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Old 10th February 2014, 02:17 AM   #1
vogan
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Default Balinese Keris for consideration/comment

bought on EBAY a while back, since forum is a bit slow, something to fill the dead space... I think/thought it looks ok, to my unschooled eye, not cannibalized or touristy, though the handle looks a bit on the large size for the blade so I could be wrong... it is wood with some sort of horn(?) buttons and end cap. The pamor, I guess, looks as if it should be readily identifiable- I have some reference works, but not at my current residence. Nothing unusual, but I guess the cork screw pesi is not as common as a plain one... only my second from Bali, when it arrived, I remember being quite surprised at how large it was by comparison to those of Java-
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Old 11th February 2014, 06:44 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vogan
Nothing unusual, but I guess the cork screw pesi is not as common as a plain one… only my second from Bali, when it arrived, I remember being quite surprised at how large it was by comparison to those of Java-

Hi Vogan. What is the actual blade length of this keris?
I suspect this is more likely from Lombok than Bali, but i would love to hear some other opinions.
I think the pamor might be uler lulut. The hilt seems nicely made, but looks like the newest part of this ensemble. The sheath has age, but i'm not convinced that it was actually made for this keris given the fit. Over all a nice keris. I like it.
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Old 11th February 2014, 07:35 PM   #3
A. G. Maisey
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The finish on the blade does tend to be the sort of thing we could expect to see coming from Lombok rather than Bali.

On a Jawa keris. I'd call this pamor "banyu tetes" :- dripping water, but on a Bali keris, I don't know what its called. Lalu Djelenga doesn't list it in his pamor section, and Djelenga is the reference I turn to when I don't know something about Bali and Lombok keris. Some might call it "bendo sagodo", some might call it "tritik", some might call it "uler lulut", some might even call it "santa". It is a surface manipulated pamor, and the difference between any of these named patterns is only one of degree.

As for the wrongko, there is something that is not widely understood about keris scabbards.

We often hear that a "wrongko was not made for the blade". This is a usual comment when there is anything other than a perfectly mated fit between the gonjo and the mouth of the scabbard. In fact, this criterion is not valid to apply to the overall authenticity of a keris.

With most keris of better than ordinary quality that have been dressed since WWII it is probably reasonable to expect that the gonjo should be perfectly mated to the wood, with due allowance for wear or distortion caused by age and the natural properties of the wood.

However, even with these keris there is the exception that the older style of fitting will be used, where all or part of the gonjo sits above the top of the scabbard, clear of the wood. This is often seen in Peninsula keris, but it also occurs in keris from other areas, especially Bali.This older style of fitting is obviously fairly often met with in keris that have been dressed a long time ago.

Then there is the fact that wrongkos for Jawa keris and Bali keris are produced in bulk and sold in the markets separate to the keris itself. When the job of fitting a keris to a new already made wrongko is given to a mranggi the end result is nearly always perfect fit and it looks as if the wrongko has in fact been made for the keris. However, when the owner of the keris, or a salesman does the fitting, the result is frequently less than perfect.

The best result of keris to wrongko fit is without question when the wrongko is in fact made for the specific keris, however, the cost of a bespoke wrongko of any quality is vastly more than a wrongko bought in the market and made to fit. Bit like the difference between a suit from a department store, and a suit from a tailor.

Very seldom is a blade of ordinary quality or below given bespoke dress. It is simply throwing money away, because the end value of that keris may not even equal the cost of the scabbard. Good quality keris dress is very, very expensive.

But this raises another exception to the rule:- an old scabbard of better than ordinary quality will frequently be fitted to a blade that it was not made for, ideally the re-fit will be used on a blade that has a larger gonjo than the original keris that used the scabbard, but if the scabbard is sufficiently valuable it will be given an inlay of wood to permit any size blade to be comfortably fitted.

In the case of the keris under discussion, it is certain that this scabbard has been bought in the market and fitted to this keris, but it was very probably new when it was bought, not recycled from a different keris.
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Old 11th February 2014, 09:43 PM   #4
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Thanks Alan. Good explanation on sheath fittings. I was trying to be very noncommittal on my suggestions about this one given there is only really one photo to go by, but you are right to set the story straight on this general misconception.
Pamor identification is not my strong suit, so i would defer to just about anybody on what to call this pamor. I do have a somewhat diminutive keris (for the region) that is probably Bali, but may be Lombok, with a similar pamor pattern.
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Old 12th February 2014, 03:22 AM   #5
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Default Follow up to David and Alan

Thank you David for being the first to jump in and offer an opinion.
Thank you Alan for the information.
As you have said in these pages, education costs money,
and had I the benefit of your observations- I think I might have passed on this offering…
Am I reading too much into your remarks by inferring that: “a surface manipulated pamor” can be misleading,
a contrivance, perhaps, by a less skilled smith or artificer which, if not actually calculated to mislead, layers an inauthentic veneer of “complexity” atop an otherwise pedestrian offering?
And given that the wrongko was very likely bought by the prospective EBAY seller or supplier to such, from amongst a pile of varying new made wrongkos, and fitted without the benefit of an attempt to tailor one to the other, so that if the wrongko fits (sort of), let any keris wear it?
That too, renders the ensemble, like a mismatched suit, altogether somehow unsatisfying, something I was really not seeing until your remarks sharpened my critical focus.
I am sorry to have repeated the seller’s misattribution to Bali, something I probably would have repeated anyway, having often seen keris for sale listed as Bali /Lombok, as though the productions of both regions were best conflated without attempting to map out some distinctions. I think I get the point about naming the pamor in this instance…
the fact that it does not conform to traditional norms de-legitimizes the exercise in my opinion.
My only regret is that money misspent on a contrivance might have bought me a very nice and profusely illustrated reference work that I had been eyeing for a good while but written off as too expensive…
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Old 12th February 2014, 04:18 PM   #6
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Vogan, i believe you are perhaps reading a bit too much between the lines in this case and i wouldn't throw this keris away just yet.
I will allow Alan to respond to your questions about "surface manipulated pamor" as i am certain he will do a much better job of it than i would. In regards to dress i believe Alan's point was that only the higher quality keris are likely to receive a "bespoken" wrongko due to the high cost involved in creating one. There are MANY levels of quality to be found in the keris world, from high royal court pieces down to the simplest village work. IMHO they are all collectible if you have an interest in keris culture and find an example that you like. High level court pieces can cost in the tens of THOUSANDS of dollars. It is no shame that you have not purchased one of those high level pieces in your first go at this on eBAY. In fact, you will NOT find such keris even for sale in that market. Most of our collections are, quite frankly, average level keris. Again, it comes back to the question, does the keris have character and do you like it. If you choose to dismiss all keris that do not conform to the highest levels of expectation you are not likely to build much of a collection.
As i stated before, this sheath appears to have some age to it and given that i would not assume that it was picked up in the market recently to be fitted in a rush by the eBay seller. A great many of us collectors no doubt have a number of keris in our collections with sheaths that are not "tailor fit" to the blades. It is fairly common to find.
On attribution, Bali and Lombok are often thrown together in descriptions. Bali ruled over Lombok for a time and there are a great many similarities to be found between keris from this region. Differences are often subtle and many times you might not be able to tell the difference between one or the other. No real failure on your part there.
Please understand that parts on a keris changing over time is to be expected. Wooden parts like sheaths and hilts wear out long before the blades and are replaced as keris pass from one owner to another. This is not a "contrivance", simply a reality. It is to be expected on any keris of considerable age. This does not mean that we don't sometimes see "dealer specials" that are thrown together with mix & match parts, but i don't think that is the case with your keris. I do still wonder about the age of the hilt, which may have been added by the seller, but it seems nicely made with good materials and visually matches the sheath nicely. I think it need to be turned about 90º around though.
Of course, if you are REALLY still regretting this purchase you can pack it up and send it to me. Not, it's not perfect, but very few things are. :-)

Last edited by David : 12th February 2014 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 12th February 2014, 08:13 PM   #7
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Very good written David! And I am the second one who would like to take this keris to my own collection! Absolute nothing wrong with this keris!

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 12th February 2014, 08:33 PM   #8
A. G. Maisey
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Vogan, I once knew a woman who could read a story into a telephone book.

Your reading of my remarks would challenge her ability.

There is nothing wrong with your keris.

It is not special, but it is a good example of the type of thing it is. You can be quite comfortable in adding it to your collection. The hilt is very recent, but most experienced and discerning collectors do not reject any keris, nor any part of a keris, on the basis of age. The hilt is a correct type and suits the rest of the keris.

Ebay can be a very dangerous place to spend money on keris. You really need a lot of experience, a lot of patience, a lot of time and a lot of luck not to lose badly on ebay. However, that said, you haven't done too badly at all with this ebay purchase.

At the moment I'm pressed for time. I'll get back later with an explanation of what "surface manipulated pamor" means.
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Old 12th February 2014, 08:58 PM   #9
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I have to agree with everything that has already been said. I think it is a nice kris that is visually very pleasing what with the colors of the hilt matching the scabbard. The handle does need to be turned around though.........Dave.
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Old 12th February 2014, 10:53 PM   #10
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Default follow up by Vogan...

David, thank you for your observations. Your point about keris dress is well taken. That is something I always found appealing in the collection of these objects- the ready acceptance that fittings were not necessarily, indeed seldom are, original to the blade.

As time goes by, I find that I value less and less my own subjective responses to the keris. And I tend to wallow in subjectivity due a lack of knowledge. Despite that, I have the utmost respect for the culture and people who produced such a fascinating weapon and cultural icon. The result is that I would prefer to be told, by someone steeped in the history and culture, that such and such keris is an honest production that conforms to traditional patterns and craftsmanship. Something a person brought up in that culture would appreciate and perhaps be pleased to own. That then becomes something I would like to acquire for my collection and wish to have some understanding of.

Alan, sorry to have parsed your words and lost the sense. I appreciate your time. And DaveS, Sajen, and David, thank you for your thoughts.
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Old 12th February 2014, 11:35 PM   #11
A. G. Maisey
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OK. Ten minutes to spare before lunch.

Pamor.

Pamor is made by forge welding layers of contrasting material. This can be various types of iron, which is common in older blades, or in more recent blades by incorporating nickelous material along with ferric material to give a higher contrast.

The basic and most simple pamor pattern is wos wutah, which is layers of the contrasting materials.

By upsetting or manipulating the surface of the blade forging, after the pamor has been welded to the steel core, various patterns are created, which become clear when the blade is finished, examples being:- udan mas, bendo sagodo, wiji timun, & etc.

These are simple patterns that do not use a lot of material and do not take extreme skill nor extreme cost to create.

Other pamor patterns can be created by manipulation of the pamor forging in the fire, before it is welded to the steel core, but sometimes incorporating additional work after the steel core has been welded into place.

This manipulation in the forge involves twisting, re-folding, cutting and re-welding, in fact all sorts of variations on manipulating the material, usually at or close to weld heat, before the pamor billet is completed and before it is welded to the steel core.

These types of pamor require an extremely high degree of skill to create and use a lot of material through flaking of the billet during the process. Consequently these types of pamor are very much more expensive to create than the basic wos wutah, or the surface manipulated pamors that are all the result of further processing of wos wutah.

Wos wutah and the surface manipulated pamors are called "mlumah" pamors. Mlumah means "laying down", a reference to the layers of pamor laying in the same orientation as the core.

The other twisted, cut, refolded, rewelded complex pamors are called "miring" pamors, referring to the fact that the layers of pamor are set at an angle to the core.

"surface manipulated pamor" is not a derogatory term.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 13th February 2014 at 10:13 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 13th February 2014, 07:31 AM   #12
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Hello Alan,
Excellent and very concise summary of the pamor making process!
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Old 13th February 2014, 08:01 AM   #13
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Hello Vogan,
This style of pamor seems quite common in Lombok, see two other blades in my collection which look quite similar. According to the book from Djelenga I have identified this pamor style as Rante or Srante (chain) but other attributions could be given.
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Old 13th February 2014, 10:08 AM   #14
A. G. Maisey
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Thanks Jean.

However, this is not pamor rante.

I can see how you thought it might be, because in the example that Djelenga gives a small part comes close to the pattern, but rante must have the "pools" of pamor which represent the links in a chain, joined by a narrow strip. Djelenga's example comes close in a few spots, but the ideal is for clearly defined links to be joined by clearly defined narrow strips.

The examples you show, and Vogan's keris do not come close to being a rante pamor.

The possibilities that I propose are just pools of pamor without the narrow strip, as is Vogan's keris.

Rante is a very common Madura pamor, and is also known in Jawa, it is similar to melati rinonce, they are in fact exactly the same pamor, made in the same way, but melati rinonce is usually smaller and neater than rante. From memory, I think Tammens gives a good example of rante, and because he used sketches the design is easier to understand than an actual blade.
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