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Old 3rd August 2007, 12:34 AM   #11
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,409

This is all very interesting, but we are not doing what this thread set out to do.

As I understand it, we set out to identify something with which we currently disagree, that was written by one of these early authors.

To do this I submit that we should provide the quote from the author's work so that there can be no misunderstanding of exactly what was written, and then put forward our reasons for disagreement.

From what has been posted to date to this thread, I think that perhaps a broad ranging general position has been taken that some early authors were incorrect in believing that the implement which they referred to as a "keris Majapahit" was the earliest form of keris.This is not a specific disagreement with the work of a specific author, but rather a disagreement with what was a generally held belief some years ago.

However, so that we can get on with what we set out to do, let's get this Majapahit business out of the way first. Or at least try to.

When we attempt to come to an understanding of early keris, we are involving ourselves in a very complex and difficult field.

Some years ago I wrote an article on keris origins. In writing this I drew on weapon forms in reliefs at Candi Prambanan . In these reliefs we can find representations of weapons which have a blade form that at the present time we would refer to as a "Keris Buda". Prambanan dates from around 856AD.

However, although we can identify in the Prambanan reliefs a blade form that bears recognisable characteristics of the Modern Keris, we cannot with any certainty claim that the so-called "Keris Majapahit" form did not exist at the same time, or prior to the 9th century AD.

It may not have existed, but equally, it may have existed. We simply do not know.

To take issue with the name "Keris Majapahit" is quite pointless. This is just a name, the same as the name "Keris Buda" is just a name. When we call a keris a "Keris Buda", we are not saying it was the keris used by Buddhists, any more than when we call a keris a "Keris Majapahit" we are saying it was the keris used in the Majapahit era. These are simply classifications, similar to the tangguh classifications, some of which really do relate to a kingdom or era, others of which do not.The tangguh system is a system of classification, and the terms "Keris Majapahit", and "Keris Buda" do form an adjunct to this system.

What we think of as a "keris" in the year 2007, that is, the Modern Keris, appeared after the Javanese Early Classical Period, and was in existence when Candi Panataran ( 1197-1354) was built.

It existed during the Majapahit era, and may have existed prior to Majapahit.

The implements with keris-like blades that we can find on Candi Prambanan were very probably one of the contributing influences to the origin of the Modern Keris, but I think it is obvious that these implements were not the only contributing factor to the birth of the Modern Keris.

The old literary sources are not a lot of use in supporting an argument that the Modern Keris was in existence earlier that the 14th Century.

Certainly, the Pararaton tells the Mpu Gandring legend, but the Pararaton was written in the 16th Century, and related a legend that referred to events which took place 300 years earlier.

Then there is the Nagarakertagama by Rakawi Prapanca of Majapahit, and it dates from the 14th Century.

These old literary sources do use words in their texts that have been translated as "keris", but regrettably we do not know that the original words in the original texts referred to implements that we would classify as a Modern Keris.

Based upon the existing evidence, all we can say with reasonable certainty is this:- the Modern Keris appeared some time after the close of the Early Classical Period, and some time before the completion of Candi Panataran. That is, the Modern Keris made its appearance between about 1000AD, and about 1300AD.

However, we do not have any evidence at all to demonstrate that the implement known as a "Keris Majapahit" did not exist at a time prior to the appearance of the Modern Keris.

Incidentally, in spite of claims to the contrary, there is no representation of a blade form bearing keris-like characteristics in the reliefs of Candi Borobudur. Borobudur was a Buddhist structure; Prambanan was a Hindu complex. The implements which appear on Prambanan, and which bear keris-like characteristics are purely Hindu in origin.

Pak Ganja, the picture of the relief from Panataran with a monkey warrior about to stab an enemy with a large, straight keris-like dagger is a falsification.The blade in this image has been retouched to make it appear assymetrical. If you visit Panataran you will find that this blade is symetrical. Below is an image of what this carving really looks like; it is not all that clear, because of the weathering, but I think you will probably be able to see that the blade base is in fact symmetrical.

Alam Shah, no, on the contrary, I do not consider this thread meaningless. It has a definite potential value, however, if that value is to be realised then let us proceed as you suggested:- point by point and in an analytical fashion. If we are to analyse, then we must first have something that has been positively identified, to analyse. To achieve this end I suggest that a statement with which we cannot agree, and made by one of these writers, be identified, and we proceed to put our own case against the correctness of this statement. Let us address this matter with a little discipline. I repeat:- it does have potential value.
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