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Old 12th September 2006, 12:43 AM   #31
kai
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I was taught to expect everything when fighting - never ignore/underestimate a threat just because it may seem unlikely/weird/whatever!

That being said, poisons and caustic substances seem to be an integral part of (most?) traditional MAs/warfare throughout the archipelago. AFAIK, one "acid" test for skill is that an opponent isn't able to touch/grab you at all during "rough play" (without weapons). This makes sense since you never expect a real opponent to be unarmed in the first place but it also was explained to me that possible applications of poisons, skin attacks and other very unpleasant "distractions" weighted into this cautionary approach.

I'm far from convinced that even in the "good old days" Keris blades were routinely poisoned since this would seem to be unnecessarily risky. But I seem to remember accounts that blades (Tombak, arrows, bamboo traps, etc.) were poisoned when battle was imminent.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 12th September 2006, 08:42 AM   #32
Kiai Carita
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Default more questions...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boedhi Adhitya
....
As already stated, no main Javanese Silat school such as Setia Hati Terate, Perisai Diri, Merpati Putih or Tapak Suci has keris jurus, as long as I remember. The Maduras Pamur school, while it use keris as it's school symbol, has it neither. If I were a Javanese soldier in old days, I would bring lance/tombak or firearm, a pedang, and two keris: a sturdy, straight one in front as my last resort, and the old one on my back as my guardian angel . A good keris then, should fulfill the functional(weapon), aesthetical, and symbolic/spiritual requirements.

There were a murder case in Jogjakarta, where the murderer use his heirloom keris and stabb the victim on the buttock. The victim died after several hours hospitalized. Well, Gentlemen, please use your another 'poisonous keris' when you're fighting with your wife I shouldn't tell where you should stabb her, should I ?

Best Regards,

boedhi adhitya


Nuwun sewu, everyone,

There was a couple of years ago a murder in Sragen where the killer used his keris and tried to convince the judge that his keris made him do it but the judge didn't have it.

In my experience there are two ways to poison your blade common in Jawa. The rich-man's way is to us warangan. A friend of mine died within hours after being stabbed in the thigh with a waranganed badik and the hospital refusing to treat him because he had tattoes. So plain warangan seems to be deadly enough.

The other is the poor-man's cacam way, in which you collect as many venomous reptiles and insects you can get, let them rot in a container, and let you blade soak in the rotting mass preferably untill there are layers of the goo on it. Every time the general elections are near and the campaiging season starts, alot of village and kampung thugs begin to do this.

There are now Western Pendekars who claim to teach Jawa silat and add keris and kujang jurus to their repertoar. However in my opinion this would be most likely be their own invention. As for Jawa Princes studying silat? Of course it happened! Although the name was kanuragan rather than silat. It was not a good thing to do (politically) though, for if the Dutch found that you were interested in martial arts your career prospects were sorely influenced.

For instance, WS Rendra's father and grandfather were silat teachers in the Yogya kraton in the line of Suryoningalogo. The late Bagong Kussudihardjo's Grandfather was Gusti Djuminah, who would have been Sultan Hamengkubawana VIII had not he been put under house arrest because of interest in silat. The more famous Merpati Putih school traces its lineage back to the times of the traitor-king Amangkurat of Kartasura.

I would like to restate my question about the position of the handle... does anyone have any picture or knowledge of how the handle was positioned in Jawa when the keris was still a weapon? And also, in the Majapahit and earlier eras, what was the keris Bali like?

Thank you all in advance,
Bram.
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Old 12th September 2006, 01:48 PM   #33
A. G. Maisey
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Warangan used to stain a keris blade does not render the blade poisonous.

The warangan combines with the ferric material of the blade , in much the same way as the chemicals used to achieve a cold blue effect in firearms , combine with the ferric material of firearms. If by some extremely unlikely chance there was a residue of arsenic on a keris blade, this residue would be so miniscule that it would not cause any injury through a poison effect.

For those with an interest in arsenic:-

http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/arsenic/index.html

The word "cacam" puzzles me.

I do not know this word.

Nor do the seven Javanese people whom I have asked its meaning.

I cannot find the word in any Indonesian, Modern Javanese, or Old Javanese dictionary.

There is a word "cacampuri" in Kawi (ancient literary language) which seems to carry the meaning of mixing ingredients.

I would be very pleased to learn the meaning and origin of this word "cacam".

During colonial times there were many Javanese princes. I agree that it would be unlikely that at least some of these princes did not learn some Javanese martial art, however, in the written accounts of the education of those princes who rose to become rulers I can find no mention of these personages indulging in a study of silat, and quite frankly, I find it very difficult to reconcile the Kraton culture of the colonial era in Jawa with the study of silat by the heirs to the throne.
George Cameron Stone visited Jawa during the late colonial period, so in the matter of Javanese princes demonstrating systems of fence using the keris it is the probability of such systems being taught to Javanese royalty during this period which must be considered.I concede that the possibility does exist that George Cameron Stone was provided with a genuine exhibition of a system of fence specific to the keris, however, I cannot accept that this was a probability.

The word "kanuragan" is not a synonym for "silat".

"Kanuragan" in the sense of a protective discipline, means "invulnerable", and is a synonym of "kedhotan".

For those of you with an interest in understanding "kanuragan" you may care to visit this site:-

http://www.antarakita.net/reviews/r28.html

Gusti Djuminah was put under house arrest because of an interest in silat?
Isn`t it amazing how the truth of matters becomes buried in popular belief?
I had always thought Gusti Djuminah was exiled because he was a traitor.
Apparently many other people also think that this is what happened.

http://www.tasteofjogja.com/IDA/detailbud.asp?idbud=297

Ah well---truth will out.


Merpati Putih USA does make the claim that :-

"Merpati Putih Pencak Silat is the Indonesian Royal Family’s secret Martial Art and Inner Power System. MP was developed in the 1550’s and passed down through the generations very strictly from father to son & so on, only taught by the King to his Heirs. For over 400 years MP was very rarely if ever, seen by anyone outside the Royal Family. "
1550 is some considerable time prior to the Kartosuro era.

Regretably no references or documentation to support this claim are provided on the Merpati Putih USA website.

In spite of this long and regal history of silat in Jawa, there would seem to be no mention of it in literary sources, which to me, seems a little strange. I would have expected at least a passing mention in Centini, but I can find nothing.

I guess this proves beyond doubt that silat in Old Jawa was such a closely guarded secret, known of only by initiates, that virtually nobody else knew of its existence.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 12th September 2006 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 12th September 2006, 03:25 PM   #34
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Or maybe it's like fishing stories?
I have heard several examples of fantastic stories of the history of different Silat styles that is only told in US, and in some cases has been exported to European Silat circles...

Michael
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Old 12th September 2006, 03:45 PM   #35
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Default warangan, cacam and Gusti Juminah

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Warangan used to stain a keris blade does not render the blade poisonous.

The warangan combines with the ferric material of the blade , in much the same way as the chemicals used to achieve a cold blue effect in firearms , combine with the ferric material of firearms. If by some extremely unlikely chance there was a residue of arsenic on a keris blade, this residue would be so miniscule that it would not cause any injury through a poison effect.

For those with an interest in arsenic:-

http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/arsenic/index.html

The word "cacam" puzzles me.

I do not know this word.

Nor do the seven Javanese people whom I have asked its meaning.

I cannot find the word in any Indonesian, Modern Javanese, or Old Javanese dictionary.

There is a word "cacampuri" in Kawi (ancient literary language) which seems to carry the meaning of mixing ingredients.

I would be very pleased to learn the meaning and origin of this word "cacam".

During colonial times there were many Javanese princes. I agree that it would be unlikely that at least some of these princes did not learn some Javanese martial art, however, in the written accounts of the education of those princes who rose to become rulers I can find no mention of these personages indulging in a study of silat, and quite frankly, I find it very difficult to reconcile the Kraton culture of the colonial era in Jawa with the study of silat by the heirs to the throne.
George Cameron Stone visited Jawa during the late colonial period, so in the matter of Javanese princes demonstrating systems of fence using the keris it is the probability of such systems being taught to Javanese royalty during this period which must be considered.I concede that the possibility does exist that George Cameron Stone was provided with a genuine exhibition of a system of fence specific to the keris, however, I cannot accept that this was a probability.

The word "kanuragan" is not a synonym for "silat".

"Kanuragan" in the sense of a protective discipline, means "invulnerable", and is a synonym of "kedhotan".

For those of you with an interest in understanding "kanuragan" you may care to visit this site:-

http://www.antarakita.net/reviews/r28.html

Gusti Djuminah was put under house arrest because of an interest in silat?
Isn`t it amazing how the truth of matters becomes buried in popular belief?
I had always thought Gusti Djuminah was exiled because he was a traitor.
Apparently many other people also think that this is what happened.

http://www.tasteofjogja.com/IDA/detailbud.asp?idbud=297

Ah well---truth will out.


Merpati Putih USA does make the claim that :-

"Merpati Putih Pencak Silat is the Indonesian Royal Family’s secret Martial Art and Inner Power System. MP was developed in the 1550’s and passed down through the generations very strictly from father to son & so on, only taught by the King to his Heirs. For over 400 years MP was very rarely if ever, seen by anyone outside the Royal Family. "
1550 is some considerable time prior to the Kartosuro era.

Regretably no references or documentation to support this claim are provided on the Merpati Putih USA website.

In spite of this long and regal history of silat in Jawa, there would seem to be no mention of it in literary sources, which to me, seems a little strange. I would have expected at least a passing mention in Centini, but I can find nothing.

I guess this proves beyond doubt that silat in Old Jawa was such a closely guarded secret, known of only by initiates, that virtually nobody else knew of its existence.


Nuwun sewu Pak Alan,

The word cacam is related to cemceman (oil and herbs for the hair) or tempe bacem. The cem part would indicate a marinade. It is mentioned in Pak Bambang's Ensiklopedi, and I have often seen people doing it.

Katosan and kanuragan is what most Jawanese would learn and pencak silat can and often is a part of katosan / kanuragan.

Gusti Juminah was a traitor to the Dutch colonialists but to the nationalist Mataramites he was the king of Yogya who never was. Studying kanuragan and silat was seen as a sign of treachery by the Dutch. This story I got from almarhum Pak Bagong himself, grandson of Gusti Juminah so of course it sees him positive.

If warangan doesn't kill, what makes people die in hours after being stabbed with a blade that has warangan on it? The wound becomes blue quickly and it begins to swell. Or are there other kinds of warangan? My friend died from a badik that had warangan on it.

As for Merpati Putih going back further that Kartasura, I would not be surprised. Merpati Putih as it is now, however comes down through Mataram, to the Jawa War 1825-30. The form we see nowadays was formulated after the Merdeka.

warm salaams to all,
Bram
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Old 12th September 2006, 04:51 PM   #36
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You can still order poison blades today although I think the process is different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmJJLhy0o-M
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Old 12th September 2006, 05:27 PM   #37
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Pusaka, is there supposed to be sound on that video. Mine ran silent.
Just to re-focus the discussion though, i would like to hear more about the validity of poisoning KERIS blades as this is specifically a keris forum and fighting with KERIS is the question at hand. There is not doubt that blades from different areas have received such treatment, though i am a bit dubious of the method in this video since i would imagine all that intense heat would destroy any poisons in the spider.
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Old 12th September 2006, 06:34 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Pusaka, is there supposed to be sound on that video. Mine ran silent.
Just to re-focus the discussion though, i would like to hear more about the validity of poisoning KERIS blades as this is specifically a keris forum and fighting with KERIS is the question at hand. There is not doubt that blades from different areas have received such treatment, though i am a bit dubious of the method in this video since i would imagine all that intense heat would destroy any poisons in the spider.

Yes there is sound with this video and yes I agree with you, I don’t think the poison venom would survive the intense heat and acid.
I was told that the blades were poisoned simply by rubbing the blade onto a poisonous tree frog, very simple and easy to do. I have no idea as to what frog was used but that is what I was told “frog poison”
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Old 12th September 2006, 07:52 PM   #39
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Most respected members of this Forum,

Is that True.... keris for fighting? Let's see from another point of view.

This discussion of the keris becomes more and more interesting, certainly when we become involved in the discussion of the keris, we will become involved in the language, the form, and the significance of the keris, all of which become one, and have a meaning in a semiotic way.

I now wish to address one aspect of the keris, that is the aspect which we refer to as "jarwa dhosok", and which may be translated as "the modern Javanese equivalent of a literary, or an archaic , expression".

The word "keris" comes from the expression "mengker kerono aris" (mengKER kerono aRIS), which has the meaning of to distance oneself from the matters of the world and move in the direction of great wisdom.
Thus, the keris when considered from the symbolic aspect of a modern interpretation of an ancient idea is a symbol that mankind always tries to move in the direction of Great Wisdom ( Mahabijaksana), that is , God.

Then, if we consider each ricikan, or feature, of the keris, we can attach a philosophical significance to each of these ricikan.
For example:-
-the gandik can be interpreted as having the meaning that the life of man is dependent upon God.
-the sharpness (landep) of the keris can be interpreted as having the significance that a man should have a keenly aware feeling towards his environment , towards the people around him, which will enable him to move towards the culmination of his life, the final goal of his life, that is, God, and God equates to the point of the keris.

If we then address the matter of dhapur, we can see that each dhapur also has a philosophical significance in accordance with the specific form of each dhapur.Thus, this philosophy which derives from semiotic observations certainly can also be addressed from the aspect of "jarwa dhosok", or the modern Javanese way in which an ancient expression is viewed (jarwa dhosok).


The above is a very concise outline of the content of the thesis "Analisis Semiotika Makna Sosial Keris Pada Orang Jawa" (An Analysis of the Social Significance of the Keris to Javanese People) recently submitted to Universitas Pembangunan Nasional (UPN) Yogyakarta, faculty of Social and Political Science, school of Communication.This thesis was awarded an "A" grading.



Let us take as an example the way in which the dhapur "Brojol" may be interpreted.


"Brojol" is a word which relates to one process of birth, whether human birth, or animal birth, thus whether it is a human or an animal which is born, the birth itself is pure.

With ricikan which consists of only an unadorned gandik, the dhapur brojol has the significance or symbol of :-

"man must always remember and always base his life upon God, must always have a keen awareness of his environment, and always be close to God, in order that he can always be "born again" and return to the natural purity and Way of God"

If man is already born again, and has returned to the natural Way of God, thus pamor is the flower given by the empu, for instance, beras wutah which carries the hope that as time passes good fortune will increase.

Respected Forum members, I have had the assistance of a friend in providing this English translation of what I originally wrote in Indonesian. For those of you who read Indonesian I provide below a copy of my original text , in order to guard against any possible loss of meaning or feeling in the translation.



Forum yang terhormat, diskusi "keris" menjadi semakin menarik, tentu saja pada saat mendiskusikan keris kita akan melibatkan bahasa, bentuk, dan makna, yang menjadi suatu kesatuan, yang memiliki arti atau secara semiotika.

Saya langsung saja ke satu sisi, dari sekian banyak sisi tinjauan mengaenai "keris" yaitu sisi "jarwo dosok".
Keris.... berasal dari kata mengKER kerono aRIS, artinya menjauhkan diri dari hal hal duniawi menuju kepada Yang Maha Bijaksana, atau "menuju kepada yang maha bijaksana".
Makna Keris dari sisi semiotika yang "jarwo dosok" adalah symbol agar manusia selalu berusaha untuk menuju kepada yang Mahabijaksana, yaitu Tuhan.

Kemudian setiap racikan juga memiliki makna phylosophi;
- Gandik misalnya memiliki makna manusia dalam hidupnya harus selalu bersandar pada Tuhan yang Maha Esa.
- Landep, (landep ing wilah) memiliki makna agar manusia mempunyai perasaan yang tajam terhadap lingkungannnya, terhadap masyarakat sekitarnya, (setajam landep bilah keris) untuk dapat menuju kepada suatu Titik puncak yaitu ujung kehidupan, akhir kehidupan yaitu Tuhan... ujung keris (pucuk).

Selanjutnya soal dapur, setiap dapur juga memiliki makna philosophy sesuai dengan masing-masing istilah dapur, makna phylosophinya juga terdiri berbagai tinjauan sisi semiotika, dalam hal ini tetntu saja saya akan melanjutkannya dari sisi yang konsepnya "jarwo dosok".
sebagai contoh "Dapur Brojol"

Brojol adalah sebuah kata yang mengungkapkan suatu proses kelahiran, apakah itu manusia ataupun hewan, maka apapun itu yang dilahirkan tentunya dalam keadaan suci.
Dengan komposisi racikan yang hanya gandik polos, dapur Brojol memiliki makna atau symbol "manusia harus selalu ingat dan selalu menyandarkan hidupnya kepada yang maha kuasa (Tuhan), memiliki perasaan yang tajam terhadap lingkungannya, dan selalu mendekatkan diri kepadaNya agar supaya selalu dapat menjadi manusia yang; "di-lahirkan kembali", kembali ke fitrah-NYA, Born Again, suci kembali.
Jika sudah dilahirkan kembali, kembali ke fitrah-Nya, Born again, maka pamor adalah kembang yang di berikan empu, sekiranya beras wutah maka semoga semakin bertambah rejeki yang diperoleh.

Demikian forum yang terhormat.
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Old 12th September 2006, 09:56 PM   #40
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Pak Bambang, i am assuming (please correct me if i am wrong) that from your post you are of the school of thought which does NOT believe that the keris was ever used as a weapon for fighting in Jawa. Certainly the metaphysical designation of the keris and it's various parts is an interesting and very valuable discussion. I would much appreciate it if you would actually start a new thread devoted to this line of thought. I think that even those who believe the keris WAS used as a true weapon would not argue that this philosphical manner of interacting with the keris is an established school of thought. The question is whether or not it was always this way or developed into this school over the centuries.
Your source for the word keris, mengKER kerono aRIS = keris, is also very interesting and i have heard this before. However, it would seem best not to present this as an undisputed fact. I have heard many different root sources for the word keris, but i do not believe any of them are cut and dry sources. I honor your right to believe yours is the correct source (and it may well be), but what you are presenting is open to debate.
Do you accept that the keris was used for fighting in other parts of Indonesia such as Bali, Sulawesi or the Peninsula?
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Old 12th September 2006, 10:30 PM   #41
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Pak David, in Bali i know exactly keris not for fighting except Puputan, here i will not explain about what is Puputan. In Bali they keep keris in Holly Room, or in Pura (as Pertime), but keris for collection is different.

Just for an example in Kosamba War, Anak Agung Istri Kania and her troops killed General Michiels and some of his leutenants not using keris but using tombak n gun, keris just for sikep.
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Old 12th September 2006, 11:08 PM   #42
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Just to be clear, i do not believe anyone here is suggesting that the keris was used as a prime weapon of war. Even before the introduction of the gun tombak would have been a perferred weapon in warfare over the keris. It has been put forth that the keris once acted as a personal side arm that might protect from theives or other troubles on the road, for instance.
The Kusamba war and the Puputans are both fairly recent events in the great scheme of the keris. But are attitudes that were held then or today the same attitudes that were held during the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries? Can anyone show proof of this?
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Old 13th September 2006, 01:24 AM   #43
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Bram, I thank you most sincerely for your respectful form of address, however, since I am not Indonesian, and this is an English language forum, I would feel more comfortable with observation of English language convention by using only my name, without the title "Pak". Even though we have not been formally introduced, you may use my first name, rather than my family name.


Thank you for your explanation, Bram.

I understand your reference now. The word is "cencem", to soak in oil and poison. This appears to be another example of dialect difference that makes Javanese such a nightmare of a language.I am aware of this practice, and in my files I have several recipes for preparation of the soak medium. I have no doubt at all that you may have seen blades being prepared for use in this way, my only question related to the word you used.

Yes, kanuragan can be a part of pencak silat, or it can stand alone, but it is not a synonym for pencak silat. Kanuragan is perhaps more similar to tenaga dalam , than to the pencak forms, and is essentially a mystical practice, rather than a physical one.

I am not familiar with the word:- "katosan".

Can you please elucidate? Thank you.

Regarding Gusti Djuminah. I will preface my remarks by saying that I have only a slight understanding of the situation in Yogyakarta , and especially in the Kraton Yogya , at the time of the transmission of power from HB VII to HBVIII. However, what I have read indicates that the crown prince was a a troublemaker and obstructionist, who did indeed seem to pose future problems for the Dutch administration. In light of the wealth that HBVII accrued under Dutch policy, this would seem to have been a particularly stupid attitude to adopt, and since the well being of the people of Yogya was dependent upon the economy of the region, it could be, and apparently was, interpreted by many people as a betrayal of the people who were resident of Yogyakarta.

I can fully understand how some people, particularly a dispossessed grandson, may feel about the failure of his grandfather to take the crown, however, I would suggest that the reason for this denial of birthright by the Dutch had more to do with the political incompetence of the crown prince, rather than his interest in pencak silat.

I have absolutely no idea what could have been the cause of death in the case of the person stabbed in the thigh by a badik that had been stained with warangan.

But I am absolutely certain that it was not the warangan.

One may believe whatever one wishes in this respect, or any other, and for the person who believes that a blade treated with warangan will ensure a certain and swift death, then for that person, this is fact.However, the reality is that a blade which has been subjected to the process of warangan bears no active warangan upon its surface, and even if it did, the quantity that it might bear would be more of a medicinal nature than of death dealing one.

I did not say that Merpati Putih began prior to Kartosuro.

I said that Merpati Putih USA claimed this.

Personally, I find it very, very difficult to believe that Merpati Putih came from a royal source, or that it has roots going any further back than the 19th. century.

During colonial times practitioners of pencak silat were used by the Dutch administration as overseers. One of the ways in which an ordinary worker could gain advancement was to hone his martial arts skills and rise to the rank of an overseer or a controller. The elite of these people, known as "jago" were used by the Dutch as standover men and hit men.

The Dutch favoured Chinese people as tax collectors for a similar reason:- the Chinese martial art of kun tao---of which I can personally attest the effectiveness---seemed to be regarded at that time as a virtually unstoppable force, and as such more effective as an administrative tool than the various forms of pencak silat. So, the Chinese tax collectors could be expected , if necessary, to meet with little or no resistance from people relying on pencak silat.This, of course, is one of the principal roots of the dislike of the Chinese by the Javanese:- the Dutch employed the Chinese to collect tax and as a tool of enforcement that was more effective than the other tools of enforcement used by the Dutch.The Chinese were also more commercially able than the Javanese, so the people of Jawa were faced by a Dutch tool that had not only a commercial mentality, but had the physical ability to enforce Dutch demands.This must have been a truly horrible situation to live under.

Pencak silat appears to have entered Central Jawa during the 19th century, having been brought there by overseers whom the Dutch imported from Sunda. Sunda had been developed for Dutch purposes prior to the development of the Central Javanese plain, so when the farming lands of Central Jawa began to be exploited for Dutch gain, they used experienced overseers and controllers from their plantations in Sunda.

This appearance of pencak silat in the Javanese heartland during the 19th century would explain why Javanese literature from Centini and before appears to have no mention of pencak silat.

A further reason for the non-appearance of references in Javanese literature to pencak silat could well be because pencak silat seems to have been an art of the masses, rather than an art of the elite. Since the literature of early Jawa all comes from palace sources, one could hardly expect palace poets to write of the doings of labourers.

On the other hand, the practice of mystical exercises in attempts to gain invulnerability does sit perfectly with Javanese kraton culture of the colonial period, thus I believe we can accept that kanuragan was practiced amongst the elites during the colonial period

Let me conclude my remarks with this rider:-

I have no interest in any martial art, and I have no agenda to promote one martial art above any other, equally, I have no intent to denigrate any martial art.

I have a high respect for all martial artists because of their dedication to an athletic ideal that embodies both physical and mental prowess.

The martial arts of Jawa form a part of the culture of Jawa, and as such have my respect, however, to misrepresent, or to distort the true history and nature of this cultural element of Jawa is to do a disservice to the cultural inheritance of the Javanese people.
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Old 13th September 2006, 01:54 AM   #44
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I personally feel that Pak Bambang`s submission on the present day position of the keris in Javanese society belongs exactly where it is.

I think the original question was something like---"when did the keris cease to be a weapon"

Pak Bambang`s submission , I believe, is perfectly in context with the search for an answer to this question, for as he points out, he is presenting only one aspect of the nature of the keris, and that aspect relates to present day belief.

I understand perfectly where Pak Bambang is coming from, and although I do not personally agree with this position, I would be a fool if I did not acknowledge that for many people in present day Jawa, what Pak Bambang has written represents the truth.

This of course raises the question of the nature of truth, but truth, like history , becomes actual when sufficient people believe that something is so.

For instance, Pak Bambang has used the dapur brojol as an example to reinforce his position.

However---

the word "brojol" has the meaning:- "lower on one side than on the other"

the association of dapur brojol with the birthing process draws upon derivatives of "brojol", that is, "mbrojol", "kebrojol", and "kebrojolan"

For somebody who wishes to attach a symbolic meaning to dapur brojol, it is natural that that symbolic meaning should be to do with birth, and if sufficient people believe that the placement of a keris of dapur brojol under a bed when a woman is ready to give birth, will ease that birth, then for those people, and for the woman concerned, the keris will ease the birth.

But for an objective cynic, dapur brojol is named thus because the base of the blade is very obviously lower on one side than on the other.

Regarding the cultural position of the keris in Bali.

Pak Bambang, I regret that I must disagree with your statements in this regard.

Whilst it is true that the keris did play a part in the puputans, a study of early literature and sources makes it very clear that the keris in Bali prior to European domination of Bali, very definitely fulfilled a weapon role. Most certainly, the role of the Balinese keris as a weapon varied significantly from the role of the spear, the sword, and firearms, but this current sanitisation of the Balinese keris is completely off the mark when measured against the evidence.
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Old 13th September 2006, 03:19 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I personally feel that Pak Bambang`s submission on the present day position of the keris in Javanese society belongs exactly where it is.

I think the original question was something like---"when did the keris cease to be a weapon"

Pak Bambang`s submission , I believe, is perfectly in context with the search for an answer to this question, for as he points out, he is presenting only one aspect of the nature of the keris, and that aspect relates to present day belief.


Sorry Alan, i did not mean to imply that Bambang's submission was inappropriate to this thread. I was merely encouraging him to start a new thread that might go more in depth on these present day beliefs. As you point out, there are a great many people in Jawa today who accept these relatively modern philosophies of the keris as fact. I personally think there is much to be found in this approach to keris as a spiritual path. I just think that it is a subject that goes beyond the context here and is deserving of a thread of it's own.
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Old 13th September 2006, 04:14 AM   #46
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Yes, I take your point, David.

Perhaps we could all benefit from an exploration of this aspect of the keris.

I do still feel that Pak Bambang`s contribution belongs where it is, for my already stated reason. After all, the keris has had different natures at different times in its history, and here we have a good, clear explanation of how some people regard the nature of the keris today.

This effectively says:- in Jawa, in the year 2006, and for some indeterminate time prior to that, a body of people do not accept that the nature of the keris is that of weapon.

By clearly establishing this attitude at this time and place, it frees us to move backwards in time to the point where the keris was regarded as a weapon.

I personally see Pak Bambang`s contribution as quite valuable in establishing these parameters of time and place.

However, perhaps somebody who holds similar beliefs to those put forward by Pak Bambang may feel inclined to open new discussion along these lines.
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Old 13th September 2006, 02:55 PM   #47
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...Thank you for your explanation, Bram.

I understand your reference now. The word is "cencem", to soak in oil and poison. This appears to be another example of dialect difference that makes Javanese such a nightmare of a language.I am aware of this practice, and in my files I have several recipes for preparation of the soak medium. I have no doubt at all that you may have seen blades being prepared for use in this way, my only question related to the word you used.

Yes, kanuragan can be a part of pencak silat, or it can stand alone, but it is not a synonym for pencak silat. Kanuragan is perhaps more similar to tenaga dalam , than to the pencak forms, and is essentially a mystical practice, rather than a physical one.

I am not familiar with the word:- "katosan".

Can you please elucidate? Thank you.

Regarding Gusti Djuminah. I will preface my remarks by saying that I have only a slight understanding of the situation in Yogyakarta , and especially in the Kraton Yogya , at the time of the transmission of power from HB VII to HBVIII. However, what I have read indicates that the crown prince was a a troublemaker and obstructionist, who did indeed seem to pose future problems for the Dutch administration. In light of the wealth that HBVII accrued under Dutch policy, this would seem to have been a particularly stupid attitude to adopt, and since the well being of the people of Yogya was dependent upon the economy of the region, it could be, and apparently was, interpreted by many people as a betrayal of the people who were resident of Yogyakarta.


Alan, katosan (from the word atos) is a synonym to kanuragan. It is certainly more tenaga-dalam and magic knowledge than pencak-silat movement. Names such as Brajamusthi, Lembu Sekilan, Gelap Ngampar...

From what I know, originally Merpati Putih was also a breathing system without silat movement. The silat movement came later in the 20th century. Myself, I practise Bangau Putih, which before RI was called Kuntao. During the early Rekiblik years in Yogya, pencak silat recieved much support and developed rapidly with people like Pak Sukowinadi and Pak Harimurti teaching it to the masses. I think that Pakualam was very interested in silat as well and during the 19th century brought in teachers to teach the princes.

In Central Jawa it would seem that most silat traces it's lineage to Cimande in Bogor or to the people of Minangkabau land, or the Bugis and the Madurese. However, reading Pramoedya Ananta Toer's descriptions of Galeng's fights in his novel Arus Balik, it would seem that Pak Pram (alm) believed that pencak was already there at the fall of Majapahit. O'ong Maryono's research found the first mention of pencak silat in literature was in Kidung Sundayana in the sad story of the Pajajaran puputan against Gajahmada.

Now, back to the keris as a fighting weapon. Myself I would be inclined to believe that although the keris was used as the last weapon, the fact that many keris do not have the structural integrity to be used in a fight, makes me think that the fighting part, in Jawa, was always secondary to the sipat-kandhel function. I would imagine that if the keris was primarily a weapon, the design would have somewhat become more specialized for the purpose. If I were to make a fighting keris I would make sure there was a sturdy ada-ada and a screw type pesi to make it hold stronger in the ukiran.

You find all sorts of keris with tangguh that indicate rather ancient times, Jenggala, Kediri, for example... and also in these ancient tangguh, you have the huge variety of dhapur, some would be more suitable for fighting than the others. I would imagine that if the keris was primarily a side-arm, then there would not be that many dhapur as only the practical ones would be ordered. I believe the situation is thus in Malaysia, Sumatra, the Philippines, the Bugis all of them have rather simple and much more sturdy keris than the Jawa blade.

Regarding Gusti Juminah, the website you pointed me to was Pak Bagong's brother's website. There he is said to be membelot (to become traitor) but the subject of that site is his grandson, and to become traitor to the Dutch means to become hero to the people.

I am still interested in the angle the ukiran is fitted on to the tang. Does anyone have any information about how the Jawanese positioned the ukiran in pre-Mataram II times?

Warm salams to all,
Bram.
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Old 13th September 2006, 07:20 PM   #48
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You can still order poison blades today although I think the process is different.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmJJLhy0o-M


Well, i did finally get the sound to work on this video. If these spiders are so deadly and kill within hours, can someone tell be why they are crawling all over these guys in the video? I also don't see how the poisons that these spiders supposedly carry can survive the fire and the acid that is used in this process. The whole thing sounds pretty sketchy to me.
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Old 13th September 2006, 07:43 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by Kiai Carita
I am still interested in the angle the ukiran is fitted on to the tang. Does anyone have any information about how the Jawanese positioned the ukiran in pre-Mataram II times?


Bram, i wonder if your best bet on this question would be to view some of the early acquistions that are in some Dutch museums and collections. I think some of these were collected as early as the 16th century. Though it is possible that the hilts have moved position over the years i think this would be our best chance of seeing the presentation of a keris from that era.
While many keris may not have the structural integrity for fighting, many actually do. So likewise one might ask why bother making a blade with the structural integrity to fight if that is not it's intention. Why bother to temper blades. Many modern keris makers do not quelch the blade after forging for fear of destroying their work, but this was not the case with older keris. Why did mpus in the past take the risk to quelch blades is they didn't need to be battle-ready? Also it is certainly the case that many of the older blades that we see have had their structural integrity compromised by many years of acid washings. Again, pristine blades that are held in old collections that have not gone through this continual process might prove to be more structurally sound and battle ready.
Certainly there were always blades that were made purely for talismanic purposes and these may have always been thin or in some way physically unsuitable for fighting. Your point about the many different dapurs is well taken, but keep in mind that the vast majority of keris are simple, straight blades. I would not be surprised to find that different and complex dapurs were developed over the years with purely symbolic purposes involved. Still, many straight, sturdy and practical blades have come out of Jawa over the centuries which would do quite well in a fight.
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Old 14th September 2006, 12:09 AM   #50
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Thank you for your explanation, Bram.

This is the first time I have heard or read katosan. I understand the root, but to find this word I had to look at five different Javanese dictionaries before I found "katosan" in one of them as a derivative of "atos", and given as a synonym of "kadigdyan", which I think is a fairly commonly used word. Thanks for this knowledge.

I did not know that Bangau Putih was Kun Tao. My wife was a dedicated practitioner of kun tao in her youth, and has several fairly respected kun tao people in her family, all older people, and located in East Jawa. They still refer to kun tao as kun tao.

Your outline of the origins of silat is more or less as I understand it, but I really don`t think we can place a lot of historical credibility on the writings of a popular novelist, no matter how respected he may be. Ever watch "Angling Darmo" or any of the other Indonesian historical soaps? Or for that matter, look at the way popular writers present the history and society of any country. No, I really do feel that we must treat Pramoedya Ananta Toer's work in the way it was intended to be treated.

I am familiar with the Kidung Sundayana, and a quick check of my copies does not seem to have any mention of pencak silat. I am not claiming that the version accessed by O'ong Maryono does not mention pencak silat, however, it would be interesting to know what version that was, and what canto within the work. Do you have access to this information?

However, be that as it may, I think we can probably accept that during the period when rulers were dependent upon the physical prowess of individual warriors for the maintenance of their military power, pencak silat, or something rather like it would have been one of the required capabilities of at least some of the royal forces. I seem to recall reading somewhere that early Chinese merchants used to be accompanied by professional "empty hand" fighters when they visited Jawa. I guess there was probably some transference of knowledge from that direction too.

Regarding the keris and its capability as a weapon. When we look at an old keris now, we should try to bear in mind that what we usually see is only a shadow of what that keris was when it was new.Examination of early keris that were taken to Europe when those keris were new, or near to it, demonstrates quite conclusively that the types of keris that we are used to regarding as slight and frail, when new, were very serious weapons.I suggest reference to "Den Indonesiske Kris"--Karsten Sejr Jensen--ISSN 0108-707X.

On the subject of tangguh, one should consider the social reasons for the origin of this system of classification, before attaching too much credibilty to the alignment of any specific tangguh with a historical period.

Yes, I do understand the reversal of roles that could be applied to Gusti Djuminah, however, the fact remains that the public sources relating to this gentleman indicate that he was at the very least , politically inept. It is obvious that the Dutch could not afford to approve the installation of a traditional lord whose character and attitudes were such that it was feared he could bring economic ruin to the area over which he held control.Under HBVII enormous wealth had flowed into the Yogya area, which benefitted not only HBVII, but also his people, and not least the Dutch. It would appear that many people at that time were afraid that if Gusti Djuminah were to be installed as HBVIII Yogya would suffer economic reversal. The reason he was not installed as HBVIII was because it was believed that his taking of the crown could have resulted in economic ruin for that part of Jawa. His grandson may believe that it was because Gusti Djuminah had an interest in pencak silat, that Gusti Djuminah did not ascend the throne, personally I prefer to accept the historical version rather than the grandson`s version. But we are all free to believe that which we will.

Just as an aside:- it really does assist in understanding what occurred in Jawa, and the rest of the old Dutch East Indies, under the Dutch, if one adopts the attitude of an accountant. Every single action that involved the Dutch in the Indies, following the bankruptcy in 1798 of the VOC, and the assumption of its role by the Dutch Government, was the product of a bureaucratic philosophy administered by accountants. The Dutch were very good accountants.

This ongoing question of handle position on a Central Javanese keris is easily understood if the keris is held correctly. The blade is pinched between thumb and forefinger,at the blumbangan, and the first joint of the index finger is anchored against the gonjo, the middle finger, ring finger, and little finger lightly touch the handle but have only a guide and balance role. Held in this way, there is no pressure on the handle at all, it simply acts as an aid to blade orientation. The handle is used to draw the keris, and to replace it, but if the keris is to be used, it is not held by the handle, but by the method described above. The essence of keris use is that it must be very, very fast. Ideally so fast that the blade is not seen. Try holding a keris as I have described and see how very much faster this is than gripping it by the handle. A Javanese keris gripped by the handle really feels very clumsy and "dead".
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Old 14th September 2006, 02:00 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Thank you for your explanation, Bram.

This is the first time I have heard or read katosan. I understand the root, but to find this word I had to look at five different Javanese dictionaries before I found "katosan" in one of them as a derivative of "atos", and given as a synonym of "kadigdyan", which I think is a fairly commonly used word. Thanks for this knowledge.


You are welcome Alan, I learn new things from you and the members of this forum as well. Katosan - kadigdayan - kanuragan - jaya kawijayann and even sometimes called kanoman - from the word anom (young) meaning usually you learn these things when you are young.

Quote:
I did not know that Bangau Putih was Kun Tao. My wife was a dedicated practitioner of kun tao in her youth, and has several fairly respected kun tao people in her family, all older people, and located in East Jawa. They still refer to kun tao as kun tao.


Yes, Persatuan Gerak Badan Bangau Putih comes from Pek Ho Pay, based on Chinese White Crane from a Chinese family in Bogor's 'Chinatown'. The older generation still calls it kuntao but as you would know, under $uharto it was 'illegal' to be Chinese.

Quote:
Your outline of the origins of silat is more or less as I understand it, but I really don`t think we can place a lot of historical credibility on the writings of a popular novelist, no matter how respected he may be. Ever watch "Angling Darmo" or any of the other Indonesian historical soaps? Or for that matter, look at the way popular writers present the history and society of any country. No, I really do feel that we must treat Pramoedya Ananta Toer's work in the way it was intended to be treated.


Easy here Alan, I don't think that Pak Pram (alm) can be compared to the historical soaps which are made without any research. When I was younger I used to visit Pak Pram under house arrest and once he told me that he wrote for Nation Building - he was a Soekarno admirer.

Quote:
I am familiar with the Kidung Sundayana, and a quick check of my copies does not seem to have any mention of pencak silat. I am not claiming that the version accessed by O'ong Maryono does not mention pencak silat, however, it would be interesting to know what version that was, and what canto within the work. Do you have access to this information?


You are lucky to have Kidung Sundayana, Alan. I read about it in Pencak Silat Merentang Waktu by O'ong Maryono...It is not called silat by the way, rather the word used is ulin - play. It is mentioned in the part describing the Pajajaran King's retinue, there were performances of fighters who would ulin with various weapons. I havn't got O'ongs book at hand though.

Quote:
Regarding the keris and its capability as a weapon. When we look at an old keris now, we should try to bear in mind that what we usually see is only a shadow of what that keris was when it was new.Examination of early keris that were taken to Europe when those keris were new, or near to it, demonstrates quite conclusively that the types of keris that we are used to regarding as slight and frail, when new, were very serious weapons.I suggest reference to "Den Indonesiske Kris"--Karsten Sejr Jensen--ISSN 0108-707X.


Very interesting, thank you for telling me this.

Quote:
On the subject of tangguh, one should consider the social reasons for the origin of this system of classification, before attaching too much credibilty to the alignment of any specific tangguh with a historical period.


It always baffled me that there were sophisticated dhapurs in tangguh Jenggala and tangguh Kediri when the reliefs on the candi built by Singasari showed more simple 'primitive' betok types.

Quote:
Yes, I do understand the reversal of roles that could be applied to Gusti Djuminah, however, the fact remains that the public sources relating to this gentleman indicate that he was at the very least , politically inept. It is obvious that the Dutch could not afford to approve the installation of a traditional lord whose character and attitudes were such that it was feared he could bring economic ruin to the area over which he held control.Under HBVII enormous wealth had flowed into the Yogya area, which benefitted not only HBVII, but also his people, and not least the Dutch. It would appear that many people at that time were afraid that if Gusti Djuminah were to be installed as HBVIII Yogya would suffer economic reversal. The reason he was not installed as HBVIII was because it was believed that his taking of the crown could have resulted in economic ruin for that part of Jawa. His grandson may believe that it was because Gusti Djuminah had an interest in pencak silat, that Gusti Djuminah did not ascend the throne, personally I prefer to accept the historical version rather than the grandson`s version. But we are all free to believe that which we will.


Well, his grandson happens to be one of my Gurus and several of his his great grandchildren are my brothers, so while I understand the Dutch position, I believe the family. After all, the Dutch shouldn't have been there in the first place. Since the beginning Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat had an anti-colonial streak to it. An other of my Guru, the poet Rendra, comes from the Suryoningalaga house of Yogyakarta. His father was a silat teacher in the kraton before he had an argument with the Suktan and he moved to Solo.

Quote:
Just as an aside:- it really does assist in understanding what occurred in Jawa, and the rest of the old Dutch East Indies, under the Dutch, if one adopts the attitude of an accountant. Every single action that involved the Dutch in the Indies, following the bankruptcy in 1798 of the VOC, and the assumption of its role by the Dutch Government, was the product of a bureaucratic philosophy administered by accountants. The Dutch were very good accountants.


So true, something to always remember.

Quote:
This ongoing question of handle position on a Central Javanese keris is easily understood if the keris is held correctly. The blade is pinched between thumb and forefinger,at the blumbangan, and the first joint of the index finger is anchored against the gonjo, the middle finger, ring finger, and little finger lightly touch the handle but have only a guide and balance role. Held in this way, there is no pressure on the handle at all, it simply acts as an aid to blade orientation. The handle is used to draw the keris, and to replace it, but if the keris is to be used, it is not held by the handle, but by the method described above. The essence of keris use is that it must be very, very fast. Ideally so fast that the blade is not seen. Try holding a keris as I have described and see how very much faster this is than gripping it by the handle. A Javanese keris gripped by the handle really feels very clumsy and "dead".


I tried this, problem was then that I did not have the strength to stab, could easily slip and cut my hand. I think the Sumatra - Malay way of positioning the ukiran is the 'correct' way to have it if the keris is to be used to fight. That way it is like a pistol grip and you can stab as hard as you like without the risk of your hand slipping.

Thanks for the dialogue I really appreciate it.

Hormat saya,
Bram.
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Old 14th September 2006, 11:02 PM   #52
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Oh, I see, "play" rather than "pencak silat".

Yes, that is understandable. There is mention of keris play in the Pararaton too.However, the translation of "ulin" as "play" has me puzzled. In Old Javanese "ulin" has a couple of different meanings, but "play" is not one of them. The closest we can get to play is probably "wave", or "hold up".Still I guess that depending on the context, one of these meanings might be able to be stretched to "play".

Regarding the keris grip. It does work, some years back when I had an interest in the more bloody aspects of keris study I was taught how to hold and use a keris in this way. It would be difficult to use an old, worn keris like this, because the narrowness of the top of the gonjo will bite into the index finger, but with a keris that provides sufficient support for the index finger, this grip works beautifully.In fact, held correctly in this way, the keris locks itself into your hand.There is absolutely no risk of your hand slipping down the blade, because that blade is locked against the base of the index finger.
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Old 15th September 2006, 07:34 AM   #53
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Dear Kyai Carita,

As I'm mostly handling the Jogja's style handles, which are very probably the smallest style of keris' handles, I suggest a slightly different/modified way of (Javanese) keris handles gripping. I, and most experienced keris's lover here in Jogja as I observed, pinched the end of mendhak where it meets ganja (very much likely as you pinch your steak knife). The end of the handle should rest firmly on the lower part/base of your palm, and other fingers (that are, your middle, ring, and little fingers) should keep the handle that ways. In this way, your elbow, forearm and pesi should make a straight line (in 'ready-to-stab' position) while the tip/point of angled blade should resemble your (now curled) index finger. You may employ this method just before you draw your keris, as the proper way to draw the Javanese keris is to push the 'thorn' part of wrangka with your thumb. If you are right handed, the gandhik should face left and the buntut urang/'tail' should protect your outer side of the hand. It is suggested that you held the keris at waist height, and strike only the opponent's abdoment or heart, by pushing the keris with your palm. If the keris where made and handled properly, it's handling would be very firm and as natural as pointing and thrusting with your index finger. It is, as Alan said, a serious (and deadly) weapons. Despite it's 'clumsy' appearance, it has been proven to be very functional and ergonomic as a stabbing weapon. IMHO, that's why other area outside Java (while many expert believe, Java is the home of keris) adopt the keris as one of their personal 'arsenal', despite their own 'indigenous' weapons such as Badik or Rencong which roughly are the same 'class'.
Pinching blumbangan/pejetan, as Alan suggested, would certainly works and very fine too, but it may stained your blade (something you wouldn't consider in the face of enemy, I believe). Handling and drawing the keris as the same as golok would show instantly (in Java) that the handler is inexperience. Please remind, the Javanese handles are gauged for Javanese, which, I believe, has smaller hand/palm than Caucasian, in general.

About the handle position of Javanese keris, it is already 'battle ready' as it is. No need to change it to an angled position such as Malay/Bugis handle. It just need a firm and proper fitting. No gap allowed between the ganja, mendhak and handle. It is recommended to use shellac to mount the handle to give it firm fit, If you consider to use it as a weapon. I should tell you, contrary to common belief to mount keris handle with hair in old days, ALL Jogjakarta Court and their very immediate families' keris handles are shellaced. Hair and cloth seems to be used by commoners.

About the poisons,..
Well, as Alan said, warangan mainly composed of Arsenic, which is a 'slow poison', unless you take it a teaspoonfull. Proper method of 'marangi' would only leave a small amount of it on the blade (I'm not saying none!), which, I believe, not capable of poisoning someone to death in hours. It may have some effect, such as a long healing wound, but will not kill you instantly or in hours. I don't know the effect of other poisoning methods already mentioned. While it is written in Ensiklopedi Keris, I have never met,heard or found someone here in Jogja practising the 'Cacab/Cem-ceman' method. I suggest someone give it a try (to mice or other creatures, if you have a heart, and not human or fellow forumities certainly), and I would love to hear the result
Another way of making the blade poisonous by villagers in marangi process include coating the blade with over-saturated warangan solutions (usually the white, low grade, cheap one) and to let it dry under the sun without cleaned it first. The result is the blade covered with warangan powder, which is not only ugly and dirty, but may corroded the blade as the acid wasn't cleaned properly. Rust may occurs in several days. Don't do it at home, please.

About the 'poisoning' effect of keris or tombak, Harimurti AKA Ndoro Hari, the son of Prince Tejokusuma HB VII (as already mentioned by Kiai Carita as a famous Pendekar of Jogjakarta) had a story, which is quoted in a book dedicated to him, written by one of his students, S. Lumintu (and then quoted by me ): When Ndoro Hari was young, he used to follow the close 'free-fight-championship' followed by many pendekars, and only pendekar allowed. It was a very deadly championship, as 'free' means 'free', you may use any method and any weapons you wish. The death result, was very common. One day, Ndoro Hari must fought against pendekar which use a tombak pusaka as his weapon. Ndoro Hari saw as if there was a flame covering the tombak. He knew, it was a deadly tombak. At the end of the fight, Ndoro Hari, who used no weapon, managed to catch the tombak under his armpit and step on the wooden shaft and broke it, and thus succesfully defeat his opponent. Unfortunately, when he caught the tombak, it left a minor cut on his waist. Just after the fight, he felt he lost his strength, and the cut felt like burning. He asked his companion to brought him to a Kyai who was his teacher in Ngawi quickly, which was several hours away (Ndoro Hari had many teachers. He wandered Java to learn pencak silat). Reaching Ngawi, Ndoro Hari was already weak, he couldn't walk by himself. His teacher quickly helped him. 'If only you are late for an hour or two, your life couldn't be saved,' the Kyai said.

A flame covering the spear point or keris, is quite 'common' reported. But it could only happen in a very serious situation, when the bearer very intended and determined to use the pusaka as a weapons. One cannot turn it 'on' and 'off' as if it is a flashlight. Belief it or not belief it, one should be very careful with such a weapons, or any weapons.

Keris in general has many functions and aspects, which developed through times. IMHO, one function don't necessarily erased anothers. It only add another dimension. But if we discuss a single specific blade, we may discuss what dimension this specific blade belongs to. Was it intended by the maker as a weapon, as a social-class attribute, as a talismanic device, as just a daily clothing accessories or other functions ? One specific blade could serve more than one function, and very limited ones were intended by the maker to serve all aspects/functions.

Alan,
Sorry for 'repeating' your post. I 99% agree with you. I save the 1% for future use

David,
Yes, I owe you a new keyboard. I do owe many keyboards and apologize to the forumities who incidently 'broke their keyboard' by one or other reasons, after reading my previous post

Best regards,

Boedhi Adhitya

Last edited by Boedhi Adhitya : 15th September 2006 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 15th September 2006, 09:08 AM   #54
A. G. Maisey
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Pak boedhi, do me a favour:- please don`t hit me with that 1%.

1% , well directed and pushed hard , can kill.

Your remarks on the dimensions, or facets, of a keris are very fitting. This is something that is often overlooked.
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Old 16th September 2006, 11:32 AM   #55
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Default keris usage

Hi all
for what it is worth, I was just re-reading Mr Maisey's post on gripping the keris and it struck me as I was trying it out how similar it is to the way I recall being taught to handle a fencing foil (admittedly it is 25 years since I did any fencing but a firm smack with a foil on your calf from the old Hungarian master has a way of imprinting things). The fencing grip (unless you are using a modern custom moulded handpiece) is all thumb and index finger with the other fingers providing only the lightest of control on the hilt, angling the wrist provided a lot of the change in attack. Of course the fencing foil (and epee) can only score with the tip much as a keris could only 'score' with the point. A foil has the advantage of length over a keris but a keris (even in its heavily worn state) has the advantage of bulk over a foil.
cheers
DrD
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Old 18th September 2006, 01:08 AM   #56
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Several people have asked me for a photo of the grip I describe.

Here you have two.
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Old 29th September 2006, 03:46 AM   #57
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Default Arsenic toxicity

Hi all
I'm really grateful for this forum, what a fantastic resource!
I just wanted to go back to the issue of arsenic residues remaining on blades, and their potential toxicity. I'm currently working on a project about keris in public collections for my masters degree in conservation, and as part of this I recently tested nine blades in an Australian museum's collection for the presence of arsenic. Having discussed the project with Alan Maisey previously, and understanding that the staining process (when done properly) should not result in any free arsenic remaining on the blade's surface, I did not really expect much from these tests, however all tested positive, with two having particularly strong results, up to 0.35mg/L (the Merck test I used requires the sample to be dissolved/suspended in water). While it would be difficult for any staff handling these objects to inhale, ingest, or absorb a signifcant amount of the residue, it is certainly present in sufficient amounts to cause adverse health effects. However, the World Heath Organisation states in its arsenic safety guide (http://www.inchem.org/documents/hsg...ctionNumber:2.6) "In man, the smallest recorded fatal dose is in the range of 70-180 mg, but recovery has been reported after much larger doses" - this suggests that for it to work effectively as a poison on a keris blade, there would have to be much more residue on the surface than would result from staining with warangan.
Raffles' wrote in his History of Java "it is usual to immerse the blade in lime juice and a solution of arsenic, which, by eating away and corroding the iron, may probably render the wound more angry and inflamed, and consequently more difficult to cure, but it has never been considered that death is the consequence." (vol. 1 p. 352) ... I reckon it would depend on where the wound is!
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Old 29th September 2006, 04:20 AM   #58
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Yes, i reckon it would depend on where the wound is!
Your information on arsenic residue is very interesting. You say that 2 of the 9 blades you tested had levels as high as 0.35 mg/L. What was the lowest level tested? What was your average result? Considering that much larger doses taken internally are necessary to cause death, why do you feel that these levels might cause adverse heath effects? Using the Merck test it seems that you draw the arsenic off into the suspension water. How long does this process take? How would arsenic in any significant amount be absorbed or ingested by the body through normal handling of a blade? Would the arsenic residue on the blade be naturally inclined to be airborne? Barring being cut by or licking the blade how would arsenic residue on a keris actually get into the human system in significant amounts to actually cause health problems?
Thanks in advance for addressing these many questions from a scientific layman.
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Old 29th September 2006, 05:41 AM   #59
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Good to see you back, Georgia.

I`m possibly not all that surprised by the results you report.

All keris that I have seen in public collections in Australia have been in a very neglected condition. There is nearly always some sort of dust, or I guess you could say "residue" , on the surface of these blades. They are dry, sad, and tending towards rust. My guess is that as the surface of the metal corrodes, it frees the arsenic, along with the ferric material, so if you take a sample from one of these neglected blades, you are going to get a positive result for arsenic.

On the other hand, in a properly stained and maintained blade, there is no residue on the blade surface. The blade is clean and smooth.

I've said it before, and since I'm not a chemist, I could well be wrong, but it is my firm belief that when we stain a blade, the arsenic combines with the ferric material and causes it to change colour. The amount of arsenic used in staining a blade is tiny, frankly, I've never been able to detect any loss of arsenic in the lime juice suspension, after a staining job is complete.

I reckon that if you allowed a gun barrel to tend towards corrosion, then sampled the dust on the gun barrel, you would probably test positive for the chemicals used in blueing of the gun barrel.

There`s another factor too that perhaps should be considered:- the natural occurence of arsenic in the material used in the blade. I remember nearly 20 years ago I queried Prof Jerzy Piaskowski`s test results that showed arsenic in his analyses, and he assured me that it was a natural component of the material, not from the staining process.

I do not know nor understand the test process you used, but if the sample involved the physical removal of surface material, it seems to me that perhaps this natural presence of arsenic could also be considered.

Please do not misunderstand what I driving at here:- I'm not knocking your work:you've carried out a legitimate test, and you have proven the presence of arsenic. However, I feel that there are some other factors that should be considered, and to my mind, foremost amongst these factors is the condition of the surface of the blade. I would suggest that in a properly maintained blade you would not be able to test for arsenic, simply because you would not be able to locate nor extract a residue.

If this is so, then perhaps your finding could be that in a badly maintained blade that displays a surface residue, that residue may be presumed to contain arsenic, and thus should be handled in an appropriate manner.

As to poisoning by arsenic, well, in early times I believe arsenic was used in very small doses as a medication. I am not suggesting that it was effective, but apparently people at one time thought it was effective for something.

Not long ago timber products were treated with arsenic to prevent rot. Workers who handled these timber products, or who applied the arsenic compounds used , had to be tested regularly for build up of arsenic in their bodies. It was absobed through the skin. I know of cases where people worked with these timber products for virtually their entire working lives, and never accumulated sufficient arsenic in their system to warrant having them removed from that particular type of work.

Along the same line. The method used to stain very high quality keris blades , and that should be used to stain royal blades, involves the person doing the staining to actually have bare hand contact for extended periods with the arsenic suspension. The old Javanese gentlemen who do this work do not get tested for build up of arsenic, and eventually they die. Usually at a fairly advanced age from something like emphysema or a traffic accident.

Still, the Land of Oz is not Jawa, and we do tend to be rather sensitive on workplace safety. I would suggest that all curators and conservators should be paid a special loading when required to handle keris and similar weapons. Apart from the possible metaphysical danger, we now know that there is arsenic present in the workplace, and it would be unreasonable to expect anybody to take any level of risk with this hazardous chemical, unless appropriately compensated.

I'm looking forward to seeing your completed paper.

How far along are you?
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Old 29th September 2006, 06:04 AM   #60
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Hi David

Thanks for your interest! Seven of the blades had much lower levels, ie less than 0.1mg/L (which was the smallest amount discernable on the test's reference colour scale, although all of the tests showed some colour change, ie greater than 0.0mg/L). Because the colour scale is logarithmic (0, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0 etc) it's hard to be precise about the exact quantity of arsenic in each solution when the colour of the test strip doesn't exactly correspond to a colour on the chart; it's safer to just say 'under 0.1mg/L'.

The process for preparing the sample was to collect a solid sample from the surface of the blade (under the microscope), usually from within the crevice between the gonjo and the blade or in the deeper parts of the ricikan, and allow this to soak in water for 30 mins-1 hr. In a couple of cases the surface was too uniform and so a small area would be swabbed with water and the swab allowed to soak. I also tested swabbing and solubilising with ethanol, in the cases where old coatings of oil may have interefered with the solubility of the sample in water. With such a small sample size, I'm not sure how valuable an average is, but I'd say it's about 0.1 mg/L.

While it's true that a much larger dose is required to be instantly fatal, there's a lot of grey area in between being well and being dead! Arsenic can affect health in the short term (nausea, diarrhea, skin problems) and long term (problems with skin, gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, mucous membranes, lungs, and liver). Long term exposure has been linked to cancer.
As I mentioned, it would have to be pretty unlikely for a person handling one of the two keris with the strong positive results to absorb enough arsenic to be a concern, however I think it's better that staff be aware of the potential hazard and perhaps just be that little bit more careful when handling them.
On one of the blades there was a powdery residue on the surface which was easily dislodged. If, for example, a conservator was to brush clean this (thinking it was dust) and breathed it in, it might be enough to make them crook. Most staff would be wearing gloves anyway when handling metal objects, and I don't think there'd be much licking going on, so this is the only way I can think of where it might be a concern.

I don't know if this is going to change your mind about the way you handle your own keris, and I don't know that it necessarily should; I do think though that staff working in public museums should be aware of potential risks, no matter how slight, when handling objects they perhaps have no prior knowledge of.

I hope this has answered all your questions!
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