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That kris, a short, asymmetrical double-edged sword or knife with spiritual powers, was said to have been made of 21 different types of metal. The whole of the sampir (upper wooden part) and batang (lower part of the wooden sheath), was covered in gold leaf. It is classified as a keris gabus (sharp) or keris terapang (having a cross-piece or sheath covered with gold).
One of the most well-known kris in Malay literature, Taming Sari was said to be so skilfully crafted that anyone wielding it was unbeatable.
According to folklore it was originally owned by a champion warrior or pendekar, from Majapahit named Taming Sari ("beautiful shield"), from which the weapon derives its name. In some versions of the legend, the weapon would make its user physically invulnerable.
The legend took place sometime during the fall of Majapahit Empire and the rise of the Malacca Sultanate. Tun Sri Lanang's book, the Sejarah Melayu, tells that it was made by a Javanese empu, a master swordsmith with mystical powers and first used by the champion of Majapahit, the pendekar Taming Sari.
Later, according to legend, when Hang Tuah failed to bring back the princess from Gunung Ledang, he gave the kris to Tun Mamat to be returned to Sultan Mahmud Shah. Hang Tuah then disappeared and was never seen or heard of again. Another version of the legend has it that Hang Tuah had thrown the knife into the river, saying that he would return when the kris re-appeared.
It was said that Taming Sari could do Hang Tuah's fighting for him - if Hang Tuah was menaced or in any danger, the keris would leap out of its sheath, fly through the air and attack the assailant.
Before the Taming Sari became part of the Perak Royalty's regalia, it is believed to have been a hereditary article of the family of the laksamana (admiral) who for generations, through succession, ruled as the territorial chief of Hilir Perak.
It is believed that the last territorial chief who had the famed keris in his possession was Laksamana Mohd Amin Alang Duakap. In 1876, he was arrested alongside many other rich aristocrats of his time for the alleged involvement in the murder of the first British Resident, James W.W. Birch. Together with Datuk Shahbandar Uda Kediti (the territorial chief of Kerian), Sutan Abdullah (the reigning Perak monarch of the time) and Menteri Paduka Ngah Ibrahim (the famous administrator of tin-rich Larut), Laksamana Mohd Amin was banished to the Seychelles.