Join Date: May 2006
David, the Jakarta based keris group of people did change the rules.
This blade is pure Kemardikan, and that places it outside any traditional framework. It does not pretend to be anything other than what it is, it is not pretending to be Peninsula, nor Sumatran, nor Javanese. Nope. Its Kemardikan and proud of it. It does definitely have some East Javanese characteristics in there as well, but its not pretending to be East Javanese either.
Yes, I agree with you, in older, more traditionally made blades we do find more open-work in Peninsula blades, however since the late 1980's Sumenep, and Sumenep influenced craftsmen, have been making keris blades that display open-work. I had one some years ago that was all open work, top to bottom, a total filigree job.
If we take a look at "Court Arts of Indonesia" --- Helen Ibbotson Jessup, we can see a number of examples of open-work in the broad expanse of Javanese art. Perhaps the most frequent use of open-work as a Javanese art attribute can be found in wayang puppets, and especially in the gunungan.
In keris we can find limited openwork in keris of royal quality, and in other tosan aji. In "Court Arts ---" there is a very nice keris betok that is attributed to the 19th century (a false attribution actually, but that is a different story) that is completely filigreed with a Kekayon motif (Tree of Life, which refers to the Gunungan).
Open work, or filigree work, or krawang work in keris and in other art forms , is not exclusive to objects from the Malay Peninsula, it is common in Jawa, and I think that further detailed research would show that in fact it occurs right across the Indonesian Archipelago.