Thread: Apropos display
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Old 21st May 2010, 12:47 AM   #13
A. G. Maisey
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Rasdan, my interest is primarily in origin of the keris, as such I look at the keris from the viewpoint of the keris at the time of its appearance in its modern form.

In any culture, time alters perception.

Javanese and all other cultures as we see them today and in the immediate past, are not the same, nor do they have the same standards, that they may have had at some time in the past.

In the year 2010 we are 200 years in advance of the time when Raffles observed that the keris in Jawa had become similar in its place in society to the small sword in Europe in the middle of the previous century.

You have asked:-

"---What about kerises that are attributed as female or a patrem, if it have luk why do you think it still have odd numbered luks? Or is it a female keris or a patrem must be a straight one? Does a straight keris portrays both gender etc?---"

To answer this question we need to first know the time, place and reason for some women to be permitted to carry keris.

We know that in Bali in comparatively recent times it was not at all unusual for a woman to stab herself in the heart with a family or borrowed keris before throwing herself upon her husband's funeral pyre. This also occurred during the puputans, and in olden times women would commit suicide, sometimes by stabbing, rather than be taken captive by invading soldiers.

Consider this within the Hindu framework:- a woman cannot have an existence in the absence of her male counterpart, be that woman wife or concubine. Philosophically she has no alternative but to leave society at the same time as her husband.

I doubt that we can answer the question of when and why women were first permitted to carry keris, but what we do know is that the women who carry patrem are usually members of a Kraton hierarchy. It could be theorized that the keris is symbolic of intention to commit suicide in the event of the death of her husband, or of her honour being put under threat.

In a case where a patrem has a waved blade, I believe that we can have confidence that this blade was made at a time subsequent to general understanding of the principles governing correct fabrication of a keris blade.

In other words, whoever made it got it wrong.
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