Ethnographic Arms & Armour

Ethnographic Arms & Armour (
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-   -   Sumatran Jawa Demam - Anak Ayam Sejuk - Birdman/Garuda? (

ganjawulung 1st September 2008 04:56 AM

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Originally Posted by Newsteel
Pak Ganja,
I don't think that your hilt is a Cirebon. That is Sumatran Minang jawa demam. You can see the arms are folding cold and that little protuding ears (like mickey mouse). You do not see Cirebon with that folding arms. The arms (palm) of the Cirebon dewa hilt would go downwards towards his knees.

Minang jawa deman pic.

Dear Newsteel, (and Michael too...),
Actually, Hindhu-Islamic Cirebon -- which the past kingdom was older than Islamic Banten in the extreme west of Java and the Islamic Demak in the northern part of Central Java -- should attract more attention for "keris researcher" in the future. Yes, you will find many interesting questions on this older site of Java. Did they "bring" the keris culture from (outside) Sumatra? Or were they influenced by their older culture -- father's (ancestor) culture of Hindhu Pajajaran kingdom in west Java? (The founder of the Cirebon kingdom was the King Siliwangi's son of Pajajaran). In keris culture, Pajajaran blades were known for their good iron materials (Pajajaran trade-connection with Portuguese?). But Cirebon is known -- more connection with "Islamic" power in southern Chinese... (Probably it will be interesting too if you connect with the legend of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat in Malay history. Were there any connection between their name "Hang" with Han Dynasty?)

These pics below, are just for comparison. One picture -- with (probably) Sumatran Jawa Deman with crossed-hand in the chess, and "ornamental crossed-hand" like generally found in Cirebon hilts... And also, picture for comparison of what supposed to be Cirebon hilts and Tegal hilt in the extreme right...). Please don't bother the blades..


ganjawulung 1st September 2008 05:49 AM

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At first glance, Cirebon sheath is quite similar to bugis/sumatran sheath. But actually much different, if you regard from upper view. Cirebon (boatlike) sheath -- as bugis too -- is with "daunan" (leaf-like form, like most Javanese sheath)...

This "daunan" (leaf) form from the northern coast of Java, also seen in javanese jogja and solo style. Either like the form of "cassava" leaf ("nggodhong pohung"), or "jack fruit" leaf ("nggodhong nangka")..


ganjawulung 2nd September 2008 05:03 AM

Other examples
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These are other examples of Java Demam hilts. Three variations of size, normal, medium and small size... Not in a good condition


BluErf 6th September 2008 09:44 AM

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Originally Posted by ganjawulung
Just for a little comparison to Michael's and Marco's hilts. These are Cirebon hilts -- with Jawa Demam style. Cirebon located in the northern-west coast of Central Jawa -- this old Islamic kingdom of Cirebon originated from Hindhu Pajajaran Kingdom in West Java...


I think the hilt on the left (with no visible arms) could be from the north coast area of Java. I have been informed by dealers, who were in turn informed by their Indonesian suppliers, that the hilts were sourced from these areas. So we've come to refer to these hilts as 'pasisir', or simply 'coastal region'.

I have 2 such hilts, from 2 different dealers. I can see the similarities in motif between my 2 hilts and Michael's, but I also feel that Michael's hilt is an evolved form, not from the original 'source' region. This is judging from the posture of the hilt, and some new motifs, such as the criss-cross patches, the hair, the belly button patterns (which is v common in Minang hilts) .

Marcokeris 6th September 2008 02:51 PM

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IMO two rare fantastic java's hits :) :eek:
Here another very old Cirebon (?) made by bone:

A. G. Maisey 6th September 2008 09:07 PM

I've been following this discussion with interest, but I have not taken part because I did not feel I had anything to contribute.

I have looked at all the images posted, I have looked at pictures of keris from North Jawa that left their place of origin prior to 1900, I have looked at keris in my own collection that have hilts of the type shown here. I have looked at the classification of hilts in Suhartono Rahardjo's Ragam Hulu Keris.

Now I feel that I have reached the point where I must raise a question.

My question is this:-

where is the evidence that this type of hilt can be classified as originating from Cirebon, or even the North coast of Jawa?

I know that Pak Gonjo has told us they are Cirebon hilts, I know that he has an interest in this area, thus I assume he can support his information.

I can accept the classification as an opinion, we can all hold opinions, be they correct or incorrect, but this classification as a Javanese hilt is new to me, and I can find no evidence to support it.

Is it possible that this form is one that was popular amongst people of Malay heritage who lived on the North Coast of Jawa, but who were not aligned with any formal administrative system(kraton) ?

I would like to look more closely at this classification.

Briefly:- where is the evidence?

BluErf 7th September 2008 05:13 AM

Originally Posted by Marcokeris
Here another very old Cirebon (?) made by bone:

Hi Marco,

I would associate this hilt with Minang Kabau, not Cirebon. I see this type of hilts coming out of Sumatra all the time. :)

BluErf 7th September 2008 05:30 AM

Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

My question is this:-

where is the evidence that this type of hilt can be classified as originating from Cirebon, or even the North coast of Jawa?

This is an interesting question that I would very much like to find more information to. Frankly, when I was informed that such hilts came out of Java, I was rather skeptical. If not for the dealers' suppliers stating that these were sourced from the northern coast of Java, I would most likely have gone with a Sumatran attribution, given the Jawa demam form.

2 other observations:

- The pierced-through 'columnar form' of the lower mid-bodies of the hilts are very similar to other hilts (e.g. the Ganesha hilts) that we associate with Cirebon/N. Java. However, the base of these hilts is not the same as the typical Cirebon hilt in that it is more rounded and seemed to be designed to sit with a mendak; the Cirebon hilts have a flat cylindrical base that fits a selut. That said, the base is also not the same as the archetypal jawa demam bases, which should be bigger and rounder, and fit a pendoko.

- We don't see this type of hilts coming out of Sumatra (i.e. the suppliers in Sumatra were not able to find any such hilts).

I wouldn't call these evidence, just something that gets us thinking.

VVV 7th September 2008 06:04 AM

Originally Posted by BluErf
...I have 2 such hilts, from 2 different dealers. I can see the similarities in motif between my 2 hilts and Michael's, but I also feel that Michael's hilt is an evolved form, not from the original 'source' region. This is judging from the posture of the hilt, and some new motifs, such as the criss-cross patches, the hair, the belly button patterns (which is v common in Minang hilts) .

Thanks Kai-Wee,

I also think so and that's why I was interested in reading the other forumites opinions.
On Alan's question of evidence of origin I am also quite curious, as stated earlier.
Especially as I haven't either seen them on Javanese keris from pre-1900 that was brought to Europe?


BluErf 7th September 2008 01:53 PM

I'm also open to the idea that these mystery jawa demam hilts could have been relatively recent back-flows (i.e. last 100yrs), from Sumatra back to Java, and modified. Hence, no such examples were seen in Europe. It could be that there are some Malay communities in Java have created such hilt forms, as Alan has pointed out. But this is all speculation now, I guess.

Marcokeris 7th September 2008 03:28 PM

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This Cirebon hit seems to have the same pattern of the second of your hits .

A. G. Maisey 8th September 2008 01:05 AM

Marco, this motif of swirling vines, what we call "lung-lungan" seems to be pretty widespread across Jawa, Bali, Sumatra---maybe all of S.E. asia. You see multiple variations, and speaking for myself, I have an enormous amount of difficulty in distinguishing between them---they all look so similar.

BluErf 8th September 2008 03:38 PM

Hi Marco,

Yes, the motifs are indeed very similar. But also, the columnar body form - this is something which I associate with N coast of Java.

Hi Alan,

I agree that these motifs are found throughout the region. But perhaps they could be differentiated through variances in the composition and combination of the motifs, as well as the aesthetics of it. Perhaps I could also take an analogy of the Terengganu keris sheath form and the Riau keris sheath form - both are very similar, except for subtle differences. But when we internalize those differences, it becomes clear (at least most of the time) which group a specimen is likely to belong to. But to internalize those differences, one would need to either see hundreds, if not thousands, of specimens, and/or have the guidance of an experienced craftsman/teacher. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have the luxury of either for the hilts in question.

A. G. Maisey 9th September 2008 12:00 AM

Yes Kai-Wee, what you say is true, however, although a person who has very detailed knowledge in this area of motif form and application may be able to broadly identify certain motifs as belonging to certain areas, there can be enormous differences from craftsman to craftsman within an area, thus to take the work of, say, ten or 15 craftsmen from one major grouping and then identify the work of all as belonging to that major grouping can sometimes be more than just a little difficult.

As I write this, I am not thinking in terms of hilt forms, or wrongko forms:- these seem to be fairly well known, and although we get the occasional variation upon which we are unclear, it is probably possible to group these things fairly accurately.

I am thinking in terms of motifs only, which may be applied to a very broad range of objects, and applied by all levels of craftsmen, from palace employees to housewives.Motifs which can appear in fabrics, in household decorative items, in items of personal adornment.

Certainly, here we tend to focus on a single form of cultural artifact, the keris, but that artifact does not stand separate to all other items within a culture, nor to the culture itself.Thus, if we are to use motif as an identifier of place of origin, we need a better than encyclopedic knowledge of all variations throughout a broad area.

I for one do not have the knowledge to come to a supportable conclusion on origin of this particular hilt form, using only the tool of analysis.

My approach and focus is far more simple:- physical evidence.

Pre-1900 photographs of people wearing keris with this type of hilt, Cirebon kraton records of this type of hilt, early collected examples with providence of this type of hilt ---this type of thing. Something we can accept as evidence that these hilts did indeed belong to the Cirebon administrative area.

Because we tend to see certain specific forms of dress being prescribed for wear in a kraton environment, it would be reasonable to expect that if this form is indeed a Cirebon form, records, either physical or documentary would exist within the Cirebon heritage.

If the evidence cannot be found in kraton records, but we still suspect that it could be Cirebon, then perhaps we are looking at a folk variation. The North Coast of Jawa has had a very strong Malay component to its population for many hundreds of years. It could be that this hilt form is a variation of a Malay form, which has adopted or adapted the tightly packed foliate embellishment of Madura and the indigenous north coast to its own basically Malay form.

We could hypothesise about this matter till the cows come home, and here I am hypothesising as freely as any, however, what we need here is solid evidence, rather than guesses. I do not believe we can answer this question by application of logical analysis.

A. G. Maisey 19th September 2008 12:15 AM

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This "Ceribon hilt" thing has been moving in the back of my thoughts for a while now. I'd like to see some sort of clear answer on this, and I do not believe we yet have one.

I'm not going to provide an answer in this post, but just add a little more food for thought.

In 1949 a book was published that was the result of a request received by the Royal Batavia Society of Arts and Sciences, from the Indonesian Department of Education, Arts and Sciences. This book was intended to serve as a textbook in the school system, and in technical and training colleges in Indonesia. The patterns published were taken mainly from objects in the Society's museum.The book is "Indonesian Ornamental Design" (Ragam-Ragam Perhiasan Indonesia), and the author is A.N.J. a`.Th. Van Der Hoop.

The three hilts shown with this post are identified in this book as of Ceribon origin.


Please note particularly the "Jawa Demam" example.

A. G. Maisey 19th September 2008 12:18 AM

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The hilt shown here is from my own collection. I had thought that it was Sumatran, but in light of the example published by Van Der Hoop, perhaps it is not, perhaps it is Ceribon, or at least, North Coast Jawa.

A. G. Maisey 19th September 2008 12:20 AM

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Lastly, these other two hilts for comparison.

VVV 19th September 2008 07:56 AM

Thanks for bringing new light to this!

When looking at the arm-position of the discussed hilt it's a hybride of the old hand on the knees position and the folded-arms position of the old Banten-Cirebon&Tegal-North Coast "Raksasa" hilts.
On the illustration from van Dapperen I find it hard to see how much of a "beak" it has (compared to the Sumatran Jawa Demam)?
Note that the fingers of the left hand are straight up, not down as your later example, which maybe relates it more to a mudra?
As a correction I also would like to bring up that only the last hilt of the illustrations are specifically Cirebon. The first two are "Middle Java" and "Java". IMHO "Ditto" in the book refers to "Cris heft of ivory", not " from Cheribon".


A. G. Maisey 19th September 2008 02:12 PM

Van Dapperen, Michael?

Do you mean Van Der Hoop, or is Van Dapperen a separate reference?

On the "dittos", yes, I think you're right. I just went back and had another look at that text. Makes a difference if one wears glasses when reading it.

But still, Ceribon or Jawa, or Middle Jawa, I'm not really too fussed about. What I find interesting is this distinctly Jawa demam pattern being associated with Jawa. I've never seen anything anywhere that would suggest that this pattern is a Jawa pattern, but Pak Gonjo seemed pretty sure of himself, so he must have some solid evidence somewhere, and publication in this textbook intended for use in Indonesian educational institutions seems to put it beyond doubt.

Yes, you can't see the head shape in the Van Der Hoop illustration, and this still leaves room for doubt.

However, at this moment I am still puzzling over exactly how and where this Jawa demam form fits into the range of Jawa hilts of which we are certain.
I don't think I want to get into discussion of hand positions at this point, because from my perspective we are still trying to find some sort of certainty on the overall form. If we can achieve that, then maybe we can consider the detail.In any case, you can bet on it that when it was carved, it was carved in conformity with a specific pattern, and the carver himself probably didn't have the vaguest idea of what he was carving:- we see a mudra; the carver saw something that he'd been taught to carve.

VVV 19th September 2008 02:57 PM

My fault,

I mixed up vd Hoop with v Dapperen, the authour of a Dutch article on keris hilts, and an otherwise quite productive ethnographer.
Makes a difference if one has had a breakfast espresso, or not, before posting... :D

I look forward to more comments on Alan's post.


Marcokeris 20th September 2008 11:59 PM

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Another Jawa Solo (?) hit from classic Bezemer's Indonesische Kunstnijverheid

VVV 21st September 2008 09:04 PM

Thanks for sharing, Marco!

It seems like the original hilt of the earlier published illustration.
To me it looks much more like a Raksasa hilt than a birdlike Jawa Demam.
No beak and no garuda mungkur but a resembling arm position.
The style is however quite different compared to for instance my avatar.
I am not that convinced that this was a Javanese hilt variation with wide distribution.


A. G. Maisey 24th September 2008 10:24 PM

I think you're right about that illustration I posted, Michael. It probably lacks the triangular head shape we see in other Jawa demams.

When some of these publications give an attribution for an example of S.E Asian art , the attribution is based on where the object was collected, that does not necessarily mean that it originated there, and in the case of something like a keris hilt the European writer would be very unlikely to have much knowledge about that class of object.

So if we look at the example from Bezemer with an attribution of Solo, that Marco has posted, I believe that we are seeing where it was collected. I have never seen anything genuinely associated with Solo that would support that place as a point of origin for Bezemer's Solo hilt.

I think maybe we're still at the starting gate with this hilt form. Maybe its Jawa, but Jawa where?

kulbuntet 9th October 2008 12:08 AM

Please coment to this keris and Jawa deman hilt.

Regards Michel

kai 9th October 2008 01:16 AM

Hello Michel,

Please coment to this keris and Jawa deman hilt.

Looks interesting. :)

Please post a few more pics in a separate thead - it's best to keep discussions focused on a single piece!


kulbuntet 18th October 2008 06:52 PM

Hi Kai,


regards Michel

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