Join Date: May 2006
Neo, everything that Pak Boedhi has said has my complete endorsement.
I strongly recommend that you take note of all of his words.
The "underlaying motivation" is important, however, over the time I have studied the keris, my underlaying motivation has changed direction a number of times, and I feel that this could be true of many of us who have devoted a great deal of time and money to the study of the keris. There are many facets to the keris, and those many facets reflect the many reasons that people have and maintain an interest in the keris.
The problem of misrepresentation is a real one. It sounds as if you might have been bitten already, and this is unfortunate, however, if it will make you feel any better, you can be assured that everybody who has had an interest in keris for more than 5 minutes, has also been bitten.This includes some of the biggest and most respected names associated with keris.
In fact, the man who a few years ago was recognised as perhaps the most knowledgeable man in respect of keris, in Indonesia, was also recognised by the Solo Keris Mafia as a very soft target for forgeries. To trap him, all that was necessary was to present something for his approval that had all the appearance of age, but was of a type or style that had not been previously seen.
I could quote a number of other examples of highly respected authorities being fooled, however, all you need to remember is that as long as you maintain an interest in keris, you will continue to see keris being presented as other than what they really are.
The only protection is knowledge, experience, and extreme caution.
It appears that you are resident in Indonesia, and this makes things both easier for you, and more difficult for you.
Easier, because you are within reach of teachers.
More difficult , because you need to apply different and far more difficult standards to your search for knowledge:- that which serves as knowledge within the keris collecting community outside Jawa is only of minimal value for a collector who lives in Jawa.
You have asked this question:-
So people can determine the age and value of keris without using the tangguh standards?
There are a number of answers to this question, all of which are correct, and all of which are flawed.
I suggest that you should keep an open mind.
Tangguh means exactly what it says:- it is an estimate, or an opinion.
Many people say "tangguh nggak sungguh"
In other words, it is not real.
My teacher was Empu Suparman Supowijoyo (Alm.), he was 100% kejawen. For him if a keris was tangguh Majapahit, that meant it was made in Majapahit. However, Pak Parman's standards to classify something as Majapahit were very, very much more stringent than most people apply, so perhaps he was right when he considered a keris he classified as Majapahit as having been produced during the Majapahit era. My own approach is not as inflexible as my teacher's, and this is undoubtedly because my knowledge and experience are only as drops of water, compared to an ocean.
Amongst people who understand tangguh, we can be relatively confident that a keris of an old classification will not be classified as a more recent classification. There can often be differences of opinion as to exactly what tangguh a keris might be, and these differences of opinion multiply when we move away from very good quality keris in good condition, and attempt to apply the guidelines for tangguh classification to lower quality keris in poor condition.
The question of "quality" in a keris can be open to a degree of interpretation, but when we consider the concept of keris quality in purely physical terms, we find that there is remarkably little difference of opinion in respect of this matter amongst knowledgeable people of equivalent experience.
Neo, it appears that you are resident in Indonesia. In my opinion the course of action that you should follow is to find a knowledgeable and experienced person to teach you. This will not be easy, and it could take a very long time to find somebody with the requisite level of knowledge who is also willing and able to teach. Possibly involvement with a local keris study society may be of some assistance in helping to open some doors for you.
You can be certain of this:- there are not enough days of your life to gain even the beginning of keris knowledge.
Yes, that's one of the problems, but perhaps a bigger problem is that different people have different opinions.
Nobody with any knowledge will ever classify Pajajaran as Mataram Sultan Agung, however, you might easily find the situation where some people will classify Koripan as Mataram Sultan Agung.
At its core, the tangguh system has a solid foundation to assist analysis, but this solid foundation is not widely known or used, and we get the situation where people will say that something is , for example, Pajang, without being able to say precisely why they classify it as Pajang, except that it looks and feels like Pajang.