Patrem, or the “Keris Kecil” (small creese) is a special type of Keris (a traditional Javanese dagger) used by women in ancient days. In general, the keris kecil is made exactly in the same shape of the usual keris, only in a smaller size. However, the power of this weapon is not to be underestimated.
The blade is made from the composite of iron and steel. Only take size between 15 and 25 cm, this knife becomes a dangerous seamless weapon that is very easy to carry.
Patrem – A Weapon for Children and Women
The presence of keris kecil in the ancient days is confirmed by the note written by a Chinese explorer called Ma Huan. In his note, Ma Huan describes how people in Jogjakarta dressed up. One of the most interesting part of his note is the statement in which he said that every person, from men to women, and from children to adult, would carry a knife.
By the standard of Javanese knives size, it becomes impossible for women and child to carry such a knife in their pocket without looking weird, which against the common dressing in Jogjakarta. From that statement, there is one conclusion to draw. The knife carried by the women and children must be a small knife since its purpose was for protection against enemy only in absence of male defender.
There is one noticeable note from the ancient Javanese book that explains that this weapon really is. The name Patrem is taken from an acronym that stands for Panggane Ingkang Damel Tentrem, which literally means “a peace of mind for one who carries it”.
The philosophy stated by the ancient Javanese book doesn’t go against the Chinese note mentioned before. Knowing the weapon was used for “a peace of mind”. It means that the weapon was only used for self-defense in a real emergency situation.
The Women Force of Jogjakarta
Another fact that confirm the use of keris kecil is the existence of Women Force back in ancient days of Jogjakarta. Javanese traditions dictates than men and women should have different place to stay. Unless they got married or in one family. Also, the royal women need to have their own education. This education purposes especially on how to be a good women as a preparation for adulthood. Those lessons were taught in a place called kaputren, a special hall in the Jogjakarta Palace area for women and female teenagers. Every building is palace area is under guard and so is kaputren. But, since it is no place for men, women are assigned to guard it.
The royal family of Jogjakarta assigned women to guard the inner part of the main house. While men guarded the outside. That type of guard is considered the most protective way against potential harm from outside the main house or inside. As most women in that era also worked as a servant. The little knife is the only acceptable weapon they used indoor.
How The Patrem Was Made
The small knife was made just like any other conventional knife from Javanese culture. It begins with melting and molding a composite of iron and steel. This kind of knife was made in two different type, the conventional small knife and the royal one.
The conventional small knife was made by forming the melted composite in a molding process. Once the shape is being formed, the knife was then sharpened and strengthen by putting it in a cold water. Everyone in the ancient days could take part of the making process as long as they had the smith skills.
But, when it comes to the royal small knife, things would be a little bit different. Apart from the metal quality, which is a lot better. The making process doesn’t stop once the knife was sharpened and strengthen. The process than continues to the engraving. A man called Empu, or “the master”, would make some kind of ancient engrave on the blade after reheating it. According to the ancient belief, the engraved pattern would contain some kind of prayer and spirit to protect the owner as Patrem is only made by request, mostly from the royal family of Jogjakarta.