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Old 25th May 2016, 04:28 AM   #1
Green
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Default what type of sarung/scabbard fits this keris?

I just got this keris Sumatera(?). It does not have a sarung/scabbard.
I can get the sarung done here -especially the peninsula malay type- but not sure exactly what type of sarung is appropriate to this keris. Would it be palembang style? bugis? etc.

Would appreciate suggestions and pics of appropriate scabbard.

Another Q. the tone and color of pendokok looks like gold and not kuningan or copper, but I have no way of verifying this. Can any of you give your opinion?
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Old 25th May 2016, 06:16 AM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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I think I'd be inclined to run with Palembang.

If the pendongkok is not brass, it may be gilt over silver.
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Old 25th May 2016, 01:33 PM   #3
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Thank you Mr Maisey. I think it'll look good in palembang sheath. I'll go with this and get it made.
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Old 25th May 2016, 08:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I think I'd be inclined to run with Palembang.


My guess as well. Palembang.
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Old 26th May 2016, 01:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green
Another Q. the tone and color of pendokok looks like gold and not kuningan or copper, but I have no way of verifying this. Can any of you give your opinion?

I would have to say that even better, closer images of this hilt cup would not be sufficient for us to be able to identify this metal for you. In the current images i would guess brass, but again, would not be able to make any positive ID. But any jeweler worth his salt should be able to tell you the answer fairly quickly without much trouble.
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Old 26th May 2016, 03:08 AM   #6
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Do we think the base of this Selut may be possibly upside down as it is mounted?
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Old 26th May 2016, 04:51 AM   #7
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Rick;

The base of the selut/pendokok/mendak is detachable and that's how it came with to me.
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Old 26th May 2016, 09:55 AM   #8
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Hello Green,

another vote for Palembang. The pendokok looks like gold or gold plated to my eyes. I would let test it. BTW, beautiful hilt, can we see additional pictures?

Best regards,
Detlef
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Old 27th May 2016, 11:27 AM   #9
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By enlarging the pics I seem to see withish shades on the granulated balls of the pendokok so the metal may be gilt silver. You may get a more accurate opinion by looking at the inside of the cup. The ivory hilt is peculiar and very nice indeed.
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Old 28th May 2016, 07:18 AM   #10
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I don't know if this will help or not, but this is the best I could do with the posted photo.

Best,
Robert
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Old 28th May 2016, 08:39 AM   #11
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This looks like silver now.

Is it possible that the yellow tint in the first photo was a reflected colour?
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Old 28th May 2016, 08:58 AM   #12
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Very unusual mix of features on hilt, like the execution of the waist band. The blade is 40 cm long, so quite long for Palembang.
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Old 28th May 2016, 09:03 AM   #13
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Entire blade.
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Old 28th May 2016, 09:12 AM   #14
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Because of the unique hilt style and not quite Palembang Mendak it would still look strange in a conventional Palembang sheath. Something like old North Coast Java/Lampung would look perhaps a little bit better, perhaps not. I also doubt, the Mendak and hilt are aesthetically the best mix.

Do we see such extensive use of granulation on Mendak in Sumatra?

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Old 28th May 2016, 11:56 AM   #15
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Here's a few more pics , sorry they are not v clear as they were taken under low light. The inside of the pendokok look dull with suasa tint but on rubbing it, yellow color quickly came out.

I don't see any silver but it could very well be gilded as this method of spraying golden layer on base metal is v often done on many malay pendokok... except that the pendokok look rather thin and does not look like a typical malay pendokok.

also, i can't put what type of blade this is. does not look typical malay blade..the aggressive abuse (?) of surface texture of the blade by the previous western (?) owner doesn't help. For it could have been previously warangan (which puts it to javanese type) or wasn't.
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Old 28th May 2016, 01:22 PM   #16
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I agree with you Gustav, this is not a typical Palembang blade, but its not typical of anything I know, certainly not Jawa, and with that kaku blade it doesn't fit easily anywhere, however, there have been some mighty queer keris emerge from South Sumatra, and Palembang dress is as good as any dress that I can imagine to put this into.

When trying to make a decision on keris origins and nothing is obvious, we usually play a game of elimination and then see what we have left. If we cannot place this keris with some degree of certainty into one of the big, well-known baskets, then Sumatra is probably where it belongs, and South Sumatra is perhaps the safest dress to use.

The problem we face when trying to determine geographic point of origin for keris is this:- once we move away from an area of dominant influence, the rules fly out the door. There is variation upon variation upon variation, and nothing is certain, so we do the best we can under miserable circumstances.

I'd still run with Palembang --- unless somebody has a better suggestion?

One of the really good indicators with any keris blade is the way in which the ron dha is cut. The ron dha on this keris shows absolutely no consistency of form, and nothing that is identifiable as any known form, but it does show a form that mimics the elements of a correctly cut Palembang or Javanese ron dha, almost as if the maker had seen a correctly made keris and tried to remember what it looked like. Again, the prominent ada-ada, a distinctive feature in some Javanese keris, but not to this extent, and the number of waves? An abomination and an insult. This blade was not made by any empu, nor any pandai keris, it was made by a talented tukang besi at a customer's direction.
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Old 28th May 2016, 01:30 PM   #17
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I also would say South Sumatra.

Alan, I know, that Garrett and Bronwen Solyom have done some research on Lampung. Is there some material about Kerisses in this research?
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Old 28th May 2016, 01:37 PM   #18
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I don't know Gustav. I understand that they worked on an exhibition and produced a catalogue, but I have not seen that catalogue. However, I doubt that whatever we might find in that cat would be of much assistance in confirming origin of this keris, it is a relatively recent and very non-typical form. I wonder just a little bit if it might have actually been produced in Kalimantan for a customer from South Sumatra. That is very often where keris that just don't quite fit come from.
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Old 28th May 2016, 01:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green
Here's a few more pics , sorry they are not v clear as they were taken under low light. The inside of the pendokok look dull with suasa tint but on rubbing it, yellow color quickly came out.

I don't see any silver but it could very well be gilded as this method of spraying golden layer on base metal is v often done on many malay pendokok... except that the pendokok look rather thin and does not look like a typical malay pendokok.

also, i can't put what type of blade this is. does not look typical malay blade..the aggressive abuse (?) of surface texture of the blade by the previous western (?) owner doesn't help. For it could have been previously warangan (which puts it to javanese type) or wasn't.

Green, in these latest photos the hilt cup doesn't look like suassa or gold at all. Looks a little copper-ish on the interior, but i would more likely suggest brass if pushed.
This keris looks like a Palembang (Sumatra) blade, which i believe was already established, so i would not classify it as a Malay blade nor expect the same treatment given to a Malay blade. The only "abuse" i see of this blade os that it needs a cleaning to remove the rust. If i am not mistaken, it would be expected that keris from this region would also receive warangan much the way a Javanese keris would. The surface texture does not look abused (aggressive or otherwise) to me, at least not that i can see in your photos. I would expect a keris from this region to have such a topographical surface as this. Of course, if you are unhappy with the condition of this keris please send it to me immediately and i will give its poor "damaged" self a good home.
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Old 28th May 2016, 02:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
The only "abuse" i see of this blade os that it needs a cleaning to remove the rust. If i am not mistaken, it would be expected that keris from this region would also receive warangan much the way a Javanese keris would. The surface texture does not look abused (aggressive or otherwise) to me, at least not that i can see in your photos. I would expect a keris from this region to have such a topographical surface as this. Of course, if you are unhappy with the condition of this keris please send it to me immediately and i will give its poor "damaged" self a good home.


Full agreement with David, but when you unhappy with it send it to my address!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 28th May 2016, 04:08 PM   #21
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ah haha... looks like i've no trouble to find a home for this one should i decide to part with it!

i'm however rather struck by a very strong opinion of Mr Maisey's about the standard and quality of this keris. i'm in no way to judge it myself as i'm absolutely ignorant about the finer details of keris blades.

what attracts me to this in the first place is the big old ivory hilt which i still don't know what 'basket' it belongs to. looks like it may be a mongrel just like the blade. not that i worry about it too much...and the mendak/pendokok... gold, brass etc... i still don't have a definitive clue.

one thing for sure is, taking Alan's and others' suggestion , next week i'll get the local MALAY peninsular malaysia sarong/scabbard maker to make a palembang sarung for this... unless he has a very strong opinion other wise...and further reinforcing the mongrel-ness of this keris!
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Old 28th May 2016, 07:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Green
one thing for sure is, taking Alan's and others' suggestion , next week i'll get the local MALAY peninsular malaysia sarong/scabbard maker to make a palembang sarung for this... unless he has a very strong opinion other wise...and further reinforcing the mongrel-ness of this keris!

Well another way of looking at it, if indeed this is a "mongrel" of sorts, is that keris blades sometimes have a natural migration from one keris culture to the next. How you choose to dress it may really be a matter of your own intentions as the current owner. If this blade were to come to you in a space and time where you as the owner might choose to actually wear it as a cultural dress item i would image that you might decide to dress the blade to the culture in which you live. If your intention is as a collector looking to preserve the original cultural integrity of the blade that might be more difficult. I would suggest a Sumatran form since i suspect that might be the origin of this blade, but as Alan points out, it is not specifically typical for a Palembang blade. Frankly i have less even understanding of the origins of this lovely and unique Jawa Demam hilt.
21 luks is indeed unusual for a keris blade from ANY culture (and an oddity that i like about this) and this blade doesn't fit into any particular "pakem" AFAIK, however i don't quite see how this can be seen as an "abomination and an insult". To whom? Certainly not the person it was made for. Just seems a bit too severe a judgement to me.
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Old 28th May 2016, 08:56 PM   #23
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I own, to a bigger extent as curiosity, a 19 Luk blade, which came with Malayan hilt and Pendokok. I beliewe, the hilt is made for that blade, because it has an unusually long and sturdy Pesi and the fit is perfect. It is an old Megantoro style blade with some remains of criss-cross scratched foliage as basis for Koftgari. At least one owner must have been proud of it, becouse the Gonjo Wilut was replaced at some time. The Gonjo is not recent and is quite well adjusted. The length of it is 39,4 cm and I believe it to be Sumatran, at least pre-1700.

Also without sheath, yet the last one must have been something like a Saribulan sheath for Anak Alang.

Green, we sometimes see unusual, special blades dressed in oversized Saribulan sheaths in Malay context.

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Old 28th May 2016, 11:01 PM   #24
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David;

I'd like to think of myself as a 'collector'... a v poor one at best but whatever i buy it stays with me, so i guess i'm in the 'collector' basket. my chief aim for this keris is to find the appropriate scabbard for i hate keris lying 'naked' and incomplete.


Gustav,

I can't imagine a saribulan cross piece would look fitting to this blade and hilt. . Lampung style sheath looks v much like peninsula malay type and may be quite suitable alternative to palembang. I'll ask the opinion of the sheath maker anyway.

I have seen quite a few kerises with all sorts of "wrong" combination everywhere... donoriko madurese hilt in wrong wronko, tajung hilted keris in saribulan sheath etc....
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Old 29th May 2016, 12:46 AM   #25
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Green,

I don't know, what do you understand as Lampung style sheath.

There actually are three Lampung sheath forms - one, which is related to Malay Saribulan sheath, the one shown is an old one and is original fit to a conventional size Keris;

a second one, which is very close or even identical with North Coast Java sheaths;

and a third one, which is close or identical to Palembang sheath, with a very typical Selut and hilt style.

Your hilt is a strange one, yet it has the "waist" and waist band, typical for North Coast Java and Lampung. Yet only Lampung hilts (and perhaps some hilts attributed to North Sumatra) show a bigger number of petals arising from the waist band (Sorry Detlef for raiding your pictures). Unusual is the combination with a more or less Java Demam style upper half.

When I wrote "we sometimes see unusual, special blades dressed in oversized Saribulan sheaths in Malay context", it means, that, if such blade would have found its way to Northern Malay Sultanates around 1850 and later, the possibility it would be dressed in an oversized Saribulan is a bigger one.

Please imagine, how an absolutely non-Palembang style hilt with a non-Palembang style Mendak/Selut would look on a Palembang style sheath, which almost always comes together with one or two very distinctive style hilts and Mendak/Selut.
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Old 29th May 2016, 12:49 AM   #26
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I thought the abomination and insult line would draw a bit of flak.
I'll try to explain.

My principal education in keris came from a Javanese gentleman who began his own education in keris in the 1930's. This was Empu Suparman of the Karaton Surakarta. What I learnt from him was supplemented by input from his friends of a similar age, and from one other Karaton Empu, Pauzan Pusposukadgo. Then there was input from a number of craftsmen, notably from two m'ranggis, both descendants of the same extended family of keris craftsmen. What I learnt from all these people was further supplemented by my own research, which is ongoing and covers a much wider field than is addressed by the knowledgeable people of Surakarta.

Amongst the people from whom I have learnt in Central Jawa there was an overarching attitude that the keris was not only representative of a man, but was in many ways similar to a man, and in the appraisal of a keris, it was always advisable to keep the idea of a man in your head, and to measure the elegance, or otherwise, of the keris against that image of the man. Thus, if a keris is too upright, it carries the connotation of arrogance and clumsiness, if it is too bent forward it carries the connotation of being too humble and in danger of falling. All the other physical proportions and angles of the keris can be assessed in this way, by using the image held the mind of a man who gives respect to his lord, but who is at the same time brave and has integrity.

Underlying this artistic interpretation there is another measure that is used, and that is the understanding that the keris is a representation of the dominant Javanese icon of the Gunungan. The Gunungan is present in many places and in many forms in Javanese culture, and its origin goes back to the time prior to the beginning of Hindu influence upon Javanese culture and society. In indigenous Javanese thought, the Gunungan is representative of the idea of the mountain, and The Mountain is where the ancestors abide whilst waiting to either return to earth in a new form, or to join as one with their God. The Gods also dwell on the Mountain, and in Hindu belief, which influenced Javanese culture from after 200CE through to the domination of Jawa by Islam after the collapse of Majapahit, and in a degree, continuing until today, that Mountain was not just any mountain, but Mount Meru, the home of the Gods.

The symbolism of Mount Meru also appears in Javanese, and in Balinese culture in multiple forms, but principally in the roofs of Balinese shrines and cremation towers where the number of layers in the roof of the shrine indicates the status of the God to whom the shrine is dedicated, or the status of the person for whom the cremation tower has been built.

The maximum number of roof layers that a shrine may have is 11, and this is indicative of a shrine built for Siwa; the maximum number of roof layers that a cremation tower may have is 11, and this is indicative of cremation tower for a ruler.

So, both the keris and the meru are representations of Mount Meru, the dwelling place of the Gods, and the place where the ancestors wait. Both are sacred, and are subject to the same rules of respect.

In Jawa today, and probably dating from the time of Islamic domination of Jawa, it is held that the maximum number of luk a correctly made keris can have is 13, any more than this is an indication of a keris made for somebody who is non-conformist to the rules of society, such as an artist, or a dukun, or a seer. This number of 13 is arrived at by a generally accepted convention of count that invariably adds two luk to the number of luk that were actually put into the keris by the maker. Thus, the "correct" keris with 13 luk is in fact a "correct" keris with 11 luk, this number of 11 being in conformity with the maximum number of roof layers for a meru, and indicative of a level of status.

The keris originated in Jawa during the Early Classical Period, and it emerged in its modern form during the Late Classical Period. It was exported from Jawa to many other places in SE Asia, both as gifts, often royal gifts, and as items of trade. However, the Javanese understanding of the keris was not exported to these other places along with the physical object. This is probably the reason why Javanese keris pundits are reluctant to accept keris from places other than Jawa and Bali as genuine keris, regarding keris from, for example, Peninsula Malaya as merely imitations of the keris, not genuine keris.

In the understanding of the people who gave birth to the keris, the keris is a sacred cultural icon, something that relates to the ancestors, and to the Gods, and is symbolic of both.

So, if I call a poorly proportioned, stiff, visually unsettling keris blade with more luk than a tree has leaves an "abomination and an insult", what I am actually saying is that it indicates that the person who made it, and probably the person who ordered it made, had absolutely no understanding at all of the sacred nature of the keris, and that the production and existence of such a keris is an insult to all those people, both past and present who do understand the religious and cultural implications of the keris.
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Old 29th May 2016, 01:23 AM   #27
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My approach to the keris can probably be thought of as a cultural approach, and the post that I have just now put into this thread demonstrates that perspective. However, I've been involved with keris for a very long time, and during that time it is inevitable that I have seen and handled a lot of keris from a lot of places, and have experienced the various stages of "collecting".

In respect of keris from Palembang, I have seen and owned keris in old Palembang wrongkos that have had hilts of various styles attached to them. It seems to me that there was a much broader community acceptance of variation in keris dress in Palembang, and perhaps in South Sumatra generally, than was the case in Central & East Jawa and in Bali. Most, if not all of these Palembang keris had the hilts very firmly attached, so much so that in one case I managed to break the pesi in removing the hilt that had been attached with damar or jabung, and then rust had formed and virtually welded the pesi to the hilt. That hilt was an enormous lump of ivory carved as a jawa demam.

Most certainly there are hilt styles that are uniquely Palembang or South Sumatra, but not all keris that were worn in that area carried these styles of hilt.

Similarly with the blade. The blade form generally associated with Palembang is stylistically Mataram, however, I have seen and owned various other blade styles that were long-time occupants of Palembang wrongkos.

I feel that this inconsistency shown by keris from Palembang is probably because of the absence of a Palembang court from 1825 through to WWII. Keris dress convention was dictated by societal convention, rather than by royal decree, thus dress forms were pretty much what an individual considered to be appropriate for his societal position. Very probably people indicated their own family heritage by keeping the blade and hilt from the family, and providing only a scabbard that was correct for the Palembang dress style, so, if somebody was of, say, Bugis descent, he kept his Bugis family blade and hilt, and put it into a Palembang scabbard.
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Old 29th May 2016, 03:27 PM   #28
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it's always very enlightening to read Mr Maisey's well thought out arguments...however for "Javanese keris pundits" to say that only javanese and balinese keris are the real deal and the rest are -quote- " for example, Peninsula Malaya as merely imitations of the keris, not genuine keris" is, just well, an opinion among many others...

keris/kris is a unique cultural heritage of ALL Malay related people from Jawa, to mindanao to patani and malaysia (Nusantara). It is not disputed that keris as we know it most probably originates in jawa but that does not negate the fact that other people of various malay tribes (nusantara) do have a keris culture from early on due to intermixing of the people in the nusantara from the earliest of times...so, keris patani or bugis or whatever is as genuine as keris bali or jawa IMO. It is true that Jawa people don't value keris from say peninsula Malaysia , but the converse is also true, Malays in peninsula malaysia don't generally value javanese or balinese keris but consider sumateran and bugis keris as within their 'malay culture'...

With regards to the number of luks, it may well be true in the case of Javanese keris to have the maximum of 11 (+2) luks... but I don't see this is true for the rest of Nusantara.I've seen old antique Patani keris with 31 luks and plenty of others with more than 13 luks and i don't think this is considered as a negative innovation.
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Old 30th May 2016, 12:47 AM   #29
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Green, I have seen this discussion about the authenticity of keris from various localities take place many times, and not only on a national level, but between different areas within Indonesia, and within Jawa itself.

Even in Central Jawa, between two branches of the same royal line we find disagreement over some aspects of keris culture. Surakarta adopted the Majapahit pattern and ethos, Jogjakarta adopted the Mataram culture and ethos, and disagreement flows from this.

Each keris bearing culture has its own value system, each claims the keris as an integral part of that culture. There can be no argument about this. The keris is an important part of Malay and other keris bearing cultures.

No argument.

However, the religious and cultural symbolism associated with the keris in Javanese society is not repeated, indeed cannot be repeated in the other societies that hold the keris as a part of their culture.

The export of the keris from Jawa, both as royal gift, and as an item of trade began at a time when Malaya had already begun to adopt Islam, and the keris that went from Jawa to Malaya, and to other countries within SE Asia had already begun to develop the characteristics and values of the Modern Keris.

In the society of Jawa that existed outside the courts, the keris in Jawa had already become a different object with a different secular value system attached to it, than the keris that had existed within the Hindu-Javanese courts during the previous classical eras. Thus, the keris that was dispersed from Jawa, into much of SE Asia, already had a different secular value system attached to it than did the keris that began as a Javanese cultural icon, and very probably a knife used in religious sacrifice, during the Early Classical Period in Central Jawa.

The courts were of course aware of the deep cultural iconography of the keris, but by the late 14th century the keris in Jawa had already been adopted by people outside the courts, notably by the Muslim traders who occupied enclaves on the North Coast of Jawa and who were principally responsible for dispersion of the keris throughout SE Asia. Indeed, they not only spread the keris, but other Javanese weaponry as well, to places such as Cambodia, Malacca and even Sri Lanka.

These North Coast traders copied the style and dress of the Javanese courts, but they lacked the knowledge and understanding that was possessed by those who were a part of court society.

So, the keris was exported, but the deep Javanese understanding of the keris, with its spiritual implications, was not exported, the exporters were businessmen, not court scribes. They perhaps were able to transmit some comprehension of the importance of the keris within Javanese society, and this clearly took root in the places that the keris was transported to, and over time developed into the value systems and belief systems that became a part of keris culture in those other places.

However, when it came into these other places, the keris came with non-court values and understandings attached to it, rather, it came with values that had been born out of the spread of Islam in Jawa, and it came into societies that were already Islamic societies, or soon would be. In those places that received the keris from Jawa, the belief systems attached to it reflect values that differ from the indigenous beliefs and values of the Javanese common people, and of the Javanese courts.

This difference in cultural and in societal values of the keris in Jawa, compared with the keris in other societies is the reason that keris from places other than Jawa and Bali are not regarded by traditional Javanese keris authorities as "genuine" keris:- in Javanese perception they simply have the wrong values attached to them.

So --- no dispute at all in respect of the value of the keris as a cultural icon in Malaya, or in those other societies outside the Jawa/Bali nexus, where the keris is found. However, the belief systems attached to the keris in these other places do differ from the belief systems attached to the keris in Jawa, and do lack some of the elements that make the keris what it is in Jawa.

In respect of luk numbers. Of course the multiplicity of luk in keris found in places outside Jawa is not something that the people in those places consider to be incorrect. Within their understanding it is obvious that there is nothing at all wrong with having as many luk in a keris as they wish. I cannot disagree with this, because those people in the other places do not know nor do they understand, the Javanese belief and value systems. The keris in those other places is not what it is in Jawa.
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Old 30th May 2016, 03:20 AM   #30
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Mr Maisey, of course i absolutely agree with you about the jawa perspective about jawa keris and it's pre islamic origin and culture. however several hundred years is a fairly long time and non jawa keris culture has evolved within this time into their very own unique culture and tradition. and one can not deny that it is and can be regarded as a genuine keris culture and not merely some form of imported culture based on secular commercial values . i can say for a fact that for patani and malay kingdom keris is similarly imbued with mystical philosophies -albeit islamic ones- as much as pre islamic jawa keris is imbued with hindu influences. and even now sultans and kings of Malaysia (and patani previously) have their own local keris heirlooms.


As much as jawa keris aficianados consider jawa keris as the real deal malays in peninsula malaysia don't give much value to that and they only value thier own keris more... hence for example one can be very hard pressed to sell even a very good jawa keris with v nice pamor and warangan in malaysia or patani (southern thailand) as much as one can't find any one in jawa willing to buy malay keris...
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