Dagger Handle

H x W x D: 7.7 x 3.7 x 2.6 cm (3 1/16 x 1 7/16 x 1 in)
Indonesia, Java
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Weapon and Armament

Dagger handle

Indonesia, Java

To 1906
Unidentified owner, Java, to 1906 [1]

From 1906 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased in Java from an unidentified owner in 1906 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Reserved Wood List, R. 5363, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. According to Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record, this object was purchased in Java as a lot of five [F1906.291-.295].

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


A kris is a ceremonial dagger with great spiritual and artistic significance in Indonesian courtly culture. In short, it is an emblem of power. Shaped like an animal, divine figure, or geometric form, the kris handle (ukiran) can constitute an art object on its own.

The group of five kris handles was among the first Southeast Asian objects collected by Charles Lang Freer during his travels in Java. He may have been attracted to their unique forms and evocative shapes, in addition to their cultural importance.

This handle closely resembles figures from the wayang kulit, Indonesia's traditional shadow puppet theater. The pronounced profile, slender form, and curved headdress suggest the figure of Arjuna, warrior-hero of the Mahabharata.

Collection Area(s)
Southeast Asian Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
F|S Southeast Asia
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.