Surakarta Keris Makers
Pakubuwana XII era
The occupation of the old Dutch East Indies by the Japanese forces during World War II saw the
cessation of the production of keris blades in Jawa.
From the end of WWII through until the 1960's Indonesia was in a very unsettled state, and keris
blade production did not recommence until the early 1970's, when a German visitor to Java,
Dietrich Drescher, sought out the sons of Empu Supowinangun, who had practiced his craft in
Jogjakarta prior to the Japanese occupation. With the assistance and encouragement of Dietrich
Drescher, these three sons of Empu Supowinangun produced the first publicly acknowledged
Javanese keris of the modern era in the village of Jitar, in 1972.
The last of the three brothers was Empu Djeno Harumbrojo, who passed away in May 2006.
In 1979 the man who was to become known as Empu Supowijaya commenced the public
production of keris in Kampung Komplang, Surakarta. Not long after this, in 1982, Pak Fauzan,
who became Empu Pauzan Pusposukadgo, commenced to produce keris in Kampung Yosoroto ,
Due to health problems, Empu Pauzan Pusposukadgo stopped keris production in the early 1990's.
However in 2012, his health improved sufficiently to permit him to once again take up his tools and
begin to produce keris.
During 1982 the Akademi Seni Karawitan Indonesia (ASKI), which is now known as the Sekolah
Tinggi Seni Indonesia (STSI), agreed to provide a course of study in the arts of the keris, including
the making of the blade. This course of study was under the direction of Bp. Yohannes
Yantono.The original participants in this program were Yanto, Bandi, Widodo, Kamdi and Bagio.
Later participants included Walidi and Daliman. Of the people who were taught the art of keris
blade production at the ASKI, probably only one is still involved with the making of keris.
Also during 1982 Alan Maisey (the writer of these notes) was accepted as a student by Empu
Suparman Supowijaya, who at the time was known as Empu Suparman Wignyosukadgo.
Empu Suparman had attempted to teach several Javanese people before he accepted Alan Maisey
as a student, however, for one reason or another, his previous attempts to pass on his knowledge
had failed. Alan Maisey remained a student of Empu Suparman until the teacher's passing in July
Apart from the people mentioned, during the 1980's and 1990's several other people also made a
very, very small number of keris blades in Surakarta, however these people did not become known
The current situation in Surakarta is that only one true pandai keris remains active, with the
possibility of spasmodic production coming from one other. It is relatively certain that at the
present time, only one Surakarta pandai keris unfailingly produces his own bakalan (forging) upon
which he works to produce a keris.
The result of this failure of keris production in Surakarta is that the work of the makers of the
modern Surakarta era has become highly prized by serious students of the keris, and this has been
reflected in the prices which have been paid in recent years for the best examples of these makers'
In the gallery below you will find examples of the work of Empu Suparman, Empu Pauzan
Pusposukadgo, work from the ASKI school, an example of work from one of the "unknown"
makers, and the work of Alan Maisey.
The examples of ASKI work have been grouped together as a "school" and not attributed to
individual makers for several reasons, one of which is related to the politics of academia.
The question may arise as to why the work of an Australian, Alan Maisey, has been included with
work by Javanese Surakarta makers. Alan Maisey was taught the keris by Empu Suparman
Supowijaya, and the keris he made were produced using traditional Surakarta methods, tools and
patterns. In 1992 Empu Suparman adopted Alan Maisey as his son and accorded him the status of
his son. Upon his passing Empu Suparman bequeathed his books, including his personal diaries,
his tools, his unfinished work, his unused material, and the last keris that he had made to Alan.
Click on any image to be taken to a page of full-size, more detailed photos.
Empu Suparman Supowijaya
Empu Pauzan Pusposukadgo
the forging from which a
keris is carved.