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Author Topic:   Magnetic Mysteries
nechesh
Senior Member
posted 07-25-2002 13:22     Click Here to See the Profile for nechesh   Click Here to Email nechesh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Folks,
I'm new to this forum and this is my first post. I've collected just a few kerises over the years, but have never been able to find sufficient infomation about them before entering the wonderful, wacky world of the internet. I've been spending some time pouring over the archive here and for me it is like finding the Rossetta Stone. I will probably have many questions in the coming months for this wonderful group of scholars.
My question is about the magnetic properties of the keris or at least certain kerises. Has anyone ever run a compass along one of their blades? I have an old javanese blade (11 luk) that reverses poloarities. Starting at the base, the needle points to it as north, then as i run up the blade the needle reverses mid blade. As i continue up the needle again points north at the tip of the blade, following around the tip and down the other side it repeats this process. I was beginning to believe this was inherent to all kerises (my 11 luk sundang does a similar trick), but i just recieved a late 19th century Javanese lurus blade that doesn't attract the compass needle at all. It is magnetic of course, but not magnetized as the other blades seem to be. I do have a modern Damascus blade (not a keris) which also seems to be magnetized, but it doesn't reverse poloarity like the kerises do. The tang attracts north, the tip repels it. Any thoughts?

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-25-2002 16:21     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WELCOME TO THE FORUM, WE LEARN A LOT AND HAVE A LOT OF FUN HERE. I HAVE NEVER TRIED ANY TESTS FOR MAGNETISM ON ANY OF MY WEAPONS BUT IF I CAN FIND A COMPASS I WILL GIVE IT A TRY IT SOUNDS INTERESTING.

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justin
Senior Member
posted 07-25-2002 19:16     Click Here to See the Profile for justin   Click Here to Email justin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Welcome,and this is indeed a very interesting and creative observation,I think I will have to buy a compass and try it on my kerises.

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M ELEY
Senior Member
posted 07-25-2002 19:27     Click Here to See the Profile for M ELEY     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm suprised to hear that they completely reverse the polarity. Being made of meteoric iron, I would have thought that the compass needle would simply point directly at whichever direction the keris was in relation to it. I'll also have to try this neat little trick. Perhaps it does have something to do with the silver/iron concentration in each piece...

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DAHenkel
Senior Member
posted 07-25-2002 21:22     Click Here to See the Profile for DAHenkel   Click Here to Email DAHenkel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Strange thing. I'll have to get me a compass and see what's up with all this.

Oh and by the way almost all keris' were made from terrestrial iron. A very limited number of keris were made using meteoritic pamor in the keraton in Solo. Other than that there is little if any documentation of meteoritic iron being used to make keris'. Its all more or less a myth.

We've hashed this out before in some of the previous threads. Cf Wong Desa's posts on the subject.

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wuxia
Member
posted 07-26-2002 01:48     Click Here to See the Profile for wuxia   Click Here to Email wuxia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
HI,
The same magnetic properties I observe in some Japanese Kyudo (arrow head, mainly with patern welding) from my collection.
And by the way they are very „warm” :-)

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ham
Senior Member
posted 07-26-2002 12:40     Click Here to See the Profile for ham     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gentlemen,
The presence of magnetism in Arab daggers is noted in Elgood, The Arms and Armour of Arabia, (London: Scolar, 1994) as well, see p. 86. Elgood notes that "the magnetic quality in some dagger blades raises its esteem." Interesting subject indeed.
Sincerely,
Ham

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nechesh
Senior Member
posted 07-27-2002 11:16     Click Here to See the Profile for nechesh   Click Here to Email nechesh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, i just checked my sundang, and it doesn't quite do the same trick as the javanese keris. Tip is north, south at the tang. It's the actual reversal of polarities in the keris that has me amazed. With both the tip and the tang reading positive, this means the two separate magnetic fields are sharing a negative pole at mid blade, which seems, as Scotty might say, to be "against the laws of modern physics, Captain". I am interested in hearing the results of YOUR experiments. BTW Wuxia, the keris does not exhibit any warmth from the blade.

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MpuSombro
Member
posted 07-29-2002 00:34     Click Here to See the Profile for MpuSombro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The [warmth factor] is considered to be one of the magical properties of the mpu-made keris blade. It often exist in [still active] mpu-made keris blade. But it is very subjective.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 07-31-2002 11:36     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a nice discussion of magnetism and the physics of magnets at this site:

http://www.wondermagnet.com/dev/magfaq.html

One of the things that bothers me about the discussion of magnetic blades is the presence of a magnetic field after forging. Heating common ferromagnets above about 590 degrees F destroys any pre-existing magnetism. Even temperatures as low as 300 edegrees F will cause magnetic properties to diminish. Most forging temperatures are well above 590 degrees F, so where does this magnetism come from?

To end up with a magnetic blade, the magnetic properties would need to be induced in the material after cooling below 590 degrees F.

It is difficult to understand how a single blade could have contradictory magnetic fields unless it were composed of different materials which each had their own magnetic properties. Those materials would need to be combined at temperatures well below 590 degrees F, which seems unlikely to me.

Do we have a metallurgist out there who can explain what might be happening in the balde described by nechesh?

Ian.

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nechesh
Senior Member
posted 07-31-2002 17:35     Click Here to See the Profile for nechesh   Click Here to Email nechesh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure anyone was imlpying that the magnetism of these blades is inherent to the metal and not induced after forging. Exactly how or why i am not certain. Thank's for the web link on magnetism, though it still hasn't solved my mystery. I will see if i can get a hold of a digital camera to send some photos of this phenomenon (yes, i am that rare breed of professional photographer who still hasn't gone digital!). I could shoot film and scan, but that will take longer.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 07-31-2002 21:44     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I HAVE MAGNETIZED STEEL BY DRAWING A MAGNET ALONG THE METAL NUMEROUS TIMES IN THE SAME DIRECTION I USUALLY LIKE TO FACE NORTH WHEN DOING THIS. I USUALLY DO IT TO MAGNITIZE SOME TOOL SUCH AS A SCREWDRIVER. I HAVE ALSO HEARD THAT YOU CAN MAGNITIZE STEEL BY POINTING IT NORTH AND STRIKING THE END OF IT NUMEROUS TIMES I HAVE NEVER TRIED THAT. PERHAPS PART OF THE PROCESS FOR FINISHING AND SHAPEING FOLDED STEEL BLADES CAUSES MAGNETISM AS A SIDE EFFECT, OR IF IT WAS A DESIRABLE PROPERTY THEY COULD USE SOME OTHER MEANS TO MAGNITIZE THE BLADE. I DON'T THINK IT IS DONE ON PURPOSE AS I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANY STORYS OR CLAIMS OF MAGNETIC POWERS.

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Naga Sasra
Senior Member
posted 07-31-2002 23:05     Click Here to See the Profile for Naga Sasra   Click Here to Email Naga Sasra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We may not have to look for answers loaded with superstition and mystique or even try to make sense out of the wondering compass needle.

Certain iron ores in nature are magnetic. If one can make a rod out of this material, hang it so it can turn freely, one end of the rod will turn north, the other south. We have now for practical purposes a crude compass needle.
The reason that a compass needle will stay in the south-north direction, is that the earth works as one big magnet. The earth has its magnetic southpole close to the geographical northpole, and its magnetic northpole close to the geographical southpole.

We distinguish between two types of magnets, namely "permanent" magnets, which can be a natural magnet, or an artificially created magnet. The second type of magnet is an "Electromagnet" which we will disregard in this connection, as not being applicable.

Any permanent magnet, this could be a tool or the iron/steel used to create a keris, will if repeatedly stroked along another iron/steel object magnetize the other object.
Whether it will retain this magnetism, depend on the hardness of the other object.
We can therefore magnetize iron and steel, whereas other metallic objects cannot be magnetized.
Cast iron and soft steel are relatively easy to magnetize, but the magnetism disappear easy again.
Hard steel can better maintain the magnetism and it therefore used for permanant magnets.

If a permanent magnet is exposed to a blow or impact of, for example a hammer in one specific direction, the permanent magnet can loose a large part of its magnetism. The permanent magnetism can also be lost due to excessive heat, as mentioned in an earlier post.
For the most part a magnet has one northpole and one southpole. But on occation magnets take a form that has more than two poles.

You may all be wondering just where in the world are we going with this and what is the connection to the magnetic keris.

Allow me to summerize this with a hypothetic scenario. The empu making the keris was using iron,steel and nickel as a base, part of the material used was magnetic iron ore, (speculation)if not he was going to make the strongest keris he had ever done, and the steel was going to be hard, he was also using tools that may or may not be magnetized to finish his product. During this process he pounded on the keris to be, with the blows of a hammer, while repeatedly heating and cooling his object. After he got the basic dapur he wanted, he started chiseling and filing the keris again using tools that may be magnetized.

In this scenario even if the blade lost all magnetism while it was in the fire, he regained it during the finishing process by using tools that served as permanent magnets.

Likewise if he thought that he could raise the esteem of a blade by making it magnetic, as suggested in an earlier post, this could be done easily by stroking the blade with a permanent magnet.

Of cause if he lived today, he would simply wrap an electric cord under load around the blade, in essence creating a coil and thereby magnetizing the blade thru "Electromagnetism" but that is a whole other subject.

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Greg Crockett
Senior Member
posted 08-02-2002 13:29     Click Here to See the Profile for Greg Crockett   Click Here to Email Greg Crockett     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I may be mistaken, but I thought these blades were made from laminating iron or steel with nickle. I wonder if the nickle laminates might separate iron laminates which would permit different magnets within different parts of the finished blade?

Having read about the construction of these blades, there is a lot of filing and chiseling done after forging. From making gun parts, I find it's hard to keep a file from getting magnetized. Further, iron burnishers and laps were often used to finish a blade and keep it sharp. Filing, lapping and burnishing might well magnetize a blade after forging.

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