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-   -   Meteoric iron used for keris's vs. for Indian weapons (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=269)

Jens Nordlunde 6th February 2005 04:23 PM

Meteoric iron used for keris's vs. for Indian weapons
 
I have started to wonder a bit about how many kerise’s have been made out of meteoric iron.
It is fairly often mentioned, that some are, or could have been made of this iron, but where these kerise’s were made and used, there is mostly little land, but a lot of water for the meteor to disappear into.
When you go to India you very seldom hear about meteoric iron, although they have a lot of land and little water. The only place where I can remember to have seen meteoric iron mentioned is here:
Arms and Jewellery of the Indian Mughuls, Lahor 1947, written by Abdul Aziz.
In the book he tells about Shah Jahangir, and about a falling meteor. The meteor fell around 10 April 1621 close to a village called Jalandhar. The meteor was dug up and presented to Shah Jahangir:
I ordered Master (Ustad) Daud to make a sword, a dagger and a knife out of it, and bring them to me. He represented that it would not stand below the hammer, and fell too pieces. I told him in that case to mix it with other iron and make use of it. As I had told him, he mixed three parts of lightening-iron and one of other iron, and having made two swords, one dagger, and one knife, brought them to me. From the mixing of other iron he had brought out its quality (watering). According to the manner of the excellent swords of Yaman and [the swords of] the South, it could be bent, and became straight again. I ordered him to test it in my presence. It cut very well, equal to true swords. I called one the Shamshir-I-qati (keen sword) and the other Barq-sirisht (lightening-natured).
Can anyone explain to me, why we so relative often hear about meteoric iron in connection with kerise’s, but not with Indian weapons?
Jens

wolviex 6th February 2005 05:03 PM

Hello!
Being complete rookie on krises, I think that answer is easy. It is because there are ralative legends and magic around krises made with meteoric iron, and I didn't hear any of them about Indian weapons. When you mix up legends and magic with attractive weapon = very popular story and weapon :rolleyes: - it's just a thought from European view, lets wait what forum "krises sindicate" (still growing stronger I think) will tell us about it :)
Best regards

PS. And by the way: it's just a second hand information, but what I heard there fall the meteor in 18th century on Java, so that's why meteoric iron was popular for some time. And it was often replaced with nickel, wasn't it ?

nechesh 6th February 2005 05:47 PM

As far as i know there is only one recorded meteor fall in Jawa, the Prambanan meteor, in, i believe, 1749. The remains of this meteor are still to be seen at the kraton in Surakarta .Special court keris were definitely made from this meteor. How many i could not say. I don't believe this began until the very end of that century. I would be suspect of anyone who claimed to have a keris of meteroric pamor made before this time. I would also be suspect of any claims made for any keris to meteoric pamor, simply because i don't think that many were made. But they certainly do exist. However, the ideas that spread that this was the original form of pamor in early keris has absolutely no evidence to support it. Somewhere along the lines, probably thanks to some European who got the wrong idea, i was spread about that all keris were made this way. Groneman, apparently enamored with the higher nickle content of this pamor after seeing court pieces made with it, imported pure nickle to the area for pamor use in 1910, but the results were not the same. How to identify this pamor has long been a matter of debate and we have talked about it here before so you might want to check the archives.

BSMStar 6th February 2005 08:02 PM

Iron Meteorites
 
Just an FYI... only 5% of Meteorite "falls" are of the nickel-iron type, making them "rare" to begin with. It is true there is more land in India, but unless the "fall" is witnessed, located and recovered, it is likely that the meteorite will be ignored unless it is a sizeable chunk. This makes the Prambanan meteorite very special meteorite indeed, as if it were meant to be. :rolleyes:

Here are some definitions that may be helpful:
Meteoroid - when it is in space
Meteor - the light given off by a meteoroid entering the atmosphere
Meteorite - when it rest on the surface of a planet, that which you make a keris from

Nickel-iron type will average around 5 to 8% nickel and to 92 to 95% iron, and some can be relalitively soft, such as the Gibeon Meteorite from Namibia, Africa.

I hope this information is useful.

Henk 6th February 2005 09:27 PM

Nechesh,

You are right. The kerisses at the court were made from the meteoric iron. The meteoric iron was used in combination with iron. It is said that the empu who was given the order to make such a keris, received enough material to make a few kerisses. That means that there are kerisses made from meteoric iron outside the kraton. So when we talk about keris from meteoric iron, I think we can say that for every keris ordered by the court the empu was able to make 3 kerisses more for other customers.

Why we only here about the Prambanan meteor is because it was a very hughe one. The Indian meteor gave only 2 swords a dagger and a knife. That is what I read. The Prambanan meteor gave a few more kerisses. So I supose the use of the meteor for keris is more known.

nechesh 7th February 2005 01:04 AM

Henk, it's not that i doubt you. You could well be right. But i think it is important to keep this discussion on an academic level, so could you please quote the sources of your information about palace empus recieving extra meteoric pamor material whenever they made a court keris with one. Did kraton empus actually make keris for clients outside of the court? There has been so much confusion on this issue that i just can't base any conclusions on this topic based on more hearsay information.
I also don't quite get your reasoning that leads to you supposing that meteoric pamor was more well known. The Prambanan fall is the ONLY one i am aware of. Are you just assuming that there were smaller meteorites that fell and were used? Is there ANY documentation of this. I need more to go on.

Montino Bourbon 7th February 2005 01:38 AM

I have heard of one technique that (supposedly) was used in Japan:
Micro-meteorites fell to the earth and were washed into rivers; and these small nickel-iron meteorites were recovered by dragging large magnets through dry river beds in summer, when the rivers were dry. The resultant iron could be incorporated with other iron, and because of its high nickel content could be processed and refined by forge-folding.

Jens Nordlunde 7th February 2005 04:22 PM

Thank you for your answers, although not all tried to answer my question.
Master (Ustad) Daud said to Shah Jahangir, ‘that it would not stand below the hammer, and fell too pieces’.
If Master Daud could say like that, he must have known meteoric iron, otherwise he could/would not have made such a statement.
Meteoric iron must have been known, at least among some of the better weapon smiths, other wise he could not have said that the iron would fall to pieces when hammered on, and he knew how much other iron he had to mix it with, to make it possible for him to make two swords a dagger and a knife. To have this knowledge it must have been tried many times before.
Although there, no doubt is much mysticism and symbolism involved in making swords in India, I think this is even more so when it comes to making kerise’s.
The way to find meteoric iron in Japan sounds interesting, although I have never read about it.

BSMStar 7th February 2005 04:47 PM

Jens Nordlunde:

No doubt some nickel-iron type are not well suited for direct hammering. There are several factors to take into consideration... the crystal structure of the meteorite (from fine to coarse octahedrite, etc.), and metallurgy for example. The Gibeon Meteorite from Namibia, Africa is an example of a nickel-iron type that you can hammer directly without forging. Again, it goes back to the odds of the right type of meteorite falling in the right place at the right time. :rolleyes:

Jens Nordlunde 7th February 2005 04:58 PM

Yes I have read that there are different types of meteoric iron, and also that the one with nickle is very difficult to use, but from the structure Master Daud must have been able to estimate how much 'normal' iron he had to mix it with. To have had this knowledge, he, or others, must have tried it several times to get that knowledge

Henk 7th February 2005 06:22 PM

Nechesh,

Of course the discussion should be academic and not based on rumours. Kraton empus did make keris for clients outside the kraton and used the surplus of the prambanan meteorite they received to make a court keris. I did read it in a dutch book: De Inlandsche Kunstnijverheid in Nederlandsch Indie (The Inland Artwork in Dutch Indie) by J.E. Jasper and MAS Pirngadie. This book was printed and published on behalve of the dutch government in The Hague in 1930.

I translate for you the passage in that book: "As pamormetal was and is used in the royal countries, the home of pamorforge art, metoric iron, that contains few nickle and is known as pamor parambanan. It is kept in the kraton of Soerakarta. Every time when the Soesoehoenan or other courtmembers want to forge a weapon, often a much too large piece of the meteor Iron was given to the empu, who had usually left a very large part of it.
That's why that it was possible to buy pieces of the pamor parambanan for the very high price of fl 2,50 to fl 10,00 for a rejal (30 gram)" That means in the currency of today the very high price of 1 euro to 4,50 euro for 30 gram.

About the use and being well known of the meteoric iron you misunderstood me. Using meteoric iron outside Indonesia for pamorforging is not well known.
Jens wrote that in India two swords, a dagger and a knife was made from the iron of a meteor. What I ment to say is that the use of the parambanan meteor for pamor weapons is well known (at least here in Holland) and that "a weapon made from the meteor was considered as the true holy weapon with pamor parambanan or pamor toenggal" (I quoted the book) Pamor forging was also done with other metals. The same book mention "the import of nickle bars, the pure Krupp nickle from the factory of A. Krupp from Berndorf, Germany. When this was used the pamordrawing came up very clear and shiny. Much more then when the real pamor iron of Parambanan was used."

BSMStar 8th February 2005 02:31 AM

Some more boring information
 
Prambanan meteorite is on the Finest (crystal structure) Octahedrite, around 5% nickel...
http://internt.nhm.ac.uk/cgi-bin/ea...ey=P2270&index=

Also you have
Hexahedrites - low nickel bearing (up to 6%)
Octahedrites - medium nickel bearing (5 to 17%, mostly on the lower end) and classified from fine to coarse (in crystal structure) believe to be caused by the speed of cooling.
Ataxites - high nickel bearing (16% plus) note: they show no internal crystal structure.
http://www.alaska.net/~meteor/type.htm

BSMStar 8th February 2005 01:19 PM

When did Nickel first get introduced?
 
Since the Prambanan meteorite wasn't introduced untill the 1700's... can some tell me how far back the nickel-iron parmor goes back? What was the early history of the metallurgy? Was it just Malelo before that? :confused:

Jens Nordlunde 8th February 2005 01:23 PM

Hi BSMStar,

Thank you for your answer. It is very interesting what you write about the different types of meteors, and the concentration of the different metals. I find it most interesting, that iron, even with a very small concentration of some other metal, can act very different when forged, and sometimes make it almost impossible to forge, if it is not treated in a very special way. When they, started to work with wootz steel and meteoric iron, it must have taken them a considered amount of time, until they had learned how to treat the metal so they could form it.
Sorry I can't help you with your new question.

Jens

fearn 8th February 2005 02:56 PM

I'm trying to remember where I read this: it was one of the contemporary knife catalogs, and the name escapes me at the moment (argh! I'll edit it in when I remember it!)

This is a sideline to the "meteoric iron" thread, but it is about the high nickel iron used to create pamor. Apparently, the volcanoes on Java cough out nodules of high-nickel iron, and that is what is (was) used for most keris blades, presumably along with low-nickel iron from other sources.

Apparently, westerners used to think that high-nickel iron only came from meteorites, and so among westerners, the story was that the pamor iron all came from meteoric iron.

This doesn't contradict the idea that some keris and other blades were made from meteorites. It simply says that most pamor blades have a strictly terrestrial origin, and Indonesia isn't a magnet for meteoric bombardment.

F

Jens Nordlunde 8th February 2005 03:04 PM

Hi fearn,

When you remember where you read it, please post it. It is a most interesting turn the discussion has taken.
Thank you for your post.

Jens

BSMStar 8th February 2005 04:49 PM

Cosmic or Not
 
Hi fearn and Jens,

Back in my college days (early seventies - I know, I'm showing my age), nickel with iron was looked upon as a sign of a cosmic source. I know a lot has changed since then... so you will get no debate from me. I knew the Empus had a source of "poor" nickel-iron that was being mined in the region, which caught my attention (how could I not want a Keris?). I guess its time for me to go back to grad school. :rolleyes:

My wife said I have to stop collecting anyway. :(

I still would be interesting to know how far back in time this type of metallurgy goes... and how wide spread it was. Thank you Jens for starting this thread.

Rick 8th February 2005 05:01 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fearn
I'm trying to remember where I read this: it was one of the contemporary knife catalogs, and the name escapes me at the moment (argh! I'll edit it in when I remember it!)

This is a sideline to the "meteoric iron" thread, but it is about the high nickel iron used to create pamor. Apparently, the volcanoes on Java cough out nodules of high-nickel iron, and that is what is (was) used for most keris blades, presumably along with low-nickel iron from other sources.

Apparently, westerners used to think that high-nickel iron only came from meteorites, and so among westerners, the story was that the pamor iron all came from meteoric iron.

This doesn't contradict the idea that some keris and other blades were made from meteorites. It simply says that most pamor blades have a strictly terrestrial origin, and Indonesia isn't a magnet for meteoric bombardment.

F


Driven to Google yet again . :D

Here's a page that discusses the composition of the magma that is released by Mt Merapi in Jawa :
http://www.ipgp.jussieu.fr/~beaudu/vsi/merview.html
And another locating the volcanos in the archipelago .
http://www.volcanolive.com/indonesia3.html
Last , a cross section , lots of Iron in the earth's core .
http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/hazard...composition.gif

BSMStar 8th February 2005 06:12 PM

Imported materials
 
Thank you Rick!

Awesome links! But in the geochemistry, I missed any nickel bearing mineralogy... just your typical/normal Basaltic, Andesitic and Pyroclastic associated minerals.

I recall reading an article that named the location where the "poor" quality nickel-iron was being imported from, and it included the import of nickel, which didn't work out too well. I wish I could refer to it. Has anyone else seen it?

nechesh 9th February 2005 01:00 AM

Wayne, just a stickler point, pamor Prambanan was really introduced at the beginning of the 1800s.
I'm not sure about nickle/iron nodules from Jawa volcanos, but it was always my understanding that much of the nickleous pamor used in Jawa was imported from other islands, like pamor luwu.
Oh, and Wayne, if your wife is really gonna make you stop collecting, don't forget what i said about that nice Bali keris of yours. :D

BSMStar 9th February 2005 06:58 PM

Collecting....
 
Well nechesh,

Yea, its true she would like me to stop.... I said I would stop, if she would stop buying all those dresses, shoes and stuff she really doesn't need (or wear very often - it ends up sitting in the closet, you know what I mean).

She came home from "shopping" and just could not pass up another one of those bargins! :rolleyes:

Well, some how another Keris just happened to show up :D :D :D (and a Keris stand too? now how did that happen??? :rolleyes: )

But back to the subject....

BSMStar 9th February 2005 07:00 PM

Pamor Luwu
 
Pamor Luwu rings a bell.... can you say a little more about it?

Jens Nordlunde 9th February 2005 09:42 PM

I am afraid the we are back discussing kerises more than what I started - maybe I should not have started this thread.

Jens

Rick 9th February 2005 10:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
I have started to wonder a bit about how many kerise’s have been made out of meteoric iron.
It is fairly often mentioned, that some are, or could have been made of this iron, but where these kerise’s were made and used, there is mostly little land, but a lot of water for the meteor to disappear into.
When you go to India you very seldom hear about meteoric iron, although they have a lot of land and little water. The only place where I can remember to have seen meteoric iron mentioned is here:
Arms and Jewellery of the Indian Mughuls, Lahor 1947, written by Abdul Aziz.
In the book he tells about Shah Jahangir, and about a falling meteor. The meteor fell around 10 April 1621 close to a village called Jalandhar. The meteor was dug up and presented to Shah Jahangir:
I ordered Master (Ustad) Daud to make a sword, a dagger and a knife out of it, and bring them to me. He represented that it would not stand below the hammer, and fell too pieces. I told him in that case to mix it with other iron and make use of it. As I had told him, he mixed three parts of lightening-iron and one of other iron, and having made two swords, one dagger, and one knife, brought them to me. From the mixing of other iron he had brought out its quality (watering). According to the manner of the excellent swords of Yaman and [the swords of] the South, it could be bent, and became straight again. I ordered him to test it in my presence. It cut very well, equal to true swords. I called one the Shamshir-I-qati (keen sword) and the other Barq-sirisht (lightening-natured).
Can anyone explain to me, why we so relative often hear about meteoric iron in connection with kerise’s, but not with Indian weapons?
Jens


Jens , when I read that quote from 'Arms and Jewelry' I interpreted it that the Master Smith took the meteorite to the forge and reported that 'it would not stand below the hammer' . He was then told to mix it with other iron .

Perhaps it was made into a form of crucible steel like wootz .

nechesh 9th February 2005 11:44 PM

Well Jens, i'm afraid threads tend to have a mind of their own. ;) If you reread you opening post you are wondering about keris. People tend (hopefully) to talk about what they know or are interested in and since i know very little about Indian weapons i'm afraid info on keris is all i have to add to this thread. :)
To give you my answer to your final question in that first post, i think the reason you hear less about meteoric ore in Indian weapons than Indonesian is that inspite of the quoted passage Indian smiths still did less of it than Indonesian empus.
Wayne, pamor luwu came from Sulawesi. There is abit more about it and pamor in general on this site:
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/taman.sari/...wilah/pamor.htm

Jens Nordlunde 10th February 2005 09:15 AM

nechesh, you are right, I was a bit harsh - sorry.
When the exported wootz from Sri Lanka and India to places like Persia, Africa an other places - why was there no export known of to Indonesia, Sumatra and other places?

Rick,
Yes I have trought of that too, unfortunately the author does not go into details when telling about it.

Jens

BSMStar 10th February 2005 06:53 PM

Luwu Ore
 
Sorry about going off in a tangent.... (I think I have created a monster and it's me). :rolleyes: I think it is a "urban legend" that you can find metallic nickel-iron as a "native" surface rock on earth.

Here is a quote and the link:
Niccle (Nickel, my insert) and iron ore were extracted from the mines near Malili and were exported to Jawa, where you can still find a kind of niccle (pamor), which is still named Luwu.

http://indahnesia.com/Indonesia/Sul...php?code=SULHIS

It appears that mines in the area produced both nickel ores (Nickel laterite) and iron ores... that were mixed to create the Luwu pamor. Gee, maybe my old Cosmochem professor was right? Here are two more links,

http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Fertilizer/laterama.html
http://www.inco.ca/about/exploratio...te/default.aspx

I am sure the smiths in India would have used iron meteorites (and could have) if they were known and available. There are a number of examples of iron meteorites being used for edged weapons around the world (we have our own Bowie knife). But it seems to me that opportunity and chance play a major role in if and when these kinds weapons are made. In Jawa, it landed in their own backyard. Keep in mind that nickel-iron meteorites only make up about 5% of the witnessed falls that are recovered (and how may have you seen and recovered??), it is an extremely rare event. Rarity, I think, should guide you to the answer to your question.

Jens Nordlunde 10th February 2005 09:46 PM

Hi BSMStar,

I think the links you are giving are very fascinating, and somewhat surprising to me, I have not read it all yet, but they seem very interesting.
To me it seems, the more I read, the less I understand – but maybe someone else is more clever than I am – hopefully.
I am at the moment involved in another problem which is very tricky, and which takes a lot of my time.
Thanks for the links.

Jens

BSMStar 10th February 2005 11:12 PM

My apologies, Jens

In my zeal to show references (other than my bad memory), and in trying to keep to the basics... I do not wish to overwhelm anyone who is not ready for the info, some of my post may or may not be as helpful as intended (maybe a little to basic). Sorry.

What I was trying to say and show... the only real source for "nickel-iron" (that which is already combined) would have a cosmic source, like a meteorite. The mining literature from the Luwu area suggest separate nickel and iron ores... unless someone else knows and can post a source on a non-cosmic source, I would be most interested in learning about it. :)

I think karma, fate, chance, circumstances or what ever term you want to use... placed a "workable" meteorite where it did and made the Keris a very special and unique weapon that it is.

nechesh 11th February 2005 05:33 AM

Sorry Wayne, but i'm afraid i have to disagree with you here. The keris would have been a special and unique weapon with or without the Prambanan meteorite, though certainly the possibility of pamor from the stars has increased that somewhat. But i think it is important that we dispell these meteorite myths somewhat. Yes, a certain amount of court pieces from the 19th and possibly early 20th century were made, but this is hardly the bulk or height of keris history. Still there are many folks out there who still believe that all keris were made this way. There are many keris, especially earlier ones that don't even use nickelous pamor, just various irons to create contrast in patterns. These keris are still special and unique.


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