Friday, September 5, 2008

Malay Weapon: Kris Tajong

Malay Weapon: Kris Tajong
The most important kris form to originate in the Kelantan-Terengganu-Pattani region is the Tajong. The kris Tajong has, in fact, become synonymous with this region, though examples of similar hilts are occasionally found elsewhere in the Malay world.

The ‘hulu’ or hilt of the tajong was originally a carved representation of the Hindu god Siva, adapted in a fashion similar to his characterization in the wayang kulit shadow puppet theater. The earliest form of the tajong found to date, possibly seventeenth century, is the hulu kris coteng which has a simple, fairly flat head with elongated nose, and clearly defined arms and legs on the body. The arms sometime appear to be carrying a waisted drum, which would appear to be a ‘damaru’, one of the Siva’s favorite attributes.

Through the centuries, with changing worldviews and in particular, conversion to the Islamic faith, these features were gradually subsumed by floral and vegetative decoration. The nose became longer and adopted a marked tilt at the tip, which echoed the lines of its sampir, or scabbard crosspiece. The tajong, in fact, got its name from its distinctive sampir, which resembles the uplifted, winged shape of a Pattani fishing vessel of that name.

The tajong has often been confused with the ‘pekaka’. The true pekaka evolved from the ‘jawa demam’, with a larger and straighter beak and is often carved from a material such as clamshell whale tooth or walrus ivory.

Hilt Keris Tajong
This is a very early piece with a flat head known as ‘hulu’ kris coteng, from Ligor, Pattani. It possesses strongly carved features; simple yet realistic arms, legs and face, with no beard and minimal crest. The Tajong spiral is sharply incised, as are the Langkasuka motifs on the cheeks. The light tilted nose is not decorated. Simple lotus petals are carved on the ‘buah pinang’. The pendokok is of beaten bronze.
Malay Weapon: Kris Tajong
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