The invisible world of the Kris

The invisible world of the Kris
The book cover: all the Kris photographed belong to the Ghiringhelli collection.

The Kris, the typical Indonesian and Malaysian dagger, has always exerted a unique and special fascination on blade lovers all over the world. The Kris is the quintessence of the mysterious and dangerous blade, symbol of value but also a talisman and a tutelary deity. There is no other tool in which so much mysticism and spirituality is still present, since according to Indonesian traditions, the Kris has a soul of its own that is infused by the Empu, the blacksmith/priest/ascetic who forges it following an ancient ritual. The Kris speaks to us, since every detail of it has a precise meaning – from the number of waves in the blade to the Pamor, the pattern of the Damascus steel. Vanna Ghiringhelli, one of the world's leading authorities in the field of Asian blades, will guide us in the discovery of symbols and meanings

Vanna Ghiringhelli spent the first part of her life traveling in Asia together with her husband, the explorer Mario Ghiringhelli. Then, from 1977 to 2001, she was a professor of Hindi language at IsIAO (Italian Institute for Africa and the East). From 2001 to 2009 she was professor of Hindi language at the University of Milan. Thanks to her encyclopedic knowledge of the Kris culture, she published several works on the subject. Among them, The Invincible Krises 2 (Saviolo Editore) and Kris Hilts - Masterpieces of South Asia (5 Continents Editions). Her latest work is The Invisible World of the Kris /Il mondo invisibile del Kris, recently published by the Milanese publisher Tralerighe.

The invisible world of the Kris
One of the inside pages: a superb Kris with a five-wave blade (left) and one with a seven-wave blade (right).
Kris whit Pamor
A Kris whose Pamor (Damascus pattern) is different from one side of the blade to the other. This is a good omen.

The book is in English, while the translated Italian text is in the appendix. It is an extraordinary work, explaining with rigor and clarity any detail of the Kris, from the moment when the client meets the Empu up to the finishing touches, passing through a powerful and arcane ritual that requires sacrifices to the spirits and an obsessive attention to details. Even in the way food is arranged on the table for the lunch that the Empu offers to his helpers before starting the forging steps implies hidden propitiatory meanings. We don't want to go further, we'll let you have the pleasure of reading.

If the text is fascinating, the wealth of images is of very high level and, with over 100 sharp color photographs by Pietro Notarianni, allows to catch the finest details of the Kris presented – not to mention the beautiful handles, some of which are of an extraordinary refinement. The iconography is completed by some drawings by Marco Briccola. Certainly, the book offers a more philosophical than technical approach to the subject of Kris, but in our opinion this is what makes it particularly interesting. And during the Christmas period, it is a volume to give as a gift, or a gift to be sought-after. The cover price of 40 euros is absolutely justified by the format (28.7 x 22.5 cm) and the quality of the book.

The book can be purchased online through this page.

For more information please visit this page or contact the publisher at

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