Thread: New keris
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Old 29th July 2005, 08:17 AM   #35
Boedhi Adhitya
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Join Date: Apr 2005
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I agree with you, Marto, that "pusaka" in correct, normal, daily usage, might means heirlooms or inheritance. But I speaking about a very specific "pusaka" term, which is, I observe, used amongs keris experts in Java. So it's only exclusively used for "tosan aji", by those who understand it, and should not be extended to any other meanings. Certainly, it is not listed on the dictionary . Any "commoners" in Java, that is, non-"student-of-kerises" , might use those normal daily usage.

Many keris experts believe that it was the empus' intention which made a keris a pusaka or not. Times and changed in ownership cannot and will not change this intention inherent to the keris, but the owner certainly can change how he treats the pieces. So, I'm talking about "inherent pusaka values in the blade", not how the owner treat it, or acquire it. Someone may treats his keris(es) as pusaka while the keris itself, in fact, was not intended to be treated as so by the maker himself. But a keris which was intended to be a pusaka by it's maker, will still be as such, no matter how the owner treat it.

As the making of pusaka need a lot of effort, (materially, technically, and spiritually, not even to mentions times), which were very different to the making of other so-so kerises, any experienced keris connoiseurs should and have to be able to know, what the empu's intention really was when he hold a blade. He/she should also have to be able to judges, whether empu's intention in the blade "failed" or "succeded". In short, whether the "intention" became "reality", or not. It should shows the empu's mastery in technical and spiritual aspect. Not every intention became reality, we all know it

The traditions classified kerises' intended use as "ageman" (literally : agem =to wear, that means daily usage: for proper dressing, souvenir, exhibition,etc), senjata (literally : weapons), and "pusaka", which should bear the ageman and senjata qualities, plus a lot lot more as I mentioned in previous posting. It's oke to wear a pusaka-rated keris on daily usage, but it may cost you a lot if you loose it . But the "ageman"-rated keris should not be treated as pusaka, while it is in fact OK, but it's just "unproper", as it was not intended as so.

If we talk about Kraton's pusaka, we should consider also the political circumstances. Kraton used the pusaka as their legitimation to govern, sometimes (or always?) accompanied with a lot mystical legends and history. Well, King Arthur was doing such a thing also, wasn't he ?
Even so, the Kraton should pick their pusakas very carefully. The pusaka's quality should be so high, that no any commoner would match it. They should also employ the best living empus on their court, to add their pusakas, and thus adding the "magical powers" and then, legitimation. As Indonesia became a republic, the Kraton lost their power and thus the practices lost it's importances. Losing the power, the court also could not afford to support the living of empus and his assistant, and the support to the art was lost.

Today, Kraton Jogjakarta has no formal empu, and thus, Empu Djeno, until today, bear no name/title from Jogjakarta Court, or any court,(yes, I've verified it to my friend who is the court's servant and also keris expert when I write this post), while in fact, Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX himself personally (not on behalf of Kraton) commisioned a keris to him, using Prambanan meteor. Djeno would be the last living empu who is still practizing traditional methods, including fasting, make the offering, and chanting the mantras. Living celibate, he is now assisted by his nephew, Sungkowo. Actually, it is Sungkowo who do the "hard work", since Djeno is around 70 years old and suffering breathing difficulties, perhaps caused by breathing charcoal fumes for years. Djeno is the youngest son of Empu Supowinangun, the official empu of Kepatihan (prime minister's office) of Jogjakarta. His lineage is reliable, because the Ngenta-ngenta village is a well-known empu's village, and there are the graveyard especially devoted to empus, which many of them, are Djeno ancestors. Supowinangun also a capable empu, as his works reveal (I've seen an authentic ones). But Supowinangun never taught the "empu-hood" to Djeno on purpose. Djeno was learning by doing, assisting his father.

Just for information, the are two kind of Court Servant (Abdi Dalem) in Jogjakarta's Court, first the "Abdi Dalem Kaprajan" (praja=government), which consist of Abdi Dalems who are still active in civil/military services, the second is "Abdi Dalem Panakawan" (pana=to witness, to know, kawan=friend), which consist of Abdi Dalems with other occupation in community. The Kraton Jogjakarta ranks today are (as I recall, might miss some) : Jajar, Bekel (Raden/Mas Bekel), Lurah (Raden/Mas Lurah), Wedana (Raden/Mas Wedana), Riya (Raden/Mas Riya), Tumenggung (Kanjeng Raden/Mas Tumenggung). KRT would be the highest. For Kaprajan, the rank would be matched to his service, e.g. the Lt. Col. in military would be titled KRT ("Raden" only for those who able to show hereditary lineage to a king, commoners would be assigned "Mas"), while Panakawan must follow the order from the lowest, just like the military serice. Thus, since Djeno have not enlisted himself as Abdi Dalem, the Jogjakarta Court didn't give him any title/rank/name, until now.

Thus, any other keris makers bearing title from Kraton would be from Surakarta Court. Among them is Mas Lurah Pusposukadgo (or Fauzan, as mentioned by Marto), an antique/keris dealer who become keris maker. Today, he makes keris no more. Others are Suparman (I forgot the title), was a keris collector, Subandi (i forgot the title also), a lecturer in STSI Surakarta who teach a keris making, once a student of Fauzan, KRT Sukoyodipuro and Hartono from Surabaya, was an antique/keris dealer, and founded the Besalen Condroaji, with many students/followers in Madiun and Malang, East Java. As I could recall, while they bear the Kraton Surakarta's title (and thus a "Formal Kraton's Empu"), but they never made a pusaka commisioned by Kraton Surakarta. Some of them, buying the "saton" or half-finished kerises from Madura and just do the cold-working/finishing. By doing this, they may cut-off the forging failure (which may quite often, just ask the damascus blademakers) which may cost a lot. Most of them working on Surakarta nem-neman style, if not copying. A fine Jogjakarta style is a rarity, probably because no example for them to copy. (I will not gives a comment to "commercial", whether it's the empu, or the title itself)

In Bali, while there are some court, (Gianyar, Karangasem, Singaraja and Klungkung, amongs them) the best pieces were made in the Klungkung Court. (Balinesse collectors say this, not me. So if you need a proof, I suggest you go to Bali this summer, )

To became the master empus (not so-so empu), ones, at least, should fullfil these requirements :
1. Very sound mastery in technical aspect on making kerises/edged weapons, these including (but not limited to): choosing the materials, preparing, forging, cold working and tempering. In the old days, these knowledges might be kept as a secret (in fact, "making weapon" is still a secret today, consider the nuclear weapon. Making very fine weapons, in the old days, might be treated as such). So, It was only the direct line of descendant (preferably famous empus) or a sound apprenticeship would guarantee this.
2. Mastery on keris's symbolistic languages and philosophy. That's why some dhapur, like Nagas, are very rare. Those dhapurs were reserved for the court members only. Any Master Empus would refuse the commoners who commisioned these. In fact, Traditional Empus would always asking the date of birth, hereditary lineage, occupation and the particular wish(es) of those who commisioned the pusaka-rated keris, if he can afford to commisioned one, then match this information to one of the dhapur and pamor he considered "proper". (today, only Empu Djeno who still doing this)
3. Very sound sense of art, especially in shape's harmony/balance. Might only learn by "handling the fine pieces", which unfortunatly, held by Kraton. "Mutrani" practices (copying the fine old work) would be the way for empu to master this sense.
4. Last but not least, "spiritualy capable".
To be able to make a masterpieces, this requirement also has to be fullfiled :
5. Have an access to best materials exist. (good iron and steel might be regulated by the court, just like the uranium today . Its also cost a lot).

Thus, patronage from Kraton for master empus seems inevitable, and indeed, the kratons themselves seek the best empu exist. Any master empus who is unwilling to gave the service to the court might be considered as a dissident.
Today, to became a master empu, someone seems had to have at least a doctoral degree in metallurgy, philosophy, art and "spiritual", all at once.

Once again, cultural diffrences may apply
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