, Taisei Gallery. Singapore: Taisei Gallery, lot 476.
Reichle, N., Brinkgreve, F. and Stuart-Fox, D. (2010). Bali: Art, ritual and performance. San Francisco: Asian Art Museum--Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, pp. 257.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York acc. no. 28.23.2a, b
Metmuseum.org. (2019). [online] Available at: