Monday July 9, 2012
Blacksmith carrying on family’s four-generation legacy
By FARIK ZOLKEPLI
KUALA TERENGGANU: Abu Bakar Mohd Amin resembles Pendekar Mustar, one of the main characters in P. Ramlee’s classic comedy Pendekar Bujang Lapok.
However, unlike the screen warrior, Abu Bakar is the real deal. He has been making keris for a living since he was 15.
The 78-year-old, who was born in a family of blacksmiths, has been carrying on his family’s legacy that spans four generations at his home in Pasir Panjang here.
His family has been making keris for the Terengganu royal household.
“My great-grandfather came from Pagar Ruyung, Indonesia, and he was known for his keris-making skills.
“I then followed in the footsteps of my forefathers and this has been my life’s work ever since,” he told The Star yesterday.
Abu Bakar has made more than 100 keris, many of which were made according to customers’ wishes.
He became his grandfather’s apprentice for eight years before he was allowed to make his own dagger using a secret technique passed down through his family.
Abu Bakar said the keris were made from molten iron heated over burning charcoals, which are fired by large bellows.
“The bellows are legendary as they have been used since the Majapahit empire,” he said, adding that the hammer and an anvil were also used in the efforts.
Abu Bakar said customers would order the keris for Malay weddings. However, he has also catered to tourists, some from as far as Indonesia and the Philippines.
His own collection is kept in a mini-museum in his house, which boasts different assortments of the blades, including a 200-year-old family heirloom.
“I have been offered RM50,000 for one of my keris, the highest amount I have received so far,” he added.
Abu Bakar has also performed demonstrations for the state government and state museum.
The father of eight is hoping that his sons would take up the art from him, adding that his youngest son Azizul had begun his apprenticeship with him.