Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > Keris Warung Kopi
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 21st July 2017, 10:56 PM   #1
Bjorn
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 115
Send a message via MSN to Bjorn
Default How to read a greneng

In another thread Alan made the following 2 remarks.

In short, the greneng is a mess, as it is, it does not carry any message at all.
The greneng is the big surprise to me:- it is correctly cut, the man who cut it knew what he was doing, but his level of knowledge was at pandai level, not mpu level. He has cut correct Mataram rondha, but has cut them poorly, and the complete greneng says less than it should.


This to me raises some questions. How should one read a greneng? What should the greneng express/say? And how has this expression changed according to region and time?
Bjorn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd July 2017, 08:31 AM   #2
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Bjorn, I'm not sure I can answer this without offending some people on both sides of the fence. I do touch on the subject in my "Interpretation --- " paper. I don't think I want to bring discussion about this matter into this forum.

I do have another paper in the works in which I am a little more detailed, there are two possibilities for publication of this, and I'm not yet certain of exactly which publisher it will run with. Its probably better all round if if I say no more about any of this at the present time.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd July 2017, 07:29 PM   #3
Bjorn
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 115
Send a message via MSN to Bjorn
Default

Apologies, Alan. I was not aware this is a contentious issue.

I went over the relevant part in your "Interpretation..." paper again and look forward to publication of your next paper.
Bjorn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd July 2017, 02:27 AM   #4
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Probably not contentious --- those who believe one thing believe it completely, those who hold a different view have equal faith, so it is not something that is subject to heated argument, rather it is something of a sensitive nature.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd July 2017, 05:36 PM   #5
Bjorn
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 115
Send a message via MSN to Bjorn
Default

Possibly this thread could be steered in a slightly different direction: the aesthetics of a greneng.

It's easy to observe whether we like a greneng or not, but what if we look at it more objectively. What criteria should a greneng possess, e.g. what constitutes a well cut rond dha as opposed to a poorly made one - even when the latter one is aesthetically pleasing.

Do the pakem contain anything on how the individual elements of the ron dha should be shaped? I've often read that the way in which an mpu makes a greneng is akin to a signature, but I imagine that there are constraints on what he or she can and cannot do. On Moro kris we often see greneng, but these are wholly different to those in Jawa, quite possibly because no such restraints are in place there.
Bjorn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd July 2017, 11:05 PM   #6
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Bjorn, here are some images that will be of use.

The drawings are from the hand of Empu Suparman Supowijoyo, and have been taken from a lecture that he gave in about 1980.

The page of images showing greneng forms attributed to various empus is from Haryono Haryoguritno's "Keris Jawa".

The various forms of greneng are from "Keris Jawa" also.

The two pages of text are from Raffles "History of Java".

In respect of the greneng forms attributed to Surakarta empus, it is not clear in the book, but in private conversation Haryonoguritno is reported as having said that in all honesty he was unable to distinguish the work of one empu from another. I have heard this from two people, who have no connection with each other. Thus, "attribute" is the correct way to look at these greneng.

As with much else --- some would say "all else" --- to do with the keris, the attribution of various forms of greneng and ron dha to various classifications (tangguh) is an item of belief. However, it is a crucial item of belief, because where a ron dha is found in a keris it is the key element in assignation of a tangguh.

But this can be confusing, because some extremely good quality keris, that have very obviously been made according to the parameters of one tangguh, can have a ron dha that points to a different tangguh.

For example, in the current era in Surakarta the two empus who began the keris revival were Empu Suparman Supowijoyo and Empu Pauzan Pusposukadgo (Pauzan rejected the title of "empu" for religious reasons, he used the designation "Pandai Seni Keris", however he was known as an empu by everybody). Empu Suparman invariably cut a Surakarta greneng, Pauzan usually made his keris in the Mataram form and usually cut a Mataram greneng, or occasionally a variant greneng in accord with his own interpretation.

Although the gentlemen of Jakarta who exercise very great control over the current World of the Keris in Jawa have decreed that we now have a tangguh that covers all keris made since Indonesian Independence, the great empus of the current era, Empu Suparman and Empu Pauzan did not recognise this. Empu Suparman made Surakarta keris, and although this concept of "Tangguh Kamerdekaan" did not come into being until after his passing, I can assure you the very idea of this would have horrified him, he was dedicated to Surakarta. Empu Pauzan made Mataram style keris in the Surakarta era, and as with Empu Suparman, was a Surakarta Karaton Empu.

When we move outside of Jawa we find that the greneng of keris from other areas is often just notches that have no meaning at all. Because of this, and for other reasons, many old-time traditionalists in Jawa would not recognise that these "keris" from other areas were in fact genuine keris, these other "keris" were merely keris-like objects that had been made by people who did not understand what a keris truly was, and the people who carried these keris were simply trying to copy their betters without understanding anything. They were in fact children who had not yet learnt anything.

Now, it is important to understand that this was a very Java-centric attitude, but it did reflect the mindset of some people:- the Keris was holy, these imitators treated it as profane. They had no understanding.

The key to the greneng is the ron dha.

Common belief is that the form of the ron dha is a representation of the Javanese letter dha, and the various forms of the ron dha reflect the form of the letter dha at a particular time in history.

The word "ron" means "leaf" and is Krama for "godhong". It refers to the lontar leaves upon which traditional writing was done and by extension to the letters written upon those leaves. The Javanese letter "dha" equates to "d".

Aesthetically a greneng should be cut so that it appears to be identical when viewed from each side, it should reflect the true form applicable to the classification, where a feature is repeated it should be identical to the other feature, for example, if a greneng has two ron dha, each of those ron dha should be absolutely identical.
Attached Images
      
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th July 2017, 08:15 AM   #7
Jean
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,082
Default

Hello Alan,
Thank you for the very educative post!
Regards
Jean is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th July 2017, 10:13 PM   #8
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Thanks Jean, but really, everything I have presented in post # 6 is common knowledge, and as is often the case, 'common knowledge' is the very lowest level of 'knowledge' that is intentionally constructed to obscure truth.

Actually, nothing in this world changes:- we all absolutely knew that there were weapons of Mass Destruction, didn't we? Yeah, right. The level of knowledge permitted to the masses is intended to make management of those masses easier.

Without getting too deeply into this, consider the terminology that is used to describe other of the various characteristics of the keris:- kembang kacang = bean shoot, sogokan = poker, blumbangan = pond. Yes, all these features resemble the names given them, but those names are euphemisms (in the strict Oxford sense).

The term "ron dha" is also a euphemism.

In Old Javanese the word 'ron' still means 'leaf', but the word 'dha', which in Modern Javanese is only taken as the name of a letter of the Hanacaraka alphabet, and a plural marker that can be considered as synonymous with 'sami' or 'padha', has a distinct separate meaning.

In Old Javanese the word 'dha' can be understood as 'good', or as a 'call', 'cry, 'exclamation', 'appeal', dependent upon context.

So if we consider "ron dha" in an Old Javanese sense it has an entirely different meaning to that which applies in Modern Javanese. But this Old Javanese meaning is still a euphemism --- although a euphemism that is much closer to reality than the common idea of 'letter dha'.

Then we have the relationship between Old Javanese letters, especially those used to write Kawi (the Old Javanese literary script), and Old Javanese numerals.

Never forget that Javanese symbolism is multi-symbolism, if we ever think that we understand something we will never find the truth, there is always something hidden.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 24th July 2017 at 10:52 PM.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2017, 11:30 AM   #9
Johan van Zyl
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: I live in Gordon's Bay, a village in the Western Cape Province in South Africa.
Posts: 120
Default

I am very much intrigued by this thread. I've gone to my two krisses and inspected the grenengs minutely. My Javanese kris has two identical ron dhas, but the Bugis kris seems not to have even one.

I suppose the clarity/readability of the greneng message can get reduced by age & honest wear, just like a set of letters which have become worn.
Johan van Zyl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2017, 06:55 PM   #10
Bjorn
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 115
Send a message via MSN to Bjorn
Default

Thank you for your informative reply, Alan. I'll have to spend some time on this to absorb it all.

I often wondered whether the ron dha in a greneng were supposed to be identical or not, because quite often they are not - even though on their individual merits they look to be aesthetically pleasing.

And I enjoyed learning how ron came to mean letter also.
Bjorn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2017, 07:01 PM   #11
Bjorn
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 115
Send a message via MSN to Bjorn
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan van Zyl
I am very much intrigued by this thread. I've gone to my two krisses and inspected the grenengs minutely. My Javanese kris has two identical ron dhas, but the Bugis kris seems not to have even one.

I suppose the clarity/readability of the greneng message can get reduced by age & honest wear, just like a set of letters which have become worn.


Johan, also keep in mind what Alan wrote above: "When we move outside of Jawa we find that the greneng of keris from other areas is often just notches that have no meaning at all. Because of this, and for other reasons, many old-time traditionalists in Jawa would not recognise that these "keris" from other areas were in fact genuine keris, these other "keris" were merely keris-like objects that had been made by people who did not understand what a keris truly was, and the people who carried these keris were simply trying to copy their betters without understanding anything. They were in fact children who had not yet learnt anything."

The Bugis are an ethnic group from outside of Java and thus not made in accordance with the same rules and regulations. Actually, apart from Bali perhaps, I don't recall ever hearing that there are such rules and regulations in areas outside of Java.
Bjorn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th July 2017, 09:58 PM   #12
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Bjorn, 'ron' doesn't actually mean 'letter', it infers 'letter', the word for 'letter' is 'aksara' in Old Javanese.

One of the characteristics of Javanese language, and I guess of all Javanese behaviour is that very often, most particularly with high status or polite language usage, is that what is said is indirect, which to a degree permits the recipient of a spoken or written message to understand that message in a way that is in accordance with his level of need, or of prior understanding.

This characteristic seems to have undergone development since the rise of the Second Kingdom of Mataram in the late 16th century, but it was probably always present in Javanese communication to some degree.

In respect of Bali and keris form, it is perhaps most useful not to think of Bali as a separate entity to Jawa, but as the "Far East" of Jawa. I personally think in terms of the Jawa-Bali nexus. The old East Javanese kingdoms had some rulers from Bali, and there had been a flow of people from Jawa into Bali for at least several hundred years before the final collapse of Mojopahit. There was some movement of people from Bali back to East Jawa also, but I rather suspect that the people who did move back to East Jawa were people who had Javanese roots, not the indigenous inhabitants of Bali.

Bali received the keris from East Jawa, and because of this, the form of the Balinese keris most closely echoes the form of the true keris of Mojopahit times. This is re-enforced by the fact that early Banten keris resemble in many ways the Balinese keris.

This is not because there was a direct exchange between these two widely separate places, but rather because after the collapse of Mojopahit there was migration, especially migration of craftsmen, from Mojopahit to West Jawa, as well as from Mojopahit to Bali.

Never forget that the people of the Archipelago did not ever regard water as a barrier, they thought of all water, both sea and rivers, as highways.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th July 2017, 09:21 AM   #13
Johan van Zyl
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: I live in Gordon's Bay, a village in the Western Cape Province in South Africa.
Posts: 120
Default

Having read everything that was said above, I now come to a question I would like to ask. It is a question I would think somebody somewhere sometime in this forum would inevitably ask. Perhaps it has not been asked yet because it might be imprudent. Let me be impetuous and ask it in any case. I stand to learn by the answer.

It is this: Can we not take a single representative example of an existing, properly cut ancient Javanese greneng of which the interpretation is clear, or might have already been done, and demonstrate that reading here?

I realise the danger that if this is done, there might be individuals clamouring for their own kerisses' grenengs to be "read"! I myself won't be in that queue, however, because I believe that will be a ridiculous request.

But I ask the question concerning a single representative (Javanese) example, and I myself will be interested in this single demonstration greneng being interpreted.

(And for that matter, it relates very well with Bjorn's introductory post #1 above.)
Johan van Zyl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26th July 2017, 12:07 PM   #14
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Johan, it is not possible to understand anything if that anything is taken out of context.

If we take a sentence from, let us say Shakespeare, is it possible to understand the message that the selected sentence carries, lacking the context of the play?

I suggest to you that it is totally impossible.

So it is with the keris and everything that pertains to it.

In any case, I have been pushing my own little barrow for more years than I can count, trying to get some people to try to understand just a little bit about what it is that they collect.

Very few people are prepared to make the effort to learn their ABC before they try to read "War & Peace".

There are no short cuts. We must put in the hard work first.

Regrettably.

When it comes to the keris in Jawa we need to put in a lot of what might seem like irrelevant effort before we can even begin to understand, then it becomes a matter of "understand what?" even if we understand the words, does that mean that we understand the message, or further, that we understand that message in context?

Collectors prefer to collect. Its what they do. Their interest is in the physical.

I am now 76 years old. I have had an interest in the keris for more than 60 years. For the last almost 50 years I have actively studied the keris. I probably will not live very much longer, and I will die knowing very, very little about the keris.

Here is a beginning for you:-

http://www.kerisattosanaji.com/INTERPRETATIONPAGE4.html
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th July 2017, 08:47 AM   #15
Johan van Zyl
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: I live in Gordon's Bay, a village in the Western Cape Province in South Africa.
Posts: 120
Default

Well, as a 71-year old, let me say to you, Alan: we're still young enough for very many years, and may those years be filled with further fulfilling labours. I have been a scholar all my life and am learning still. Looking at your very many threads and posts, I have come to view you as a teacher in the most honourable sense of the word, and I ask you to please continue teaching.

To show how right you are in encouraging members to read up incessantly in keris lore, I'd like to give an example of my own "research".

(Coincidentally, your Interpretation Part 4 is the very same paper I have been studying during the few days this thread has been running. I had judged it earlier to be most informative with this topic in mind.)

The seemingly irrelevant efforts I have been making by delving into all aspects of the keris (under your insistence, for which I thank you) has given me much food for thought. So I have discovered that the Indonesians (of which the greater part were Javanese) who were brought to this country during the sad time of the slave trade, helped in the development of Afrikaans, my mother tongue. In fact, in time, those Javanese and Bugis learned to speak Dutch, and they, together with the European colonists who came over, changed the Dutch into Afrikaans. The size of this contribution to the language, made by the Indonesians, was not evident during early studies, but today it is acknowledged. Today Afrikaans is the adopted (read: only) first language of not only people like myself (eleventh generation South African) but also thousands of people living here in the Western Cape Province, whose forebears came from Java, Sulawesi and the like.

I have read a lot of Shakespeare, and have seldom understood it in its correct context. Yet I have read it, talked about it, quoted from it, and taught it to my grandchildren. I will not withhold it from them because of their imperfect understanding of the Bard's life and times.

So I give you a wide smile of appreciation and ask you not to be withholding because of uncertainties in Keris lore, but please keep on teaching in this forum!

Johan
Johan van Zyl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27th July 2017, 11:32 PM   #16
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Thanks Johan.

Psalms 90:10

I'm not planning on flying anywhere at the moment --- except may to Blitar next March to do a photo cover of Panataran. But I am at the point where I can positively count the time left on my fingers and toes --- maybe. That's not long. It took me half that time to read and understand Pigeaud's "Java in the 14th. Century". More than double that time to get a reasonable understanding of the Javanese language. My problem is I'm a slow learner, so I need more time than most people to get a thorough understanding of anything.

Understandings come easy, but thorough understandings are very, very draining.

Three score & ten is the blink of the eye, and it is already a sextet of summer solstices behind me.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th July 2017, 09:15 AM   #17
Johan van Zyl
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: I live in Gordon's Bay, a village in the Western Cape Province in South Africa.
Posts: 120
Default

So true! But let me describe my own mindset in regard to our "available" threescore-and-ten plus bonus years before coming to the on-topic point of this post (and I'm saying this not for Alan specifically, but also for all the younger set): Carry on flying till the end; if you stumble, get up again; spend your days right up to the last one.

Here's a humorous incident which has some bearing on what I'm trying to say: In the public service department where I worked as a lecturer for 36 years there developed over time a habit for those on the point of retirement, to either 1) not arrive to work that day, 2) to go home after morning tea, 3) to be picked up by family after midday lunch, 4) or at the least to not make use of the shuttle vehicle, but to drive to work on your own steam.

I volunteered as driver of the shuttle for about 20 years, and it was expected that I surrender the bus the previous day of my retirement. I said no. Not only did I decide to fulfil my duty as shuttle "pilot" there & back, but it included being at work the entire day. I raised a lot of eyebrows, but they were understanding, because I was being consistent to the last. The same goes for life - carry on till the end, especially in the way you deal with friends, family and people around you.

Now before the moderator hurls me from the forum for off-topic comments, let me get on to the greneng once again. I realise that my few concise words can be misunderstood - reminds me of the speaker who was asked to give a talk of an hour's duration. He said he could do that right away. When urgently contacted to say the talk would have to be cut to ten minutes, he replied that they would have to postpone the talk as he needed a lot of time to prepare!

The greneng is one example of the incorporation of religious symbolism put into the keris. But the greneng consists of a number of elements, and I'm wondering if these elements could be seen as one "message"? Can one compare the entities as being in a relationship to one another, in the same way as the separate words in a sentence are in relationship? Could the "message" of the greneng be understood as worship? If the ron dha could be understood as a mantra symbol, could not the whole greneng be understood as a prayer?

All right, so the other elements of the greneng cannot be letters of the alphabet. But they could be stylised representations of something? Could they have been cut there as the empu's appeal to the principle god Siva? Moreover, on a single keris there are elements of symbolism to Ganesha also. But the greneng seems to be different in that the elements are arranged in line, as if they are interconnected.

Alan admits that iconography interpretation is a neglected field of research. But surely that does not mean one should not keep asking questions? Sometimes we are confronted by such a staggering accumulation of observations that we cannot see the forest for the trees. Me, I'm seeing the trees but not the forest! Perhaps this post is my way of asking whether it might be a good idea to narrow down the field a bit and make a few daring conclusions with regard to the Javanese greneng.
Johan van Zyl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28th July 2017, 11:18 PM   #18
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Johan, any remarks I may make in respect of ron dha, greneng and keris iconography in general are to be understood only within the context of the Pre-Islamic Javanese keris and/or the Balinese keris.

In its most pure form the greneng consists of only the ron dha,sometimes repeated two or three times, this expression of form can sometimes be seen in Balinese keris, and in very old Javanese keris. The other couple of elements sometimes found in later Javanese greneng seem to have been included in the greneng after the keris had become an Islamic icon and was subjected to artistic expression. The ron dha is sometimes also seen as an addition to the kembang kacang or the gandhik.

Thus, reading across the sorsoran gives:-

"Aum, Ganesha, Siwa, Aum"

Perhaps a re-reading of the relevant parts of "Interpretation---" may answer your questions in respect of religious intent.

Some people in Jawa today refer to the keris as a "prayer in steel".
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th July 2017, 12:31 PM   #19
Bjorn
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 115
Send a message via MSN to Bjorn
Default

Alan, when you refer to the other elements in the greneng, apart from the ron dha, do you mean the tingil and ri pandan?

Reading a mantra across the sorsoran certainly seems appropriate in the context of Majahapit times. And the mantra om ganesha siwa om seems logical when a jenggot is present.
However, in many cases there is no jenggot. Can we assume that it would then be implied? Or possibly we should read the mantra from right to left (om siwa ganesha). As far as I know, a mantra must start with om, though not all mantras end with om.

My interpretation is based only on general knowledge of mantra, and no specific knowledge on how these were used in pre-Islamic Indonesia - so my interpretations may be very flawed.

Last edited by Bjorn : 29th July 2017 at 12:47 PM.
Bjorn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th July 2017, 07:14 PM   #20
Jean
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,082
Default

[QUOTE=A. G. Maisey]Thanks Jean, but really, everything I have presented in post # 6 is common knowledge, and as is often the case, 'common knowledge' is the very lowest level of 'knowledge' that is intentionally constructed to obscure truth.

Hello Alan,
As a collector and classification maniac, I learned 2 important issues from your post:
. The drawings from Empu Suparman showing the differences in the shape of the gonjos and greneng for the various tangguh is an unique information that I never saw in any book.
. I did not realize that the ron dha (when presnt) was such a crucial tangguh indicator, from memory it is not mentioned in the EK and not clearly in the book KJ.

Thank you again!
Jean is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th July 2017, 12:54 AM   #21
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Johan, we can see that in the keris as it is now, and during the period following the rule of Sultan Agung, there are many variations in the way in which the greneng is expressed, so yes, when I say "other elements" I mean anything and everything that can be found in a greneng that is other than just the ron dha.

In post #18 I qualified my remarks in para.1, so anything I say in this discussion must be understood as being only applicable within the identified context.

In post #18, para.2 I identified these "other elements" as being associated with development in an environment that was no longer Buddhist-Hindu, or if preferred, Hindu-Buddhist or Javanese Hindu, being a synthesis of Hindu, Buddhist and indigenous religious and spiritual beliefs.

Thus, when I read the sorsoran as "aum, Ganesha, Siwa, aum" I am of course reading that within the Javanese -Hindu context.

You ask if we can assume that "om" was inferred in those cases where the ron dha does not appear as a jenggot. Frankly, I am not prepared to assume this, as I believe the inclusion of the ron dha preceding the kembang kacang was a later development. My attitude to this would be that where the ron dha read as "om" appears it is intended, where it does not appear, it is not intended.

(yes, I have spelt "om" as "aum", "aum" seems to be the preferred Roman textualisation of "om" within the Indonesian Hindu community)

In any religion, or any system that embraces religious beliefs, there can be many variations in what is held to be the correct way in which to do anything, including the observation of prayer.

When we present a hypothesis about anything at all, it is perhaps best only to base that hypothesis upon ideas that can be supported by evidence in one form or another, it is probably never a good idea to attach our own unsupported "good ideas" to anything.

This we can say with relative certainty:- many of the Vedas commence with om, and probably most Brahmins commence most mantras and prayers with om. However, in Javanese-Hindu belief we are dealing not with mainline Vedic beliefs, but with Shivaism and Tantrism, thus the question arises:- was it correct in 14th century Jawa to commence all mantras, all prayers with "om"?

I do not know, however, if we recognise that the iconography of the keris is in one interpretation Shivatic in nature, then everything that adorns the keris is an addition to that overarching symbol of Siwa. The keris itself when understood in the context of Shivaism is an icon of Siwa. But as we know, Javanese symbolism is multi symbolism, so the keris can also be understood as the Gunungan, and other things will flow from that interpretation.

To return to the iconography of Siwa, from "Interpretation ---":-

"--- The worship of Ganesha is regarded as a part of the worship of other deities; most Hindus commence their prayers with a prayer to Ganesha. Ganesha is one of the five major deities, and the worship of Ganesha has formed a part of the worship of Siwa since at least the 5th century.---"

Thus, the Shivatic iconography can only be read from left to right, in the same way that Javanese text can only be read from left to right.


The keris with no ron dha, no kembang kacang, no added characteristics at all is still a symbol of Siwa, and as such can initiate a prayer addressed to Siwa, just as a cross can initiate a prayer to Christ. However, with the addition of other symbols to the foundation symbol of the keris, the religious intent is intensified.

For example, the sogokan is also a symbol of Siwa, so when the sogokan is added to a keris, this extends a reading of the keris itself to be understood as Gunungan symbolism, but with Siwa included as the sogokan. Of course, a prayer to Siwa is opened by a prayer to Ganesha, and om completes, and sometimes opens that prayer.

But even when the keris is read as a Gunungan, this does not remove Siwa from the understanding, because the Gunungan is itself to be understood not only in reference to indigenous ancestor worship, but as symbolic also of the Gods and especially as Siwa.

I did try to get most of that which I have written above into "Interpretation ---", please accept my apologies if I have failed to do so.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th July 2017, 01:25 AM   #22
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Jean, yes, I can understand the point you are making. However, when I used the term "common knowledge", I was guilty of seeing this information that I presented not from the perspective of a collector of keris in the world outside Central Jawa, but from my own perspective which is to say, a view of the keris that has been formed very much by Central Javanese influence. I cannot think of one keris conscious person whom I have ever known or met in Central Jawa who was not totally aware of the concepts, although not perhaps of the details or interpretations, incorporated into that which I set forth.

In respect of EK and KJ, I really do not want to comment in detail on either of these publications, or on their authors, except to say that the content of these books, and the expertise of their authors was perhaps not held in quite the same esteem amongst many of the old school ahli keris whom I have known, as it is held by present day collectors in general.

It is just a matter of levels of knowledge, or perhaps more correctly, levels of belief. As you know, I am fond of drawing religious parallels with keris "knowledge", and I will do so again here. The Pope in Rome will have a higher, and perhaps variant understanding of some things than will his cardinals and bishops, the cardinals and bishops will be at a variant level of understanding to that of the ordinary clergy, and the congregation, the ordinary followers of the faith will have very little true understanding at all.

In fact, in the long past it was not considered necessary for the followers of the Faith to have any understanding at all, services were held in Latin, and a little bell was rung so that the congregation would know when to say "Amen". The followers were simply supposed to do what their betters told them to do, they were insufficiently spiritually advanced to understand even the lowest level of knowledge.

It is really no different with the keris. We are all given understanding in accordance with our need for understanding and our ability to understand.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th July 2017, 09:18 AM   #23
Johan van Zyl
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: I live in Gordon's Bay, a village in the Western Cape Province in South Africa.
Posts: 120
Default

Thank you Alan and all other participants in this fascinating thread. I would have liked to see some more relevant pics, but I must say I am very much satisfied with the information given. Your trouble to supply same is greatly appreciated.

Johan
Johan van Zyl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th July 2017, 09:45 AM   #24
Gustav
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 875
Default

[QUOTE=A. G. Maisey]

Johan, we can see that in the keris as it is now, and during the period following the rule of Sultan Agung, there are many variations in the way in which the greneng is expressed, so yes, when I say "other elements" I mean anything and everything that can be found in a greneng that is other than just the ron dha.

QUOTE]

What are the "other elements" found in a Greneng?

Does a feature some call Ri Pandan (I mean here the first "hook" from above, when Greneng is extern) belong to the "other elements"?

Is the Greneng variation as found on Keris with Dhapur Megantoro, and also other Keris, a later (post Sultan Agung) development in your oppinion?

[QUOTE=A. G. Maisey]

(...) as I believe the inclusion of the ron dha preceding the kembang kacang was a later development.

QUOTE]

Alan, what leads to think you so?

How much later?

Last edited by Gustav : 30th July 2017 at 11:24 AM. Reason: to clarify the questions
Gustav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th July 2017, 02:07 PM   #25
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Interesting questions Gustav.

I would ask you to bear one thing in mind:- at this time I am not prepared to comment on anything that is outside the context of Hindu-Buddhist Javanese society and the keris within that system.

The other elements that can be found in a greneng are many and varied, if we consider the page of greneng forms that was taken from KJ, what we can see is that in every example where the ron dha appears the ron dha form is Surakarta. When did each of these greneng forms first appear? I don't know. When did the keris dhapurs that support these greneng forms first appear? I don't know. In the case of some dhapurs keris belief attaches the name of a ruler to the creation of the dhapur, so from this it might seem possible to estimate a date when a particular dhapur first came into being, and thus to be able to say that such & such a greneng appeared at that time. But as we know, even when we have the name of a ruler in Old Jawa, we do not necessarily know exactly who that ruler is, nor when he ruled, or even if he was a real ruler, or a ruler from literature.

Now, you have raised the question of the "greneng variation in megantara". Precisely what variation do you mean Gustav? From memory, dhapur megantara is not included in the Surakarta pakem. I'm pretty sure that it is in EK, and it is in KJ, but again working only with memory, neither of these sources get into much detail in respect of greneng composition. So, megantara is supposed to have exactly what elements included in the greneng? Well, going on the KJ drawing, there are two ron dha, one can probably be read as Jenggolo, but the other is Surakarta.

I think that the Surakarta Pakem does record a dhapur megantoro for tombak, but I'm relatively certain that it does not include a dhapur megantoro for keris (I'll check this as soon as I can). So --- why?

This is fertile ground for good ideas. But you can count me out.

There are a number of dates that can be justified for the termination of Hindu-Buddhist society in Jawa. Arguments can be constructed to support whatever date suits one best, but my personal choice is 1525. Its as good as any other date, and probably better than most.

Pre-1525 the keris was a prerogative of court nobles. It had a purpose and a meaning within court society. Court style was copied by merchants along the North Coast, and this imitation of court dress and behaviours extended to wear of the keris. We do not, to my knowledge, have any keris from Jawa that pre-date the collapse of the Kingdom of Mojopahit, thus all the early Javanese keris that we can examine come from a time when the keris had become something that was available to anybody who could pay the price. That price did not include lessons in Hindu-Buddhist belief systems for Muslim merchants. This was the time when the keris began a new stage of development.

If we consider the tuah of a keris dhapur, we will find that very often a dhapur is associated with a profession. Farmers, merchants, civil servants, and so on all have available to them specific dhapurs that carry a tuah suited to their profession.

However, the nature of Hindu-Buddhist court society was such that the caste entitled, and in fact probably compelled to carry the keris was the k'satriya caste. Considering the nature of Javanese court society prior to 1525, it seems to be highly unlikely that farmers and merchants would have appeared at court wearing a keris. So we are left with the proposition that the bulk of dhapurs that existed at the beginning of the 20th century were for the most part created during the time when Jawa was under Muslim influence.

It was once suggested to me by a person whom I am unwilling to name, that in fact much of both keris form and keris belief developed because of a reaction by the Javanese aristocracy against European domination. I am not yet ready to completely support this opinion, but it certainly does have much to recommend it.

Gustav, you have asked why I am inclined to believe that the ron dha as jenggot was something that was included in keris symbolism, and when. Taken in context what I wrote was this:-

"You ask if we can assume that "om" was inferred in those cases where the ron dha does not appear as a jenggot. Frankly, I am not prepared to assume this, as I believe the inclusion of the ron dha preceding the kembang kacang was a later development. My attitude to this would be that where the ron dha read as "om" appears it is intended, where it does not appear, it is not intended."

My response was to Bjorn's question:-

"Reading a mantra across the sorsoran certainly seems appropriate in the context of Majahapit times. And the mantra om ganesha siwa om seems logical when a jenggot is present.
However, in many cases there is no jenggot. Can we assume that it would then be implied?"


Let us never forget that the spiritual iconography of the keris exists even in a keris with no additional symbols at all. Even in the most plain form of keris the symbolism of Siwa and the Gunungan is present, but if we pray to Siwa we open our prayer with a prayer to Ganesha, thus Ganesha symbolism is logically the first additional enhancement, then the sogokan is included to permit an icon of Siwa to appear within a representation of the Gunungan.

It is not mandatory for the mantra 'om' to be used in every mantra, in every prayer, by all members of all the variations of the Hindu belief system. The nature of Hindu belief in Jawa was Shiviatic and Tantric, it was not Vedic. However, once the related symbolism of Siwa and Ganesha are in place it would be seen as appropriate to turn simple symbolism into a prayer. This is what I mean by "later". All the enhancements associated with the keris that can be read iconographically were products of development. Development takes time. The question remains of how much time. I believe that the symbolism that can clearly be read as Hindu-Buddhist symbolism was mostly completed by the time of the later migrations from East Jawa to Bali.

Why do I believe this? Because those Hindu-Buddhist symbols also appear in Balinese keris. It is not realistic to believe that enhancements developed under Islam were included in the Balinese keris.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th July 2017, 05:56 PM   #26
Gustav
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 875
Default

Alan, thank you for your response.

With Greneng of Megantoro I mean a variation of Greneng, as seen on this blade, which possibly is the best preserved M in existence.

Another, perhaps somewhat related Greneng variation is found on Dresden Inv. Nr. 2895.

Also on this blade with replaced Gonjo (so only the Greneng part on blade itself is of importance). Because of the style of Kinatah and Blumbangan I think it is quite older then Sultan Agung.

Of course these all could be younger forms of Greneng (younger then 1525, but barely made after, say, end of 17th cent.), I never (until now) have seen these variations on Keris Bali, also no Megantoro there.

Regarding Jenggot, I probably have misunderstood you. I suppose, if an early Keris had Kembang Kacang and Greneng, there almost automatically was also Jenggot on KK, mirroring the Greneng (the only exeptions I can think of would be Sempana type blades, but I have seen better preserved specimens with small Jenggot).
Attached Images
  
Gustav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th July 2017, 08:24 PM   #27
Marcokeris
Member
 
Marcokeris's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Italy
Posts: 786
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
Alan, thank you for your response.

With Greneng of Megantoro I mean a variation of Greneng, as seen on this blade, which possibly is the best preserved M in existence.

Another, perhaps somewhat related Greneng variation is found on Dresden Inv. Nr. 2895.

Also on this blade with replaced Gonjo (so only the Greneng part on blade itself is of importance). Because of the style of Kinatah and Blumbangan I think it is quite older then Sultan Agung.

Of course these all could be younger forms of Greneng (younger then 1525, but barely made after, say, end of 17th cent.), I never (until now) have seen these variations on Keris Bali, also no Megantoro there.

Regarding Jenggot, I probably have misunderstood you. I suppose, if an early Keris had Kembang Kacang and Greneng, there almost automatically was also Jenggot on KK, mirroring the Greneng (the only exeptions I can think of would be Sempana type blades, but I have seen better preserved specimens with small Jenggot).
stunning!!
Marcokeris is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th July 2017, 11:51 PM   #28
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Thank you for posting this photo Gustav, here we have a very good example of what happened when the keris became profane under Islam.

In this keris that you have posted a photo of, we cannot comment on the greneng, because of the replaced gonjo, we can only comment on the ron dha nunut.

The enhancements that occupy the place of the ron dha nunut and jenggot on this blade are very clearly not related in any way to the ron dha of the early Modern Keris within Hindu-Buddhist society. This was one of the things that happened when the keris was adopted for wear by people who did not understand the cultural significance of the keris, nor its symbolism --- or perhaps they did understand, and intentionally moved away from this. Let us not forget that Demak was established by a prince of Majapahit.

I agree that this keris you have shown us is probably older than the first half of the 17th century. This is a North Coast blade, very possibly classifiable as Banten, and it demonstrates very nicely the point that I made in respect characteristics associated with the Hindu-Buddhist belief system, however, those features in this keris have been distorted.

Dresden 2895 can be seen in Jensen's Kris Disk, chapter 3, page 22. This kris has its original gonjo and is an excellent example of the early Modern Keris under Islam. Jensen measured it as 41.8cm, I measured it at 42.4cm. It has a single front sogokan and in respect of the greneng and ron dha, I noted that they were "very confused". In any case Dresden 2895 is a big keris, in the hand it is very similar to a Bali keris.

This confusion in the formation of the ron dha and greneng is not uncommon in keris from this period. We can only guess why this happened, it could have been intention on the part of either the person who ordered the keris, or of the maker, as a movement away from Hindu-Buddhist symbolism, or it could have simply been a lack of knowledge of the true form required. In any case this distortion of the ron dha is not uncommon and Gustav has given us a very good example of it.

These corruptions of form are most definitely not younger forms of keris enhancement. They are clearly, obviously and logically demonstrable corruptions. They do not appear in the Bali keris, and that tells us exactly what they are.

There is a slight problem with the naming of Gustav's example as dhapur megantoro, but this is not really an issue, its just a name.

Gustav, in respect of this statement:-

"--- if an early Keris had Kembang Kacang and Greneng, there almost automatically was also Jenggot on KK, mirroring the Greneng (the only exeptions I can think of would be Sempana type blades, but I have seen better preserved specimens with small Jenggot).---"

I do not accept that there was any "automatic" inclusion of the RD as jenggot in pre-1525 keris. There was absolutely no need to always, automatically include the RD to be read as "aum" in this position. Sometimes it was there, sometimes not. There may have been socio-cultural reasons for inclusion, there may not have been. At this time I am not prepared to hypothesise on the presence or absence of the RD as "aum" preceding the KK as Ganesha.

In my post #18 I said this:-

" Johan, any remarks I may make in respect of ron dha, greneng and keris iconography in general are to be understood only within the context of the Pre-Islamic Javanese keris and/or the Balinese keris."

Gustav has drawn me away from my commitment to keep my comments restricted to the Hindu-Buddhist context, but I feel that this momentary divergence was justified because Gustav was kind enough to give us such a beautiful example of the corruption of symbolism under Islam. I'm not prepared to go any further down this Islamic track at the moment.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st July 2017, 11:22 AM   #29
Gustav
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 875
Default

Alan,

regarding the Greneng variation I presented, I don't think it is as simple as "They are clearly, obviously and logically demonstrable corruptions. They do not appear in the Bali keris, and that tells us exactly what they are". This Greneng appears on a very small number of Keris, and they all are older then first half of 17th cent. After that this variation disappears. Speaking of myself, I haven't seen many Keris from Bali, which could be somewhat supportably datable as older then perhaps 18th cent. We have much less reasoned to say on subject older Keris in Bali then we have regarding older Keris in Java - and that isn't much.

This variation of Greneng clearly don't fit in your hypothesis, but I am not sure, if it is a reason enough to deem it as a corruption from Islamic period.

It consists of two identical elements with a Ron Dha in the middle. That element is repeated on Jenggot. Stylistically I don't see any confusion there.

That variation we also see on a Keris from Munich Inv. Nr. Gr. 598, which is much less known, because Jensen probably wasn't aware of its existence. The age of blade is, as always debatable, but I have difficulties to see the hilt of it in an Islamic Kontext.

Regarding my use of word "automatically" regarding the parallel use of Greneng and Jenggot, I am aware, it also doesn't fit in your hypothesis. I for myself wanted to express with it my oppinion, which is adeqately supported by Keris from early collections as material evidence, that there is no KK without Jenggot on old, well preserved Keris, except perhaps Sempana in some cases. If we speak about a corruption during the period following the rule of Sultan Agung you mention in #21, KK without Jenggot is one indeed.
Attached Images
  
Gustav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31st July 2017, 12:56 PM   #30
A. G. Maisey
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,763
Default

Gustav, let me say at the outset that I respect your right to hold your own opinion in this or in any other matter, and I have no desire to change your opinion:- it is your own: treasure it.

However, I do feel that by introducing aberrant features found upon keris that were made under Islamic influence we are wandering away from the barrier that I set myself at the beginning of this discussion. Quite simply I do not want to extend any of my comments into the era of Islamic influence.

The keris that you have introduced to discussion are keris that were made under Islamic influence. They are North Coast Jawa keris, probably classifiable as Banten, and that removes them from any discussion of the keris as a Javanese Hindu-Buddhist artefact. These keris that you have presented and that you wish to discuss have no place in a discussion of the keris within the Javanese Hindu-Buddhist era.

You tell me that these aberrant keris do not fit my hypothesis, but I have not yet published any hypothesis that deals with keris of this type and era. In fact, this perverted corruption of a religious icon does ideally fit into my unpublished work, but I am not at the present time willing or able to take discussion into this era.

In so far as North Coast Jawa hilts are concerned there is no problem at all in reconciling these figural hilts with the expansion of Islam in Jawa. I'm not going to get into that either, but minimal research on the nature of Islamic expansion in Jawa can clarify this point. This is all in the public arena, its no secret, just a matter of putting in time to find the facts.

I mentioned earlier that I like to think of the end of Majapahit and hence the effective end of the Javanese Hindu-Buddhist socio-religious system as occurring in 1525. I like this date for a number of reasons, but there are other ways to think of the end of that Hindu-Buddhist era. This quote might be useful in putting things into context:-

" Gajahmada died in 1364, and Hayam Wuruk, who had been the ruler of Majapahit during the final 14 years that Gajahmada held the position of mahapatih, died in 1389. After the death of Hayam Wuruk, internal conflict and increasing pressure from the Islamic settlements on the North Coast of Java saw the steady decline and eventual collapse of the Kingdom of Majapahit.

The last ruler of Majapahit, Brawijaya V, converted to Islam in 1478, the remaining members of the Majapahit line established a new kraton at Daha near Kediri, which was conquered by Sultan Trenggana"


They didn't turn the lights out on Majapahit at midnight on 31 December 1525. The Golden Age of Majapahit had been losing its Golden Glow gradually for a very lengthy period. It finally imploded and Demak became dominant. I see the whole thing as a typical royal family squabble, this is a good story, but here is not the place for it.

It is important to understand this:- just because Majapahit was a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom, that does not mean that Islam did not exist within the kingdom and within the court. Islam was present in Majapahit and in positions of power, long before Demak became dominant.

To understand roses it is not sufficient to look at a rose and then generate theories and opinions in respect of the conditions needed to produce that rose. To understand roses we must first understand the soil and the growing conditions. The keris is a flower of Javanese culture.
A. G. Maisey is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 12:41 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.