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Bjorn 4th July 2018 11:17 AM

Keris Terminology
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Hello everyone,

As we all know, the keris has it's origin in Java. As such, Javanese is the language used to describe its various aspects.
I am not fluent in Basa Jawa, and I expect this is true for most of us. This, for me, makes it more difficult to correctly remember a lot of the terms, even more so as they are words that have a form but little meaning. By this I mean that we often do not know the meaning of the word. For example, kembang kacang is composed of kembang (flower) and kacang (bean), as this feature can be visually likened to a sprouting bean. This particular example is probably well known to most of us, but I believe many other terms may be less known.

Being able to link a word or phrase to a more concrete meaning makes it easier to commit to memory, and to recollect. While a lot of keris terminology acts as euphemisms or simple visual descriptions likening their features to a well known object, I am of the belief that knowing the meaning behind the words is still valuable because it aids in committing these terms to memory - even if they do not contribute to a deeper understanding of the keris per se.

In this thread, I would like to make a start with listing these terms with their translations. This would be valuable to new members, but could also aid experienced members in quickly accessing terminology that has faded away in their minds.

Below I inserted a diagram containing quite a few terms already as well as some of the terms I still remember (though there may be some errors). I'm hoping we can make a collective effort to expand this list.

Blumbangan = a small pond
Janur = Spine of a palm frond.
Lambe gajah = Elephant lips (lambe = lips, gajah = elephant)
Ri pandan = Thorn of the pandan plant.
Sirah cecak = Lizard's head (sirah = head, cecak = a type of lizard)
Tikel alis = Double eyebrow (tikel = double, alis = eyebrow)

A. G. Maisey 4th July 2018 10:46 PM

Bjorn, I cannot speak Javanese except at the lowest level, I can understand 80% of a Javanese conversation in ngoko if I know what the subject is first, Javanese language that relates to keris I can understand better than 90%. To speak Javanese correctly is in my opinion something that can really only be achieved by somebody who has been born into an aristocratic Javanese family, or a traditional rural Javanese family --- or somebody with talent for learning foreign languages, this is a talent that I mostly lack.

So, what follows is my understanding of the meaning, or intent, of these keris words, I will accept correction from a competent native speaker of Javanese.
I am not certain that all these words are Javanese, I'd need to check dictionaries for that, and right now I do not have time.

ada-ada = the central vein of a feather or a leaf
kruwingan = this is a method, or technique of chiselling or scraping metal
landhep = sharp, 'hatirah-tirah', I do not know this word
lis-lisan = a frame or an edge or a collar
gusen = this is correctly :- kusen or kosen = it is the frame of a door or window
gandhu = the kneebone
pudak setegal = dry pandanus flower
mburi = back, ie, rear, behind (ngoko)
janur = a young coconut leaf
sada = this is a variation of ada-ada, it is the main vein of a leaf
sogokan = a poker, like the poker used to clear a blocked drain, or similar
wingking = back, rear it is krama for mburi/buri
wadidang = the lower part of the leg between the knee and the heel
sraweyan = something that is fluttering or continuing to wave
ron dha = the letter dha
nunut = to follow along
thingil = to rise above its surroundings, also a way to refer to a small object
ri pandan = pandan thorn
greneng = as far as I know this word is specific to keris
kanyut = to get carried along on a current
buntu = a deadend, as in "gang buntu", a deadend laneway
puyuhan = the urine bladder
bebel = this does not make any sense to me, I know "bebel" as stupid, slow, dull witted
ngarep = in front (ngoko),
ngajeng = in front (krama)
tikel alis = used as a phrase this means to frown or bring your eyebrows together
pejetan = push button
blumbangan = a pond
jenggotan = like a beard, jenggot is beard
jalen = a kind of grass that looks like millet
ilat = tongue
baya = crocodile
praen = facial features or characteristics
sekar kacang = bean shoot
telale gajah = elephant trunk
lambe gajah = elephant lip
jalu = cock spur
memet = is something that is joined into something else, so 'jalu memet' can be understood as 'a spur that is joined in'
ganja - keris specific word
cocor = a beak
sirah = head (krama)
cecak = a house lizard
pesi = tang
bilah = blade
tungkakan = the heel of a shoe
kepet = a fish tail fin
urang = a shrimp
pidakan = a pedal, also to step onto something
wuwung = roof top, wuwungan = like a roof top

The gandhik has been missed, gandhik = mortar, as in pestle and mortar
The tip of the blade is the panitis = this means to aim something, like you aim a gun.

Some of the words in this diagram I have never heard used in relation to keris, others are not what are normally used in Central Jawa. Be aware that spellings and forms can vary, in Javanese both vowels and consonants can vary.

Probably a few more terms we can include in this, if I remember them I'll throw them into the mix.

Then we have the various names for the keris itself, and after that we can do the whole thing again in a Balinese context, Bugis context, Palembang context, --- etc, etc, etc.
Then memorise it all.
Endless fun for everyone.

Bjorn 5th July 2018 08:30 PM

Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Then we have the various names for the keris itself, and after that we can do the whole thing again in a Balinese context, Bugis context, Palembang context, --- etc, etc, etc.
Then memorise it all.
Endless fun for everyone.

Thank you for the detailed response, Alan.

As for endless fun, personally I would quite enjoy it, but I admit mileage may vary according to personal tastes and linguistic aptitude.

JeffS 22nd September 2020 09:49 PM

2 Attachment(s)
This is extremely helpful for a beginner, particularly folks like me that do not (for whatever reasons) intend to dive into the intimidating world of keris research at this time. Being able to understand the descriptive intent of the terms open an entirely different filter for looking at a keris blade, the confusing jumble of details suddenly resolve to defined "understandable" features. This was a huge leap for me. However I found it difficult flicking back and forth from Alan's translation and the diagram so I have produced side-by-side graphics. This also makes, what I assume to be key, the spatial alignment of features in terms of top/bottom and front/back clear. I took liberties, for graphic layout purposes, with Alan's text so please be sure to read his full translation and comments and not rely completely on the English annotated graphic alone.

Alan - If I have made mistakes or skewed your meanings too far (being aware of your precision with words) please let me know, I can edit and update the graphics accordingly.
Bjorn - Did you create the original diagram? If not, and if the owner is not a member of this forum, I would be happy to generate a forum-owned graphic. Someone would need to provide me with a high resolution keris photo to use as a model.

A couple clarification requests regarding ron dha terminology. Having looked up the ron dha character it is abundantly clear that these keris features match the physical shape of the ron dha character. This is the same shape as the jenggot on the left side of the diagram. Would a jenggot be similarly comprised of thingils and a ri pandhan? The other question is that we have a top down alignment of knee and lower leg yet the ron dha nunut would indicate a trailing feature despite being "up" per leg orientation. This seems contrary to the top down alignment. This may just be my spatial bias...

A. G. Maisey 22nd September 2020 10:47 PM

Jeff, all these names are euphemisms, the true names are kept hidden, as are the deeper understandings.

Bjorn touched on this in his original post.

Frankly, I can see no problem in the use of English to refer to any of the keris features:- the English word is irrelevant, just as the Javanese or Malay word is irrelevant.

In the absence of true understanding all the words mean nothing.

JeffS 22nd September 2020 11:06 PM

Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
In the absence of true understanding all the words mean nothing.

They do indicate that the features described (by euphemism) have significance, right? Knowing broadly which features these are and being able to reference them to others seems to be a useful first step in getting a physical understanding of keris layout. Or are you saying that is not relevant?

A. G. Maisey 22nd September 2020 11:55 PM

I am saying that giving the character that represents the shortest mantra the name of a letter of the Javanese alphabet is totally unconnected with any understanding of the keris.

The same applies to all the names used to refer to the various characteristics of the keris, and in fact, to the keris itself.

You could liken this to biblical studies:- there is a level of knowledge that is adequate for lay people, a level for the general clergy, a level for the princes of the church and a level that only the head of the church has the burden of carrying.

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