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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world


Kris are dagger-like weapons from Indonesia, Malaysia and other parts of South-East Asia. Originally worn by men as an indication of readiness to protect their family and possessions, these instruments gradually developed into revered ceremonial and ornamental objects. 

The most important part of the kris is the blade (wilahan), which has two main forms: straight, and a more distinctive 'wavy' shape with an uneven number of curves (luk). The blade is typically of pattern-welded steel, acid-etched to reveal the pattern more clearly, and often damascened. Expensive materials like ivory or horn might be used to make the hilt, which is sometimes carved in the form of an animal, person or divinity. 

Made by sophisticated smiths, kris were an indispensable part of male court dress and considered sacred heirlooms. The most famous were given their own names. Like other ceremonial weapons, these daggers were frequently given by local rulers as official gifts or tokens of esteem. The most costly and significant are decorated with gold, diamonds and other precious stones.

At least 27 kris from George IV's collection remain in the Royal Collection today.