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Old 31st October 2017, 01:18 PM   #8
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2,163
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Hello Alan,

All collectors love perfection.

I think that is probably a reasonably correct comment. It doesn't only apply to keris, nor only to edged weapons in general, but to all sorts of collectables --- coins, sea shells, paper weights --- and so on.

But in the case of keris, I am not at all certain that perfection of fit and finish is really a desirable objective. Many years ago I used to be certain that every keris should be a perfect example of fit & finish, and that art should shine through at all costs.

Maybe sometimes this might be desirable. Maybe. But many years of close observation of keris wear and use in keris bearing societies has tended to modify the obsessions of my early collecting years so that I now feel that if a complete keris has been a coherent entity for a reasonably long period of time, it is probably a more sympathetic approach to leave as found and not impose my ideas upon the ideas of previous owners.

Thanks Alan, for emphasising the museum approach!

I agree that keris which have a high chance to represent honest examples of what traditional owners carried in the 19th century or earlier should not be messed with nor "improved" cosmetically unless longterm conservation is compromised! Sorrily, keris in this category are getting fewer and fewer every day due to well-intentioned "upgrading," matters of taste, or mere marketing tricks.

I was hoping for some background info on provenance and agree that this keris should be kept intact if it can be verified (or, at least, made plausible) that this ensemble is antique (or close)...

OTOH, if the pendokok can be shown to be recent (like post-independence), I'd have no qualms to modify (or change) it: At the lower end of quality there may be an endless mix'n'match approach without hope for any traditional rules. However, status pieces usually conform to local aesthetics. I'm sure you can think of keris Jawa assembled from perfectly legitimate parts which would be considered to be an eye sore and unacceptable to wear in public (possibly a Solo ukiran with Yogya wronko or vice versa). I believe this pendokok to belong to a similar category and, thus, would consider exchanging it unless reasonable provenance can be established. If opting for changing it, the current one should still be kept with the keris for future reference, indeed!

kai is offline   Reply With Quote