About 1/2 mile drive from the busting city-centre of Solo in Central Java we find the village of Wonosari. Wonosari is a residential village, typical of many villages in Central Java, Indonesia. But it has a very important distinction — it is home to one of the last ‘traditional’ metal working collectives, where prized Indonesian daggers or ‘keris’ blades are made.
Much more than an occupation for the metal forgers and workers, making the sacred dagger or ‘keris’ (pronounced ‘criss’) is a passion, akin to a daily spiritual ritual. This dedicated approach to blade making goes back centuries, where the process of material selection, blessing, forging, finishing, embellishing and finally encasing is strictly controlled to ensure the finest results possible.
Each blade is unique, often produced to mark a life-related event, or at the request of the collector who commissions the blade. The finest keris are made with lava from nearby volcanoes or even meteorite — rock that has arrived on Java from outside of our galaxy. The greater the significance of the source, the greater the spiritual life of the finished blade.
There are several Balinese and Javanese keris blade makers, but we have not seen any as dedicated and celebrated as PADEPOKAN KERIS BROJOBUWONO. Founded by Empu (master) Keris maker Basuki Tguh Yuwono, PADEPOKAN KERIS BROJOBUWONO is both a school, forgery and museum dedicated to the love and preservation of the sacred dagger.
The upcoming film “Sacred Dagger: Forging the Kris” is a short study of the sacred dagger of Central Java and a look into one of the most thriving workshops in Southeast Asia today.
Sponsorship information: if you wish to sponsor this film, we can provide a 501(c)3 deduction for the full amount of your contribution through the San Francisco Indonesian Film Festival.
General information: please contact us for general information regarding this film which will be available in April, 2020.
This project is principally funded by a generous grant from the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, California, USA, a museum dedicated towards being a bridge of understanding between Asia and the United States and among the diverse cultures of Asia.
Images courtesy Basuki Tguh Yuwono (Indonesia) and Andrew Galli.