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Old 13th December 2007, 08:16 PM   #28
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,518

Pak Boedhi, please forgive me, but I would prefer not to comment directly upon the work of people who have recently left us.Pak Djeno was a keris maker. That in my opinion is sufficient comment.

Regarding the word "ngleseh". As I said in a previous post, I often cannot tell if I am hearing Indonesian or Javanese. Because I have never had formal instruction in either language, if somebody tells me they are using Indonesian, I accept that, even though they may be using Javanese that they know I will understand. So, when I read those captions in Haryoguritno's book, I thought--oh yes, we've got Indonesian/Javanese as she is spoke by my neighbours.Most, if not all of the words used in those captions are easily understood with just a little bit of mental gymnastics---probably no more than is necessary than that which we need to use when people start to play with words, or give them their own pronunciations.That being so, I understood ngleseh just as it is---spread out on the ground; now, since we are talking about keris-work, the "ground" obviously is the forging we are working on, and the "spreading out" is the spreading of the area being worked on. To me, this is clearly figurative language. I don't read it as having an entirely different meaning such as rasping, or filing, but rather, as having a figurative meaning, easily understood in the workplace.

Ngempleng ada-ada might be understood in keris making as to precisely centre the ada-ada, but that's sure not what it means. Again, we can twist things a bit, and extract the intended meaning, but for somebody not familiar with the game of making keris, it could be a bit confusing.

Actually, it would not surprise me if many of these "traditional keris making terms" were the exclusive property of Empu Djeno alone, or perhaps his family, or the geographic area in which he worked.

Regarding the word "guwaya". This has been explained to me by those I trust, as being of two types:- guwaya cebleh---when the blade is stained it will be pale and unattractive; guwaya mendasar---when stained the blade will appear prestigious and attractive.
Perhaps "charisma" could be an acceptable English word . Certainly no blade will present with good charisma if it is unable to be well stained.

Regarding the length of time taken to make a blade.
If we count in days, this does not necessarily mean a day as somebody in the west would think of a day, that is, a space of time with 24 , sixty minute hours, or the working component of that 24 hour space, say 8, or 10 hours.
In Javanese thought different days have different values, so if we select the days upon which we work, we can work on a day with a value of two, and we have worked two days; we can work on a day with a value of three, and we have worked three days----and so on.
To forge a simple wos wutah blade should not take any longer than two days of 8 hours for a smith and a striker.
Empu Suparman could finish such a forging, working with traditional hand tools, and working between 6 and 8 hours each day, in 14 days.
Thus, four man/days for forging, 14 man/days for making, total 18 man/days to make one fullsize keris with pamor wos wutah.

I have made a number of keris. The shortest time it has ever taken me is 17 man/days of 8 to 10 hours including forging, for a tilam sari. The longest time it ever took me was 49 man/days of 8 to 10 hours for a little pasupati. Total time for each includes one man/day for a striker in the tilam sari work time, and two strikers for three days for the pasupati, giving 6 striker man/days.These keris were made with traditional tools, not grinders, nor any other electric tools, with the exception of an electric blower for the forge, used for the tilam sari.

My personal opinion of these "keris making" competitions is that they are farcical. They are carving competitions, and they are constrained by time. To my way of thinking, they are practically worthless.To me, they have no meaning. If they want a real competition the competitors should forge their own keris, and then work on it freed from time constraints. What artwork is produced under the public gaze and subject to time constraints? These competitions are a nonsense, and every time I think of them it makes me angry. This is the degradation and cheapening of art.A better solution would be to hold an annual national competition, with each contestant entering his best work for the year.A true art competition.Not this publicity grabbing rubbish that is being staged now.

The two blades I mention as taking 17 man/days and 49 man/days can be seen here:-
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