Join Date: May 2006
Gustav, as you know, last year I looked at and photographed a number of very early keris held in several European museums.
In some cases I was unable to read the pamor, either because of the poor condition of the surface, or because the surface was polished.
In some cases the pamor was surface manipulated.
In only one keris was the pamor a miring pamor. This was keris EDB.16 held in Copenhagen. This keris probably entered the collection in 1674. My note reads:- "pamor skilfully manipulated, no name"
I am not prepared to say that pamor miring did not exist in Jawa prior 1700, but it was most certainly was not widespread.
I do not now possess, and I have never possessed a genuinely old Javanese keris, that is a keris that I have good reason to believe may date from before 1700, with a complex pamor miring. I cannot recall ever having seen such a keris.
It is most probable that the skills to produce complex pattern welds were brought to Jawa by Muslim metal workers. These people settled on the North Coast and in parts of East Jawa, rather than in the hinterland. In my opinion the skills used by the people of the Southern Philippines to produce complex pattern welds were brought to the Southern Philippines by Muslim metal workers, just as they were brought to Jawa by Muslim metal workers.
However, the metal workers who took the skills to the Philippines were very probably descendants of the original craftsmen who came from outside Maritime SE Asia. The craftsmen who spread the skills through Maritime S.E. Asia very probably came from the North Coast of Jawa and Madura.
Whenever I have shown photos of the blade of my Brunei keris to knowledgeable Javanese keris authorities they have given the opinion that it is Madura work, and this is also my opinion. Not "Made in Madura", but made by a Madura craftsman, or a craftsman who was trained by a Madura craftsman.
I really do not think that Central Jawa plays a part in this spread of form and technique at all, in my opinion it all came from the North Coast, which followed on from the original trade routes of Majapahit --- which of course were a development of earlier trade routes.