Thread: hilt material ?
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Old 12th January 2010, 02:34 AM   #77
A. G. Maisey
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Michel, I agree with you in that the assessment of the age of any object depends upon the assumptions we can form from indications provided by physical characteristics, where a verifiable provenance is not available.

In my post # 54 I attempted to make the point that although the presence of a particular symbol may be able to be linked to a particular starting point that can be dated, the absence of this symbol does not necessarily mean that the object which fails to bear the symbol does in fact pre-date the use of the symbol.

Let me try to illustrate this logic with a simple example:-

here in Australia we began to receive TV broadcasts during the mid-1950's

if we were to see list of the contents of a typical Australian lounge room from the 20th century, and that lounge room contained a TV set, we could say with certainty that it was a lounge room from after the 1950's

however, if were were to see list of the contents of a typical Australian lounge room, and there was no TV set present, could we say with any certainty that we were looking at an Australian lounge room of the period prior to the 1950's ?

No, we most definitely could not draw that conclusion.

Similarly, the absence in a Madura hilt of symbolism relating to the Dutch cannot be taken as evidence that the hilt dates from a time before Madurese involvement with the Dutch.

I have a lot of Madura hilts. I cannot with any certainty tell the age of any of them. I can see condition in respect of wear and patina, and based upon my general knowledge of the aging characteristics of various materials I am perhaps prepared to hazard a guess at age, but for me, that's just about where it stops.


Re the sun.

Martin Kerner was a very likeable man.However, he was a very likeable man with a lot of rather peculiar and unsubstantiated opinions in respect of the keris. If Martin links the sun on Madura hilts with the Surakarta court symbol, I would need to know exactly how he came to that opinion. Regretably he did not provide very many references in his works.

The other reference:-

cultureel Indie deel 8 over Madurese krisgrepen. [[[Cultural indie part 8, about Maduran Keris hilts]]]


I am not familiar with, however, I would be looking for similar verification in that reference also:- what was the original source of the information and was it verified, if so, how?

I'm sorry Michel, but my attitude towards keris related information has become more and more difficult as I have grown older. I have come across too much hearsay and opinion presented as fact to allow me to accept any sort of spongy reference as evidence of fact.


However, setting all that to one side for the moment, lets look at the use of a symbol which appears to be the sun, in these Madura hilts.

Sun symbolism is widespread around the world. It is found in both Europe and the Orient.It is a common symbol in many forms in Indonesia, and although it is found in Indonesian localities as far back as the bronze age, its appearance as a motif after the early classical period can probably be attributed to the Jawa-Hindu period.It very often appears as a chakra in Indonesian art, but once the motif moves into the Islamic era, that chakra is sometimes transformed into a flower.

If we wish to claim the sun symbol on a Madura hilt as evidence of association with the Court of Surakarta we perhaps need to question exactly why it should be the sun that has been singled out as the relative representative symbol.The Surakarta court emblem contains the sun, moon, stars, and the globe of the earth, all within a shield surmounted by the crown of Mataram. It symbolises the universe, and the orientation of the globe of the earth places Surakarta at the centre of the globe, a visualisation of the title "Pakubuwana" --- the world nail:- the pin at the centre of the earth, the thought being that it is this pin which holds the earth together --- don't ask me to justify this attitude, I'm just the messenger.

If we look at old representations of this emblem they are not backed by a sunburst, but are simple shields, often as a part of a European style coat of arms.

The emblem that we are now familiar with which shows a burst of radiating rays of the sun behind the shield is stylistically in accordance with PBX, and although I have no evidence for a commencement date for this style of the emblem, it would surprise me considerably if good old PBX was not responsible for this design.

As I have mentioned, the symbolism of the Surakarta emblem is of the universe under the crown of Mataram.

There is a style of Madura hilt that bears a crown. In Madura, this style is attributed to the old kabupaten of Pamekesan:- note Pamekesan was a kabupaten, a regency, not a principality nor a kingdom. Does this crown also indicate an association with Surakarta, as the Crown of Mataram? do not know the answer to this question, however, if an answer were to be offered, it would need to be checked, cross checked and verified.

Given free reign we can produce all sorts of interesting conjectures.
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