Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
The keris is a symbol of the male.
This is recorded in the earliest Javanese literature and is still the case today. I doubt that there is anybody who would challenge this assertion.
In Javanese culture, even numbers are feminine numbers, and uneven numbers are male numbers.
The waves in a keris must always be of an uneven number --- we can hardly have a symbol of the masculine bearing feminine characteristics.
The keris in its completness is a symbol of the male - going into details we can devide again into male and female aspects.
In opposition we have the textiles as a symbol for the female princip.
This is not a special javanese concept but it is to find all over the archipelago.
But comming from an outside culture with our learned thinking and how to view things - which we will never be able to lay besides - we have to be careful with interpretations about especially believing concepts of cultures we do not belong to or better, were we not were born into.
The interpretation of uneven numbers of a javanese keris-blade as a symbol for the male princip of the keris is in my eyes or after my understanding an overinterpretation.
"The waves in a keris must always be of an uneven number --- we can hardly have a symbol of the masculine bearing feminine characteristics
What is with the attribution of the keris-blade in general with the snake or naga
, a female princip representing the underworld (female) and kept under control by the hilt which usually represent the male princip (ganesha, ancestor, raksasa, dewa, etc.).
As already said above, the system of even - uneven numbers, male - female, white - black, up -down etc. is not a specific javanese matter, it is to find all over the archipelago and represents the polaristic worldview of the cultures.
To overtake the sample with the uneven numbers of a javanese keris blade, as a symbol for the male princip, to Sumba hinggi, which is reflecting in general the female princip, would say, that the always uneven number of panels, the hinggis are devided into, would reflect the female princip - and who wants to postulate this?
In my eyes, the uneven numbers of a keris blade or the panels of a hinggi just reflect the polaristic princip. In Jawa there is a system known or discussed as moncapat lima
(2+1=3; 4+1=5; 8+1=9 etc.) and its facily said based on the stucture of the old-javanese villages which where structured in the way of the 4 points of the compas and the over all standing 1 center-point (market place) so we come to 4+1=5 and so on.
This you also can reflect to the wavy keris-blade if sometimes the question comes if there are blades with even numbers. The answer is no, as you always have to ad this over all standing centre. In traditional villages there not only has been the market place but also the highest godness(es) etc. (think of western vilages, what is in the centre, the church, the pub and the market - places to pray and to meet).
The are other interprations besides just the male and female aspect, although it always will be a part of it but this will go to far here. Who is interested into it should read the assays from Rassers and the so-called "Leidener School" and the critism upon it.
Finally is to say: The system of the even and uneven numbers is not just a system of male and female but it is system of the polaristic worldview with the male and female parts as counterparts and an all overstanding central part where both other parts become one.
So far at the moment - usually I have no time - but this theme I couldn't let run without a comment.