Join Date: Jun 2009
Alan, thank you for your response to my post.
I know your opinion is that the early figural hilts depicting more or less demonic beings belong to North Coast Muslim community, and I am sure you know I suppose there could be hilts from other regions and earlier non-Muslim hilts amongst these as well. I am absolutely fine with this situation.
Well, I am aware that Majapahit preceded Mantingan Mesjid. I mentioned it exactly because there is an opinion the "hiding" of an anthropomorphe figure under scrolls/cloud ornaments/foliage started when Islam took over. This opinion has its merits and is true to certain degree, but I think we should perhaps start to question its simple comprehensive usage.
The image attached is a carving from East-Java, 13th/14th cent. from Jakarta, Museum Nasional. At the left we see a demonic being, his arms, head turning into scrolls, hair into cloud-like shapes. An interesting point is, that it is squatting very much like the figures on Keris hilts. Bernet Kempers has interpreted the cloud-like shape in the right upper corner as a head of Nogo, and pointed out, that such reinterpretations are a typical feature of Majapahit art. Stutterheim saw in this feature the "magically loaded art" of East Javanese reliefs.
I doubt this relief was commissioned by an Muslim individual.
About the word "message" in this context. The triangular symbol instead of a Lotus blossom/Yoni - on later Balinese hilts we see a Bintulu or a precious stone in that place. The meaning of this feature is protective, apotropaic, we see such apotropaic symbols before/at the feet of a figure also in Majapahit art.
Why a triangular symbol instead of Lotus/Yoni/Bintulu for a small group of very similar hilts? I think there is a message in it.