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Old 3rd January 2015, 08:23 PM   #25
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,874

This comment is not intended to contribute to any understanding of what the pommel form under discussion may represent, I am making only a general comment that may assist a little in understanding the position of birds in S.E. Asian cultures.

In all of maritime S.E. Asia birds play a very important role in societal structure, belief systems, burial rites, and virtually all other aspects of culture and society. Probably a similar situation exists in mainland S.E.Asia, but I have not looked at these cultures and societies in any depth.

The bird in general, and sometimes in particular, such as is the case with the cockatoo and the hornbill, are seen as occupying a position between the material world and the spirit world.

However, birds in general are seen as only one half of a cultural pair, the other half is the serpent.

Understood as a pair the bird and the serpent can then be seen as symbolic of all the hierarchies upon which S.E. Asian cultures and societies are based. The dualism represented by the serpent and the bird penetrates all aspects of S.E. Asian belief systems and life. A moment's thought and a minimal knowledge of the S.E. Asian cultures ad societies will provide more than sufficient examples of this.

Consider:- seen world : unseen world; the underground : the heavens; senior status (in all its forms) : junior status ( in all its forms); masculinity : femininity; dry season : wet season; dark : light; ruler : servant.

All these things are mutually dependent, one upon the other:- dark cannot exist without light, man cannot exist without woman, thus the existence of each maintains cosmic balance.

The serpent and the bird are the foundation symbols of this dualism upon which the systems that hold S.E. Asian cultures and societies together are based. These symbols penetrate all thought, perhaps not as conscious thought, but most certainly as a constant part of the sub-conscious.

When we discuss keris, or weapons, or any other part of the physical culture of any S.E. Asian society, we cannot really come to terms with the things that may interest us unless we first come to terms with the basic fabric of the culture and of the society that has produced that thing.

Something to think about:-

have you ever wondered why the dominant hilt forms associated with the keris are either ancestor related or bird related?

the true keris is a cosmic symbol, thus just as the blade represents one part of a duality, the hilt represents the other part of the duality.
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