Kris (dagger) is a loanword from Malayu language “keris” meaning a “short knife”. It comprises the “head” (hilt), the blade, and the sheath. Kris blades come in two shapes: straight and curved or wavy. In Thailand, the principal location of kris-making is in Taloh Halo Sub-district, Raman District, Yala Province.
In forging a kris, the forgers prefer to use more than two kinds of metals, which are melted and forged into the shape of a kris. The number of curves or waves on the blade indicates the social status of the owner. A kris with three to five curves is for the commoners, one with seven waves is for the military or royal court’s officials, one with nine waves is for the ruler of a small province or a very rich tycoon. Kris hilt and sheath are usually carved from a block of an auspicious kind of wood, such as Kaeo tree (orange jasmine tree; “Kaeo” means “jewel”). Some kris-makers use rare materials, such as a tusk of an elephant, to make a kris hilt.
Kris is not considered only as a weapon, but also as a talisman and a decoration that displays the social status and privilege of the owner. It reflects the artistic beauty and cultural values that are unique to the Muslim Thai people in Thailand’s southern provinces.