Join Date: May 2006
David has just raised a question that I have answered that probably requires a little further explanation.
Guwaya has also commented in respect of the principle of numerical assignment on the basis of gender :- "--- 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 modern keris made its appearance in Jawa at a time when the dominant philosophy and religious system in Jawa was Hindu. Thus, although the keris is beyond doubt a product of Javanese thought, it is Javanese thought under the influence of Hindu culture.
Hindu culture cannot be understood in the absence of an understanding of numerology and astrology. These are basic principles in the organization of Hindu society. Thus, if we are to understand the nature of the keris at the time of its development to the modern form, we need to understand it within the parameters of Hindu culture in Jawa. This understanding necessarily involves an understanding of Hindu principles of numerology in their Javanese context.
It also involves an understanding of duality as this applies within Hindu and Javanese thought.
The keris can be understood in a purely numerological context, but with Hindu numerology the interpretation of the numbers involved requires an understanding of the basic matrix governing the thing that is to be evaluated.
In the case of the keris, we have an object that is undeniably a symbol of the male, but an object that in some circumstances can be a symbol of the family, community or society.
In its incarnation as a male symbol it requires assessment within a purely male matrix, but in its assessment as family symbol, that matrix alters, as it does for assessment as a community or society symbol.
For example, keris waves in a Javanese keris normally range between 1 and 13. The numbers from 3 to 9 are undeniably male numbers, however, when we come to the compound numbers of 11 and 13, these can be interpreted as either 1 + 1 and 1 + 3, or 2 and 4. The number 1 can be read as an absolute, thus representative of the divine, or it can be read as male. The way the interpretation is applied is dependent upon the factors influencing the interpretation.
If we consider the nature of the numbers from 1 to 5, we will see that there is an overwhelming spiritual tone to a reading, however, when we move beyond 5 we find that there is a tendency to move towards the material.
Thus, although the primary interpretation of gender assignment to the keris must always be male, a much deeper knowledge of applicable factors may introduce elements of the female as a part of the male. In Hindu thought no man is complete in the absence of a woman, no woman is complete in the absence of a man:- the two together make the whole, and that whole forms the basis for the fabric of society.
Thus, consideration of the keris itself, that is, the blade, must always be within the male matrix, however, when that blade gains a hilt and a scabbard we are looking at the addition of things which contribute to completeness, and the complete keris is thus able to considered within a matrix that incorporates the female element, just as family and society incorporate the female element.
The above attempt at explanation is an extremely simplistic one, but I have tried to keep it within parameters that I hope will be easily understood.