Excalibur in Bali
Two Long-Lost Sacred Keris (Swords) Receive a Homecoming Welcome to Bali.
Two priceless keepsakes of Bali’s ancient kingdoms of Klungkung and Gelgel have made a brief and very emotional homecoming to mark the 100th anniversary of the Puputan sacrifice on April 28, 2008.
On a 100 year-long journey from Bali, Holland, Jakarta and now back to Bali – two priceless bejeweled ceremonial swords or keris have been given a memorial tour of their “old home” in Bali. So revered are the two Keris that each bears it own name – Ardawaike for the sword from the Klungkung Palace and Tombake Ki Baru Gudug for the weapon from the Gelgel Palace.
The two swords are part of a highly-prized special collection kept in the most secure “gold room” of the Indonesian National Museum in Jakarta and are on temporary loan after a long negotiation including complex guarantees issued by Bali to the Museum. Flown from Jakarta with a special escort, the two keris were joyously receives at a special ritualized welcome at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport on Sunday, April 27th, followed by yet another religious rite at the city of Semarapura. Both ceremonies were described by NusaBali as taking place in a profoundly solemn and magical atmosphere.
The weapons, known to be hundreds of years old, were personally escorted to Bali by Gunawan and Sutikno, two senior staff from the National Museum who, among other duties, safeguard the keris from any contact with moisture thought to be harmful to the objects.
The Keris Kenegaraan Ardawalike was once the personal weapon of the last King of Klungkung, Ida I Dewa Agung Jambe, who fell with his wives and “hundreds” of other in the Puputan or “battle to the death” of April 28, 1908. Both swords are made from nickel, gold and rare jewels. Keris Tombak Ki Baru Gudug, which is also known as Ki Baru Ngit, is credited with having saved Ida Dalem Bekung, a King of Gelgel, from death during a palace revolt.
Both swords were taken as part of the victor’s spoils after the Puputan Klungkung in 1908. Some years later, the keris were returned to Indonesia from Holland and have been kept ever since in the Country’s main museum in Jakarta.
Believed to be imbued with a living presence and immense power, both keris were welcomed back to Semarapura with ceremonies, guided tours of the various rooms of their former palatial residence and a rolling escorted tour of the city and surrounding areas.