Thread: Greneng
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Old 13th November 2007, 09:36 PM   #23
A. G. Maisey
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As I remarked in my previous post, we have wandered away from the spirit of the original question .

Yes, "greneng" does mean to grumble,yes, we can find other words in modern Javanese that contain the syllable "dha", however, as far as I can ascertain, the word "greneng" did not exist in Old Javanese. Those with knowledge in the field of Javanese linguistics tell us that up until the time of Mataram the language spoken in Jawa was more akin to Old Javanese than to Modern Javanese.If we can accept that the greneng and ron dha were in existence prior to Mataram, then I believe we must also accept that greneng as a name for this feature is one which has come into usage since the 17th century.

Based upon the fact that the greneng can be found in keris originating in areas to which it spread during the Majapahit era, it is a reasonable assumption that the greneng did exist prior to Mataram.

The question has been raised as to whether the kembang kacang is a product of form following function.
Why stop at the kembang kacang?
Why not ask if all features to be found in the modern keris are a product of form following function?
My answer to this would be that yes, of course they are.
But the question remains:- what was that function?

I have already said:-

"I am of the opinion that the greneng, and its integral parts, were added to the keris to satisfy a percieved need associated with its function as something other than a weapon.

So yes, form does follow function, but the function of the keris at the time the greneng was added to it had already begun to move from that of a simple weapon."

David has said a similar thing using different words:-

"--- that function need not be a physically one."

Thus, my answer to the question of whether the ricikan of a keris were put in place for a specific reason, to serve a specific function, must be that most definitely they were.

But what was that function?

How can we begin to even consider a rational answer to this question when there is as yet no clear answer to the nature of the keris from the point where it began to develop into the modern keris?

In respect of the keris in pre-Islamic Jawa we have a number of barely grasped concepts that it is entirely possible we may never grasp, simply because our way of looking at the world and its structure is so very much different to the way in which people in pre-Islamic Jawa looked at the world.

If we are to come to even the smallest understanding of the reason for the incorporation of the greneng, the ron dha, the kembang kacang, etc, etc, etc , into the form of the modern keris, then we must first endeavour to come to an understanding of the nature of the keris at the point in time when these features began to appear.

This is what I identify as the problem:-

a)--at what point in time did the keris begin to display features that are difficult, if not impossible, to explain in terms of its function as a weapon?

b)--what societal and cultural factors were in existence at that time which may have been instrumental in the appearance of these features?

These are the matters which must be addressed before we can begin to hypothesize upon the reason for the greneng.
We must first come to an understanding of the culture of the society which gave birth to the modern keris.
If we can construct a supportable answer to my two questions, then we have placed ourselves into a position where we may be able to hypothesize upon the nature of the keris within that cultural framework, and then the reason for the greneng.

So gentlemen, can we begin to consider this question in a logical and structured manner?

The question that Dr. David has raised is a very, very important question. It is positioned at the core of our understanding of the keris, and of early Javanese society. A question such as this must be addressed with respect, care, thought, knowledge and logic. To do otherwise would be disrespectful to both the keris and the culture which gave it birth.

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