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Author Topic:   What constitutes a "good Keris Part two
empu kumis
Member
posted 07-01-2001 14:34     Click Here to See the Profile for empu kumis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi kerislovers

------ About artificial aging -------

Traditional aging (KAMALAN) is done by sulpher, salt and water and due to a marangi (the man or women who makes the patination with warangan, and mranggi is the sheatmaker)a new blade needs a kamalan because otherwise the result will not so good. But this is not realy an aging to produce a fake.As I have seen in Madura some years ago they use 30% sulpheric acid. This makes somtimes real wholes in the iron and is easy to see.

------- about fakes ------

You will find keris Buda from cast iron and also an alloy of zinc and alluminium. Its said in Ceper was a small production but untill now I checked this. Some day I will. Just last year I was offered a cast iron piece. This year I met a smithie still making keris Buda of iron and there is not only one. The same is valid to the so called keris Majapahit. So fakes do not necessarly another material. Everythings is possible, always remind this. As a rule of thumb one could take if you see two blades of the same kind the clock must ringing. Even the dongson dagger (see Frey) are faked today for 750 U$ that means even you pay only the half its a good provit for that dealers. That means nearly 4 million rupiahs, quit a good earning. Imagine a middelclass hotel is about 120.000 Rp a day.

empu kumis

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Naga Sasra
Senior Member
posted 07-02-2001 00:16     Click Here to See the Profile for Naga Sasra   Click Here to Email Naga Sasra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would also like to extend a warm welcome to empu kumis, your reputation and knowledge is from what I hear indisputable, I just love the heading on all your post's "Hi kerislovers" that is really what it is all about, the love for the keris and the ongoing learning experience associated with our beloved keris, an experience that bring out healthy discussion on various levels, with a passion not likely to be seen on other edged weapons.

But unfortunately the odds are against us, according to the Empu, they are 1 in 10000 for getting a "good" keris, those are pretty bad odds in my book. But that should not prevent us from collecting, as these fakes may be hundreds of years old or recent and modern made to look old thru artificial aging, as was rightfully pointed out, we "the collectors" are more or less responsible for this situation, as we create a demand for difficult pamors and rare dapurs with artistically well done carvings with or without kinatah emas or sepuh emas, we collectors would properly improve the odds tremendesly if we were looking closer at plain keris lurus or keris luk blades.

Regarding keris Buda, I have seen many of that category and actually handled quite a few, the fakes stick out like a sour thump as the surface of the blade look like the surface from the moon, full of small circular indentations, the result of the 30% sulpheric acid treatment as pointed out. A quite recent example of this type was on Ebay by a dealer, who always use the"private auction" feature, not revealing the people who bid on his junk, this piece was stated to be from the 14th century, had a close likeness to the Dong-son blade in Frey's, but it was a typically acid treated and a most recent blade.

On the kinatah emas, realizing that gold work should not be disturbed by an excellent pamor, is it not sometimes unavoidable, as both carvings and gold may have been added to an old blade at a later date, for reasons such as, a promotion within the Kraton or simply to improve the chances of selling it?

Also there is the story that Sultan Agung awarded kinatah emas Gajah Singa to his best warriors for the heroic deeds they may have done. The keris from the warriors were gathered and the ganja replaced with ones that have the kinatah emas Gajah Singa before being returned to the owner. The purpose of the award was to commemorate the victory year of defeating the rebels. The elephant (gajah) represent the number 8, the lion (singa) the number 5, the keris number 5 and its "one"ness, the number 1. Since the ancient Javanese calender reads the year (candra sengkala) backwards, it thus reads 1558, the year of victory for the Mataram II kingdom.
The reason for this story is really a question, as many keris had gold decoration applied at a later point in time, such as the awards mentioned during the time of Sultan Agungan, or merely to enhance their value, would it then be correct to assume that keris with kinatah emas applied when the blade was forged, was always on a wengkon pamor keris, at least when the decoration for example Naga Sasra follow the lenght of the blade. In the same togan would it then also be correct to assume that keris with other pamor patterns, if gold decorated was decorated at a later point in time?

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-03-2001 12:20     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I GUESS WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL THAT KERIS ARE BEING MADE TODAY THAT ARE IN A PRICE RANGE WE CAN AFFORD AND THAT THEY ARE TRYING TO MAKE A WIDE VARIETY SO IT GIVES A WIDE SELECTION OF REPLICAS TO CHOOSE FROM. I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THAT IF THEY ARE WELL MADE, THE BLADES ARE OK TO MY INEXPERIENCED EYE, AND THE WOOD CARVINGS HANDLE AND SHEATH ARE SOMETIMES EXCELLENT. BUT THE MENDAK AND (SELUT WHERE PRESENT) ARE USUALLY DISAPPOINTING. I ALSO COLLECT NATIVE AMERICAN STONE POINTS AND THE AMOUNT OF HIGH END FAKES EXCEEDS THE NUMBER OF ORIGINALS, AND MUSEUMS HAVE MANY OF THEM. I HAVE SEVERAL SPECIMENS THAT I COULD NEVER HAVE AFFORDED A ORIGINAL OF, THAT ARE NAPPED JUST AS WELL AS A ORIGINAL. IF I CAN FIND KERIS THAT LOOK WELL MADE TO ME AND SHOWS QUALITY AND ARE IN MY PRICE RANGE I WILL BUY IT REGARDLESS OF THE STORY OR HOW OLD IT IS. SO I CAN GET A REPLICA OF A KERIS I COULD NEVER AFFORD OR FIND A ORIGINAL EXAMPLE OF, AND IF ITS WELL ENOUGH MADE MAYBE IN 200 YEARS OR SO IT WILL BE A CLASSIC KERIS. IF I WAS BORN IN JAVA OR ONE OF THE COUNTRIES WHERE A KERIS IS MUCH MORE THAN A CURIO TO BE COLLECTED AND ADMIRED. I WOULD SAVE MY MONEY AND HAVE THE BEST KERIS I COULD AFFORD MADE BY THE BEST KERIS MAKER. IT IS PERHAPS OVERLOOKED THE IMPORTANCE A KERIS HAD TO THE INDIVIDUAL WHO OWNED IT. IT MAY HAVE BEEN MORE A PART OF HIM THAN A MERE WEAPON OR ORNAMENT AND ITS LOSS PERHAPS A GREAT TRAGEDY. NOT GROWING UP IN THE CULTURE I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT ALL ,ANYMORE THAN THEY CAN UNDERSTAND WHY I THINK AS I DO.

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wong desa
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posted 07-03-2001 18:25     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The contributions submitted to the Forum by Empu Kumis have,I believe,demonstrated quite conclusively that there is indeed a pressing need for the establishment of the Good Keris criteria.
His assertion that only one of ten thousand keris is eligible to be designated a "GOOD" keris is demonstrative of his personal very high criteria in the appraisal of a keris.It is reflective of the validity of the designation of "perfect"keris,such item being non- existent,in the absence of God as an empu.
Such high standards are to be expected from somebody with the knowledge and experience of Empu Kumis,however,I would suggest that perhaps the standards of the bulk of collectors are pitched at a slightly lower level,as is their experience and knowledge.Speaking for myself,I have often added a keris to my collection,simply because I found one single feature of the keris to be a worthwhile example of that particular feature.

Empu Kumis` detailed critique of the "Arts of Indonesia"keris highlights the manner in which a knowledgeable,experienced keris expert will look at a keris,compared with the way in which a non-expert will look at one.This is the type of appraisal for which we need to establish criteria ,and to make those criteria available to collectors who have not had the benefit of a Javanese based education in the keris.
This critique of the "Arts of Indonesia" keris was ,in fact,an appraisal of quality,which demonstrates very clearly, that without an understanding of the elements of quality in a keris,it is not possible to assess whether the keris is"good",or not.

Empu Kumis has shown conclusively that the keris in question is of markedly inferior quality.However,that markedly inferior quality does not necessarily make that keris,a "fake".

The reason that Mr. Henkel and I were able to reach agreement on the use of the word"fake",is that we realised that we had been using this word too loosely,in fact,we had been using it incorrectly.
The word "fake" carries with it the implication of an object being used as a tool of fraud,or swindle.A "fake" cannot exist in isolation,it requires human action to make it one.
Thus,we can have keris of inferior quality,we can have keris which have been altered,we can have keris of recent manufacture,and none of these keris may be called "fake",until the time when the keris is presented as something that it is not,in order to perpetrate a fraud.At this time the keris becomes a fake ,not before.

In the case of the "Arts of Indonesia" keris,all I know about this keris is what I can read from the caption.This caption does not state that the keris in question is a kraton keris.It states that it was :"---made in emulation of the pusaka of the Surakarta court." Thus,it is clear that it was not presented for sale as a kraton keris,it was not even presented as a copy of a kraton keris,it was presented as a keris which set out to equal or excell a keris of the Surakarta court.The obvious fact that it did not,does not make of it a fake.It does make it a failed attempt to emulate a kraton keris.The word "emulate" has inherrent in its meaning the concept of striving.

Empu Kumis--you have shown that there is an enormous gap between the standards and aspirations of a true expert,such as yourself,and ordinary collectors,with limited budgets,such as we are.But I am certain that in spite of the fact we may never stumble across the one "good" keris in ten thousand,that you tell us we may expect,we shall all still continue to collect,and to study ,the keris.
This being so,may I ask your opinion of the single most important element of quality in the composition of a keris,which causes that keris to be a potential "good" keris?

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wong desa
Senior Member
posted 07-03-2001 18:56     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Vandoo--something that a lot of people tend to forget is that all those old keris,in pristine condition,that you can find in European museums,were collected when they were new.
To my mind,there is absolutely no defect in the rationale of collecting new,or recent ,keris,always provided that the standards of quality are met.People did this in the past,why should we not do it now?
From your most recent post,it appears that you and I think in the same way.
I agree with your remarks about sub-standard mendak.As far as I can see,the reason for this is that a decent mendak can add a disproportionate amount to the total cost of a keris.Thus,where the opportunity exists to make a price more competitive by reducing the quality of a small component part of the keris,a salesman will often do exactly that.
However,there are some people who are very particular in the way in which they present a keris.
I would suggest that if you would like to advance to a slightly higher level of satisfaction in your collecting of keris,you could send a letter outlining your interest to :Tosan Aji,P.O.Box 197,Vincentia 2540,Australia.I don`t think you will be disappointed.

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Rick
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-04-2001 15:17     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Posted for Empu Kumis:

I told the keris-community about "homemade iron" and will give you two examples
of the blades we have done.
The laminates are made with modern iron (grey or black) and the bright line is
material we made in our furnace.

The first pic is 8 layers of the material like it comes out of the furnace. It
is a mixture of ironsponge and small high carbon balls. The contrast is not as
bright like the second pic.

is made of modern iron laminated by 48 layers of the high carbon (up to 4%) and
nodern iron. The core steel is also modern steel. The "pamor-layers" are
brighter the pic 1.

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empu kumis
Member
posted 07-04-2001 18:33     Click Here to See the Profile for empu kumis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi kerislovers,

To Naga Sasra -----------

What I said about 1 of 10.000 I count in general the keris kodi as bad kerisses. Also most of the tangguh Kartasura are not on my list even you find sometimes a good one. In general the condition of a blade even its a tangguh Majapahit I cant count. A blade must have a certain condition. The Javanese therefore has the 10 conditional values from keris mahanani to dhuwung dhuwungan. I dont say keris Bugi are bad keris in general. So you must have a schedule for every kerisculture. As I said before A general system of value doesnt fit the whole kerisses.

---- about keris Buda

just recently I have seen different types of keris Buda but I talk about older ones, not so easy to differtiate.

---- about candra sengkala

we dont have a proof about the thesis this was a award for winninig a certain battle. You dont have only the singa and gajah. Somtimes there are also nandi ? birds and flowers. It will change the date so it cant be the year 1558. As a second argument: You find also Balinese keris with animals. Its probably something else.

----- about kinatah mas

the adding of gold was done sometimes for many reasons. Some owner has done it for their self, because the belief the keris avoid bad luck and for esoteric reasons. Faking was a part also and to differentiate between that reasons is difficult. But if there is a workmanship like the Naga Sasra we talked about and the wangun of the blade and the goldwork is so bad. To me its clear immidiatly. Sometimes its hard to say to a collector that he purchased a fake. If you compare the goldwork of Sultan Agung and the 19 century you can see the last work done is far behind so many pieces of the aera of Sultan Agung. One of the last better tukang mas in Solo was Mas Matang. He died in the early eighties. But still you have workshops doing that kind of job. Very often the take old Mataram blades. And this I call fakes without here the story. Dealers will often not offer you such pieces if they find out you have some knowledge and therefore you never see this. As the Madurese began to make their "Naga Sasra and Singa Barong" kerisses so many took that for true kerisses. I have photgraphs while the brass ist soldered to the blade and chiseled and so on. Today its easy to recognize because you see so many of this pieces even in the same shop. Everythings is possible !!!!

TO VANDOO ------

For sure I`m happy we have new keris and I wish the collectors do not forget them. Some of them are better then very old ones. The new keris but not the keris Madura baru (new)was my always intentsion. Therefor I started to help new kerismaking in 1973 near Yogya and 1981 in Bali.

TO WONG DESA ---------

the criteria are already there and we just have to learn. A lot is written and if you know about tangguhing just share it with us. If you collect Japanese Swords you build up your own schedule of criteria ? and find western terms ? Maby things you cant learn is the esoteric side of kerisolgy but to recognize a keris as a piece of art I think its not so difficult. In former mails was mentioned some criteria and I think this was not so far from the truth. Ok I think if you dont have a teacher showing and teaching you it will be impossible just in describing to understand good, better or best kerisses.

I hope very much you dont stop to collect, but even I cant buy a very expensive piece I could say this is a good one or not. If you follow the rules (and I talk only about Javanese keris) mor jo si ngun and the wutuh is not to bad, but you must know this because you have a teacher. I cant see the problem. For those collector outside you tell them and discuss mentioning pictures. That was in my mind with that piece from the "Art Of Indonesia" as a bad example. To be positve I have a good one to. Court Arts of Indonesia page 76, 163 Fig. 122 and the 247. Page 248 you have again a negative example. If you have the book "Koninklijke Geschenken uit Indonesia" from Rita Wassing -Visser (1995)you will have a big picture on page 196. In this book you will find several good kerisses. I think there is also an english edition. If you mention books and pictures it will be easier to find out whats a good keris.

empu kumis

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Naga Sasra
Senior Member
posted 07-04-2001 23:47     Click Here to See the Profile for Naga Sasra   Click Here to Email Naga Sasra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a quick note on the book mentioned by empu kumis, it is available in English from the Boekhandel De Verre Volken and can be ordered online at www.ethnographicartbooks.com
The english title is "ROYAL GIFTS FROM INDONESIA. Historical bonds with the house Orange-Nassau (1600-1938)" #2169 by Wassing-Visser, Rita. 256pp.;265illus.,mostly in color,insex,bibl.
A collection of objects such as kris/keris, textiles, jewelry, woodcarvings,etc., given over the centuries to the Royal Dutch family by Indonesian Sultans. Published in Den Haag/Zwolle, 1995, Cloth NLG 125.00

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wong desa
Senior Member
posted 07-05-2001 17:38     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Empu Kumis--I acknowledge your tremendous depth of knowledge,and your awesome reputation.I believe it is fair to say that without you there would have been no re-birth of the Art of the Keris in Jawa.
I accept that you have discussed the virtues and defects of keris with the most knowledgeable men in Jawa.Not only have you learnt from the Javanese,but in many instances,you yourself have taught the Javanese that which they had forgotten.
You are a true giant of the Keris World.
However,notwithstanding the awe in which I hold you,and the respect which I freely give you,there are a number of points in your most recent post upon which I wish to comment.

1. Your opinion that each type of keris should be appraised in accordance with a varying standard is exactly in line with what I have already proposed.
I agree that condition is an important factor, but all things are relevent:we don`t expect the same condition from something attributed to Mojopahit,as we do for something attributed to Surakarta.
I agree that in accordance with the requirements of Javanese keris art,the keris attributed to Kartasura don`t quite measure up.
However,how does your average collector outside Jawa identify this Kartasura keris?
Is it not more practical to provide criteria which should be fulfilled?
Keris kodi are all bad keris?In other words those keris made throughout the years as trade keris and items of dress are all bad keris?This translates into the majority of keris made since about 1650.Since this is the vast bulk of keris in all collections,I guess we`d all better do a bit of housecleaning and get rid of all those sub- standard keris.Looks like I just lost maybe 80% of my collection.
Incidently,how do we identify these these nasty little keris kodi?

2. I believe that you would be aware that it is a Javanese belief that some kinatah awards were given in recognition of the defeat of the governor of Pati.You say there is no proof.This may well be so,however,it is an article of faith in Solonese keris culture,and as with so many things in Javanese history,it becomes a matter of just where the line is drawn between the verifiable European concept of history,and the Javanese concept of history.The way I heard the giving of these awards,after the return of the punative force from Pati,the Mentris recieved an award of gonjo kinatah,the Penewus recieved an award of gonjo kinatah gajah-singo,the Bupatis Kliwon recieved an award of kinatah kamarogan,the Bupatis Dalem and Pangerans recieved an award of kinatah anggrek,singo barong,and naga.
However,putting that issue to one side,I do tend to agree in general with your other remarks on the many and various reasons for the application of kinatah work
I see here the word "fake" cropping up again.This word has a definite meaning in the English language.Either we use it correctly ,or we write our own lexicon.
In the case of old blades with newly applied gold.These can certainly be regarded as a prospective tool for the execution of a swindle,but speaking for myself,if I found the keris pleasing overall,and the price was not somewhere up in the clouds,I would accept such a keris.
Once again there is the mention of the incredibly sub-standard Madura trash.
How can something be a "fake",if it just sits there ,quietly rusting,and being the heap of garbage that it naturally is?
It can`t!
It is only when some con-man takes that heap of garbage and then tries to tell someone that it is the work of Empu Kinom that it becomes a fake.

3. Your opinion appears to be that new(or recent)keris are acceptable ,provided they come from anywhere but Madura.In other words ,all Madura keris are not acceptable.
If this is indeed your opinion,I must strenuously disagree with you.
I do agree that there are many exceptionally inferior keris available in the market place,which had their origin in Madura.These keris can be easily identified by the application of general standards of quality.
However ,there are also a good number of new and recent keris ,which had their origin in Madura and which are good keris in every sense of the word.
The very best of Madura produced keris are already spoken for before their completion,and,in fact,never even appear in the market place.
To hold the opinion that all Madura keris are sub-standard ,and that only keris from Central Jawa are worthy of consideration as true keris seems to me to reek of some sort of class snobbery.
There is a further consideration.You have given your opinion that all keris kodi are "bad" keris.
Then you tell us that new keris are acceptable,provided they come from anywhere else but Madura.
Tell me,what is any new keris,including the ones from Central Jawa,if in essence,it is not a keris kodi?
I believe we have a slight inconsistency here.

4. Yes,the criteria are already there.They are entrenched in Javanese keris culture,and could be learnt by a person who had a Javanese cultural base,and who could find a suitable teacher.
Some of these criteria could translate to the world outside Jawa,others of them,in my opinion ,could not.Yes I do understand the skill of tangguh appraisal.Yes I am prepared to share it with whoever is prepared to spend a minimum of one hour every day ,for at least three years ,in my company.That`s about how long it took me to come to terms with it,and I don`t think I`m overly slow,or stupid.One thing I cannot do is to transmit this knowledge in writing .It is simply not possible.How do I explain the feel of something in writing?How do I explain the sound of something in writing?How do I explain the difference in the curve of the top of a Mataram Senopaten gonjo,and the curve of a Mataram Sultan Agung gonjo?How do I explain what "fat" pamor,or "dry" iron looks like?How do I explain the feel of the surface of a Gresik blade?How do I explain the concept of percieved ,as distinct from actual weight,or the distribution of this weight?
This cannot be done in writing.
Similarly,to teach excellence from photos has severe limitations.The art of the keris is plastic art.When we look at a photo we see only a flat representation of the object.The examples given of "good" keris certainly do appear to be very superior pieces,however I still have no idea of the cross section of the sogokan,or the curve of the palemahan,or management of the tampingan,in any one of them.The understanding of plastic art requires observation in the round.In the absence of this,it requires clear ,detailed explanation of the treatment of the various parts of the whole.A photograph,giving one dimension,one angle,is not adequate.
The comparison between Japanese swords and Javanese keris,on the surface appears to be a valid one.
However ,once we penetrate beyond the superficial,it is obvious that this comparison is not valid.
With the keris,terminology has not been standardised,there is a paucity of consistent,reliable written material,and the criteria change from area to area ,and even expert to expert .
Which ones do we decide to adopt?
Which current ahli keris do we accept as the ultimate authority,when they corrupt the information that they supply ,for their own commercial purposes.I am sure you know what I am talking about.If not,have a very close look at "Court Arts of Indonesia",as just one example.

I suggest that many Javanese criteria will appear in our own criteria.They will not be new,or revolutionary,but they will be phrased in a way that collectors,and students,of the keris who live outside of Jawa can understand and apply.This is,I believe,our objective.
I agree that one of the bases of appraisal is the application of an appraisal of material and form,which Empu Kumis has given as mor jo si ngun.Actually,I was taught that this base consists of mor ja si rap ngun.A separate method of appraisal consists of sepuh,wutuh,tangguh(period, shape, features).The two methods were used during different periods of time,and are independent of one another.
For those of you who do not belong to the Javanese keris community,the meaning of the above is:
mor=pamor,ja=waja(steel),si=wesi(iron),rap=garap(workmanship),ngun=wangun( overall form)
Now,this a fine basis to commence an appraisal,but tell me,how do we show,in writing,what "good"steel is like?I think I can handle the English language reasonably well,but I truly believe that such an explanation would be beyond me.As would be most of the other explanations necessitated by the classic Javanese approach.

I definitely agree that the "Arts of Indonesia" keris is a remarkably inferior one.
I do not agree that your other examples are "good" keris.
They superb keris,they excellent keris,they are magnificent keris.
They are certainly not good keris.
Moreover,the export of keris of this quality from Indonesia is strictly prohibited,Indonesian customs officials can sometimes be very difficult people to get along with,and the inside of Indonesian jails are really not my idea of a holiday camp.
Now what this comes down to is that all of the "good"keris,by Empu Kumis`definition,that will ever be available to collectors outside Jawa ,are already outside Jawa.They will never be added to.
Consider this,fellow collectors.We`ve already got all the good stuff .We`re not going to get anymore.I reckon we`d better sus out where this good stuff is,and wait for someone to die.
Then there`s the museums.Anybody see 'Topkapi'?
What is the monetary value of the keris given as examples of good keris by Empu Kumis?
I`ve handled a couple of keris with values in the $US 50,000 to $US 120,000 range.These keris are comparable to the examples given by Empu Kumis as "good"keris.

I sort of get the feeling that I`m trying to talk about Chevs and Volkswagons,and Empu Kumis will only discuss Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
This may be fine for those people who can afford to swap a Mercedes Benz for a keris.I`m just not in this class.

The examples given are indeed absolutely glorious keris.Hands up those people who have ever even seen something like this,let alone own it.

Empu Kumis,your technological contributions have been immensely interesting and informative,in fact,I believe your understanding of the technology of the keris is far in advance of anybody else in the world today.Even my teacher,Alan Maisey,has said as much to me.

However, from the point of view of the average ,collector -on-a- budget,which I am,I `m afraid I find your ideas on "good" keris puts these "good" keris just a little bit beyond of my reach.

In closing I would like to repeat my question from my previous post:what,in your opinion,is the single most important element of quality in the composition of a keris,which causes that keris to be a potential "good" keris?

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john
Senior Member
posted 07-06-2001 23:41     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A note from a novice standpoint: When this thread is followed I'm looking at how much knowledge I could learn out of this; So far quite a bit but I'm slowly digesting. Personally, I've learned something from everyone, however insignificant certain arguments and opinions may appear to be. For instance, when everyone was mentioning about the fraudulent/faking activities, it certainly has instilled sufficient awareness to exercise extreme caution with all the various disturbing and unscrupulous activities mentioned/witnessed although an exhaustive primer is not quite possible as wongdesa intimated. But like the wise man say, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"; Hence the thousand miles makes up of every single steps. Every little step counts; So tks Empu Kumis, wongdesa, Dave, Naga, Adni and Vandoo. I'm learning from all your experiences/knowledge/opinions. No doubt some of us are more experienced/knowledgeable than others, hence giving one insights to a wider spectrum. But one need to discuss amicably in a manner not overly downputting or overly correcting another or challenging every little point after all isn't it a known fact many experts still cannot agree in many aspects on keris. Let's put our thoughts/experiences on the table for all to learn, enjoy and pick up things in accordance to our preference, taste etc in respect of our common love for the keris and in line with the objective of this thread.

Wongdesa has guided this thread with commitment and responsibility and we are also most fortunate to have this thread graced by Empu Kumis and I look forward to great lessons ahead. But sorry I can't contribute much as my interest just commenced 10 months ago. Just to let you guys know I'm around and following.

Points illustrated by pictures would certainly help although nothing compares to the real thing. Pictures however substandard they may be are certainly worth a thousand words...

Good day gentlemen.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-06-2001 23:45     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I THINK EMPU KUMIS WHEN HE SAYS A GOOD KERIS MEANS A 10 LIKE THE SCORE OF 10 IN THE OLYMPICS. THAT IS THE RAREST OF THE RARE AND HAS ALWAYS BELONGED TO THE KINGS AND SULTANS AND RAJAS. WE WORKING PEOPLE HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO BUY SUCH THINGS IN THE PAST OR PRESENT. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT INCREASES THE VALUE OF A EXCEPTIONALY MADE KERIS IS THE HISTORY OF WHO OWNED IT. A KERIS MADE AT A LATER TIME AND NEVER HAVING BEEN PART OF THE KINGS PROPERTY (EVEN IF IT IS BETTER MADE) WILL NOT BE IN THE SAME CLASS AS THE KINGS PROPERTY. THE ONLY WAY THE COMMON MAN CAN GET SUCH A THING IS BY SOME GREAT SERVICE AND HAVE IT GIVEN HIM,OR BY THE FORTUNES OF WAR OR THEFT. EMPU KUMIS IS IN THE SAME BOAT WITH US HE CAN'T AFFORD A KERIS HE WOULD CALL GOOD, BUT PERHAPS IN THE FUTURE SOMEONE MAY AWARD HIM ONE FOR HIS WORK OR PERHAPS HE CAN MAKE A MASTERPIECE FOR HIMSELF.BUT TO MAKE HIS MASTERPEICE EVEN BETTER AND HIS WORK MORE REVERIED HE WOULD HAVE TO GIVE IT TO A KING AS THE FINAL FINISHING TOUCH. IT WOULD BE INTERESTING IF ALL THE GREAT EMPU AND SCHOLARS LIVING TODAY COULD GET TOGETHER AND JUDGE THE GREAT KERIS AS THE JUDGES DO AT THE OLYMPICS. YOU WOULD HAVE TO AGREE ON THE ONES MOST QUALIFIED TO BE JUDGE AND IF THEY CAME FROM DIFFERENT KERIS MAKEING SOCIETES (AS THE OLYMPIC JUDGES DO) IF ALL GAVE A 10 TO A KERIS YOU WOULD KNOW FAVORITISM FOR A CERTIAN AREA DID NOT COME INTO PLAY. THE KERIS SO CHOSEN WOULD BE THE IDEAL FOR WHICH ALL FUTURE EMPU COULD STRIVE. HAS THIS EVER BEEN DONE? IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO SET UP I IMAGINE.

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 07-06-2001).]

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john
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posted 07-07-2001 00:22     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, Naga thanks for the info on the book "ROYAL GIFTS FROM INDONESIA". Adni told me about this book weeks ago; To see good examples of "Royal" kerises but didn't know where to obtain it.

Anyone knows where I could obtain "Arts of Indonesia" which Empu Kumis mentioned? (Since located book and several others inc Wiener at Amazon.com; Need not bother to respond now - tks).

[This message has been edited by john (edited 07-08-2001).]

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DAHenkel
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posted 07-07-2001 04:54     Click Here to See the Profile for DAHenkel   Click Here to Email DAHenkel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So much has been said already about the inherent problems and differences between traditional Javanese standards of appraisal and modern (as already defined) standards that I feel it unnecessary to comment further; except to say that I still feel it would be impossibly hard for the average collector to apply them. That said however, I still think that much can be learned from a deconstruction of these standards. Certainly, not all Javanese aesthetics can be fairly applied; even to Javanese keris from outside a particular region or tangguh, let alone a non-Javanese keris. However, as all of us who have followed or read both this and the previous thread are painfully aware of by now, the only known complete set of standards still extant today are those from Java.

It is thus our great good fortune to have Empu Kumis join us here. As someone who is experienced in the methods and standards of Javanese keris appraisal you are no doubt a valued and most welcome contributor. The concerns that Iwan has expressed in his most recent post are, I think to a great extent shared by many of the other contributors to this forum. We've long since established here that it would be entirely unfair to apply Javanese aesthetic values of a particular tangguh to keris' from outside of that aesthetic. Aesthetics are to a great extent in the eye of the beholder and anyone who knows me knows that all other things being equal; when given the choice between a first-class, Istana level Peninsular or Bugis keris and a first-class Keraton level Javanese keris, I'll take the former. Even if that keris didn't rate doodle on the Javanese aesthetic scale. Good is a relative term, but as even Iwan has admitted in previous posts, an appraisal of the cream of the crop can go a long way toward informing those of us who collect at a lower level of excellence. It is manifest that even Empu Kumis’ impossibly high standard of 1 in 10,000 is merely a benchmark. We’d all be immensely frustrated collectors if we kept anything like as high a standard as that.

I'm still of the opinion though that there is much to be learned form a more detailed examination of what Javanese values entail, even if they do represent an impossibly high standard. What's important I think are not the values themselves but means of appraisal. What various positive and negative factors can be discerned? How are they arrived at? Can or can they not be applied or adapted to keris' from outside the particular aesthetic being examined? How would they best translate to other keris'? I think this would be an immensely valuable, if difficult and time consuming exercise.

Early in this particular thread Iwan presented us with a useful working draft for keris appraisal. It makes sense for us to continue to make use of this draft in the coming discussion. Perhaps Empu Kumis, you could comment further on this draft and provide further insight into the values used in Javanese standards of appraisal as they apply within the framework of Iwan's draft?

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empu kumis
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posted 07-08-2001 16:37     Click Here to See the Profile for empu kumis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi kerislovers,

a lot of posts and a lot of work. Thank even many of you are shocked about my standard.
It seems more the goldmedal with diamonds I prefer. But for sure in the same moment I know this standard is not to fulfill. Its just the standard.

------- ABOUT STANDARD
The question is not could I pay pieces with a monetary value of 120.000 $ or even more(I can not)This is value in money and a subjective ability of a byer.

I speak of craftmanship and artistical value. Sometimes a keris Pasupati with adeg wengkon or any keris with a good artistic workmanship my heart feels more happy and satisfied as I could have a keris of Sultan Agung. The gold applied kerisses in the most cases are beautiful and ranges in the highest peak of keris culture. And again according to the wutuh there are several differences in quality. If I`m offered one with a lower condition (state of conservation) and another I just talked about I`m in trouble.
That means we talkeing about one of the most impotant criteria of collecting kerises.

THE SCALE OF ARTISTIC VALUE OF A PEACE OF ART OR OF A KERIS IS NOT DEPENDENT FROM A MONEYBOX. THEREFORE THAT SCALE IS NOT A QUESTION OF PRACTICAL USE OR NOT. I LIKE TO SHOW THE STANDARD FROM THE TOP TO THE BOTTOM AND NOT FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE TOP. THE SCALE IS LOOKING AFTER THE BEST AND KNOWING PROBABLY NEVER TO GET ONE.

------ AGAIN ABOUT FAKES

IN MY EYES FAKES (KERIS PALSU) ARE KERISSES MADE WITH INTENT TO REPLACE AN ORIGINAL PIECE. THE PRODUCTION NEEDS A PLANFUL ACTION AND MORE OR LESS ABILITY OF WORKMANSHIP. MAKING A FAKE AND SELLING A FAKE MUST NOT BE THE SAME PERSON. TO DIFFERNTIATE BETWEEN FAKE AND COPY WILL BE DIFFICULT AND AND IS VERIFIED IF THE PIECE IS ON SALE AS ORIGINAL.

Some keris aspal (asli tetapi palsu - real but wrong)especialy pamor udan mas is done in this way because there is no other way to change a pamor beras wutah. The old blade is done with wholes and partly heated and resmithed. You could see it almost immidiatly because the sorsoran or bongkot (lower part) (the blade has three parts- sorsoran- waduk-center part and kudup-the tip) of the blade has still nearly the same size but the waduk and kudup is much thinner and weaker. Many times the surface of the lower part is different and the blade is wide.

------- ABOUT "CANDRA SANGLAKA"

Yes I know that from Waluyos Scripts and from oral delivery and I think it could be, but I dont think this are made in the sense of a certain date (1558) because I was told there are also tangguh Majapahit kerisses with this markings. Second there are Keris Bali also with animals. I know also there is a different understanding of historywriting.

------ ABOUT ACCEPTANCE OF A OLD BLADE WITH NEW GOLD

I`m definetly not. I understand that the craftsman going for money and has to feed their family. But if you accept such practise you doesnt help the keris culture. The problem is big enough. Its not better to help young talented craftsmen to learn ? Isnt collecting not something just to take and not to give ?

---- ABOUT KERIS KODI
I was wrong to say all of the keris kodi are "bad" keris. We should say never "never" but a keris kodi is massproduction this is the meaning of "kodi-a bundle of 20" and the are not made with offerings or with carefulness. If you know how timeeating and difficult sometimes the nice outlining of the pamorline to the "landep-or sharpness" is you will understand that there is an economical background. Centers of kerismaking like Nginto Nginto was a part of keris kodi making. The qualities of that you could see in the Taman Mini Museum named as Museum Pusaka (what a mess). Surely not a peak of kerisculture.

------ ABOUT KERIS MADURA BARU
I think many of collectors has been in Madura and know how Madurese could make "kerisses" so cheap. Its already the methods and materials they using. As pamormaterial the use 10 stripes of old felloe of motorbikes (these have a survace of about 4 micro of nickel) between 11 stripes of thin (1 - 2 mm) iron sheet metal and welding together. So you have 10 layers of pamor if you fold this one time you get 20 layers. One day aone smith with one helper could do about six blades. The garapan (filing and finishing) is done in other places.This is time- labour- and charcol saving and much so cheaper then the smithes in Central Java and cant be beaten by their traditional methods. The result of pamor is there are mostly very thin layers of pamor and also very thin layers of iron. The picture of pamor is different and the garapan is somtimes very bad and the shape is not so good. Many are fascinated if they see pamor from Madura like blarak ngirid or ronduru without slorok (steelcore for the later sharpness) made nowadays but a matter of fact is the keris is still a weapon and you could not withdraw this funktion. But the method of making pamor like this weakens the blades and the could easy break. That means not in Central Java are perfect kerises but a bit more connected to keris culture. In general some cases If keris culture is only business or folklore for tourists the world has lost somthing beautiful again. This means to me a substandard. I can promise that I`m wandering many times on marketplaces antikshops and dealers to inform myself.

----- ABOUT TANGGUH (4)
I`m not so sure about appraisal of a certain tangguh but I know there are many fallacies and my experience with so called ahli keris are not so good. Many of them takes a guess for the truths. TO BE SERIOUS BEHIND EVERY GUESSING (that means this appraisal) SHOULD BE A QUESTION-MARK. My remark on writing is not writing an encyclopedia of keris appraisal. The longest way starts with the first step or a picture tells more then thousend words. Not only words and photographs or pictures has its limitations. Feelings could be misinterpreted or misleading. Here I cant agree because I learned "NEVER TOUCH A BLADE" because this is one of the reasons they become rusty. And I dont mean what is around the "kekuatan gaib" You said somewhere you dont want to discuss this part of kerisology. The questin is to make myself understood and even there we must check again. If we argue this and that could not be transmitted, wy we continue ? If we want to learn we should try to transmit whatever is possible. Today and not only today we are able to understand difficult technical constructions by drawings, crossections and photographs. We have microscopes, enlargements computers for statitics and metallurgical analysing methods. You dont think we could come closer to a kerisblade ? I think in sience we have more complicated problems. We dont need to adopt one of this ahli keris still we have a brain and lot of literature and oral transmitions. To compare all of this will be give some answers. This is about palemahan also, I learn palemahan sogokan is the crossection of the sogogan. so far I know palemahan is something like a base or ground and not the curve of the sogokan. In this case we all could be happy we have old kerisses of the 16-17 cent. in European, American and Japanese Museums. But you are not right if you say they all new some of them was old already the came in possesion of westerners. I`m glad you are at least partly with me if you say a part of the Javanese terms are included and there is no doubt it has to be this way. For making special criteria you have to argue from a Javanese basement. We have not only what you mentioned MOR-JO-SI-RAP-NGUN. Maby the numerology is one important reason because you mention 5 words. I learnd MOR-JO-SI-NGUN wich RAP is connected to NGUN. Another is TUHSIRAPUH MORJOJO NGINNGGUH and contains WUTUH-WESI-GARAP-SEPUH-PAMOR-WOJO-GUWOYO-WANGUN-MUNGGUH. (Read The History and Lore of the Javanese Keris). To me its not very systematic and not easy. I have never before I heared till Guritno told me. So its his own intrepretation ? The term good iron is a technical term first. I you see what I have melted we come closer. So you are invited to look at the next time in Java.

------ ABOUT THE PICTURES
I dont agree they are superb or exellent or magnificent keris because of wutuh. I subtract 1 point from 10 because of wutuh and in case of Page 76, Fig. 52/NO.67 because of somewhat fancy greneng, the lis-lisan are not sharp and the bow or curve of janur could be a little bit more. Well we have differences and our othre fellows maby shaking their head ? But I think this great to learn and I hope this is not only a competion between Wong Desa and myself.
The laws of Indonesia of export such pieces are not broken by me because far behind I could pay for.

------ ABOUT TOPKAPI
I dont know but I know there are old collections in Moscow, Copenhagen, Oxford and Dresden.

------ TO DAHENKEL
I have seen your pages about the Coteng and I learned a lot. I hope you stay on this kind of kerisses because we want to anderstand the differences of standard, terms and knowledge of the Malays. The standard I mentioned is the ideal and to show how high kerisculture could be. I hope we could read also on termes of the blade.

So now I spend almost three hours and responding only is to time eating. Let me show some pictures about various items later. If I want construct a homepage belonging to the keris I cant spend so much time.

empu kumis

(edited to repair link - laj)

[This message has been edited by Lee Jones (edited 07-08-2001).]

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-09-2001 06:54     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Received from empu kumis

I have some explantion and some pictures from kerisses for the FORUM.

The first will be a detail of a keris Madura baru (new). It is one of this blades applied with brass soldered to the surface. After the blade is roughly made in shape and the ornaments are cut by chiseling the brass is soldered on top of the ornaments and then cut again. The detail of a naga head and shows parts in the lower side of the pic without covering of brass. Some scale are still present but many are lost. This happen on many blades and seems to be done planeful not by accident. Therefore I become suspicion about to have a fake. Thats wy I talkink about fakes in my former writings. This is still an example easy to recognize as a new Madura blade. In the beginning in the mid eightys there was not so many on the market and to many people unknown. In many shops and auction houses the where present. Sometimes sold as old somtimes said to be 19th or early 20th cent. Don't forget you have a detail wich is enlarged many times.



The second pic shows also a keris Madura baru with a detail of a naga head with the same facts. Parts of the blade is covered by gold made by amalgamate. The gold in this case is not very thick because its easy to see the badly chiseled iron background. Sometimes it covers soldered brass like the first pic (above). And again the parts are not covered by gold. That looks to me as attempt to fake. There are many motifs like singa barong and so on. The workmanship is of a lower grade and its still easy to see, its not a real one.



The third example is a detail of singa on a old blade with a bigger layer of gold. This made by chiseling criss cross as it was done traditional. Somtimes the singa is cut out a bigger gandik and sometimes if a old singa keris is found its taken to make a fake. This is because of the thick layer of gold is the most difficult to recognize as not an original. The motifs of flowers ar closer to the truth but still not as the original. Somtimes the leaves covering the ganja are cut by the connection area of the blade and ganja. The gold work is mostly still complete and does not shows lost gold parts. Thats let you think the state of preservation is almost firstclass and you arte asked more money.



Picture No. 4 (below) shows a part of a ganja with the one of the best work I have seen. The same process of making is used like No. 3 (above) and again they used an old Mataram? blade. The motif is kinatah mas anggrek kamarogan in good workmanship. If this work will be done on a new made good blade I would accept it but not if there is an old blade. I dont want to encourage faking or selling of this kind of work.



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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-10-2001 13:18     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ACCORDING TO WHAT WAS WRITTEN PREVIOUSLY OF THE LAWS REGARDING EXPORT OF OLD KERIS FROM INDONESIA. I WOULD SURMISE THAT IT WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE TO BRING OLD KERIS INTO THE COUNTRY TO BE REPAIRED, REFITTED,CLEANED OR APPRAISED, WITHOUT THEM BEING CONFISCATED ON YOUR DEPARTURE. I HAVE SEVERAL WITH NO MEDAK, SEVERAL WITH NO SCABBARD, AND A COUPLE WITH NO GANJA AND ONE WITH A DAMAGED POINT. I DON'T KNOW IF THEY ARE WORTHY OF REPAIR OR IF IT WOULD COST TOO MUCH. BUT I HAD THOUGHT IF I VISIT JAVA TO BRING THEM ALONG AND SEE, AS IT IS A SHAME TO LEAVE THEM INCOMPLETE AND NAKED (WITHOUT A SHEATH)

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wong desa
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posted 07-10-2001 20:50     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I`ve been tied up with work for several days and did not get a chance to tune in to the "Good Keris" until after 10PM last night.
I admit defeat on the meaning of the word" fake".
The dictionaries are wrong.
All my texts on English usage are wrong.
If people contributing to this Forum wish to adopt the attitude that fakes is fakes is fakes,who am I to say they may not?
I have been taught that precision in the use of language is essential if other people are to understand our meaning,however,maybe this is incorrect also.Maybe it is acceptable to guess.

I don`t intend to comment on all matters that have been raised during the last few days.I`m in wind-down phase to my annual holidays,and this time next week I expect to be walking through the bush in south-west Tasmania,where I will be for the next 5or 6 weeks.Since gum trees don`t have computer connections,I will not be heard from in this Forum for about 2 months from next Monday

Empu Kumis--"---and I hope this is not just a competition between Wong Desa and myself."
Where did you ever get the idea we were in competition?
I can assure you,as far as I am concerned,there is no competition going on.
I thought I was engaged in polite discussion.
And it would appear we have much to discuss.

I agree that the state of preservation of a keris is very important.But as previously noted,percieved or attributed age must be taken into account.

I think you have said that art and money are not related.
For van Gogh they were negatively related,for the collectors and dealers who now prize his work,they are very positively related.
How many keris of the types you have given as examples,do you think are available in the world today ,for less than the cost of a decent motor car?

On keris aspal.I agree totally.

Old blade:new gold:I have in my possession a keris that belonged to my grandfather`s father.It was probably made in Solo in about 1880.My father has told me that his father(that is,my grandfather)had gold applied to it before he was married;that would have been in the mid 1930`s.Now,my family are of course,Chinese,and maybe the same rules don`t apply to Chinese people as apply to Javanese people,but still,here I am with an old keris (which was already old in 1935) that had new gold applied to it.
My question to you ,Empu Kumis,is this:
in your view,was this application of gold legitimate or not?Perhaps this keris,which has been in my family for over 100 years ,is in fact one of these "fakes" you`ve been telling us about.
Or,has the passing of the 70 odd years since my grandfather had the gold applied,legitimised its application?So it would have been a "fake"when it was done,but it is not a "fake" now?
I wonder how my grandfather would have felt,knowing that he had been instrumental in the creation of a fake,when all the time he thought he was making the family keris more beautiful,and expressing his success?
And,of course it must be a "fake",as by your definition,all that is required to create a "fake" is for new gold to be applied to an old keris.
Poor grandpa.

Keris kodi,or correctly keris kodian.Yes,the word "kodi" does indeed mean"twenty",however,my understanding of the term "keris kodian" is that it means a dress keris,or trade keris.Since the keris ,and other wesi aji ,have been an item of trade in Jawa since the time of Mojopahit (see Duarte Barbosa),it is clear that the commercial aspect of the keris is entrenched in Javanese culture.In fact,one of the facets of the keris in Javanese culture is as a store of wealth,just as gold is a store of wealth.
It is certain that at its most refined,the keris,Javanese or otherwise,is a work of art,however,the majority of keris which have been made throughout the years do not really qualify as art.As Mr. Vandoo points out,the common people have never had the ability to pay for these possessions of princes.
The fact that a keris has been made by a man who is attempting to feed his family,does not,in my opinion,make it any less a part of the culture than if it were made by a different man working on the basis of a stipend from the kraton.

Keris Madura Baru.I can understand your extreme aversion to these keris,Empu Kumis.As the Father of the keris in modern Jawa,it must be painful to realise that the techniques that you helped establish in Central Jawa,have been bypassed by those damn Madurese.

The technique that is used today in Central Jawa,is only one of many that have been used through the years.If we go back 1000 years, smiths were probably using the materials you described in an earlier post.These would have required repeated forging ,twisting and welding to make them useable.,and in the process, rudimentary pamor patterns would have been created.As better quality materials became available,the same techniques would perhaps not have been necessary,so a conscious effort was made to produce the patterns that buyers had become accustomed to.Access to material from Luwu,and ultimately from Europe,during the 19th. century,saw further changes to techniques.Then,we have the Prambanan meteorite.Another new material,calling for different techniques.Each time the material changed there were changes in the techniques used to work it.

Was each of these changes a break with "tradition"?

In my opinion,the tradition of the empu,the tradition of the smith,is in fact a tradition of constant change,in an effort to maximise return from labour.
So,now,and for many years past.in Madura,we have people using available materials which require another new technique,and,horror of horrors,they actually try to support themselves ,and their families by producing keris for money!In exactly the same way that their forebears have been doing since at least the time of Mojopahit.
I acknowledge ,much of the product of this area,has been,and is,very sub-standard.It can be found in tourist shops and markets all around the world.This simply reflects the nature of the market;people do not produce things that won`t sell,and the cost of quality is beyond the reach of many buyers.

I further acknowledge that many of these blades are made without a slorok,and some of these are indeed very fragile.
However,going back more than 100 years,we can also find Balinese and Madurese blades without slorok.Tell me,is it possible to make pamor buntel mayit using a slorok?

Empu Kumis,you have given as examples of Madurese work,the very worst that has come out of this area,while you have given as examples of Javanese work,the very best that has come out of Jawa.I suspect I detect a little bit of discrimination.But that`s O.K.As I remarked above,I can understand this bias.
While still in this vien,I will further remark that some of the finest examples of the keris,as an art work,that I have seen,had their origin in Madura.
And they had been produced with traditional technology.
But you never see this class of Madurese keris offered in the tourist shops and junk markets.

There is another factor that must not be overlooked.If the culture of a people does not develop,it stultifies,stagnates,rots,and dies.The study of even apparently conservative cultures will show that nothing stays exactly the same forever.The keris is a living part of a living culture.If it is to be preserved as this,it is inevitable that techniques used in its production,and the place that it occupies in its society must continue to evolve and change,just as they have done for the last 1000 years.Is it correct for anybody,especially somebody who stands outside the culture,to decree that all keris of such and such a type are acceptable,and that others are not?In effect,to freeze this aspect of the culture in time,and make of it a museum piece.Collectors of certain blossoms of a culture are certainly free to express preferences for one or another of those blossoms,and I am certain that they will always do so.However,this is a matter of personal preference,and should not influence the free choice of others.

Tangguh.It appears that your opinion is that I should be able to transmit my knowledge of this skill in writing.
It also appears that you have a very slight knowledge of the same skill.
After further consideration ,I regret to advise you that my sincere opinion is that it is an absolute impossibility to pass on this skill in writing.
However,my earlier offer stands:I am prepared to pass it on,person to person,to anybody who demonstrates the necessary committment.

I agree that as a general rule,it is probably not wise to touch any blade,however,in the appraisal of a keris it is sometimes necessary to feel the texture,or grain of a blade,and,of course,this cannot be done without touching it.If the keris is properly maintained,this touching of the blade does not cause any deterioration.
When I mentioned "feeling" a blade,in my earlier post,I was not talking about any sort of mystical feeling.I was talking about feeling it in order to assess texture.

Whoever told you that "palemahan sogokan" is the cross section of a sogokan ,is wrong.And I don`t care who this person is.
The very phrase is an impossible concept.
"Sogokan"means"poker".
How is it possible to apply the word "palemahan",which means "bottom of a body of water"(like,say,the bed of the ocean),to a word that means "poker",and then give it the meaning of "cross section"?
In keris terminology the "palemahan"is the bottom of the blumbangan.The word "blumbangan" means "pond".

When I was speaking about keris in European collections,I believe I said something like"---all those pristine keris---".The word "pristine" means "original,unspoiled".I was not referring to all keris in European collections,only the ones that have a brand new appearance.Jensen is a good book to see examples of these.I`ve seen two such keris.Both came from Holland;one was obtained in Solo during the first half of the 19th. century,one was obtained in Batavia prior to 1800.Both of these keris look as if they came off the workbench yesterday.

Wangun and its relationship to garap.The word "wangun" means form,or figure of a human being.It refers to the overall visual impression that you have of somebody,such as whether he is thin,or fat,or stooped,or erect and stiff.It does not incorporate any impression that may be given by a big nose,or squinty eyes,or bow legs.
In a keris its meaning is the same:overall visual impression.Sometimes the word "pawakan" may be used instead of "wangun";this word has virtually the same meaning.
Niether of these words incorporate any reference to "garap" in their meaning.
"Garap"means "workmanship",and used in respect of a keris,refers to the execution of features such as greneng and sogokan,as well as the overall standard of the quality of the keris.
Both words have separate applications,and the use of one does not include the meaning of the other.

Ahli Keris.There are ahli keris,and AHLI KERIS.Many of the current crop are the former.Empu Suparman was the latter.He had developed a system of appraisal that took into consideration,as a minimum,the following features:
tanting,besi,pamor,pawakan,gonjo,gandik,blumbangan,sogokan,ada-ada,kruwingan,eluk-elukan,wadidang.
This is the system that I have been taught.
Any person using this system is able to present an argument to support his determination that a keris is of a particular tangguh.It is best to think of the word "tangguh" as "attributed to",or "classification",rather than in a strict historical sense.
Sometimes,particularly with lesser keris,it is necessary to make a judgement of the tangguh based on experience and the balance of probabilities,exactly as an art appraiser does of an unsigned painting.This is perhaps ,a guess,but it is a guess which ought to be able to be supported with an argument.If the appraiser cannot do this ,his opinion,and his expertise ,is open to question.

"Topkapi" was an old time movie;my reference to it was a joke.I was in effect,saying,"in the future,the only way we will be able to add to our collections is to obtain them from museums".

One final word on the forging and uttering of keris.
When a forger sets out to perpetrate a fraud involving a painting,he goes to a great deal of trouble to obtain the correct canvas ,paint,and so on.He does his best to re-create the work of the original artist.In a couple of recent cases,even the artist himself was uncertain if he had done the forged painting,and had maybe forgotten it.
This is where the skilled appraiser comes in,and provides a supportable opinion.
Now,in the world of keris art,there are certainly forgeries.
Some of them are,apparently,brilliant,and have been good enough to fool the most knowledgeable men around.
However,in my opinion,the examples given of terribly sub-standard Madura keris,appalling gold-work,blades made as tourist items,or dress keris,do not rank as fakes or forgeries in any sense of the word.They are simply inferior keris that anybody who knows even a little bit about keris,will identify for what they are immediately.
Education in keris quality will weed out 99% of this sort of rubbish.

Empu Kumis ,since you have clearly demonstrated your great depth of knowledge in the art of the keris,may I again request that you share with us your opinion of the single most important element of quality in the composition of a keris,which causes that keris to be a potential "good" keris.

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john
Senior Member
posted 07-12-2001 12:11     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think often when someone shows us something by pointing to the moon, the finger at times is misconstrued to be the moon. It would be constructive if we dwell less on the finger and get on with the moon. Really don't mean to offend anyone.

Empu Kumis, in your post of 7.4.01, you mentioned the Javanese blade need to have 10 conditional values from keris mahanani to dhuwung dhuwungan. Could you tell us the 10 conditions, what they are and could you elaborate on each of them.

Wongdesa, you have asked a couple of times Quote; "What would in your opinion the single most important element of quality in the composition of a keris, which causes that keris to be a potential "good" keris?" Unquote. Can the question be thrown back to you as to what would be your opinion and why so? From what you have learnt and been taught, what in your opinion are the essential conditions/elements that contribute to a "good" keris? By the way, have a restful and enjoyable holiday in beautiful Tasmania. This question is also meant for all seniors who wish to comment.

From the points discussed so far, it appears the conditions/qualities of the Javanese keris could accordingly be translated to kerises of other areas I supposed with the help of keris or kris experts from other regions.

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wong desa
Senior Member
posted 07-13-2001 04:03     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah John,the wisdom of the east!
Before we can see the moon we need first to understand the meaning of the finger.
Just as the moon will still be there tomorrow,so will the keris.
Let us proceed slowly,gently and with decorum.We will eventually reach our goal,and the longer it takes,the sweeter will be its achievement.

I have actually asked that question three times,and I did not intend to ask a fourth time.If I had not recieved a reply from this third asking ,I intended to float my own opinion.
Since you have very pointedly asked my opinion,I now feel compelled to give it,bearing in mind the fact that I`m going off the air in a couple of days.
Now,I warn you,this opinion is not a part of the great keris culture.
It does not have its roots in Solo.
It will perhaps be rejected by some of our more traditionally orientated contributors.
It does not involve any strange sounding words that non-Javanese cannot get their tongues around.
Nor does it involve any exotic concepts that require an understanding of Eastern culture.
However,in spite of all that the very concept is an extremely rare one in today`s world.

INTEGRITY: The condition of having no part or element wanting.

A good dictionary will give several alternative meanings,all of which are fitting.

To my mind the concept of integrity encapsulates all that is good in any keris.
It allows the evaluation on an even footing of the multitude of types and styles of keris,because the meaning of the concept changes in accordance with the type of keris.
Thus ,integrity for Surakarta keris,circa 1900,is different to integrity for a Buginese keris,circa 1800.And so on,and so on ,and so on.

As the keris is above all else,a symbol of manhood,it is fitting that a concept which is often used to describe all that is honourable in a man,should also be used to describe all that is worthy in one of man`s essential symbols.
So try that one on for size fellow kerisophites.
But if you want to debate it with me ,please make it quick.
Come Monday,I`m outta here!

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Jan
Member
posted 07-13-2001 06:11     Click Here to See the Profile for Jan   Click Here to Email Jan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi,

my apologies to all for not actively taking part in this topic up to now, but regular usage of public computers here in Yogya sometimes makes it a bit hard to post an answer in time.

John, thank you for bringing up Empu Kumis' comment on the 10 conditional values of Javanese keris again. My knowledge on these is rather limited, but to give us an idea of what we are talking about, have a look at this article from Indonesian daily KOMPAS 1996:

http://www.kompas.com/9606/01/HIBURAN/keri.htm

I am referring to the 9th paragraph:
"Tingkat keaslian keris, menurut Guritno pula, bisa digolongkan (dari tingkat paling bawah): dhuwung-dhuwungan (keris-kerisan atau keris "palsu"), dhuwung saestu (keris sungguhan), duwung ewah-ewahan (keris lama yang sudah dimodifikasi), dhuwung risak (keris asli tetapi rusak kondisinya), dhuwung jangkep (keris lama yang masih lengkap ricikannya walau tidak utuh ), dhuwung besutan (sudah mengalami perbaikan, tanpa mengubah keaslian lainnya), dhuwung wetah (masih utuh), dhuwung sae (utuh dan bagus), dhuwung prayogi (utuh dan lebih bagus), dhuwung mahanani (sempurna)."

Sorry, did not find an English version in KOMPAS archives.
Since not all of us do speak Indonesian to understand the definitions given for the 10 Javanese terms here, I'll give it a try at a quick translation:

"The levels of authenticity of a keris, according to Guritno, can be arranged in the following groups (starting from the lowest level):
- DHUWUNG-DHUWUNGAN : keris-like things and "fake" keris.
- DHUWUNG SAESTU : real keris
- DHUWUNG EWAH-EWAHAN : old keris that have been modified
- DHUWUNG RISAK : original keris but in damaged condition
- DHUWUNG JANGKEP : old keris still having all ricikan, but not unharmed
- DHUWUNG BESUTAN : has been repaired already, without changing its genuineness in any other way
- DHUWUNG WETAH : still unharmed
- DHUWUNG SAE : unharmed and good
- DHUWUNG PRAYOGI : unharmed and better
- DHWUWUNG MAHANANI : perfect"

This list obviously needs explaining by someone more knowledgeable now.

Empu Kumis, do you agree with Guritno on these 10 values, their names, order, and their general definition?

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-13-2001 12:00     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
READING THE QUESTION WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY A KERIS SHOULD HAVE TO CLASSIFY IT A EXCELLENT KERIS. THERE IS NOT ONE THING THAT CAN POSSIBLY QUALIFY IT TO BE EXCELLENT, IT MUST BE A COMBINATION OF THINGS THAT MAKES IT SO. IF SOMEONE WANTS A KERIS TO GO INTO BATTLE HE WILL WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT FROM WHAT HE WOULD WANT TO APPEAR IN FRONT OF THE KING. SO THE CONTEXT OF WHAT IS A GOOD KERIS CAN CHANGE WITH THE FUNCTION IT IS CREATED FOR.WHAT I AM GETTING AT IS THAT A WAR BLADES MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY WOULD BE THAT IT BE STRONG ENOUGH TO DO IN YOUR ENEMYS WITHOUT BREAKING, BENDING OR GETTING HUNG UP IN THE VICTIM AND KEEP A SHARP POINT AND EDGE. THE PARMOR WOULD BE NICE BUT NOT IMPORTANT UNLESS A CERTAIN KIND OF PARMOR WAS TRADITIONALLY USED FOR FIGHTING BLADES THAT SET THEM APART? A COURT KERIS WOULD NEED ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES AND THE MORE BEAUTIFUL AND RARE THE PARMOR THE BETTER. ALSO THE FITTINGS BECOME IMPORTANT HERE TO IDENTIFY THE PERSONS RANK ,WEALTH,AWARDS,MAYBE FAMILY HISTORY. I READ SOMEWHERE THAT ON SOME OCCASIONS YOU MIGHT BE CARRYING MULTIPLE KERIS, YOUR GRANDFATHERS, FATHERS AND YOUR OWN EACH IN ITS TRADITIONAL PLACE (BACK, SIDE, ECT) THAT'S FAMILY HISTORY ESPECIALLY IF YOUR ANCESTORS WERE GREAT MEN AND HAD GREAT KERIS. I DON'T THINK A EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD AND EXPENSIVE KERIS WOULD EVER HAVE BEEN USED IN A BATTLE. THEY MIGHT USE SUCH A KERIS SUCH AS THAT TO SETTLE A POINT OF HONOR BETWEEN TWO NOBLES OF FEUDING FAMILIES OF THE COURT (A DUEL) I AM GUESSING AS I HAVE NO IDEA IF THAT WAS EVER DONE IN THE CULTURES WITH THE KERIS (DUELING THAT IS). IT WAS COMMON ENOUGH IN OTHER SOCIETIES TO SUSPECT THAT IT MIGHT HAVE OCCURRED.

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empu kumis
Member
posted 07-13-2001 16:32     Click Here to See the Profile for empu kumis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Kerislovers,
great to hear from you again and thanks for your help, showing the terms and the article of Kompas of the qualities as told by Haryono Guritno. I agree.

--- The state of preservation
In accordance to the system duwung duwungan to duwung mahanani its quit almost impossible to get a keris mahanani and in this sense this is the uppermost stage of a scale of preservation. This is almost similar to the measurement of quality I was talking about earlier. I`m not pointing to the moon but looking to the sun knowing there is no perfection but the scale must have a 10. ,
--- Old blade new gold
For sure I dont want to offend your grandfather and I know there are different reason to apply gold to an old blade. This has been done for long and is one of the difficulties. Nevertheless it change the blade and in a strong sense its an fasification (Verfaelschung in German)but I`m more talking on this blades shown in the picture especially the last. An old blade has almost everytime a rough surface and you have to engrave and flaten the iron first to make the criss cross chiselmarks wich tie the gold to the iron in form of the animals you want to show. Your grandfathers keris is something of personal importance. So many keris pusaka in many households belonging to a family are in the eyes of a collector not worth to collect. This is another scale of value not connected to pamor, dapur or anythings else but as the connection to their forefathers.
--- about technic
the change of Madura has as principle not changed sience centurys exept they made it more provitable. The wasuhan was neccesary to clean the iron and because of the impureties or natural alloys of the ore it became a kind of "pamor". This could be the birth of pamor tiban. Later the "white iron" was separated and used as what we know today as pamor-material. Buntel Mayit is a question of technik too, because the laminated staff is twisted around his own axis. Buntel Mayit is an exeption without slorok.
--- about palemahan
Blumbangan is according to my knowledge not connected to palemahan but sogokan. There are so many expressions that keep my mind until I asked more people. The same differences I expect will be with gula milir, ri pandan and so many more. My experience is two experts wether AHLI - or ahli keris. Everybody must take in account there are so many opinions and if you meet two experts there are three opionions. Thats makes me very suspious.
--- on tangguh
There could be done much (not everythings)with photographss and so on. Here I have again a different opinion. Anyway you must know yourself that appraisal has many difficulties and its only a guessing (with arguments but without proof).
--- about feeling a blade
Here I become stomache.
--- about tanting
as you said its Suparmans system and I never here about tanting. In the sense of balance I never say somebady to proove that quality.
The other terms are the same I have been taught and not only from one scource.
--- to your final word on forging ..
If you see how the smithes today try to get old iron (before about early 19th cent.) its like to try to get old canvas and if you know bicyle has about 5 % nickel you have already materials close to old ones and here it will be difficult to recognize the old or new.
--- The last question and answer
Integrity is as you mentioned not a keris-term and could used for manythings. In my eyes its not helpful and in kerisalogy your creation. To me you cant press the keris with his many functions and clasification systems and expressions in only one term. I dont agree. We have a system which has a long development and I could not see what doesnt fit. If we love keris we must learn the different system and try to understand.
So far there is sombody out there who has more knowledge on Bugi-keris and so many more I ask to take part and share your knowledge. I had not the time to ask many questions in Sulawesi to learn and I`m still have to learn so much about the Javanese keris. There is just no time.
--- HI JOHN
I`m not pointing to the moon and forget my finger but I try to show the SUN as the basic of life on earth. The top of the scale we need and I still looking to perfection without flying. My moneybox is also not so big to pay the prices mentioned by Wong Desa.

I mentioned the scale and showed some of the bottom in pictures wich are low and high quality fakes or falsifications .

Last I like to ask all of you working more with pictures and if ther are statements mention the source.

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wong desa
Senior Member
posted 07-13-2001 22:30     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This thread started with a question.
That question was:"What constitutes a good keris?"
I think the original idea was to seek opinions from interested collectors of the keris,and to come up with some form of matrix,or a check list ,which could provide guidance to the ordinary average collector of keris who did not live in Jawa,and/or did not have a Javanese cultural background.
We managed to come up with a framework ,within which to structure the standards which would assist these collectors.
The collectors for which this standard would have been of use are,for the most part,general collectors.There may be a couple amongst them who are specifically keris collectors,and amongst these specific keris collectors there will be an even smaller number of people who have adopted an "academic"approach to their collecting,and have studied the history,culture,society,and art of Jawa,and other keris bearing countries.
So,what we set out to do was to try to help Mr. Average avoid the purchase of junk keris.
In any case,upon reflection,I believe that was my objective.

If I review our progress towards the objective of assisting Mr.Average,I find that remarkably little progress has been made.To me,this thread appears to have deteriorated into a platform for debate on the merits and level of knowledge of various Javanese authorities.
I acknowledge that I have taken part in this non-productive exchange of opinions.
There has been a lot of interesting information and opinions put up during the last month or so,but analysis of this information will demonstrate that it is almost totally irrelevant to the aims and possibilities of the people that we set out to assist.

I freely acknowledge that the keris is a Javanese art form,and that it carries its own lexicon and standards of appraisal.
However,in my opinion,to impose these standards upon the community of collectors outside Jawa is neither desireable nor possible.

Central to this Javanese standard is the concept of tangguh.This is a system of classification which attempts to relate a blade to its point of origin in terms of time,and geographic location.It has severe limits,as it is essentially designed around only the Javanese keris.To understand its reality it is necessary to adopt a Javanese world view,and system of belief.It cannot be understood ,or related to by the analytic,scientific,western mind.It is a part of Javanese traditional culture,not a part of the modern,post-industrial world.

The standards which are applied by a Javanese Master,in the appraisal of a keris for quality,are directly related to the Javanese world view, the concept of harmony and the interrelationship of all things within the cosmos.This is not simply a matter of looking at a keris and determining whether one feature or another has been executed in a particular fashion,and thus is superior,or inferior ,work.A Javanese keris master should be able to apply the same principles that he applies in the appraisal of a keris ,to the appraisal of a dance performance,a piece of poetry,or in fact,almost anything he may encounter.
It is simply not possible to extract from this total world view those things which apply only to the keris and pretend that you understand keris.
This would be somewhat like training a monkey to pilot a space ship.I`m sure the monkey thinks he understands space ships.

A collector whose primary interest is the collection of weaponry,including keris,is unlikely to submit himself to the training necessary to be able to adopt this Javanese world view.In fact,many people would argue that this is something that it is simply not possible to learn.
However,in the absence of this Javanese world view,the concept of tangguh,and the Javanese standards for quality,are meaningless.The essence has been removed,only the form remains.

How useful is any of this to the average collector of weaponry,including keris?
He hasn`t got a snowflakes chance in hell of understanding it,let alone applying it.

Yet,I`m supposed to be able to explain all of this in written words,with the assistance of electronically transmitted photographs,which,by their very nature are quite simply inadequate.

Empu Kumis,I respect your very high level of knowledge in respect of the technology of the keris.I am certain that nobody else in the world today can even approach your qualifications in this area of keris knowledge.However,it would appear that you believe that it is also possible to reduce to a technology the Javanese system of keris classification known as tangguh,and the Javanese approach to keris appreciation.
In my opinion this is not possible.
The most we could hope for would be to become like the monkey mentioned above:we could play with the concepts,but not understand them.

This is the reason that from the beginning I have supported the integrated approach to an appraisal of keris quality.That is,selection from the Javanese standard of some of those purely physical characterists to which a non-Javanese mind can relate,and the adoption of a related,but varying standard for keris which fall outside the Javanese frame,at the same time,I had hoped that we would be able to build into our standard some of the non-Javanese ideas on the concept of quality.In other words,a standard which Mr. Average collector could relate to,without involving himself in a twenty year study of the art,history and culture of Jawa.

In an effort to bring this discussion back on line prior to my extended absence,I asked a question.Iasked this question three times.
The question was addressed to Empu Kumis ,and was:

"---what,in your opinion,is the single most important element of quality in the composition of a keris,which causes that keris to be a potential "good keris."

This is a very precisely worded question.I rewrote it countless times until it said exactly what I wanted it to say.
Basically I asked for an opinion,not an absolute;Iasked for singularity,not multiplicity;I asked for potential rather than realisation.I was looking for a starting point.

No opinion was forthcoming.

At the prompting of John,I put forth my own opinion.
Empu Kumis now tells me that the concept of integrity applied to a keris is my own creation,and not a part of "krisalogy".
I sincerely hope it is my own creation.One`s opinion normally is one`s own creation ,and an opinion is what I asked for.

Except where Empu Kumis is writing about the technology of the keris,almost everything he writes is at variance with what I have been taught.If I were so inclined I could indulge in endless debate .Against my better judgement I have already been drawn into debate on matters which have absolutely nothing at all to do with the objective of this thread.I think the time has come to call a halt to this.
This will be my last post for a period of about two months.I`m going into the wilderness.Both actually and figuratively.
I hope that when I return I will see some practical,common sense ideas which may be of some assistance to ordinary,average collectors of weaponry,who also have an interest in the keris.


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john
Senior Member
posted 07-14-2001 09:09     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Wongdesa has a valid point in that when this thread was mooted in the first place, the objective was to construct a matrix/checklist of elements of a good keris to help an average collector of keris. All this while I have been wondering at the back of my mind, when this could be accomplished, bearing in mind that this thread is now over 180 posts long and still a successful/satisfactory accomplishment is nowhere in sight or near consolidation. On the other hand, I'm not complaining (on the contrary pleased!) as a lot of excellent information and very interesting stuffs have be generated notwithstanding that a fair amount of "steam" have also generated here and there. That's why I have been following this thread almost addictively; For knowledge and excitement!

As a new collector, I have valued everyone's opinions, I've mine too and disagree with some experts too but the bottom line and ACID TEST is, have all what have been deliberated here made any difference in the manner I collect my kerises? Very honestly, not much but I like to again reiterate though I've learnt a lot especially in appreciating QUALITY. What it has solidly helped is my appreciation for new kerises. I used to have the "silk road syndrome" (A term Alan Maisey uses, I think) so was more into older pieces before. My own earlier experiences in life has shown me the necessity of drawing on the experience of knowledgeable and experienced people. I've followed this principle and have never been far wrong. I have bought a couple of kerises from whom I know to be a knowledgeable dealer who have not disappointed me so far. I believe I read someone (Tom Anson, I think) very earlier in the thread who uses the criteria; Do I like it and can I afford it? I'm also in this category I think. I still like the artistic Balinese. I'm also looking forward to some tajong/coteng (tks to a site I recently surfed) and Peninsular melala. I just need to inform my trusted dealer until he finds the pieces I wanted to my satisfaction. I wonder if Wongdesa's opinion of INTEGRITY has anything to do along this line. I'm sure your opinion didn't come off the thin air and has it's credibility. Let's hear you out and the application of INTEGRITY as you have opined if you still have the time prior to your departure to Tassie. I also have recently requested another very reputable dealer to get me a high quality artistic Balinese keris and have been told to wait for a few months. Well, I'm patient for things that are worth waiting for. Personally whatever matrix that may come out of the end would help in personal knowledge and I still think it would not influence the manner I collect my keris much, perhaps more on appreciation of quality. I personally have found the posts of the past few months very very very interesting and helpful. Why? Because I now know from people who have first hand seen, witnessed and know the various fraudulent ways kerises have been made, modified and manipulated. At one time, I thought the peksi could be a reliable way to determine a keris age but now I know (from Naga's accounts of the Madura workshop's manipulations) even the peksis are being artificially aged. Like Wongdesa reiterated earlier, even experience is no hard iron cast guarantee. Makes me more cautious now even on my dealers (in case even they could possibly be hoodwinked). It would be interesting to know if experts like Empu Kumis, Wongdesa, Adni or Dave would be in a proficient position to "detect" any "manipulation". I'm using a loose term but I'm sure you all know what I mean.

Lately we have the entry of Empu Kumis whom I'm sure has much useful knowledge/experiences he likes to share with fellow keris lovers. Although I've only been in the keris pastime for just 10 months, I believe I have heard you having been mentioned on 3 occasions prior to your joining the thread but my information may not be accurate. I was told you were instrumental in the "rebirth" of keris making in Java in the 1970s including in helping Empus Yoso and Djeno. Really you're part of Javanese keris history now! The other occasion was when my dealer told me about a keris blade picture in Bambang's Encyclopedia made by Pandai Pauzan according to your design. Yes, I've seen that picture.

I think a lot of interest topics you may like to share on keris may not be quite in context with the objective of this thread and wonder if you and other keris lovers would like to consider initiating a separate concurrent thread for Empu Kumis to maintain some spontaneous discussions whilst this present thread continues within the context of it's objective? If there is enough interests, why don't we go for it? Comments please.

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DAHenkel
Senior Member
posted 07-16-2001 01:45     Click Here to See the Profile for DAHenkel   Click Here to Email DAHenkel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks very much Empu Kumis for your latest comments and for directing me to the Bulbeck report.

While I have to disagree with Empu Kumis on the use of the system of tangguhing to examine all keris’, I am very interested in hearing more about the Javanese system of appraisal, particularly in regards to condition and workmanship. Using Javanese historical and geographical categories on the other hand is utterly useless away from Java. Its fairly clear in the "archaeological" record of extant keris, that regional styles and aesthetics developed very rapidly after their initial introduction from Jawa. In my own experience, with the exception of the rare "copy" blade, Peninsular keris only very vaguely resemble their Majapahit progenitors. Equally important I think is the fact that it is precisely those periods when Javanese influence was at its weakest that regional keris' reached their highest levels of development.

As has already been mentioned, comparing Javanese and non-Javanese keris is a lot like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, they're both fruit, but with entirely different historical and aesthetic experiences. Aside from the usual cross fertilization which one certainly expects, outer island keris have and independent existence which needs to be fundamentally established if we are to get anywhere in understanding the keris - writ large. Surely we can recognize the important contribution which Java made to keris development and the technological superiority of Javanese craftsmanship without having to swallow whole a Javanese system of classification ill suited to keris made outside of that system (including non-pakem blades). No one, not even a highly trained Javanese keris master would assert that tangguhing works for keris made outside of pakem.

We can however hope to deconstruct the Javanese system of classification and authentication to come up with useful information that is applicable to non-pakem made keris. The recent posting of the dhuwung-dhuwungan to dhuwung mahanani authentication set is one area where I think we can learn a great deal and I would love to see our discussion work on elaborating what these categories really mean. The categories dhuwung-dhuwungan and dhuwung-saestu for instance are very informative. The implication of the term dhuwung-dhuwungan is such that it implies a "fake" or less than "real" keris. As is sometimes the case in Malay languages a doubling of a word followed by the suffix -an implies that something is not a real item but a representation of that item. It's often used in conjunction with toys or models; thus mobil-mobilan means a toy or model car. I think this is a relatively fair and reasonable understanding of the term dhuwung-dhuwungan (or for that matter the Malay term keris-kerisan.) Many keris fanciers take this however to imply that a keris is somehow "fake" or not really a keris. The original term however does in fact imply an acceptance of the fact that a dhuwung-dhuwungan is a keris, just not one that has been made in accordance with accepted methods, materials and practices. Thus, for instance we have the plethora of so-called “tourist” keris’.

As for dhuwung saestu, I'm not certain but I thing the root for saestu is restu which means blessed. If so, and correct me if I'm wrong, the term implies that a keris thus classified has sanction as a proper keris regardless of its workmanship and conditional value. The classification ewah-ewahan is one that needs a great deal of explanation if it is to be of any use. Certainly many keris' have undergone some form of modification, whether it be the replacement of a missing or broken ganja or pesi or more radical modification including re-forging. Does this classification imply that all keris that have been modified in any way are not much better than junk? or are there acceptable or unacceptable modifications? Would the reforming of a few millimeters of the broken tip of a blade condemn an otherwise fine keris to the status of near junk? Bambang goes so far as to mention that the replacement of lost or broken ganja was a relatively common practice. Does this mean that all these pieces are now somehow less than they might have been had they been left in a more original if more damaged condition? What discerns a dhuwung ewah-ewahan from a dhuwung besutan? The classifications risak jangkep and wetah also raise questions. How much "damage" or "harm" qualifies a keris for one of these gradations? What types of "damage" are we talking about here? Finally, what are the gradations that qualify a keris in the categories sae, prayogi and Mahanani? Are these gradations linked to the aesthetic values of pakem? Good, better and perfect are all relative values that I think we need to establish with some amount of rigor if we are going to get anywhere with this.

Finally a brief comment on dress in response to Empu Kumis’ latest post. Certainly attribution can and should be made separately for blade and dress. No one with any experience has failed to encounter a keris that has been dressed in foreign apparel and there is certainly nothing wrong with this. Indeed it was a very common practice traditionally to dress imported blades in the local style and equally common for migrants to replace the dress of their ancestral keris’ in the style of their adopted homeland. These practices though should definitely be distinguished from the so-called “rojak” or “gado-gado” keris’ which turn up with alarming regularity, particularly in our segment of the keris market. Certain practices were and are acceptable; for instance, Madurese hilts turn up with some regularity on otherwise Solonese keris. As long as these are in accordance with Solonese aesthetics these are perfectly acceptable in my mind. On the other hand I have encountered many abominations more akin to Frankenstein than to a real keris. One example I encountered on e-bay included a Javanese blade in Bugis-style scabbard, complete with a Javanese pendok blewah and topped off with a Cirebon style hilt! The effect, as you might imagine, was not attractive.

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Rick
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-19-2001 12:13     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In response to John:

The Moderators feel that Empu Kumis' participation in this thread is welcome and worthwhile and does have a bearing on the discussion at hand.

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john
Senior Member
posted 07-19-2001 21:07     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rick, your comments noted and thanks. For me personally, Empu Kumis' participation, wherever it is, is more than welcomed and worthwhile! I'm looking forward to his "showing towards the SUN" in addition to what the other seniors have contributed/shared! As the moderators opined the relevance, I therefore also fully supports it's spontanous continuity. If I've inadvertently offended anyone, I apologise.

[This message has been edited by john (edited 07-19-2001).]

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-21-2001 22:21     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
IN A OPEN FORUM EVERYONE IS WELCOME AND UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES THE SUBJECT WILL GET OFF TRACK.I KNOW I AM GUILTY OF GETTING OFF THE TRACK ESPECIALLY BECAUSE I AM A JACK OF ALL TRADES COLLECTOR. I HAVE A WIDE RANGE OF KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE BUT AM A MASTER OF NONE,SO I PUT IN WHAT I CAN WHEN I CAN IF I THINK ITS INTERESTING AND CLOSE TO REVENANT. I FEEL LIKE A OLD NATURALIST IN AMONGST A BUNCH OF GUYS WITH MASTERS DEGREES IN VARIOUS FIELDS. I JUST HOPE THAT THEY CAN PICK SOMETHING OF USE OUT OF THE DISCUSSION. THOSE THAT ARE WORKING ON CHARTS AND SUCH WILL MOST LIKELY COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS AND GET THE INFORMATION NEEDED, AND WHEN FINISHED WE WILL GET TO SEE THEM. YEAH! I DON'T EXPECT TO BE ASKED ANY QUESTIONS,BUT ITS FUN TO PARTICIPATE AND LEARN AND CONTRIBUTE WHAT I CAN.IT IS A PLEASURE TO KNOW THAT SOME OF THE TOP PEOPLE IN ETHNOGRAPHIC WEAPONS IN THE WORLD POST IN THIS FORUM BOTH SCHOLARS AND (WEAPON MAKERS)(I CAN'T THINK OF A PROPER TERM TO COVER EVERYTHING)? ITS ALSO A PRIVILEGE TO LEARN FROM THEM. OOPS' OH WELL I TOLD YOU I RAMBLED OFF THE SUBJECT

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john
Senior Member
posted 07-22-2001 05:42     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It appears a couple of us wanted this thread to continue the way it has been although things may go off track. My suggestion of a concurrent separate thread is more to create a more conducive environment for Empu Kumis to discuss and share more in an "unbounded" and unrestricted manner. Personally I have a lot of questions and I'm very sure there are others who wanted to know more other than the "good keris" things. But I go along with the majority except that when Wong Desa returns, he may think otherwise? Or maybe not.

Mr Vandoo, I've followed your posts here and there with interests and it has occured to me you're an all round collector and indeed in your own words "jack of all trades". I've enjoyed your humour and comments including info on martial arts including the fight between Muhammad Ali and a non boxer which I too saw clips of the fight; what a joke the fight was.

Empu Kumis, where are you? Like to know a few more things;

1. In your post of 6.29.2001, you mentioned you will try to tell some more about the Javanese (central) keris. Would you like to proceed?

2. In your post of 6.30.2001, you mentioned that for complete analyses, we must wait until your young friend has finished his Phd on keris and that he will write about many of your ideas and experiences and indicated he may publish a public edition. Could you tell a little more on who this young man is and when can the public expect a book from him. Like to add to my collection of books.

3. I only received Solyom's "World of the Javanese keris" last week. A more than excellent book. I believe this book is a repeat of what Koh Teck Swan told Solyom (please correct if I'm wrong). In this book, there was a mention after the death of Empus Yosopangarso and Djeno's father, the brothers took other jobs for 8 years until a German visitor(Marine Captain)came along and helped them refurbished their forge for them to continue the trade their ancestor did. Would you be kind enough to share with us a little more of history in that how did your interest in keris began and how you were involved in the "rebirth" of keris making in Java in the 70s etc. In an earlier post, you also mentioned about helping keris making in Bali in 1982.

Empu Kumis, I leave it to your discretion should you wish to answer in this thread or another new thread as my questions are well out of the ambit of this thread.

[This message has been edited by john (edited 07-24-2001).]

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empu kumis
Member
posted 07-22-2001 09:56     Click Here to See the Profile for empu kumis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi kerislovers

a less compledated classification of the quality of a kerisblade (which I prefer)in accordance of Jan`s post (07-13-2001) is:

adhiluhung (sempurna)
inggil (sač)
tengahan (sedeng)
andap (mboten sač)

TO DAHenkel
on tangguhing to examine "all" keris I`m not saying to use the Javanese (Solonese) system. I would like to one for one. That means if there is a system of peninsular kerises, we should use it, if there is a system of Buginese kerises lets use the Buginese system. We just do not now much about the non Javanese keris. By example I read about your keris COTENG which shows your special knowledge. To put it in a systematic article would help. The same for the experts on Moro-keris. I`m against a general system of catagories as Wong Desa like to do it.

TO JOHN
I think we should have a separate thread on Javanese keris. Or better some more separate geographic parts of the ethnographic weapons.
I would like to proceed, but pls read my IN GENERAL and about the complete analyses I like to write it in a homepage. But it needs time. My young friend has just completed his Phd on keris and is learning for his rigorosum in oktober. He is still thinking about a public edition of his Phd. So I`m sorry you must wait.

GARETT SOLYOM`S BOOK
is in my eyes also the most important of the last years but is not only a repeat of what was told by Pangeran = Prince (He became the rank of a Prince from the keraton of Solo) Hardjonagoro which is the name GO TIK SWAN prefer to use, but he never changed his Chinese name. Garett had many teachers and informants and some of them we had the same. The truth is the rebirth of kerismaking was my first order in 1973 of a keris from Ki Yoso (Yasapangarso his name as smith was Empu Supo wiyono) and Ki Jeno (Empu Harumbrojo)This first keris after at least 8 years was made in the house of Ki Yoso with help of his brothers Ki jeno, Ki Genjo his sons Sarwidi and Supianto. Supianto was alter as young man taken Ir. Haryono Guritno to Jakarta. He made a few years kerises in the Taman Mini of Jakarta. I have been in 1975 in Ki Yosos house to exchange theorie and practise for 6 weeks but I never forged a keris myself. I always felt this belongs to Javanese. But more help Jeno became from Pangeran Hardjonagoro, Garett and the Ford Foundation. In 1981 I have been doing almost the same in Bali.

My file (printouts have alrady some hundred pages) of this discusssion, which is more or less unsystematic. Some threads has 4 or more pages and to follow and to answer, especially if your mothers language is not english, is so time eating. My homepage of a systematic approach to the javanese keris is under construction, so please understand I cant have so much attention to the forum. But I would like to ask the participants to show more pictures. It make things more easy.

empu kumis

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Lee Jones
EEWRS Staff
posted 07-28-2001 07:20     Click Here to See the Profile for Lee Jones   Click Here to Email Lee Jones     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Received for posting from JH:

Indeed Garett Solyom's book has superior content and thanks Empu Kumis for sharing your advent in the rebirth of keris making in 1973 through your first order from Ki Yoso. Also best wishes in the development of your homepage which I'm enthusiastically looking forward to explore. Please inform when ready.

As per your suggestion, I attach below a keris (appears to be of Surakarta style) from my collection which is allegedly made by Ki Yosopangarso (Could be but may be NOT) but it was purchased because I like it, and was in a position to be able to afford it as Mr Vandoo uses to say. But it would be nice to know for sure if it has attribution to Yosopangarso. Perhaps we could have a little fun in hearing comments from everyone (on the perspective of quality, craftsmanship, features/form, etc) who have contributed to this thread starting from Paul (keris page), Dave, Naga Sasra, Vandoo, Jan, Empu Kumis, Wong Desa (still enjoying himself in peaceful solitary forest of Tasmania), and Adni. Perhaps you may like to rate the keris from the scale of 1 to 10 (like in the olympics as Vandoo once intimated) based on your individual style/manner of evaluation/assessment. Let it be known it's only on the basis of the pictures which could not quite tell as well as holding the real thing in hand, so no one would be held to anything.











When held in hand, this piece looks similar to Fig #49 of Garett Solyom's book. To my inexperienced eye, the differences noted are that #49; greneng has more details and ron dha, ganja has pamor and blade more finely finished.

Anyone like to give some shot?

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-28-2001 13:11     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I LIKE IT WANT TO SELL I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE EYE IN THE GANJA IN THE FIRST PICTURE. THE BLADE IS LIKE I LIKE THEM AS IT ISN'T BLACK WITH JUST THE SHINY PARTS SHOWING, I LIKE TO SEE ALL THE PATTERN (JUST MY PERSONNEL PREFERENCE). THE SELUT IS NICE ARE THOSE DIAMONDS IN THERE? THE WOOD IS NICE AND THE KERIS IS ASCETICALLY PLEASING. I WOULDN'T KNOW HOW TO GIVE IT A SCORE WITH THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE BUT I IMAGINE IT WOULD COME UP AS A 6 OR 7 , THERE IS NO STANDARD FOR THE WHOLE KERIS BLADE AND FITTINGS AND HOW APPEALING IT IS OVER ALL. KERIS WOULD BE JUDGED KIND OF LIKE A BEAUTY PAGEANT IN OUR COUNTRY. HOW GOOD OF A WEAPON IT IS, ISN'T IMPORTANT IN JUDGING THEM ANYWHERE THESE DAYS. MY STANDARD FOR JUDGING WOULD BE THERE ARE NO TEN'S, NINE IS THE BEST, AND SO ON, BUT I AM NOT ENOUGH OF A EXPERT TO JUDGE BUT YOU ASKED FOR A SHOT

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john
Senior Member
posted 07-31-2001 20:39     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seems only Vandoo has been brave enough for a shot. *grin*. Many beauty pageants have been judged by actors, sportsmen etc and often a personal favourite doesn't win and on the other hand the winner has not been to one's taste. Personally I'll rate the piece a 5. The dapur appears to be Sinom and pamor a finely condensed Wos Wutah.

By the way, how many pieces of keris/edged weapons do you have Vandoo? Even Dayak weapons amongst your collection? I'm surprised and although I live close to them, I know zilch on Dayaks.

I'm hoping for some comments from a Javanese Keris connoisseur at least. According to an expert consulted (but to be fair to him, he didn't have the benefit of the pictures but just a little discription), he pointed out Ki Yoso lived in Jogja and has been working in the Hamengkubuwanaan style but the piece in question, if it is of Surakarta style, than it would be a doubtful attribution to Ki Yoso. Also I have been told a couple of times, Empu Yoso and Djeno's work do not have a very good reputation for form and finish. Like to comment and add something, Empu Kumis? You comments would be appreciated. Would you consent putting up pictures of your first Ki Yoso piece? How many pieces are there in your collection? Hope you're not too busy with your homepage work.

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Naga Sasra
Senior Member
posted 08-01-2001 00:27     Click Here to See the Profile for Naga Sasra   Click Here to Email Naga Sasra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So much time has been flying by since my last post, that I find it nearly impossible to address all the items that I would like to comment on. This being said, I would just one more time emphasize, that even though we are all having a great time in so many subjects, the initial thought was to make up a set of generalized standards in sometimes plain words that collectors and other people with a developing interest in keris and who live outside of a keris bearing society can understand and use.

Many things have been said regarding which existing standard could be adopted in parts for this endeavor, the problem here is that there is only one set of published rules to apply, namely those of the Javanese. But early on in this thread it was recognised that we could not apply one set of rules for everybody, as seperate cultures should be acknowledged from keris bearing society's outside of Java. I also think that it perhaps is time to go back and try to consolidate the information that has been brought into this discussion, and see where we are with this, and if the original format can be salvaged.

VANDOO was commenting on the export of keris from Indonesia and expressed a fear of blades being confiscated by Indonesian customs. Regarding this subject it is indeed possible to have keris restored and returned without and problems at all. Only what would be considered Cultural Natural Treasures would be at risk. I suggest you find an honorable agent within the keris culture to serve your needs, weather it is restoration or parts you need. If you don't have or know of anybody, I will be happy to give you my agent, just email me and I will give you his name, email address and whatever.

Regarding the pictures posted of the newly made keris, I find it difficult to comment on something I cannot see, and will assume that all others would also want at least one photo of the entire blade in order to "critique" it.
From what is shown, I would assume that it is a keris lurus, and if it is I will go along with Dapur Sinom actually more accurately Dapur Sinom Pangrawit as the blade also have jenggot. However, if the blade is a luk 3, the dapur would be a Segaro Winotan.
Regarding the Pamor I have been in a discussion regarding this, it is Pedaringan Kebak, not Wos Wutah. As for grading the blade on a one to ten scale, I will refrain from doing this without being able to see the entire blade. I can only mention that it has a couple of items that I personally don't like about it even though they would not be considered as being faults in a appraisal, strictly my own observations and preference. I like to see the Gonjo, if it has a pamor, that it be of the same pamor as the blade. Also the curve on the Wadidang is not flowing smoothly, it appear to have a hump just before it connect with the Gonjo.

Does any one else want to stick their neck out on this one?

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john
Senior Member
posted 08-07-2001 01:35     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As mentioned by Naga Sasra, it's about time to go back to consolidate information discussed to a format intended as per objective of this thread. In line with this, I've dragged the draft of Wong Desa (post dated 3.8.01) here for ease of reference and perhaps further discussion/debate/fine-tuning.

Note: Surface has been added to 2b as per subsequent discussions between Wong Desa/Naga Sasra. Any omisions if any is regreted.

Quote

Title:
Analysis of the elements which contribute to the quality of a keris blade.

Objective:
To identify the characteristics of a keris blade which are perceived by collectors who operate outside the Javanese keris culture ethic, as indicators of quality.

Major Negative Factors:
1. Visually unattractive.
2. Degree of damage is too great to allow restoration to a culturally correct standard, without access to specialist skills.
3. Quality of workmanship does not comply with generally accepted trade and craft standards.
4. Perceived weight is not in accordance with perceived function.
5. Origin is not within the cultural tradition of a keris bearing society.


Elements of Negation:

1. Visually unattractive:
a. Rusty, dirty, unstained.
b. Overall appearance does not appeal.

2. Degree of damage etc.
a. Heavy delamination.
b. Loss of form - edges, features, length, surface.
c. Broken or missing pesi.
d. Broken or missing gonjo.
e. Out of true (side to side bends).

3. Quality of Workmanship etc.
a. Poor forge work-cold shuts, cracked material(hot short /heat treat), uncentered core,core too thick, pamor too thin, pamor not contained in initial side.
b. Poor bench work-core unevenly displayed, uneven sculpting of fullers (all kruwingan work), depth of pamor and/or blade not used to maximum advantage, failure to achieve symmetry.

4. Physical presence not in accord with perceived function.
a. Dominant factors indicate manufacture as a weapon, however, construction does not support weapon function.
b. Dominant factors indicate manufacture as artwork, however, artistic effect has not been achieved.

5. Origin not within cultural tradition.
a. Encompasses those blades mass produced as curios in modern times, those blades produced in Sheffield, England for sale in Malaya, those blades produced by modern bladesmiths, using non-traditional methods, which do not conform to a recognised pattern (pakem).


Notes

1.b. Subjective judgement . Will vary in accord with appraiser`s experience and personal taste.

2. If blade is so badly damaged that it cannot be made to appear culturally correct it cannot be appraised.

3. Quality of workmanship. At present, and after due consideration, I feel that it is possible to apply standards generally understood to apply to the crafts and trades involved in production of a blade. For example-bad welding is evidenced by a cold shut, be the item welded in New York, or Solo.

4. Blades were/are produced for varying purposes. An old Bugis blade,with no evidence of heat treat,and of light construction would raise the question-"Why?"
Similarly with a recent Surakarta blade lacking any evidence of artistic endeavour.

5. Origin outside cultural tradition. Current production junk blades produced for the tourist traps are well known. What are not so well known, and now extremely difficult to identify, are the blades produced in England, and sold as items of trade in old Malaya.Additionally,some modern bladesmiths have made"keris" blades, using incorrect materials and methods of production, and which do not conform to any recognised pattern.

I submit the above as a frame work which can be used to carry out the stated analysis.
It is loosely based on a standard systems analysis model.
I do not support the use of a benchmark, or "normative model" keris, because of the extreme variation of elements from classification to classification, and of types within classifications.

I have opted to stay as far removed as possible from traditional Javanese standards, and to provide a mechanism which will allow a measure of individual opinion.

Prior to initiating use of the above, I would appreciate comments on suitability, suggested additions or deletions, or alternative methodologies.

Unquote

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 08-12-2001 23:03     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING TO ADD TO THE ABOVE CRITERIA. BUT I DO WONDER HOW YOU WOULD CLASSIFY THE DIFFERENT STYLES EVEN FROM THE SAME AREA IF YOU ARE NOT ALLOWING A BENCHMARK, OR COMPARATIVE COLLECTION OF KREIS WITH EVERYTHING DONE PROPERLY AS A REFERENCE FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES. TRUE THERE CAN BE NO TWO KERIS EXACTLY ALIKE AS THERE ARE NO TWO BUFFALO EXACTLY ALIKE BUT A STANDARD COULD BE SET USING THE ONE THAT IS THE CLOSEST TO PERFECT. THIS WOULD NOT BE AS IMPORTANT TO MOST COLLECTORS, BUT SHOULD BE VERY IMPORTANT TO THOSE WHO MAKE THE KERIS IN THE TRADITIONAL WAY. TO SHOW A STUDENT A PICTURE OF A KERIS AND EXPLAIN HOW IT SHOULD BE MADE SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED WITH THE EXAMINATION OF SOME EXAMPLES OF THE TYPE HE IS TO TRY TO MAKE. WHEN HE HAS MADE HIS KERIS HE COULD THEN LOOK AT THE ORIGINAL EXAMPLE AND SEE IF HE DID EVERYTHING CORRECTLY. THEN THE MASTER COULD JUDGE AND SHOW HIM WHAT HE DID WRONG OR CONGRATULATE HIM ON HIS WORK IF GOOD ENOUGH.MY COMPARATIVE COLLECTION HAS BEEN STONES AND OTHER BOOKS AND NOW THE FORUM ALSO I LOOK AT MY COLLECTION AS WELL AS MY MEMORY TO TRY AND HELP ID SOMETHING IN THE FORUM. I AM NOT SAYING THERE SHOULD BE ONLY ONE COMPARATIVE COLLECTION THAT EVERYBODY HAS TO TRY TO MATCH. I JUST THINK THAT IT IS A USEFUL TOOL FOR TEACHING, IDENTIFYING AND JUDGING QUALITY FOR MOST ANYTHING. HOW MANY DIFFERENT COMPARATIVE COLLECTIONS THERE ARE IS NOT IMPORTANT, ONLY THAT THEY ARE PROPERLY IDENTIFIED AND A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THE TYPE. I UNDERSTOOD THE COMMENT IN THE ABOVE POST TO INDICATE THAT COMPARATIVE COLLECTIONS SHOULD NOT BE INCLUDED AS A WAY TO JUDGE KERIS QUALITY AND TYPE. I MAY HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD, BUT IF NOT WHY SHOULD IT NOT BE USED? FIRE AWAY!!

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wong desa
Senior Member
posted 09-09-2001 20:02     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello everybody!

Hasn`t been much interest in Good Keris for the last month or so,has there?
I think this probably tells me just exactly how much interest there is in the subject.

The original idea was to collect opinions,in order to determine what collectors, who were not under the influence of Javanese cultural mores ,considered to be indicative of the concept of quality,as it applies to the keris.
We did not get these opinions.In spite of the determined attempts of a couple of dedicated contributors to try to kick start a flow of opinions,the poor old Good Keris has just been sitting here slowly turning to dust.

I`ve spent the last couple of hours re-reading this thread,to bring myself up to date with what has been going on while I`ve been away talking to the trees.One of Empu Kumis`pontifications I found to be very intriguing:
"---but I never forged a keris myself.I always felt this belongs to Javanese."
Surely he does not mean this.
Only the Javanese have the right to forge keris???
Not the Sundanese,or Madurese,or Balinese?
Not the peoples of the Malay Peninsular,or Sumatra?
Not the people from Sulawesi,or Lombok?
Bearing in mind the symbolism,and the binding nature of the keris,and its position within keris bearing societies,I really do find this idea of Javanese exclusivity a very peculiar one.Interesting,to be sure,but peculiar.

Mr. Vandoo,thank you for your thoughtful contribution relating to my opposition to the concept of a benchmark keris.
I`ll do my best to attempt to explain my reasoning in relation to this.

When we look at a keris, there are several questions to consider.
One of these is point of origin.
To identify point of origin,comparative examples are useful,perhaps even essential.Be they in books,or in a reference collection.
Point of origin must influence any appraisal of the concept of "quality".
This is the reason for my insistence upon a flexible standard,and my support for the philosophy of integrity.
Once a normative model,or a benchmark,is introduced,it has the effect of limiting the appraisal of the way in which a feature is interpreted,or executed.

If the primary objective of manufacture of a particular keris was for use as a weapon,provided that objective is satisfied,how well it has been satisfied can then be subject to further appraisal.

Where we set out to appraise the artistic worth of a keris,certain specific standards can be applied to the various features shown in the blade,and,in some cases, a pattern book could be useful for the independent appraisal of each separate feature.However,because of the variation of the standard between the various Javanese classifications,and also between keris originating from distinct geographic locations,a keris blade,as a totality,should not be subject to compliance with a single interpretation of forms.
In brief,I believe that the appraisal of a keris blade should be carried out in the same way as the appraisal of any other art work,or even craft work.

My position in this matter is that it is perfectly acceptable to set standards which relate to the quality of execution of the various elements which combine to comprise a complete blade.
However,it is not acceptable to combine these standards into a single blade,which would become the normative model,or the benchmark.
Just as the blade of a keris must be assessed separately to the the dress of a keris,so must each feature of a keris blade be assessed individually,as well as in combination.
In summary:a benchmark is too limiting.

However---

The initial objective of the "Good Keris" was an identification of quality,as percieved by the collector who is outside the influence of Jawa.
A framework to facilitate the achievement of this objective has been provided.
The achievement of this objective was dependent upon contributions from other interested people.
These contributions have not been forthcoming.
The inactivity of the last few weeks clearly demonstrates the level of general interest in this topic.
In my opinion,"Good Keris" is dead in the water,and should be allowed to sink.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 09-14-2001 11:38     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WELCOME BACK, I HOPE YOU HAD A GOOD TIME, DID YOU PET THE TASMANIAN DEVIL? I WAS IN BALI,AND MALAYSIAN BORNEO FOR THREE WEEKS. I WAS AT A KERIS SHOP IN BALI AND MENTIONED YOUR NAME AND THEY SAID YOU HAD BEEN THERE. I HAD A GOOD TIME LOOKING AT ALL THE KERIS AND BLADES AND VARIOUS THINGS. THEY MAKE THE SCABBARDS AND HANDLES FOR THE KERIS THERE AND THE OLD MAN SAID HE HAD BEEN COLLECTING SINCE 1970 AND I LOOKED AT THEIR COLLECTION. I TOOK SOME PICTURES AND BOUGHT A COUPLE OF KERIS AND LEARNED A FEW THINGS AND HAD A GOOD TIME. THE FIRST TIME I VISITED A CHINESE COLLECTOR WAS THERE THAT HAD SOME OF HIS KERIS THERE. HE HAD ONE MADE OF SOME STRANGE YELLOWISH ALLOY WITH A FINGER PRINT IN THE BLADE, I SAW SOME OTHERS OVER THERE AS WELL WITH PINCH MARKS UP THE BLADE MADE OF THE USUAL (METEOR IRON)I USE THAT TERM FOR LACK OF A BETTER ONE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE LEGEND OF THOSE WHO CAN WORK THE BLADES WITH THEIR BARE HANDS? I UNDERSTAND YOUR OPPOSITION TO ONE BENCHMARK DIFFERENT EMPU WOULD HAVE DIFFERENT STANDARDS TO JUDGE THEIR WORK, SO DIFFERENT AREAS AS WELL AS DIFFERENT CULTURES WOULD HAVE A EVEN WIDER RANGE OF STANDARDS. WE WOULD NEED TO FIND THESE DIFFERENT STANDARDS FOR EACH PEOPLE OR AREA TO SET UP A WAY TO JUDGE THE QUALITY OF A KERIS (AS THEY SEE IT) THE KERIS IS MORE COMPLICATED THAN ANY OTHER WEAPON I AM AWARE OF (ITS KIND OF LIKE TRYING TO LEARN THE CHINESE LANGUAGE ALTHOUGH THIS TOPIC HASN'T ACCOMPLISHED WHAT YOU HAD HOPED SO FAR IT HAS GENERATED A LOT OF INTEREST AND IMPARTED A LOT OF INFORMATION. I DON'T HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OR UNDERSTANDING TO RESPOND WITH THE TECHNICAL LANGUAGE TO PUSH THIS PROJECT FORWARD AND I SUPPOSE LOTS ARE IN THE SAME BOAT WITH ME TO A GREATER OR LESSER DEGREE. BUT I DON'T THINK THE TOPIC IS EXHAUSTED OR DEAD WE WERE JUST WAITING FOR YOU TO GET BACK FROM HANGING OUT WITH THE KOALAS AND TASMANIAN DEVILS.

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wong desa
Senior Member
posted 09-14-2001 18:34     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah,well,maybe you`re right Mr.Vandoo.Maybe there`s still a bit of mileage in the thread.But there is no way it accomplished ,or apparently can accomplish ,the objective.Even your remarks about finding different standards for different areas,as they apply in those areas,is contrary to the objective.
The idea was to find out what people in the world outside of Jawa(and other places in keris country)like,and by integrating these likes and dislikes with universal concepts of art and craft,and incorporating what we know of Javanese and other keris-culture standards,come up with some sort of guide to assist collectors outside Jawa in steering away from junk.
It was never intended to be a text book in English of Javanese and other cultural standards.
It was intended to be a general guide for general collectors.

I think that probably a few blades were made by hand pressure.The blades claimed to be so made are always very,very thin,and I think it would be possible for a smith to build skin thickness to the point where he could pinch the hot metal.Particularly so if he did it as some sort of mystic exercise,involving trance or whatever.
I reckon most of these sort of blades were forged first,and then the finger prints put into the finished article.
Then there are the non-genuine ones,where the "finger prints" have been made with a hammer.
But yeah,I reckon its possible.
On the subject of "meteoritic iron".Lots of mis-conceptions about keris material.I suggest you get hold of Bronson:'Terrestial and meteoritic nickel in the Indonesian Kris.'Prof. Jerzy Piaskowski of Poland has done massive analytical work on old keris material;I`ve read this work,and if it ever gets published it will really shake up a lot of fondly held beliefs.

I cannot imagine what the shop was in Bali where they said they knew me.I haven`t bought anything in Bali since I was a little kid,and its for sure no-one there knows my name.I haven`t even been back to Indonesia for months and months,and when I do go ,I`m normally only in Bali for a day or so.I reckon the people in the shop were indulging in that well known Indonesian trait of creating a comfortable personal environment for you,so you would feel at ease and (hopefully)spend more money.

Did not see a single koala or Taswegian Devil during the walk.Did see lots of leeches.The most remarkable thing I saw during the entire period was a McDonalds burger wrapper.There I am,3 days walk from the nearest human habitation,rain forest,virgin except for the walking track,and on the track right in front of me is a McDonalds wrapper.Unbelievable!And very disappointing.

Bali AND Malaysian Borneo in three weeks?You must have been really moving.Enjoyable,I hope?

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 09-15-2001 00:02     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
YES I WAS COVERING GROUND VERY FAST I CALL THAT TYPE TRIP A SCOUTING EXPEDITION I CAN FIND OUT IF I LIKE IT AND IF I WANT TO RETURN. I DID HAVE A GOOD TIME AND MET A LOT OF GOOD PEOPLE AND MADE SOME CONNECTIONS ALSO GOT SOME NICE BLADES AND STUFF TO ADD TO MY COLLECTIONS. BUT CONSIDERING WHAT HAS HAPPENED I WAS SURE LUCKY I CAME HOME WHEN I DID AND WHO KNOWS IF IT WILL EVER BE SAFE TO TRAVEL AGAIN. WELL BACK TO THE SUBJECT I PERSONALLY LIKE A BLADE WITH A PARMOR THAT WHEN I SIT AND LOOK AT IT FOR A WHILE IT LOOKS LIKE THE FLAMES OF ITS FORGING ARE TRAPPED INSIDE. SOME BLADES LOOK SIMILAR BUT TO ME THEY REMIND ME OF WATCHING THE EDDIES OF WATER INSTEAD OF FLAMES THOSE ARE MY FAVORITE TWO. SOME LOOK LIKE WEATHERED WOOD, FEATHERS OR MICKEY MOUSE JUST KIDDING. I DON'T LIKE THIN SKINNY BLADES, I PREFER ONE THAT FEELS LIKE IT WOULD BE A GOOD SOLID WEAPON, I LIKE STRAIGHT OR WAVY BLADES THE SAME I HAVE NO FAVORITE STYLE AS FAR AS THAT IS CONCERNED. I DON'T LIKE ANIMALS CARVED INTO BLADES, DRAGONS OR OTHERWISE. I DO LIKE WELL CARVED HANDLES AND SCABBARDS. I ESPECIALLY LIKE SOME OF THE BEAUTIFUL WOODS USED IN MAKING KERIS. I SAW A CUSTOM HANDLE AND SCABBARD A MAN IN BALI WAS MAKING OUT OF SANDALWOOD AND NOT ONLY WAS THE CARVING A WORK OF ART THE SMELL WAS ALSO BEAUTIFUL. I SAW SEVERAL KERIS MADE ENTIRELY OUT OF SILVER, BLADE AND ALL AND SET WITH RUBYIES AND OTHER STONES VERY PRETTY BUT NOT REALLY A KERIS. THE HANDLES AND SCABBARDS MADE OUT OF FOSSIL ELEPHANT TEETH FROM JAVA ARE ALSO VERY INTERESTING. THOSE ARE MY PERSONAL LIKES AND DISLIKES ,I AM SURE THERE ARE THOSE WHO FAVOR THE ONES I DON'T LIKE. PERHAPS WE SHOULD VOTE TO GET A IDEA OF WHAT IS PREFERRED IN OUR OWN GROUP. FOR INSTANCE I VOTE AGAINST ANIMALS OR FIGURES CARVED IN BLADES. I HAVE SOME AND THE WORKMANSHIP IS EXCELLENT BUT I PREFER THE REGULAR BLADE WITH ITS INNER BEAUTY AND THE LINES AND FEEL OF A WEAPON.

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