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Old 14th December 2007, 01:03 AM   #29
Boedhi Adhitya
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Adelaide
Posts: 103

Dear Michel,
I'm afraid my note wasn't published. I recall there is another published note regarding keris making, by Museum Sonobudoyo Yogyakarta. Only a small booklet, without illustration. I believe you won't miss much without both. Keris making is and always be a handicraft. No rigid sequences could be established. I believe Empu Djeno was 'pushed' a little bit to make a rigid sequence presciption, as he was under constant questioning on how to make keris. Keris making art was considered as a lost-art at 60's. Without Mr. Dietrich Dresser's persistence, it would be a real lost-art. So when the 'resurrection' happened, it was quite shocking a bit.

Dear Pak Alan,
The word 'ngleseh, IMHO, is definitely Javanese. As I've written before, you have made a good, literal translation. But I chose not to translate it literally. Instead, I tried to find an equal terminology in western metalworking vocabularies. If you were suggesting the meaning of ngleseh as 'spreading the blade/blank by hot forging', thus, widen it under hammer, I must say I'm disagree. According to my note, ngleseh was done JUST AFTER the ngluroni/annealing/soften the blade. Empu Djeno employed 3 ngleseh steps, all immediately after ngluroni. Thus, ngluroni must be interpreted as a step to make ngleseh easier, and ngleseh must be a cold working. Another, last, ngluroni was done just before 'ngelus'=to smoothen/erase the chisel/rough file marks. Needles to say, ngluroni also makes ngelus easier.
I think no other word could describe Ngleseh properly such as 'rasping', or 'filing the billet to reveal the pamor and make a rough contour' (but ones can use Japanese's sen if he prefers, instead of file/rasp file). The width of the billet should be readily adjusted under 'ngilap' step.

Ones could easily 'lost' in the chaotic world of Javanese grammar and vocabularies. Frankly, I don't think Javanese follow a 'rigid' grammar and vocabularies when they speak daily. What they use as a guidance is 'Rasa', literally means 'feeling', but it means much more than feeling. Everything spoken within context and under prescribed assumption. Most of this assumption is unspoken. A word can be twisted to unlimited meaning, depending on the context. "Plesetan", or playing with words(?) is a common jokes.

I agree with you that "traditional keris making terms", while not all, could be an exclusive property of Empu Djeno. He was under constant pressure to answer all questions regarding keris making. It might push him to "invent" several terms, just to make it more concise and easier to explain. Unfortunately, it is not so concise for many of us, which didn't come directly face-to-face with Empu Djeno. Even a thick book of Guritno didn't help a desperate men like Michel.

Regarding the term 'guwaya', I believe it is not as easy as you've already explained. Indeed, guwaya is influenced by proper marangi. I'm fully understand what you meant about 'guwaya cebleh' and 'guwaya mendasar' ('mendasar' is Indonesian. I think it is not 'recognizable' under strictly Javanese language), but I prefer called it as 'warangan cebleh' and 'warangan mapan'. In Jogja, we refer 'cebleh' as 'welu' : A look of someone just after getting out of the bed in the morning. It's remedy is re-etching, mostly. A properly applied warangan can surely enhance the guwaya, but some blade which had already 'lost' it's guwaya is beyond help. If guwaya is as simple as properly applied warangan, then why should Guritno put it as one of criteria in keris selection? (Gebyar, Guwaya, Wingit, Wibawa, if I'm not mistaken). I've been taught that guwaya is much more than just a blade's ability to be well-stained. In fact, one of the main criticism on contemporary kerises is it's lack of Guwaya, when many of them have an appealing appearance. If ones insist me to define guwaya, than I may say that guwaya is "something that missing in the ones' picture/photograph compared to the real him/her". Surely, going to beautician would help ones appearance, but some faces, which is 'beyond help', would not.

Regarding the Keris Carving Competition (I agree with you to name it a keris carving), I would say, Japanese Sword Making Competition, along with limitation on production, would be an ideal model. But if it really applied, well, a much more complication would arise. Seeing the good side, the competition reintroduce the keris to the society. You know how 'ordinary' Indonesian sees keris as a 'dukun's tool'.
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