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Old 15th May 2007, 11:17 AM   #1
ganjawulung
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Default 20th Century Solonese Keris

Dear All,

I would like to show you, the new dhapur (model) -- never been before -- made by a Solonese Keris maker Sukamdi (50). This new dhapur was made in the last year of 20th century, in 1999. So, it's the keris from the last century, isn't it?

The materials are all black (from many kinds of old and broken budha iron), from agricultural tools, and then reforged by Sukamdi) and finished with artistic touch of this one of the best living Solonese keris maker. The sheath is also so special, because the scabbard is not made from metal, but wood. Specially carved with care by Mas Min -- a solonese sheath maker.

The dhapur, is the combination of normal "pakem" (standard model) megantoro and new details of two heavenly birds. So Sukamdi called his new dhapur, "peksi dewata" or heavenly birds or divine birds. Sukamdi had made two model of "peksi dewata", one is seven luks (curves) and this one is nine luks.

Megantoro itself is a pakem in keris. It consist of special details such as: the combination of keris luks (curved keris) from sor-soran to upper middle, and straight keris at the end of the top blade.

I hope you are be able to enjoy my newest keris...

Ganjawulung
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Old 15th May 2007, 12:01 PM   #2
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Beautiful
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Old 15th May 2007, 01:24 PM   #3
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That's very nice work! I think it is good to see that new "dhapurs" are still developing. It shows that the art is not dead, but still growing and evolving. Enjoy your new keris and thanks for showing it.
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Old 15th May 2007, 02:03 PM   #4
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Default Living Kris Makers

Yeah, David,

The keris art is still living here. Although Sukamdi this nowadays, can not do his works like in 1999. He got tremor in his hand, due to the seriousnes of concentration in keris making. So I am lucky enough to get "his last work" of this divine birds. And I still keep other creation of Sukamdi, with the unique dhapur too: "sepang luk". Sepang, or almost simitrical model of sor-soran, usually straight keris. But that time, Sukamdi had made the sepang in luks. Beautiful too. The material was from broken kerises from sedayu (black) iron.

In solo there is also another creative keris maker, less than 50 years of age named Subandi. He knows well the right pakem, because he once learnt from old empu like the late empu Yosopangarso (yogyakarta) and also the senior Sukadgo (Solo).

Other Solonese keris maker are: Yanto (very good also in kinatah or gold ornament for kerises) and Yantono (sometimes, make western blade with pamor in his own besalen or forgeron).

In Madura also there is a good development in keris making. Now Madura is not only the place for the "kodian" (cheap) keris maker, but also the creative young keris maker. One of the best young keris maker in Madura today is Zulhan, and his senior Hosdy. Very-very talented, good craftmenship, and... perfect finisher. And don't underestimate Madurese smith now. Madurese pamor, now is the best in Indonesia, in technique and variation of pamor motives.

In Muntilan -- about 10 kilometers from Yogyakarta -- also there is Heru, a very young and talented keris maker. In one keris Exhibition in Bentara Budaya Jakarta last year, Heru was number 3 winner of "keris competition" (the first time, of such event in years). And the winner is a metallurgy bachelor from Surabaya, Rudy Hartonodiningrat. Also very talented.

Actually, keris is still living in here, Dave...
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Old 15th May 2007, 02:14 PM   #5
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Thanks for your post Ganja. While many of us are aware of the skill and beauty of modern day keris made in both Solo and Madura up until now they have remained a nameless group of smiths. It is good to see their names so that they can begin to get the recognition they so well deserve for their work.
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Old 15th May 2007, 02:46 PM   #6
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Thank Ganja for your very interesting answer.
I'm very happy when i see a well made new keris with a new syle (and in my opinion the two birds in your keris are full of elegance and poetry)
On the contrary when i see a new (modern style) model of handle i generally feel an annoyance even if the work is good. For example new style madura handle.
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Old 15th May 2007, 03:11 PM   #7
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I know what you mean Marco, but i think that is possibly because many of these newer Madura hilt forms seem more aimed at a Western market than indigenous tastes. I have also seen some modern Madurese dress designs that i have liked very much.
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Old 15th May 2007, 04:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
In Muntilan -- about 10 kilometers from Yogyakarta -- also there is Heru, a very young and talented keris maker. In one keris Exhibition in Bentara Budaya Jakarta last year, Heru was number 3 winner of "keris competition" (the first time, of such event in years). And the winner is a metallurgy bachelor from Surabaya, Rudy Hartonodiningrat. Also very talented....


Excuse me, Ganjawulung, I know Heru personally, and I used to visit him, just to chat and seeing his works. Yes, he is a talented craftman, and before he make kerises, he was a keris dealer (and actually still a dealer, until now). But for the sake of accuracy, he didn't take the 3rd place in keris shaping competition. The 3rd place was taken by a talented young Madura guy, but I forget the name. The 1st, as you already mentioned, was taken by KRT Hartonodiningrat, and the 2nd by Mr Subandi. Heru's work on the competition was actually good, but the edge was too thin. As he was aging his work with acid to 'wipe-off' the file mark (like other competitors did, except Subandi), the acid ate-up the edge, making the blade proportion ruined. Very Bad Luck
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Old 15th May 2007, 06:56 PM   #9
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Boedi,

You are right. And the name of that young Madurese is Jamil. The only Madurese in that competition, although Madura actually has many talented keris makers.

Madura had a 'bad' reputation in the recent past, of making cheap kerises, or imitating old kerises. But now they're quite different. Talented keris maker like Zulhan he had learned the esthetic of making keris from Solonese keris maker like Sukamdi, or Subandi. Madurese had better pamor forger than Solonese. But usually they are lack of esthetic sense in finishing touch. Like Marco said, in making (ivory) new hilts too.
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Old 15th May 2007, 09:51 PM   #10
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beautiful, new and original innovation.
should be patented.
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Old 16th May 2007, 01:12 AM   #11
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Shown below are a number of wooden Madura handles.

They are randomly mixed and of only ordinary quality. Frankly, I find it very difficult to declare that the older ones are superior in any way to the ones from the current era.

Shown also is an old ivory pedang handle, and a brand new ivory pedang handle. I can see little or no difference in the quality of workmanship.
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Old 16th May 2007, 01:26 AM   #12
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Ganjawulung, it can be of considerable interest for the names of current era pandai keris to be known, however, this is a twin edged sword.

Some current era makers, for reasons of their own, prefer to maintain a low profile. Apart from the makers you have named, since the 1980's there have been a number of other makers in Solo, some quite minor, others quite well known for a while. Many have now moved to other ways of making a living.

Over the years a number of less than honest dealers have marketed keris in the western world as the product of one or another of the better known makers, when in fact these keris were the product of lesser known people, and in some cases were low quality blades from Madura or Surabaya.

At the request of one well known Solo maker I have always refrained from publishing his name, and have in general followed the policy of being very sparing in the use of current era Solo makers names, except in the case of high profile people such as Empu Suparman Supowijaya (alm.), or Empu Pauzan Pusposukadgo.

In Jawa, it can under some circumstances be a very positive thing for individual makers to be named and known, but in Jawa the expertise exists to identify the work of these makers. In the western world, it is not always in a maker's best interests, nor in the best interests of collectors, to have a maker's name become public property.

Incidentally, who is the "senior Sukadgo (Solo)" from whom Pak Bandi recieved instruction?
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Old 16th May 2007, 03:06 AM   #13
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Thanks for showing these hilts Alan. Just for the record i believe the hilts that Marco was referring to and certainly the ones i meant when agreeing with him are the fanciful new models which bear no resemblence to these classic styles of hilt forms. I'll see if i can find some examples to post. I think the Madurese have always been damn good carvers and the quality of that work, at it's best, seems to continue to this day.
I do understand, to a point, your case of the "double-edged sword". I suppose i am looking at this from a more ideal world viewpoint. It just seems right to give credit where credit is due. But i can also see how in this imperfect world that might lead to deception and confusion.
It is not at this point in time much in my personal interest to own a keris based upon the name of it's maker. I would want to own a keris based more on my own impressions of it's style, execution and feel. But i do understand that other collectors have different criteria for what they collect and might be enticed to buy a keris based on false information about it's maker. That would indeed be unfortunate.
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Old 16th May 2007, 03:19 AM   #14
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Dear Alan,

Subandi, or his formal name now (named by Keraton Solo) Kanjeng Raden Tumenggung (KRT) Subandi Supaningrat, wrote in KERIS magazine (1st edition) that he had been two months with the senior Yosopangarso (elder brother of Empu Djeno in Yogyakarta). But the late Empu Yoso only gave basic instruction in keris making.

And on keris knowledge, his 'teacher' was for instance Mr Sukat (or Saukat?) so I've mistaken with Sukadgo. (See KERIS, page 50-51 on the Process of the Making of Pusakas). Very sorry for that big mistake. Sukat is an expertise in keris, like Mr Hardjonagoro or Go Tik Swan.

I know too, Mr Fauzan Pusposukadgo. Now he doesn't make kerises no more and has changed his profession. The wellknown of his work is dhapur "gumbeng", it was the German Dietrich Drescher who promoted that work (if I'm not mistaken). You still may see this gumbeng in Bambang Harsrinuksmo's Ensiklopedi Keris.

I know also, that in the past many of Solonese keris maker "only" ordered the kodokan (forged iron for keris) from Madura, and than finished it in Solo, or shaping the kerises in Solo. Until the Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI, an art institute) Solo had their own besalen. (Now no more, but Yantono still has his own besalen at his house. You know it well).

Subandi now makes his own blade. He is one of the best. (Garap, or workmanship for the keris finishing, I'd prefer Sukamdi). Yes, many of the keris maker in the old days they were (if I may say) 'keris dealer'. But they learned from many kerises they sold. They were like reading books, and books, and books. Keris blade, or old keris blade is the keris book itself. You know it well...
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Old 16th May 2007, 04:50 AM   #15
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Thanks for your further explanation Ganjawulung. You had me a little bit confused there for a moment.

Yes, Pak Pauzan is pretty much out of the game now; he had some health problems a few years back, and as a consequence changed his life-style. That keris dapur gumbeng carries the pamor Poleng Wengkon, which was the design of Mr. Dietrich Drescher. A keris of this design and pamor, and named Kiyahi Sureng Karya was presented to Bapak Menko Polkam H. Surono.During his working life, Pak Pauzan made a very wide range of keris styles and pamors, and often worked in the style of Mataram. He created some incredibly beautiful keris naga.

When I mentioned dealers, I was in no way referring to any makers, part-time makers , or anybody who is or was in any way associated with making. I was referring to people, in fact one in particular, who are exclusively dealers and who operated, and still operate in some cases, principally in the western world.

Oh yes David, some of the recent flights of fancy of Madurese carvers are wee bit extreme, but it really gets back to the buyer:- if the buyer is prepared to pay solid money, and can appreciate good craftsmanship, he can obtain excellent quality new work; if he is not prepared to pay the price of excellent work, and cannot differentiate between good craftsmanship, and pedestrian craftsmanship, then he will finish up with lesser pieces.
When I selected these handles to photograph, I deliberately chose very ordinary handles. Yes, the ivory ones are superior, but the wooden ones are ordinary, and would only command ordinary prices, whether old or new.It comes back to the buyer's ability to recognise craftsmanship.When people stop buying second rate doodleings of children, then we can expect to see an increase in the quality of the items being offered.
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Old 16th May 2007, 01:05 PM   #16
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David you are right about handles western - taste but Ganja's keris is beautiful even if I see a little western taste in the innovation (the birds could be from some first Disney' movie and, even if they are not been made like a deity they are full of beauty and sense). So i can see a good innovation in this keris!
On the contrary in a western taste handle i have never found innovation but, even if the work is beautiful, a "tuneless thing"

Alan, anyway your handles (old or new) are "classic". The feeling is good!!
I don't like modern handle (even if with the best work ofthe world) with classic pattern like: madura bali-style handle with two-three-four... sides with different faces of a deity; or strange dragons, or strange snakes ,or a "babel" of deities all together... and so on
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Old 16th May 2007, 01:40 PM   #17
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Yes, I understand what you are saying Marco.

However.

Many of these new pattern handles are not intended to be used as keris handles. They are created expressly for the handle collector market as minor works of art, which of course, they are.

The collection of handles is a legitimate branch of keris art collecting. Even PBX was into it, and commissioned small sculptures in the form of keris handles, which were never intended for fitting to a keris, but as works of art in their own right.

There is a wide range of small sculptures in the form of keris handles, as well as all levels of quality of handles intended for use with keris, and although you identify "western taste" as a design factor, I am afraid that I cannot isolate any of these handles as being able to be classified as "western taste". Possibly some of the more pornographic of these small sculptures might not be very welcome in public in Jawa, but in other parts of Indonesia , Indonesians will get a laugh out of them, just as will a tourist from New York or Sydney.

We sometimes tend to forget that much of the art that we now view as Javanese, or Balinese, or whatever, is derived from the artistic traditions of other cultures.

Of course, there can be well executed art, and poorly executed art, and to confuse matters even more, we all have differing tastes.
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Old 16th May 2007, 05:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
We sometimes tend to forget that much of the art that we now view as Javanese, or Balinese, or whatever, is derived from the artistic traditions of other cultures.


Alan,

I agree.
Based on Pramoedya's research, the designer of uniforms (blangkon etc, epsecially for king, princes and other royal family members) which are, now, claimed as one of Javanese identities were Dutches.
Only mixed tradition/culture exists.
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Old 16th May 2007, 10:51 PM   #19
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Yes Raden, there was Dutch input, but there was also Portugese, Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese. The examples are many. The great characteristic of (particularly) Javanese culture has been its ability to take something from outside that culture, and turn it into something Javanese.
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Old 17th May 2007, 03:38 PM   #20
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Alan i agree! you have shooted the center (sorry for my english!)
This is the reason for which i dont like modern handles : i dont see indonesian cuture
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Old 18th May 2007, 11:58 AM   #21
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Default Patented?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raden Usman Djogja
beautiful, new and original innovation.
should be patented.

Raden,

Do you think Sukamdi needs to patent his new dhapur? Is there any precedent before?
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Old 18th May 2007, 07:40 PM   #22
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Gonjo,

Yes, imho, sukandi needs to do that. It's good for all stakeholders, even to keris itself.

As Alan said "over the years a number of less than honest dealers have marketed keris in the western world as the product of one or another of the better known makers, when in fact these keris were the product of lesser known people, and in some cases were low quality blades from Madura or Surabaya."

When I received my commisioned keris, I received its certificate, too. I think it's an improvement to deal within (cons) piracy era.
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Old 19th May 2007, 02:58 AM   #23
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But Raden,

Usually, keris makers are people with traditional attitude. In someway: a little bit anti-modernism. Mr Sukamdi too. Very-very traditional. He likes to sleep in cemetery, watching stars and moon, long haired and not tidy. Of course, doesn't think to patent his "invention" on dhapur. Not only this new dhapur he had created. I keep one other dhapur, maybe it called "sepang luk". Keris with sor-soran sepang, but with seven luks upward.

Sukamdi seems to learn hard all the pakems of kerises. So, everytime he invented or created a new model or dhapur, always based on pakem but modified with "philosophical" reason. Like the "peksi dewata" dhapur, actually he made this model after he was looking at my mata tombak (spears). I remember, he turned the tombak upside down, and show me a kind of hidden carving, showing two birds with jambul. I think it was "peacock" bird. Quite long time, he watched that ornament in my old tombak (dhapur baru kuping, tombak with two "ears" in sor-soran). Upside down the kuping, Sukamdi saw ornament of two birds. And some months later, he made this dhapur. I bought this Sukamdi keris from the first hand owner, Kanjeng Raden Tumenggung Benny (sorry I forgot his last name)...

I don't think people like Sukamdi is thinking about patenting his keris model. Maybe there must be someone else who may encourage him to do that. Otherwise, people won't know that such dhapur is his.

Like motives of pamor. Who can claim to patent the pattern? If you see in the website, the development of pamors (patterns) in damascus steel is incredible. Event they can comercialized the pamor itself, and sell the pamor by inch per inch, in such dollar... Just watch the website of Devin Thomas (please http://www.devinthomas.com see the products)

Yes, they are machinal. But in a certain way, keris world now is far behind the development of damascus steel world. At least in commercialization of the new product. This world of keris is still looking back and admiring at the past all the time. Yes, of course "describing the past, inscribing the future", like the thesis of Dr Nancy Florida (specialised in Javanese litterature of Ranga sasmita -- not Ranggawarsito -- on Babad Jaka Tingkir). But actually, we must not forget to look forward, the future...

Ganjawulung
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Old 19th May 2007, 04:00 AM   #24
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Lightbulb A vision...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
... I don't think people like Sukamdi is thinking about patenting his keris model. Maybe there must be someone else who may encourage him to do that. Otherwise, people won't know that such dhapur is his....
Perhaps a few write-up in Keris and Pamor magazines might introduce his creation to the public.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
... Yes, they are mechanical. But in a certain way, keris world now is far behind the development of damascus steel world. At least in commercialization of the new product. This world of keris is still looking back and admiring at the past all the time. Yes, of course "describing the past, inscribing the future"... But actually, we must not forget to look forward, the future...
True to a certain extend. But bear in minds that although The Indonesian Keris had been proclaimed by UNESCO, (as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, there's still a long way to promote it on a global scale. Worldwide appeal is in its infant stage.

SNKI, (National Indonesian Keris Secretariat, established on 12 March 2006), would have to play its part as a promoter of keris. It would have to be done from the inside-out. At times goes by, hopefully, keris makers and its related industry prosper to meet global demands when the time comes (being optimistic) .

The big Haryono's Keris Book, (once translated and made available), would help spur the interest worldwide. Increase in awareness and appreciation of the keris as an art object, would be one of the vital point to ensure the keris industry survival.
Just my 2 cents vision.

Last edited by Alam Shah : 19th May 2007 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 19th May 2007, 06:25 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
But Raden,
Yes, they are machinal. But in a certain way, keris world now is far behind the development of damascus steel world. At least in commercialization of the new product. This world of keris is still looking back and admiring at the past all the time. Yes, of course "describing the past, inscribing the future", like the thesis of Dr Nancy Florida (specialised in Javanese litterature of Ranga sasmita -- not Ranggawarsito -- on Babad Jaka Tingkir). But actually, we must not forget to look forward, the future...

Ganjawulung


Hmmm... no doubt machine-made damascus patterns can be very fine and fancy (I've seen a piece that depicted santa claus on his rein-deern sleigh!), The "spiritual" and "human" connection is gone. Almost like instead of having Monet paint a picture, we get a computer to generate the image and print it. Feeling's not quite the same. The accomplishment "by hand" of the keris-maker is no longer there.

I think keris-making can advance, through innovation in pamor, dapur and in the keris sheaths and hilts. Tools used can be modern, but the process should be guided directly by the human hand and spirit, rather than an algorithm keyed into a machine that produces the item.

Well, maybe I'm just old-fashioned.
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Old 19th May 2007, 07:00 AM   #26
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Alam Shah,

Thanks a lot, for the positive suggestion. Of course, I will bear it in my mind your positive comments. And also, the "spiritual and human" vision of BluErf.. That's good for the development of this keris world..
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Old 19th May 2007, 08:31 AM   #27
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Gonjo,

That is a weakness of traditional-keris-smith facing with modern system. however, if snki, stsi or local government know and realize about it, who knows one of them will do something benefitting to all.

According to shape/dhapur "SEPANG LUK", I would like to inform you that I have one keris: tangguh/period expected:: MAJAPAHIT and shape/dhapur: SEPANG URUBING DAMAR (there are 3 luks on the top of blade). So, sepang with luks is no new. The new one is, perhaps, sepang with 7 luks. Then, Sukamdi creation is still able to be patented. Fortunately, I bring it (Sepang Urubing Damar) to Africa where I live now. Therefore, if any kerislover wants to have a look, perhaps, I could take and share a picture of it.

Usmen
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Old 19th May 2007, 08:56 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raden Usman Djogja

Therefore, if any kerislover wants to have a look, perhaps, I could take and share a picture of it.




Please Raden,

I want to look at your "sepang urubing damar".. Every sepang has its own beauty. One of the "everybody likes" dhapurs..
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Old 19th May 2007, 05:13 PM   #29
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Wow! This conversation is great! This is important stuff to consider for the continuence of the keris art. I would love to encourage more talk on these matters.
Maybe it is just the anarchist in me, but i do have a bit of a problem seeing any kind of artform patented. I think it is up to the buyer to be able to determine if they are buying real and quality items and putting a patent on a keris dhapur in no way insured that it won't be copied anyway. Just look at all the fake Guccis in the fashion world.
Keris makers today are certainly creating new keris with old dhapurs, dhapurs that were never "patented".
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Old 19th May 2007, 07:48 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
... I think it is up to the buyer to be able to determine if they are buying real and quality items and putting a patent on a keris dhapur in no way insured that it won't be copied anyway. Just look at all the fake Guccis in the fashion world.
Keris makers today are certainly creating new keris with old dhapurs, dhapurs that were never "patented".


You are right David,

Keris makers (not only today) they are making new keris with old dhapurs. But every keris maker has their own style. Empu Jaka Supo's style of making sengkelat dhapur, for instance, is different with Pangeran Sendang Sedayu although they were from the same era (Majapahit). Or Ki Guling's style with Ki Nom in the Mataram era. Can people patent the style of making the same dhapur?

And in many aspects, keris making is a collective art. Almost no single keris maker can claim that he is the owner of the copyright. In the process of keris making, there is pande and panjak (helpers), the empu. And the sheath? The hilts? The mendak (rings) and pendok? All are specialized.

Maybe this is not a correct analogy: even autocar today cannot claim by a single company. Almost all the parts come from specialized company. I think
it's too complicated to think about patent on keris..
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