Kris Blades By Prof. Roland Phlip


A great Kris is arguably the most difficult blade profile to make. Great Kris blades are rare. This is why collectors seek them out, pay huge sums for them, and treasure them.

This Kris-bladed Bali-Song is by famous maker Jody Samson. It is virtually perfect.

The merit and value of a Kris blade is determined largely by the number of undulations. The second key factor is the median ridge. It should flow smoothly and follow the undulations of the edges perfectly just as this one does.

While the kris is common in the Philippines, it is most associated with Indonesia. In Indonesia, the Kris is usually found on short swords, not balisongs.

Many Kris blades, especially Indonesian ones, have 13 undulations. In western culture, the number 13 is often seen as unlucky or even as evil. But, in Indonesian culture, it is seen as a lucky or even magical number. There are many colorful myths and legends about Indonesian Kris swords, but here at The Institute for Advanced Balisong Studies, we study balisongs, not swords. The knife shown here is a balisong, an American Bali-Song, so we'll spare you stories of Indonesian swords.

The recent movie Face Off (you can The Balisong Collector Himself's review on The Balisong Collector's Movies page ),featured a balisong with a kris blade. Unfortunately, it was a cheap, terrible knife. But, it certainly inspired a lot of interest in balisongs and kris blades in particular.

Here at The Institute for the Advanced Study of the Balisong, we've received dozens of e-mails asking, "Where can I get that cool knife from Face Off?" Perhaps we've upset a few people by telling them that the knife just isn't that cool.

However, the popularity of this knife has reminded us that most people don't have the opportunity to study here at The Institute for Advanced Balisong Studies and have never seen a wonderful kris like the one shown above. Most people don't know what a good Kris looks like.

Unfortunately, the market is awash in cheap, made-in-China "kris" blades which are terrible knives, have no practical value, and will never have any collectible value either. But, people buy them because they think they're getting a great kris.

While this page violates the convention a bit, a Kris blade is properly held and displayed with the final undulation of the tip turning downward. The tip of this blade ends almost straight, so it's not quite so important.

Many people ask if the wavy shape of a Kris blade is just for decoration. The answer is certainly no. The Kris shape allows a blade to have more cutting edge in the same overall length. Furthermore, if a conventional knife hits something hard when stabbing, say, just for example, a bone, it will probably stop. But, thanks to its curved shape, a Kris tends to slide off the bone and continue in deeper. Finally, the Kris shape makes the blade wider without making it heavier. A wider blade makes a wider wound, but a wider blade is usually heavier and, therefore, harder to handle and move quickly. A Kris is the best of both worlds, light and wide. So, while not practical for many every-day cutting chores, the shape of a Kris is hardly for decoration.

If a blade has a wavy edge, but the median ridge does not undulate with the edge, then that blade is a "flame" blade, not a Kris. Great flame blades are also difficult to make and are very collectible.

Kris blades are also often confused with what are properly referred to as "Dragon's Breath Knives," which are exemplified by some of Gil Hibben's fantasy knives. Dragon's Breath knives have wildly shaped edges. Because the balisong design limits the width of the blade, dragon's breath blades are rarely seen in balisongs.


If you like the Kris shown on this page and think it would make nice Windows Wallpaper, then you're in luck. Two Wallpaper images of this Kris on the wallpaper page.


* This Dragon's Breath knife is NOT taken for the archives here at The Institute for Advanced Balisong Studies. This photo appears courtesy of One Stop Knife Shop)