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-   -   Suggestions for care and respect of Javanese and Balinese Keris. (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=2740)

Bill M 11th July 2006 12:20 PM

Suggestions for care and respect of Javanese and Balinese Keris.
 
I live in the USA. I Believe....

That keris have or did have a spirit living in them.

That while the dress can be fine and expensive, it is VERY secondary to the blade.

That we, as custodians need to take special care of our keris. Care that is not bestowed on other edged artifacts. Or perhaps I should say, different care.

It seems improper and disprespectful to puiblicly display Javanese and Balinese keris blades. I am not so sure this applies to other keris, like Moro and peninsular. I also know that people on this Forum do post pictures of their blades and do not mean to disrespect those people for their beliefs.

I know that quickly drawing a keris from its scabbard gave me a very bad feeling. I only did this once.

I know that I should not place a keris on the floor, nor step over it. Ever.

I think that I remember that the scabbard should be drawn away from the keris, not the keris from the scabbard. Also that the keris should always be unsheathed reverently and slowly.

Seems like they should be smoked on Thursday nights in the USA?

I am fascinated by a post in another thread that mentions the belief that keris should not be "sniffed." Possibly because the person is stealing their "food" of incense and oil.

I would welcome additional information and comments on the above as to the care, feeding and respect of keris.

Rick 11th July 2006 12:50 PM

A good or esoteric blade deserves the respect of appropriate dress IMO .

nechesh 12th July 2006 12:44 AM

I agree with Rick. While the blade is certainly the most important part of any keris it would also be disrespectful to keep a nice keris in battered or damaged dress.
I tend to agree with you Bill about the showing of keris, but i also umderstand that every collector will have their own personal relationship with their collection and i certainly can't slight anyone if they choose to display their keris to the entire world. I am actually quite grateful to those who are willing to do this since it gives me an opportunity to see a lot of nice keris and helps greatly in my studies. Personally i would rather show my keris only to those i choose to, one person at a time. :)
I'm with you on most of the rest, but i am not so sure why i should smoke my keris on Thursday nights here in the U.S. or elsewhere. I could be wrong, but i had always associated that with Islamic tradition. Since i am not Molsem nor do i use my keris in an Islamic manner i don't personally see the need for that particular timing. The keris has been important in both Hindu (perhaps even pre-Hindu) and Islamic Indonesian culture and i think the proper day for smoking the blade is probaly different depending on your cultural beliefs. The keris seems willing to adapt itself to different religious belief systems. What i think IS important is that you DO smoke and oil the blades, at least for me. :)
I have never heard this taboo on smelling the blade. I wonder if this applies to the owner, who is, afterall, the one who is feeding the keris, or just to others who might be shown the blade. If i showed someone else one of my keris and they sniffed the blade i think i might see that as rude. The same applies to striking the blade with your finger to hear it's resonance.

Bill M 12th July 2006 02:00 AM

David,

I think that you are right about the timing of smoking a keris. I was told Thursday night, because that would most likely be as close to the right night in Java. But I may have that wrong.

I would wonder if the spirit of the keris is Islamic oriented. Best I can tell the Indonesian version of Islam is a thin veneer over an animistic culture with its roots in the Neolithic.

So, perhaps, the keris (the Muslims have been here at least 400 years or so), could be Islamic oriented, over an animistic belief or it could be OR -- as I suspect -- a more pure spirit.

I also know that most of my keris have not been regularly smoked. I have heard that not feeding the spirit could caues his departure. So I would guess that most of my keris are empty houses. Beautiful empty houses, but the spirit is gone.

But the house is there. All it needs is a little turnkey. Some cleaning and polishing. The advertise for a new tenant. Then take care of him and he takes care of you!

Perhaps this is a crude attempt to explain a more beautiful and certainly more complex process, but a simple concept underlies this complexity.

In my 40 years of managing property, it has worked for me.

So how to attract a spirit back? Perhaps instead of Thursday night, we could work a little bit Western and find the right astrological time for our Moonchild ritual and bring a spirit into his new home. . . . :D

Mudi 12th July 2006 03:12 AM

In Indonesia there are many keris exhibition. What is important is that the keris not point to the ground when out of sarong.

It is true that Islam in Indonesia is not same as Arab or Middle East. The keris origin in Indonesia is from Majapahit empire, which was Hindu and Buddhist mix. Many of the Majapahit culture stay with Indonesia as Islam came as gamelan, wayang kulit, batik, dance. The Javanese culture prior to Islam was not animist. The Majapahit was very high culture and with great art. Borobudur temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and dates to 800AD.

If smoking keris means giving it incense, be careful as incense is the real food for the keris and only powerful keris with soul should be given incense. Indonesian collectors do not give incense to keris in collection. Only personal keris as worn on ceremony are given incense.

nechesh 12th July 2006 03:29 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudi
In Indonesia there are many keris exhibition. What is important is that the keris not point to the ground when out of sarong.

It is true that Islam in Indonesia is not same as Arab or Middle East. The keris origin in Indonesia is from Majapahit empire, which was Hindu and Buddhist mix. Many of the Majapahit culture stay with Indonesia as Islam came as gamelan, wayang kulit, batik, dance. The Javanese culture prior to Islam was not animist. The Majapahit was very high culture and with great art. Borobudur temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and dates to 800AD.


But what was Javanese culture BEFORE the arrival of Hindu/Buddhist infuence?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudi
If smoking keris means giving it incense, be careful as incense is the real food for the keris and only powerful keris with soul should be given incense. Indonesian collectors do not give incense to keris in collection. Only personal keris as worn on ceremony are given incense.


I consider most of the keris in my collection to be personal and ceremonial. Even so, what would be the danger of feeding a keris that is souless and not powerful? It might be a waste of my time, but why would i need to be careful?

Mudi 12th July 2006 03:39 AM

But what was Javanese culture BEFORE the arrival of Hindu/Buddhist infuence?

Same as US and Europe. Very primitive. Too bad we cannot ask Java Man :)

I consider most of the keris in my collection to be personal and ceremonial. Even so, what would be the danger of feeding a keris that is souless and not powerful? It might be a waste of my time, but why would i need to be careful?

All I can say is what I know of my own culture. No point in feeding a lion unless you need the lion to be strong for you.

A. G. Maisey 12th July 2006 04:04 AM

Yes, I agree, a waste of time to feed any lion.

A lion can seek his own food.

But a bajing?

A bajing needs to dart here and there in search of food, and when we wish to catch him in the trap we usually allow him to eat for a few days first.

In respect of Javanese culture, perhaps we should draw a distinction between the culture of the courts and the culture of the people.

nechesh 12th July 2006 04:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudi
But what was Javanese culture BEFORE the arrival of Hindu/Buddhist infuence?

Same as US and Europe. Very primitive. Too bad we cannot ask Java Man :)

I consider most of the keris in my collection to be personal and ceremonial. Even so, what would be the danger of feeding a keris that is souless and not powerful? It might be a waste of my time, but why would i need to be careful?

All I can say is what I know of my own culture. No point in feeding a lion unless you need the lion to be strong for you.


My first point was that it was an animistic cultural, from which there are many culture hold-overs even to this day. Your response to Bill was that Jawa was not animistic before Islam.

Certainly i wasn't suggesting that you don't know your only culture. I was just curious about what appeared to be a warning you made not to feed a keris that has no power (is souless). If, in fact, it has no power then what harm can come of it?
Frankly, i need all my lions to be strong. :D

Mudi 12th July 2006 05:50 AM

My first point was that it was an animistic cultural, from which there are many culture hold-overs even to this day.

Sorry but I do not understand what you mean. In many parts of Indonesia there are still tribal culture. Do you mean Java was tribal before Islam?

Your response to Bill was that Jawa was not animistic before Islam.

Yes, Java was not animist before Islam. That is true. It was a high culture of Hindu and Buddhist.

If you give incense to a keris you can give it life again. The same is for topeng barong. We believe that if you feed keris, and then stop it can turn on you or bring bad luck.

A. G. Maisey 12th July 2006 08:15 AM

Pak Mudi, I most sincerely regret that I must differ from you in your opinion that Jawa was not home to an animist culture prior to the establishment of Islam.

In fact, in many respects, and in many places, Jawa is still an animist culture.

Although Indonesia is the world`s most populous Islamic nation, the truth is that only a very small percentage of people in Indonesia are devout Muslims, and only about 6,5% could be regarded as Islamic conservatives. The vast majority of people in Jawa, particularly, are Muslim KTP. Abangan.

When the nation of Indonesia was established one of the principles of its foundation was religious freedom. All were entitled to follow the religion of their choice. Regretably, the act of choice was compulsory.You could be any religion that you wished, but you could not be of no religion. The result was that a very large number of people who could not have been considered Muslim by any stretch of the imagination, opted to be identified as Muslim. The flowon from this was that Jawa in particular has developed a form of Islam that would not be recognised as Islam in many other Islamic countries.In fact, once away from the major cities, it would be difficult not to categorise this rural form of Javanese Islam as Islamic-Animism, which of course is something of an oxymoron, but then, Jawa itself is a place of many contradictions.

Animism may be briefly defined as:-

A belief that individual spirits inhabit objects , that spirits are separable from physical bodies, and that a spiritual force permeates the universe.

This belief is active in many parts of Jawa today, and it most certainly did exist in combination with the form of the Hindu faith practiced by the court in Majapahit.

The ordinary people of Jawa have never wholeheartedly followed the religion practiced by the courts of Jawa, whatever that religion may have been at any point in time. The courts in turn have adapted their practice of the Hindu faith, or Islam, to accomodate the beliefs of the ordinary people.

Yes, certainly, the court culture of the Majapahit Kingdom can be regarded as high culture by any standard, but the further any place in Jawa was from the influence of the court, the more there was likely to be a domination of the belief system of the inhabitants of that place by traditional animist beliefs and ancestor worship.

It should be noted that animist beliefs are not necessarily exclusive of other religious beliefs. For instance , the Toraja who I am certain you, Pak Mudi, would be very familiar with, practice a unique form of Christian-Animism.

I find it very interesting that you, Pak Mudi, tell us that if we feed a keris we can give it life, and that if we fail to continue to feed it, the keris could turn on us bring misfortune.

I put it to you that no keris is ever going to be capable of turning on anybody and bringing that person misfortune, or for that matter, good fortune.A keris is simply a physical object made of metal, by a man. Can a man create life? Of course not! Only God can create life, so how can something made by man develop any life of its own?

However, perhaps an object made by man can become a vessel for a spiritual force.

If this spiritual force enters the keris, it is the spiritual force that may bring fortune or misfortune, not the keris itself.

And any of this can only happen if the human being concerned believes that it can happen.

The keris itself must be viewed separately from any spiritual force that may be believed to be within it.

Now, if this is not animist belief, then what is it?

Mudi 12th July 2006 10:36 AM

I am very sorry if I cause misunderstanding.

If you say animism is

A belief that individual spirits inhabit objects, that spirits are separable from physical bodies, and that a spiritual force permeates the universe then I understand what you write. To me that describes all culture. Do not all cultures have religions that believe that spirits are separable from physical bodies, and that a spiritual force permeates the universe?

Sorry that I did not understand. I am more used to that word used with primitive tribal culture.

We were always taught that the Majapahit Empire was the golden age of Indonesia. The Majapahit had control or influence on most all of what is today Indonesia.

As for Islam in Indonesia, I can say this. Each year, Indonesia sends more Haj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia than any other country. For the Haj in 2004 the Saudi government gave Indonesia 205,000 spaces for the Haj. Also you may not know that 14% of all the Regencies in Indonesia are under Sharia Law.

When you write The flowon from this was that Jawa in particular has developed a form of Islam that would not be recognised as Islam in many other Islamic countries I am very sorry, but I cannot agree. Islam in Indonesia is majority moderate, but to call it not recognized by other areas of Islam is not right. We read and pray from the same Al Q'uaran as the rest of Islam.

I am further sorry that I cause confusion about feeding keris with incense. Of course man does not bring it life. You write also The keris itself must be viewed separately from any spiritual force that may be believed to be within it. How can this be done? They are one and the same. Do you view man with spiritual force separately or do you embrace the spiritual power and goodness in the man?

I hope I read what you wrote in correct meaning. If I cause more confusion, I am sorry again.

nechesh 12th July 2006 01:23 PM

Mudi, here is a link to more infomation about animism. To answer your question simply, no, it is defimitely NOT what all religions believe. Muslims in most other parts of the world would consider this type of thinking extremely heretical: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animism.

As to feeding my keris, i think it would be great if it were possible to entice spirit back into an empty keris. Why would you assume that i would then stop feeding it? :confused:

BluErf 12th July 2006 01:49 PM

Eh ok, we all have our own worldviews, and our own 'Mt Meru' in our home state/country, so our perception of what's "normal" and accepted would differ.

Time to cool down a bit. :)

VANDOO 12th July 2006 02:44 PM

FROM THE BEGINING MAN HAS BEEN AWARE THAT SOME POWER WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING EVERYTHING THAT EXHISTS. RELEGIONS AND BELIEFS ARE A WAY OF MAN TRYING TO FIND OUT ABOUT AND EXPLAIN THIS CREATOR. WE ARE ONLY MEN AND NOT MENT TO KNOW EVERYTHING SO WHAT WE KNOW IS THRU REVELATION BY THE CREATOR OR SOMETIMES BY GUESSES OF SOME POWERFUL PERSON IN HISTORY. WE ARE NOT MENT TO KNOW EVERYTHING IN THIS LIFE BUT WILL RECEIVE MORE ANSWERS WHEN IT IS OVER. WE MAY THEN FIND MANY OF THE THINGS WE THOUGHT TO BE TRUE WERE NOT BUT WE ARE ALL SMALL PARTS OF THE CREATORS CREATION AND THEREFORE IMPORTANT TO HIM.
I DON'T LOOK DOWN ON MAN'S EARLY BELIEFS AND RELIGIONS I CONSIDER THEM AS EARLY ATTEMPTS AT UNDERSTANDING AND OUR CURRENT RELIGIONS ARE STILL ATTEMPTING TO ACHIEVE THAT UNDERSTANDING. MUCH GOOD HAS BEEN DONE THRUOUT HISTORY BY RELIGIONS BUT UNFORTUNATELY MUCH HARM HAS BEEN DONE ALSO WHICH IS TO BE EXPECTED AS MAN OFTEN TENDS TO PUT HIS OWN WISHES ABOVE THOSE OF HIS CREATOR. WHEN A MAN HARDENS HIS HEART AGAINST HIS FELLOW MAN HE STOPS REALIZING THEY ARE LIKE HIM AND USES HIS OWN MIND TO FIND DIFERENCES TO JUSTIFY DOING THEM WRONG.

THERE IS ONLY ONE CREATOR BUT MAN HAS MADE MANY TEAMS WHO COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER TO PROVE THEY ARE RIGHT AND ALL THE OTHERS WRONG. MANKIND HAS NEVER BEEN ABLE TO WORK TOGETHER BECAUSE WE INSIST ON SEPARATEING EVERYONE INTO GROUPS BY RACE,NATION,TRIBE,RELIGION AND BELIEFS, WEALTH AND STATUS AND INSISTING WE ARE BETTER THAN THEY. I WILL SAY NO MORE AS WE HAVE WANDERED INTO DISCUSSING RELIGION WHICH IS BEST LEFT TO EACH MAN AND IS DIFFICULT TO DISCUSS WITHOUT IT TURNING INTO A ARGUMENT.

nechesh 12th July 2006 03:21 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BluErf
Eh ok, we all have our own worldviews, and our own 'Mt Meru' in our home state/country, so our perception of what's "normal" and accepted would differ.

Time to cool down a bit. :)


Kai Wee, maybe i'm missing something here, but this seems to me to be a very calm and cool discussion. Clearly Mudi was unclear as to the actual meaning of animism and how it applies to Indonesian culture and beliefs. It should also be clear that animism is not a belief that is embraced by many of the world religions. I was not attempting to set up a scale of what is "normal" or not, nor to say that one belief is somehow better than another. It's just a matter of what is. My own personal belief system leans towards animism. I guess maybe i'm not "normal", but you already knew that. :D

BluErf 12th July 2006 03:55 PM

Yep, it's still a pretty calm discussion now, but I thought there were signs of it starting to flare up, with views of what school of Islam Indonesia has. :)

Mark 12th July 2006 09:08 PM

Yes, everything is good now. However, we always need to be very sensitive when discussing cultural and religious issues, and respectful not only of other's beliefs, but also of their absolute right to hold an opinion or interpretation of their own beliefs, culture and history. It is not anyone's place to "correct" another person's understanding of their own culture or religion. So far, everyone has been doing this very well, so keep up the good work. :)

We also must be very sensitive to the fact that many of our members are not native English speakers (or more importantly, native English writers). This is the case with our new member Mudi, who is doing a fine job in patiently interpreting the lengthy and complicated posts in this thread, and participating in the discussion. Please be as patient with him.

Bill M 12th July 2006 10:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BluErf
Eh ok, we all have our own worldviews, and our own 'Mt Meru' in our home state/country, so our perception of what's "normal" and accepted would differ. :)


And we all have our own "Chapel Perilous" to negotiate.

Lei Shen Dao 13th July 2006 12:00 AM

Bill

http://home.wanadoo.nl/javas/Kalend...6/05mei2006.htm

Above is the adress of a Javanese calendar.
The "good" days to offer incense to your keris are the "kliwon" days. Every kliwon follows every five days. The "kemis kliwon" is the best day for this offerring. The kliwons and especially the kemis kliwon, are the days where the spirits are more close to humans and to earth, a kind of "opening" to the spiritual dimension. Offerring is good to be done late at night until 12 at midnight.

Avoid the light when the keris is out of the seath, especially the sun. Spirits are yin endities and they don't love yang. Cemetaries aren't good places to have your keris with you. Don't have it near a woman in her menstrual days (period days) or when you make love. Be quiet and no noise too. When you unseath it drew the sheath not the blade, when you put it back do the opposite and move the blade to the seath calmly. Don't use too much oil. Some drops of it every 3-4 months are ok.
Try to communicate with it with your heart and your mind, think about it, take care of it. It will understand ;) even if you don't use Indonesian language.

Of course there are other thinks too.
All these concerns only the "live" keris.

But...
Not every old keris has a spirit in it. There aren't too many keris/tombak with power and spirit left. There are some, but not too many as most people think. A keris may be very old but the spirit may have left the blade if the owner didn't took care of it. Of course, as many times the members here said, every old keris most of the times has it's "history" but most of the times this a "selling truth" not the truth itself. You have to be a very sensitive individual to sense it, or to have someone with the abillity to do it. Many claims to be experts in this, few are the "real thing".
You may give a lot of money for example for an old "huddan mas" pamor (to help you make a fortune) that is quite rare to find a reall one nowdays and to be an empty sell, and you may pay 300 or 400 us dollars or euro (or even less) for a "wos wutah" and you may be lucky and have a "live" blade.
If you have jodoh with a keris, with God's help it will find the way to you ;)

Take care.

A. G. Maisey 13th July 2006 12:22 AM

It is indeed true that when discussion strays into the areas of politics and religion, it strays into areas that can be sensitive, and there is potential to give offence, which can lead to unpleasantness.

A brief revue of all that has been written above will clearly demonstrate that nobody who has yet commented on religion in this thread has transgressed in even the slightest degree.

May this remain so.

Please allow me to be very clear about this:-
In my earlier post I was not putting forward personal opinion.

The matters of the nature of animism, and of the nature of Islam in Jawa, are not matters in which personal opinion can carry very much weight.

The nature of Islam in Jawa has been well documented by both Indonesian and foreign anthropologists.

Where an individual`s opinion is at variance with the body of academic evidence, that opinion may be respected as the individual's right, but it cannot be given any credence.

The simple fact of the matter is that the majority of people in Indonesia are not yet ready to implement Islamic laws. They are still in the teaching phase (dakwah), and not yet at the stage of approval (ijabah).

If we look at Islam at the time of Prophet Muhammed, when he was in Mecca he spent his time there teaching. He tried to spread the faith amongst the people and to have them submit to and worship one God. At this time the society in Mecca was unruly and disordered. The Prophet tried to bring order to this chaos, but the laws of Islam had not yet been set down.In fact, at this time the Prophet did not forbid the drinking of alchohol. People were still permitted to drink alchohol, but they were not permitted to be drunk when they were praying. (Al Qur'an 4.42).

However, after the flight to Medinah, Muhammed set down the laws, and made regulations that became known as the "Medinah Charter", which set forth rules of government, and importantly gave Christians and Jews the right to practice their own religions.

Over time, the fabric of Indonesian society may develop a stronger Islamic colour, however, that day is still a very long way into the future.

The number of people who undertake the Haj from Indonesia is a matter of public record. Moreover, amongst some leaders of the Islamic community in Indonesia it is also a matter for concern. The reasons for an Indonesian, especially a person of Javanese cultural background, undertaking the Haj are perhaps not as clear cut as they may seem to be.I will not comment further on this matter in the open Forum, but I am prepared to comment privately.

Whilst it is true that a number of cities and regencies in Indonesia have adopted sharia-style by-laws, only the Province of Aceh has been granted the right to implement sharia law, and that was granted only in the hope that it would end the secessionist movement in that province.

There is a vast difference between city by-laws and the judicial fabric of a nation. The situation in Tangerang is well known, where city by-laws exist which in practice mean that after dark, an unaccompanied woman can be arrested on suspicion of prostitution. This by-law was introduced by an Islamic conservative dominated city council and has caused much dissension within the community.There is by no means majority support within the Tangerang community for the current by-laws in that city.

Since before the last elections Islamic conservatives have been penetrating the bureacracy, the military, NGO's, and every level of politics, as well as organisations within universities.

Official Indonesian government figures quote only 6.5% of Muslims being able to be considered as conservatives, but that 6.5% has been making a concerted push for some years now to gain control of the government and administration of the country. It is expected that after the next Indonesian general elections there will be an increase in the level of Islamic influence in government, than is presently the case.

However, the possible implementation of nation-wide sharia law is not something that has even the smallest possibility of occurring, short of the disintegration of the country of Indonesia. Such a move would be contrary to the provisions of the constitution, and would result in a popular uprising.


In respect of the position of Majapahit in the history of Jawa, and the present day nation of Indonesia.

Again, I have not put forward my own opinion:- I have repeated the accepted academic position.
I suggest that a reading of:- Sejarah Nasional Indonesia-Poesponegoro & Notosusanto (Dep Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan)
and Kebudayaan Jawa-Koentjaraningrat (Balai Pusaka)

may assist in providing a slightly better understanding of this phase of Javanese history. Koenjaraningrat could well prove of value in other respects, also.



The keris is not a man.

It is a symbol of man.

Man was created by God, and God gave man his soul.

The keris was created by man.

Man is not able to create a soul.

To compare a creation of man with a creation of God is something that some people could deem to verge on blasphemy.

The keris is a cultural icon, created by man. Under some conditions, and for some people it can be believed to contain a spiritual force, however, this spiritual force is not a constant for all people.

Where a keris is the pusaka of a kinship group, for members of that group, the keris can act as the agent that brings together past custodians of the keris, and the present custodian, and links all present members of the kinship group.

However, for any person who is outside that kinship group, the keris is only a piece of metal.

In other words, the pusaka keris only has spiritual power for those within the kinship group.

Clearly, it is not the keris which has spiritual power, but the spiritual force within the keris called into existence by the belief of the members of the kinship group.

For those who believe that a keris has some particular power , this power can be talismanic (tuah), or it can be spiritual (isi).In either case the power can only exist when it is believed to exist by man.

I would liken this to the spirit that may exist in a shrine, or other holy places. Man has built the shrine, and by faith has called a presence into the shrine.

For a non-believer , there is no presence in the shrine---it is simply a pile of stones.But for the believer, the spiritual force within the shrine can provide spiritual sustenance.

Within Javanese society it is sometimes believed that a particular keris may be bringing somebody bad luck. Often a dukun will be called to remove the spirit bringing the bad luck, from the keris. If the dukun is successful, the bad luck will cease, if he is unsuccessful and the bad luck continues, the owner of the keris will search for somebody who is prepared to take the keris as a gift. When a new owner accepts the keris as a gift, clearly he does not believe that it can bring him bad luck:- if he did, he would not accept it.

Within my experience, I know of nobody who has accepted the custody of a "bad luck" keris recieving any bad luck along with the keris.

The talismanic power of a keris, and the spiritual power of a keris are totally separable from the physical entity of the keris, and both depend completely upon the belief of the person who has custody of the keris.

nechesh 13th July 2006 12:30 AM

Very interesting information Lei Shen Dao. Thanks for the calendar link. Very helpful.
Looks like today is a good day! :)

Mudi 13th July 2006 12:36 AM

This discussion is not make me angry. I wish my English was better. This is good for practice and talk about keris. Thank you for patience and understanding.

Pak Nechesh I did not mean to say you would stop to feed your keris. I only meant to say that if you start you should continue. I am sorry for not understanding.

Last night I spend time to research more this animism as religion and as part of other religion. I ask a good friend who is Catholic about this and he suggest to look at exorcism. So I found some interest things that sound much like some parts of animism to me. What are thoughts of others? This I found in the Catholic Encyclopedia

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05709a.htm


Exorcism is the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice.

According to Catholic belief demons or fallen angels retain their natural power, as intelligent beings, of acting on the material universe, and using material objects and directing material forces for their own wicked ends.

This is what Pak Maisey say about animism

Animism may be briefly defined as:-

A belief that individual spirits inhabit objects , that spirits are separable from physical bodies, and that a spiritual force permeates the universe.


To me this animism belief and Catholic belief sound the same. What is wrong with my understanding?

I have not time yet to read Pak Maisey current writing. Please give me time as this post I do when not on line.

nechesh 13th July 2006 01:03 AM

Pak Mudi, without digressing into a full blown discussion about theology. which i think would be inappropriate in this forum, Catholicism does not embrace animism as it sees these spirits as only being evil and destructive. Therefore only an evil spirit would be able to inhabit a keris. This is not an acceptance of animism, it is a rejection. This is not how animism is dealt with in Indonesia. While there are cetainly bad spirits there are also good and helpful ones. It is heretical in the catholic faith to listen to or use these spirits to help you in your life regardless of how you might personally view the goodness of any particular spirt. This is just brushing on the differences, but i hope it helps your understanding.

Thank you Alan for a very clear, concise, no nonsense explanation on the magickal and mystical relationship of keris and man. :)

Mudi 13th July 2006 01:31 AM

I just read Lei Shen Dao and I am happy that someone could explain in good English. May I also say when drawing keris to keep it out and away from your face and pointed away from your face. In Indonesia we often give a silent ask for permission to the keris to remove it from sarong.

Pak Maisey, with respect I do not think I can discuss Islam in Indonesia with you more. Again with no anger but with respect anthropologists are not trained to know what is in the hearts and minds of Indonesian Muslims.

You wrote

The reasons for an Indonesian, especially a person of Javanese cultural background, undertaking the Haj are perhaps not as clear cut as they may seem to be.I will not comment further on this matter in the open Forum, but I am prepared to comment privately.

Pak if I not understand what you write I am sorry but you have already commented publicly and you suggest the reasons Muslims in Indonesia pilgrim Haj is not for devotion to Islam. I will not take offending if you explain what you suggest. If you open the door you should be able to go through it.

Back to keris you write about bad luck keris. You write

If the dukun is successful, the bad luck will cease, if he is unsuccessful and the bad luck continues, the owner of the keris will search for somebody who is prepared to take the keris as a gift. When a new owner accepts the keris as a gift, clearly he does not believe that it can bring him bad luck:- if he did, he would not accept it.

I think you mean to write

When a new owner accepts the keris as a gift, clearly he does not know that it can bring him bad luck:- if he did, he would not accept it.

Pak Nechesh wrote

Catholicism does not embrace animism as it sees these spirits as only being evil and destructive.

You mean that about exorcism. I understand. But what about the holy spirit and the belief that some religious statues and relics are taken over by the good spirit and miracles happen?

Thank you for your patience.

nechesh 13th July 2006 02:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudi
You mean that about exorcism. I understand. But what about the holy spirit and the belief that some religious statues and relics are taken over by the good spirit and miracles happen?

Thank you for your patience.


What you describe here is not animism or at least a good Catholic would never understand it as such. As i mentioned before, this is not the place for theological debate and a discussion on the deeper meanings of the holy trinity would only hijack this thread beyond recognition. The concept of the spirit of a monotheistic omnipotent GOD should not be confused with the concept of many various, seperate and independent spirits inhabiting, inbodying and driving the material world. If you are really interested in continuing this line of discussion i would be more than happy to do so in private messages so as not to disrupt the board. :)

A. G. Maisey 13th July 2006 02:26 AM

Pak Mudi, I can understand perfectly your reluctance for further discussion of Islam with me, however, I would make the point that I have yet to encounter such reluctance amongst my many Muslim friends, most especially when the work of Muslim anthropologists is under discussion.

As I have previously remarked:- I do not tender my remarks as personal opinion, but as representative of the body of academic opinion. That opinion is comprised of not only work generated by western anthropologists, but also work generated by anthropologists who are adherents of Islam, including Indonesians.

I do understand that your misspelling of Al Qur'an was simply a typographical error, and could not possibly have been intended as any form of slight.Still, one would expect any good Muslim to at least be able to spell the name of the Book containing the word of the Prophet. Most especially so when that good Muslim, a native speaker of Indonesian , and his own area dialect, is able to consistently demonstrate such excellence in the spelling of English words.

As to my reluctance to comment further on the reasons for some people undertaking the haj, I have implied nothing, other than my respect for the sensitivities involved in this matter.

If you care to draw conclusions based upon what I have not said, that is your prerogative, but please do not accuse me of things I have neither said nor implied.

Regarding my comments on "bad luck" keris.

I said precisely what I meant to say.

No more : no less.

And I back my statement with a very long and intensely personal relationship with the world of the keris.

Pak Mudi, I respect your right to hold whatever opinions you may wish to hold, and I assure you that I have not the slightest desire to alter any of your opinions.

On the other hand, I try, in so far as I am able, not to present my personal opinions but rather to present statements which can be substantiated with evidence.

Where I am unavoidably required to present an opinion based upon my own study or experience, I am prepared to present this experience, or provide references to allow substantiation of my statements.

Regretably, a Forum of the nature of this one is not the place to present long and convoluted logical arguments or endless bibliographies, however, if you care to contact me privately I will be delighted to provide you with references that may better help you to understand some of the matters I have addressed.

Andrew 13th July 2006 03:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
It is indeed true that when discussion strays into the areas of politics and religion, it strays into areas that can be sensitive, and there is potential to give offence, which can lead to unpleasantness.

A brief revue of all that has been written above will clearly demonstrate that nobody who has yet commented on religion in this thread has transgressed in even the slightest degree.

May this remain so.

Please allow me to be very clear about this:-
In my earlier post I was not putting forward personal opinion.

The matters of the nature of animism, and of the nature of Islam in Jawa, are not matters in which personal opinion can carry very much weight.

The nature of Islam in Jawa has been well documented by both Indonesian and foreign anthropologists.

Where an individual`s opinion is at variance with the body of academic evidence, that opinion may be respected as the individual's right, but it cannot be given any credence.

The simple fact of the matter is that the majority of people in Indonesia are not yet ready to implement Islamic laws. They are still in the teaching phase (dakwah), and not yet at the stage of approval (ijabah).

If we look at Islam at the time of Prophet Muhammed, when he was in Mecca he spent his time there teaching. He tried to spread the faith amongst the people and to have them submit to and worship one God. At this time the society in Mecca was unruly and disordered. The Prophet tried to bring order to this chaos, but the laws of Islam had not yet been set down.In fact, at this time the Prophet did not forbid the drinking of alchohol. People were still permitted to drink alchohol, but they were not permitted to be drunk when they were praying. (Al Qur'an 4.42).

However, after the flight to Medinah, Muhammed set down the laws, and made regulations that became known as the "Medinah Charter", which set forth rules of government, and importantly gave Christians and Jews the right to practice their own religions.

Over time, the fabric of Indonesian society may develop a stronger Islamic colour, however, that day is still a very long way into the future.

The number of people who undertake the Haj from Indonesia is a matter of public record. Moreover, amongst some leaders of the Islamic community in Indonesia it is also a matter for concern. The reasons for an Indonesian, especially a person of Javanese cultural background, undertaking the Haj are perhaps not as clear cut as they may seem to be.I will not comment further on this matter in the open Forum, but I am prepared to comment privately.

Whilst it is true that a number of cities and regencies in Indonesia have adopted sharia-style by-laws, only the Province of Aceh has been granted the right to implement sharia law, and that was granted only in the hope that it would end the secessionist movement in that province.

There is a vast difference between city by-laws and the judicial fabric of a nation. The situation in Tangerang is well known, where city by-laws exist which in practice mean that after dark, an unaccompanied woman can be arrested on suspicion of prostitution. This by-law was introduced by an Islamic conservative dominated city council and has caused much dissension within the community.There is by no means majority support within the Tangerang community for the current by-laws in that city.

Since before the last elections Islamic conservatives have been penetrating the bureacracy, the military, NGO's, and every level of politics, as well as organisations within universities.

Official Indonesian government figures quote only 6.5% of Muslims being able to be considered as conservatives, but that 6.5% has been making a concerted push for some years now to gain control of the government and administration of the country. It is expected that after the next Indonesian general elections there will be an increase in the level of Islamic influence in government, than is presently the case.

However, the possible implementation of nation-wide sharia law is not something that has even the smallest possibility of occurring, short of the disintegration of the country of Indonesia. Such a move would be contrary to the provisions of the constitution, and would result in a popular uprising.


In respect of the position of Majapahit in the history of Jawa, and the present day nation of Indonesia.

Again, I have not put forward my own opinion:- I have repeated the accepted academic position.
I suggest that a reading of:- Sejarah Nasional Indonesia-Poesponegoro & Notosusanto (Dep Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan)
and Kebudayaan Jawa-Koentjaraningrat (Balai Pusaka)

may assist in providing a slightly better understanding of this phase of Javanese history. Koenjaraningrat could well prove of value in other respects, also.



The keris is not a man.

It is a symbol of man.

Man was created by God, and God gave man his soul.

The keris was created by man.

Man is not able to create a soul.

To compare a creation of man with a creation of God is something that some people could deem to verge on blasphemy.

The keris is a cultural icon, created by man. Under some conditions, and for some people it can be believed to contain a spiritual force, however, this spiritual force is not a constant for all people.

Where a keris is the pusaka of a kinship group, for members of that group, the keris can act as the agent that brings together past custodians of the keris, and the present custodian, and links all present members of the kinship group.

However, for any person who is outside that kinship group, the keris is only a piece of metal.

In other words, the pusaka keris only has spiritual power for those within the kinship group.

Clearly, it is not the keris which has spiritual power, but the spiritual force within the keris called into existence by the belief of the members of the kinship group.

For those who believe that a keris has some particular power , this power can be talismanic (tuah), or it can be spiritual (isi).In either case the power can only exist when it is believed to exist by man.

I would liken this to the spirit that may exist in a shrine, or other holy places. Man has built the shrine, and by faith has called a presence into the shrine.

For a non-believer , there is no presence in the shrine---it is simply a pile of stones.But for the believer, the spiritual force within the shrine can provide spiritual sustenance.

Within Javanese society it is sometimes believed that a particular keris may be bringing somebody bad luck. Often a dukun will be called to remove the spirit bringing the bad luck, from the keris. If the dukun is successful, the bad luck will cease, if he is unsuccessful and the bad luck continues, the owner of the keris will search for somebody who is prepared to take the keris as a gift. When a new owner accepts the keris as a gift, clearly he does not believe that it can bring him bad luck:- if he did, he would not accept it.

Within my experience, I know of nobody who has accepted the custody of a "bad luck" keris recieving any bad luck along with the keris.

The talismanic power of a keris, and the spiritual power of a keris are totally separable from the physical entity of the keris, and both depend completely upon the belief of the person who has custody of the keris.


Thank you.

Mudi 13th July 2006 05:16 AM

Thank you again Pak Maisey and Pak Nechesh. I think Pak Andrew want this discussion finish. I am sorry I could not say better what I mean. More fun if we talk about keris.

Lei Shen Dao 13th July 2006 11:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by nechesh
Very interesting information Lei Shen Dao. Thanks for the calendar link. Very helpful.
Looks like today is a good day! :)


My pleasure :)
Yeap, a good day indeed ;)


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