Thread: Apropos display
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Old 21st May 2010, 02:50 PM   #18
A. G. Maisey
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I thank you Guwaya for taking time from your extremely busy schedule to provide a response to my simplistic and limited comments in respect of the understanding of the keris from the numerological aspect.

I thank you most sincerely for providing your explanation of the term "polarism" .
I do not know this as an English word, and I must admit it did confuse me. Polarity I know, but although I have consulted a number of references, I could not find polarism. Your explanation has clarified your interpretation of this term. Thank you.

In general, I can find very little with which to disagree in your response to my comments.

I chose to introduce the Hindu theme because it is valid, as we know from the early literature, and I do agree that this Hindu influence must be understood within a Javanese context, as I have already stated.

We seem to be of like mind when it comes to the acknowledgement that cultural mores change over time, as they must, for any culture that rejects change soon becomes a dead culture. As Panembahan Hardjonagoro (Alm.) pointed out to you, new influences which affect a culture must be taken in and by the process of syncretism absorbed into the body of the existing culture, only by this process can the core values of the existing culture be preserved. Javanese culture is well known for its long and continued use of the syncretic process, and this is the prime reason for its continued vitality.

I do find your rejection of the principle of dualism as applicable to Javanese culture and society rather interesting. Just as I find your use of the term "polarism" interesting. I tend to believe that you may have some rather unique ideas about Javanese culture and society, and I would be interested in hearing more of these ideas. I think I recognise what you are attempting to come to terms with by use of the concept (as you express it) of polarism. I do not yet know if I like this approach or not. My feeling is that there is no difference between us in our positions, but perhaps a difference in expression of those positions.

The keris is not India --- who will argue with you? I myself destroyed this idea more than 10 years ago.

Textiles : weapons ? yes, we know that.

Distrust of cultural interpretations from those not born into a culture? A recurrent theme and one that is as easily supported as it is destroyed. Very often the cultural interpretations from those born into a culture are as defective as the interpretations from those who have come from outside the culture. It is quality of the research and understanding that counts, and this is not dependent upon place of birth.

As you remark, this discussion is becoming far too diverse for this venue, and I can only agree with you. The problem here is that in order to provide a small foundation for people with a very limited understanding of the ideas and concepts at play in respect of a cultural icon like the keris, we need to introduce a very small amount of material that by its extremely limited nature is open to criticism by anybody with even a smattering of understanding of the subject matter. What I wrote on the numerological interpretation of the keris was intended to provide just sufficient information so that those with limited understanding could begin to have some comprehension of the complexity of the matter with which we are dealing, and perhaps, if their interest was sufficiently aroused to begin some further research for themselves.

But now I think it is time to consider your most interesting comments of all:-


"--- I can hardly find an interpretation which attributes the uneven numbers of luk to the male princip of the keris.---"

I find this to be a revealing statement, and I do hope that in time to come you will find the evidence you currently need.

"--- Hence, regarding the theme of symbolism of the keris it would possibly better to take a keris pesi iras as we here better can see an clearify the concept of opposite pairs and tho over all standing concept of polarism.---"

This sentence I simply do not understand. Please accept my apologies for my mental incapacity.

"--- Taking a keris pesi iras is a good way to introduce this polaristic concept as we have the blade (snake = female and the hilt = representing an ancestor or anthropomorphic figure = male). Both controll via the theoretical concept of the polarism each other and finally build the entirety.---"

This statement is fascinating to say the least, and I am certain I would enjoy immensely a reading of your argument in support of these ideas.


Just as a matter of interest, do you consider the keris as symbolic of snakes in general, or of serpents, or of nagas? Do you differentiate between these three groups? Or, do you consider the keris as representative of a particular entity? How do you understand the idea of "naga", as it applies to Javanese Hindu thought?

I like your style Guwaya: much of what you have set forth is quite close to my own understanding of perhaps 40 years ago.
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