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brekele 20th September 2008 02:05 AM

Timoho (Kleinhovia hospita L)
According javanese people that believe about good timoho wood for keris sheath is that wood has pelet. What is pelet actually? Is it those black spots on the wood?

bre :)

A. G. Maisey 20th September 2008 02:43 AM

This is an interesting question Brekele.

The word "pelet" actually means to seduce---lots of other similar ways this can applied, but "seduce" is the normal everyday meaning.

So I reckon that when people talk about "kayu pelet" what they were originally saying was that this wood would make you fall in love with it---it seduced you. It was enchanting wood.

Over time, it has become one of the wood names used by some people associated with keris.

I used to know a tukang wrongko in Solo who was the grandson of one of the great, old-time mranggis. He would not accept the use of the word "pelet" in reference to woods. He reckoned straight out that it was wrong and used by people who didn't know any better. He himself always referred to the various types of timoho that displayed black markings by their specific names---timoho this, or timoho that.

Woods other than timoho can show pelet grain, for example awar-awar and pakel, just to name two.

Raden Usman Djogja 20th September 2008 11:18 AM

name of pelet
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if most part of sheath is dominated by pelet, what its motif name?

warm regards, OeS

brekele 20th September 2008 11:39 AM

Many kind of pelet in timoho wood considering javanese people.
Here some of name
18. And probably there are some more Ö.

What is pelet in timoho wood considering keris lover?
Stil donít get a good describe/explanation about it.

Bre :confused:

A. G. Maisey 20th September 2008 01:36 PM

Yes, and there are other names as well---some invented on the spot because they will either A)--help to raise the price, or B)-- help to raise somebody's prestige.

In my notes I do not have an example precisely the same as the wrongko you show, but if we look at this wrongko, essentially it has dark in the center of the body, and light on either side. Perhaps this conformation could be classified as timoho slempang---a slempang is a strap that is worn over the shoulder.

Or maybe the dark area is too wide for timoho slempang, maybe we should call it timoho sidi---but really, that would be stretching it because the white is in the wrong place. Pity it has those two light spots on either end, without those we could give it as bosokan.

This name of the timoho thing is like a lot of names in the field of the keris---cross the street and somebody will give you a different name.Especially today when we have so many newly born, self-created experts around. It tends to become a little less confused when you talk to old men who have been in the keris trade for most of their lives---but these people don't publish books or join keris discussion societies.

Centini should be required reading for all who wish to learn the keris. Not for the information to be found there, but for the advice and the wisdom.

Raden Usman Djogja 20th September 2008 08:16 PM

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dear Alan,

I've heard but never seen motif of "bosokan" (decomposed "fruit"). As far as I heard that it was called bosokan motif because all or most of part of sheath was pelet. Perhaps forumities who have sheath with bosokan motif can share its picture. Merci par avance.

I just heard slempang motif. Do you think it is different from sampir (as if a long scarf or a shoulder-belt) motif. I have timoho sheath with sampir motif. I will upload it for this forum. Some people said it had 5 strips of sampir motif whilst others said it had 4 strips of sampir motif. What do you think wheter it has 4 or 5 strips?

Centini? Would you please to share what advices dan wisdoms that readers can get from Centini Book? I've never read it eventhough I've heard it thousand times.

Warm regards,

A. G. Maisey 20th September 2008 11:21 PM

G'day Usman--- yeah, sampir is the same as slempang. As to how many strips your wrongko has, I guess it depends on how you count them, I personally would count four, but if I did not want four strips for some reason, I could easily convince myself that there were five, by counting the double one in the middle as two.Five is a nicer number, so let's just say it has five.

Centini is riddled through with good advice, wisdom, and a nice strong lading of soft porn. Interesting read. However, the one little bit of advice that is more relevant than any other to a student of the keris is that if he wants to learn the keris, he needs to go to the market place to learn.

fearn 21st September 2008 05:33 AM

Hi All,

Putting on my botanical hat, the "pelet" pattern in the wood looks like fungal growth, and the english term for it is spalting (here's the wikipedia link). Spalted wood is weaker than unspalted wood, because it has been (or is being) rotted by a fungus. The pigment changes are being produced by fungal activity, either staining the wood dark or bleaching it, depending on the species. As demonstrated here, spalting can often be so pretty that it commands a premium price.

Note that I'm talking about the underlying phenomenon that's producing the patterns, not the way they are classified. That is your forte, not mine.

Most of the fungi that produce spalting patterns are wood rotters, and unless the wood in the keris and sheath have been treated to kill the fungus, they will keep rotting away, albeit slowly in most cases. I'm not an expert on treating wood rot, but please be aware of the possibility, and check to see if the pattern changes over time. If it does, you may want to have it treated at some point.


Raden Usman Djogja 21st September 2008 07:08 AM

Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Five is a nicer number, so let's just say it has five.

G'day Alan

Five is a nice number after Indonesian independence espicially in new order era. It is related to number of pancasila (five moral principles). Before independence, it could be related with Pandawa brothers (pandawa=five) in Indonesian mahabharata version. Even in Indonesia, pre-WWI, mahabharata was not as famous as ramayana. Only after the spread of militeristic culture adopted from Japanese soldiers, people loved mahabharata especially in chapter the 18 days bharatayudha (war amongst bharata family members).

In ancient jogjanese keris' sheath made from timoho wood which had sampir motif (shoulder belt motif; it is not a precise translation), the 5 sampirs was
nicer than 4 sampirs. Only high elevated person was allowed to use it in public space. In private room, everyone could do freely. Furthermore, the same rule was also applied for bosokan (decomposed) motif. That is why, based on kraton/palace sources, the sheaths of several heirlooms were made from spalted timoho woods which had bosokan motif. So, colleagues who have bosokan motif, please share its picture with us. merci par avance.

warm regards,

Marcokeris 21st September 2008 01:54 PM

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Some timoho sarongs with different patterns....

Marcokeris 21st September 2008 01:57 PM

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Marcokeris 21st September 2008 03:18 PM

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one more

Battara 22nd September 2008 12:42 AM

Is pelet wood endangered or extinct?

fearn 22nd September 2008 02:17 PM

Hi Battara,

According to the wikipedia article on Kleinhovia hospita, it's grown as an ornamental and used for crafts and medicine. In other words, it's not endangered.

As noted above, the pelet pattern above is due to spalting by fungi.


Newsteel 23rd September 2008 01:14 AM

Timoho or Kleinhovia hospita L wood naturally do not have 'patterns grains'. It is caused by beetle or bugs that bore inside the tree trunk or branches. Soon the fungi spread throughout the interior of the wood causing them to create pattern like grain. And yes, the wood may not be as strong and at certain point, it can easily be brittle. And that is why before treatment is necessary to prevent such cracks or chipping-off of wood materials.

A. G. Maisey 24th September 2008 10:32 PM

The tree that produces timoho may not be an endangered species, but timoho wood with good markings, suitable for use in a wrongko, is virtually non-existent in the markets in Central Jawa.

Up to a few years ago there were plenty of old Jogja wrongkos from good timoho wood, but in recent times these have just about dried up---you can still find them, but they are not nearly as plentiful as they were, say, prior to ten years ago.

fearn 25th September 2008 03:11 PM

Dear Alan,

Actually, your last observation is a good lead-in to a question and an observation.

The question (perhaps also to Newsteel): how do you stabilize spalted timoho wood so that it isn't so brittle?

The observation: I'd guess that the decrease in marked Timoho wood is probably due to what might be termed "improved tree hygiene." I'm guessing that the rules on the wood harvest have changed, and it's either legally no longer acceptable to sell insect damaged wood (perhaps because someone decided it was a good way to spread insects, for instance). Alternatively the use of insecticides and fungicides (or ideally non-chemical tree-growing methods) has become more prevalent. A third possibilitiy is that timoho wood is getting harvested too young to have the patterns. Not sure which of the above is true, but it could be a mix of all three.

In any case, a keris maker or two needs to have a little chat with some wood suppliers and the timoho growers, and if possible, figure out a premium price for the patterned wood for the wrongkos. Then they'll start supplying it again. If there's a legal reason why patterned wood is no longer available in the wood trade, it might be useful for the wrongko makers to start growing a few trees themselves, as a supply.

my 0.02 perak,


A. G. Maisey 25th September 2008 08:31 PM

In about 1984 I became acquainted with a tukang wrongko whom I got to know very well.He was the grandson of a very famous tukang wrongko, and he knew the trade intimately.Between 1984 and 1997 he was only able to obtain a single piece of timoho that he considered suitable for use in a wrongko. From memory I think he got one normal size wrongko and two of three small wrongkos from this piece of wood.He worked alone, rather than as a member of a community engaged in making wrongkos, and this perhaps limited his sources of supply to a degree.

After 1997 I became acquainted with a different tukang wrongko, once again the grandson of one of the old-time greats.He refuses to try to obtain wood and will only work on wood provided to him by a customer. Between 1997 and April 2007 he had not worked on any new pieces of timoho wood.

During the period from 1984 until the present it has never been easy to obtain quality wrongko wood.When there was a lot of forest being cleared in Sumatra and Kalimantan there would be spasmodic floods of acceptable wrongko wood, but tighter governmental controls over the last 10-15 years have seen these inflows of material cease.

One of the woods favoured in recent times for wrongkos is burl teak (kayu jati gembol) and there is still a dribble of this material. Another popular wood is akasia, and there is a reasonable amount of this available. Once you remove these two woods from consideration, there is almost nothing else with good figure that is currently available.For a long time woods have been imported to fill the demand . In the absence of wood with good grain, other common woods such as sono, mahony and cendana Jawa are used, however, even good sono has become difficult to obtain.

As to the possibility of the dark spots in timoho continuing an active rotting process. I have encountered only two timoho wrongkos where the dark spots had rotted away. The rot was not confined to the dark spots, but took considerable portions of the light wood as well. Both these wrongkos were Balinese. On timoho wrongkos that I have re-finished myself, I have never encountered any unusual difficulty with working the dark areas of the material; where a dark spot intruded to an edge, this edge was no more fragile where the spot was, than in the area around it. I do not believe that any special treatment is used by tukang wrongkos to treat timoho prior to use.

According to Haryono Haryoguritno, at the end of year 2000, the trade price for a piece of timoho with kendit grain, sufficient to make a wrongko, was equivalent to 7 to 10 grams of gold. This was for untried material only, that is, the wrongko had not been shaped, thus there was no certainty that the material would provide a wrongko with a good kendit. The market value is already there, if good timoho were available, it would be appearing in the market-place, but this is not the case.

In Indonesia "legal reasons" do not apply. If timoho with good grain existed, it would appear in the market-place.

fearn 25th September 2008 10:05 PM

Thanks Alan,

That information helps a lot.

If patterned timoho wood is that valuable, I'd suggest going into business making some. It looks like it's easy to grow (link), and it has uses beyond wrongko wood, which means that the whole tree could be used. What someone needs to do is to hook up with a mycologist to culture the fungus responsible for the staining. You get some trees, wound them appropriately (doesn't necessarily have to be with an insect), and inoculate with the staining fungus. Harvest a year or two later. The return from the sale of the wood would be enough to pay for the mycologist's services.

This is just a thought, not a solicitation to go into business. There are people who make a living inoculating wood with commercially important fungi, so in theory this could work. If patterned timoho wood and teak are that valuable, it would be an interesting thing for someone to try.


David 25th September 2008 10:23 PM

Originally Posted by fearn
This is just a thought, not a solicitation to go into business. There are people who make a living inoculating wood with commercially important fungi, so in theory this could work. If patterned timoho wood and teak are that valuable, it would be an interesting thing for someone to try.

Well, it is that valuable, but in a fairly limited market, so i am not so sure it would end up being a worthwhile venture. :shrug: :)

A. G. Maisey 25th September 2008 10:31 PM

Well Fearn, if you're going to try this, I strongly suggest that you do it somewhere other than Indonesia.

Amongst the people who work with this wood there are two opinions as to the cause of the dark spots:- probably the greater number of people believe that at some time the tree has been damaged, perhaps by a cut, or something else that has caused a wound, and that before the injury has healed, water containing lime has entered the wound. The second group of people believe it is a sickness that can affect any number of trees and plants, nobody gets specific about what sort of sickness.

Many years ago I read an opinion somewhere that it was caused by fungus.

I'd never heard the term "spalting" before I read it here, so I've checked it out. From what I read, spalted wood seems to be quite a bit different to timoho with dark patches. I can recall several wrongkos I have worked on where the wood in the black patch was considerably harder than the surrounding wood, which is the opposite of what people tell us spalted wood is like.

fearn 26th September 2008 12:16 AM

Hi Alan,

Well, I'm nowhere near Indonesia and have no plans to immigrate, so it's not an issue. Creating spalted wood is the kind of nutty thing that mycologists do (they're into that sort of stuff), so it's a potential win-win, if someone has the land and trees to try an experiment. It doesn't even have to be timoho or teak, although that would be traditional.

As an aside, I do have a spalted walnut walking stick. I cut it from a sapling that was in a public right-of-way, and the people clearing the area wounded it with a chainsaw. The spalting was black, and it grew around a bunch of chainsaw slashes exposed to rain, and left sitting for a year. It's about as strong as the walnut around it.

That goes towards the source of the dark stain in timoho: it's entirely possible that it comes from tree wounds open to rain. I'm not sure whether the lime is necessary, but it would be an easy enough experiment to try. It might be that alkaline rainwater in a wound favors the particular fungus that stains the wood dark, and if so, it would be *really* easy to start producing stained timoho. Just slash the bark right before a rainstorm, slather on something alkaline, and let it go.

Spalted wood, in the European sense, specifically refers to a particular wood rotting fungus that leaves a blue stain. It also weakens the wood, but the unusual color makes it a worthwhile tradeoff. There's no particular reason to think that other fungi that stain the wood will similarly weaken it, although they might. :shrug: A lot of fungi deposit dark stains (usually melanin or something similar) as they grow.

It's an interesting aside. I'm enjoying this, because I didn't know enough about keris culture to realize how important patterned wood was.


kulbuntet 8th October 2008 11:55 PM

To Marcokeris...

By the the mendaks on the pics. :cool:

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