I was watching The Godfather: Part III the other day and noticed that in Mosca’s cabinet full of costumes and murderin’ stuff there are one or two daggers with wavy blades. For years I had always seen these associated with cartoon assasins. I have been told they are properly referred to as a kris but all the searches I’ve done talk about the kris or keris being a Malyasian design that looks very different than this. Many have a wavy blade but nearly all have a slanted hilt and curved handle where the props in the movie were symmetrical. Do the knives in the movie have any historical basis or are they a hollywood invention?
I have also heard of this referred to as a kris.
I am not familiar of any historical basis. Due to the manufacturing difficulties of creating a curvy blade, combined with the lack of practical benefit, I doubt that this was ever used as anything but a decorative blade in a historical context.
The kris knife is actually very practical and lethal. Think of them as ‘old school’ scalloped edges. A wavy blade has more edge to cut with than a straight blade of the same length, and as you are cutting, the angle of attack is changing as you pull (push) the knife through its range. You know how when you are having a hard time cutting something you rock the knife up and down? That creates different cutting angles, which is what a curved blade does as you use it normally.
My Kali instructor took two Benchmade Bali-song knives, one with a 5" straight edge, one a 5" kris. He attacked a new paper towel roll wrapped with duct tape with both knives. The kris cut far deeper and longer than the straight edge.
As for European kris? Historical meaning when? I’m sure kris knives were traded with Marco Polo when he went through the area, or if not him the traders that followed after him did. Weapons were always being bought and sold. Then a European blacksmith would copy the design. I know I have seen spears with kris heads here…so, yeah, I’m sure they are ‘historical’.
And if you want to see some pretty kris blades, click here.
As Tomcat mentions above the ‘kris’ blades appear to be slightly better at the draw cut due to the increased cutting surface and unusual shape.
Is it enough to make any meaningful difference in a fight? Uhm, no.
Atleast the answer is no when it comes to swords, I would imagine the same holds true for knifes.
I thought the Flamberge was a wavy-bladed sword.
I’ve also seen hunting/military knives which are broader at the tip than near the hilt, another peculiarity.
Oh yeah, and I have not seen daggers with such blades in my studies of medieval and renaissance martial arts, though I’ll admit daggers haven’t been on my top list until very recently and there very well could eb examples.
Swords with such blades (called flambards) gained a measure of popularity during the 1600’s in Europe, though the interest was more on the aesthetic aspects rather than on anythign else.
Obviously, in self-defense.
Hey man, that roll was talkin’ some serious smack about his mother.
About 10 years ago, I pickup up, in an antiques store in Amsterdam, a keris very similar to some of the ones in Hamish’s link. Does anyone know of any informative discussion boards about kerises?
It is. A flamberge is a big hunk of blade - ones I’ve seen are three to four feet long, plus the hilt - and was intended for taking down horses. Undoubtably, it would have made short work of a man, as well, but all that bulk would make it a difficult weapon to use.
A kris (or keris) is a knife or dagger - the blade would be in the neighborhood of 8-10" long.
There’s a variant on the kris called a molo kris - that one’s long enough to be considered a sword.
These might help, Tastes of Chocolate
A couple of other comments about the Keris…
From what I have read, Keris were primarily very lethal thrusting and stabbing weapons with little utility outside of this scope. They were sometimes made for the very specific purpose of assasinating a single person and were often imbued with mystical powers, they were magic blades. They were also weapons of execution:
I also read that the wavy blade keris, called dapor loq (they also came in straight blade versions (dapor bener)), were very difficult to use as slashing and cutting weapons because of the blade shape and would just bounce off a target unless wielded with proper technique. Apparently, the wavy blade shape made them superior and very lethal stabbing weapons because it increased the surface area of the blade edge twice over and the shape permitted the blade to “slide” around bones and be easily withdrawn from the target with little impediment.
The word “flamberge” is typically used to denote a wavy bladed rapier. The flammard (or flambard) dopplehander (or renaissance “true” greatsword) which you are talking about would have been a very large weapon indeed, however those specimens intended to be used in combat did not typically weigh mroe than 7 pounds. Those that did weigh more than that were ceremonial in nature.
There’s also not much information on how these weapons were used, it is theorized that their method of employment is similar to that of the longsword, probably emphasizing the point a bit more. They’re nimble weapons inspite of their size and weight. We also know that they were popular with body and royal guards, as well as banner guards. I’d expect them to have been used as shock weapons once pike formations met in meleee combat.
In some obscure Masonic texts (none of which I have had hand) describe the wavy sword (used by Tylers in some Lodges) as being emblematic of the flaming sword used by Michael to drive Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.