Join Date: Dec 2004
Wolviex - if this is "poor" then the Polsh National Museum must be a very rich place indeed. This is an extremely fine and old example of a Balinese keris with what is known as a topengan or "mask". There is considerable age to the piece, I'd say mid-19th century or perhaps earlier (for the dress) and the blade could be far older. Most classic "Balinese" blades are much more recent. The earliest examples resemble Javanese keris and this is an excellent example of that.
Topengan, for keris, are a fairly old innovation though very rare. They usually come from Bali (as your Museum's) although they seem to have originated in Java. We have at the ACM an example of a topengan (sans keris) that was recovered from a 15th c. Majapahit site in East Java.
The sheath is of course much later than the blade - again possibly mid-19th century and the hulu is a fine and typical example (cf. Hamzuri, both editions although I don't have the books handy so I can't give a page reference).
The only thing strange about this piece is that the oversheath (and topengan) is on backwards. Normally the topengan would be on the front of the sheath (port side by nautical reckoning). It appears a less than knowledgeable curator of old slipped it on backwards. It is an excellent example and from the looks of it in high grade gold as well.
An outstanding piece and one any museum would be proud to own.