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Old 11th March 2009, 05:15 AM   #1
A. G. Maisey
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Default The Pelokan for Ganjawulung

Pak Ganja, I noticed an interesting use of words in one of your posts a few weeks back.

As you are aware, I was away from home at the time and I could not raise the question with you then, but I'm home now, and I would very much appreciate your clarification.

The word is "pelokan", which you identified as the equivalent of the Malay "sampir".

My understanding of a pelok is that it is a seed---I think its a mango seed. I cannot recall ever having heard it used as a synonym for the atasan of a warangka. I asked a few people whom I know in Solo, who are keris people, and they were as mystified as I was by this usage.

Would you be kind enough to enlighten me as to where this terminology for the atasan may be encountered?

Thank you so much for your consideration.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 11th March 2009 at 05:54 AM.
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Old 14th March 2009, 07:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
The word is "pelokan", which you identified as the equivalent of the Malay "sampir".

My understanding of a pelok is that it is a seed---I think its a mango seed. I cannot recall ever having heard it used as a synonym for the atasan of a warangka. I asked a few people whom I know in Solo, who are keris people, and they were as mystified as I was by this usage.

Dear Alan,

Forgive me, for being late to response your post. (When you were in Solo last month, I was in Yogyakarta and Solo too. I know you were there from Mr Pauzan and also from your close friend, a Solonese keris maker Yantono of Palur). About the word "pelokan" I used in my post, of course that was not my own word. Pelokan is a colloquial word for upper part of Yogyanese "gayaman" type of warangka.

It is an informal word for Yogyanese upper part of gayaman warangka, that resembles a form of "mango seed" -- like you said. (The word "gayaman" also derived from the word "gayam", a kind of (soil?) plant or in Latin word, Inocarpus fagiferus...)

I think, the usage of the word "pelokan" is similar to the colloquial word among us -- keris people in Java -- every time we used the word "hendel" for mentioning keris-hilt, (in formal Javanese language, we call it "jejeran" or "dederan"). Maybe it derived from foreign word, "handle"...

Without any serious purpose, I opened the keris book (Keris Jawa) of Mr Haryono Haryoguritno. I found that the word "pelokan" also known, among the keris people in Surakarta too. You may see on page 316 of the book, mentioning about "Warangka Gayaman".

According to Mr Guritno, among people in Surakarta area known some standard forms or types of "gayaman" warangka. (I quote the complete forms he mentioned in his book): gayaman Gabel, gayaman Gandhon, gayaman Kagok Gabel, gayaman Kagok Gandhon, gayaman Bancihan, gayaman Bancihan Wayang, gayaman Ladrang, gayaman Kagok Bancih, gayaman Pelokan and gayaman Palawijan...

But if you used the word "sampir" (Malay term) for the upper part of the warangka, than keris people in Java will misunderstand to other word. "Sampir", in Javanese keris term -- means a specific motif in "timoho wood", like the picture below... (Sorry, not clear enough). That is "pelet sampir", we call it.

Is it what you want me to clarify? Anyway, thank you Alan for your kind attention...

GANJAWULUNG
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Old 14th March 2009, 10:41 PM   #3
A. G. Maisey
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I thank you for your detailed and comprehensive response, Pak Ganja.

I rather suspect that you may have known of my presence in Solo from sources other than Pak Pus and Pak Yantono. It is indeed a pity that you were unable to make an appointment to meet up with me.

Now, about pelokan.

If this is a word commonly used in Jogja circles, then it is almost certain I would not know it.

I have followed your lead and had a look at "Keris Jawa", and yes, you're right, there is a form listed therein that bears that name. I probably do not spend enough time in looking at keris books. I read Keris Jawa through when I bought it, but I doubt that I have opened it twice since then. Undoubtedly Pak Haryoguritno found people in Solo who used the names that he listed, or perhaps he drew upon an old reference, however, what I do know is this:- I have never heard anybody in Solo use pelokan in association with a warangka, and when I encountered your use of it, I then asked several people if they knew the word in this connection, and none did.The people I asked were all keris connected:- blade makers, dealers, and a tukang wrongko who is the grandson of one of the greats.

I find this sort of thing very interesting. It is not only a characteristic of the keris world, but seems to permeate Javanese society.Language is a wonderful mirror of a society.

I thank you again Pak Ganja for adding to my education, in more ways than one.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 14th March 2009 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 15th March 2009, 12:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I rather suspect that you may have known of my presence in Solo from sources other than Pak Pus and Pak Yantono. It is indeed a pity that you were unable to make an appointment to meet up with me.

Now, about pelokan.

If this is a word commonly used in Jogja circles, then it is almost certain I would not know it.

Dear Alan,

Yes, it was a pity. Actually I was in Yogya last month to make an appointment to meet my keris friend, Marco Keris -- our Italian keris friend -- and to meet Pak Boedhi Adhitya -- after 'his absence' for two years in UK. And we met there, in Yogya...

About "pelokan" again. I've checked it again to a very well-known Yogyanese warangka maker, Pak Wusanto -- yes, he's well-known too among the Yogya Kraton keris circle -- that yes, this word pelokan exists in Yogya, at least in daily colloquial word to mention the upper part of Yogya gayaman warangka.

But he even doesn't know, that the upper part of warangka called as "atasan". Is it common in Solo too? AFAIK, in our (Javanese) daily life, the word "atasan" means our "bosses". My boss in office, for instance, is "my atasan". Never I heard before, the upper part of warangka called as "atasan"...

In many cases, there are sometimes differences between Solo and Yogya if we speak on keris world -- although they are separated only not more than 65 kms apart. A 'beautiful difference' for me, as a Solonese born, but admire the simpleness of Yogya culture...

Thank you, Alan, again for your kind attention...

GANJAWULUNG
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Old 15th March 2009, 01:04 AM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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Yes, there are differences between Jogja and Solo, as we both know.

The picked up "atasan" from a tukang wrongko whom I knew some 10 or 15 years ago, a fellow named Agus Irianto. He was the grandson one of the greats. He's out of Solo now, and I believe living in Jakarta. I've heard the occasional use of this word from some other people, and I nearly always use it myself, mainly because there is never any confusion as to my meaning. If you say "atasan wrongko" , nobody can possibly fail to understand, even if they have never heard the term previously.Some of the other variant terms are understood by some, and not understood by others.
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Old 15th March 2009, 11:17 AM   #6
Jussi M.
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Greetings,

language is both a construct and a constructor of a given society´s culture, yes. That is clear. What I do not understand however is what you mean by the following statement Mr. Maisey?

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I find this sort of thing very interesting. It is not only a characteristic of the keris world, but seems to permeate Javanese society.Language is a wonderful mirror of a society.

Could you please explain a bit further what you mean? I seem to have lost the plot here

Thanks,

J
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Old 15th March 2009, 07:41 PM   #7
A. G. Maisey
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I apologise for letting my thoughts run away with me, Jussi.

I was reflecting aloud on the phenomenon of the exclusivity of language. Jargon.

Jargon serves a very definite purpose, and that purpose is , I believe, somewhat as I will set out below.

Any society is comprised of a number of groups of people who are members of what might be termed "sub-societies". These sub-societies can be groupings of professional people, trade groups, hobby groups, cultural groups, or any other group of people who have come together because of a shared interest.

Communication in society is carried out by the means of language. The greater society will have a language that is used and understood by all members of that greater society.

Similarly, the sub-societies within the host (greater) society will in many cases develop their own language, which although it may use the form and content of the language of the host society, will very often possess additional forms or words that can only be clearly understood by the members of the sub-society.

Two good examples of this use of a discrete language can be found in mediaeval Christianity, and modern law. In mediaeval Christianity, and in truth, up until recent times, the priest had a function of translating the language of the religion---Latin--- into the language of the common people. In law, lawyers have the function of translating the contrived forms of legalese into the language of the common people.

This use of obscure language by the practitioners of a profession is calculated to move the proceedings of the professions beyond the understanding of the uninitiated and to validate the existence of the initiates.

Sometimes a further development of the pattern noted above can be observed. This further development is the formation of groups within the sub-societies who possess ever more obscure language use, understood by increasingly smaller numbers of people.

Picture if you will a circle. On the outer edges of the circle will be the people who possess the ability to understand only the language that is common to all those within the circle. However, as one approaches the centre of the circle the numbers of people who share a common understanding decreases, to the point where the man right in the middle of the circle possess an understanding of words that is shared by perhaps only one person, other than himself, and this second person will become the successor of the man in the centre.

Power over those within the circle is gained by the possession of words, which are assumed to represent knowledge. Thus, the man with possession of words that are not known to others, possesses knowledge that is not known to others. He has in effect, become the high priest of that sub-society.

In the formation and sustenance of such sub-societies there is an inherent danger. This is the danger that as progression to the center of the group occurs, there is the temptation to either invent one's own words, or to reintroduce language that has passed from common usage. Knowledge is power, and by the invention or reintroduction of words, the understanding of which is shared with only a very limited number of people, the initiator of those words has increased the perception of his knowledge, thus increasing his power.

Now, we might well ask what all this has to do with keris. Well, I believe anybody who has had a few years experience of the wonderful world of the keris, will be able to answer that question for themselves.

I have had a number of teachers in the understanding of the keris, but my primary, and most important teacher was Empu Suparman Supawijaya. He was not a tolerant man. His knowledge was vast, but he was inclined to be very short tempered. I can remember very clearly his comments when I showed him a recent keris book that I had bought, which was by a prolific and well known writer on the keris. He thumbed through it, found a number of things with which he did not agree, became very agitated, and commented that it was a great pity that writers did not learn about the keris before writing about it.

My next most important teacher was also a maker of keris. I will not mention his name, for if I did I could not repeat his comments in respect of the book that is currently perhaps the most widely read reference on the keris. I asked him what he thought of this very comprehensive book. He commented that in his opinion it contained a lot of invention; he could not understand where many of the words and their meanings could have come from, and that much of the information contained in this book was simply wrong.

I have no doubt that both my teachers absolutely believed the opinions that they offered to me. However, I also believe that these opinions were in reality reflections of the way in which keris knowledge is structured.

There is a core of knowledge that is possessed of all, but within the sub-society that is constructed around the keris there are many smaller sub-societies, each of which is formed as I have illustrated above, by ever smaller overlapping circles of increasing "knowledge".

The "knowledge " possessed by the man at the middle of one of these groups may not even be recognised as valid knowledge by a member of a different group, but that knowledge does serve the purpose of supporting its possessor in his position of power.


Of course, the phenomenon that I am commenting on here occurs across all societies. It seems that we all have a need to mystify and obscure that to which we devote a large part of our lives, and to use this special knowledge of language as a lever of power. However, that which makes the case of the keris in Jawa particularly interesting is that Javanese society would appear to be more inclined than other societies to generate these special language groups, even to the point of producing completely hidden, or secret languages, something that has been commented upon since the time of early European contact. I cannot help but wonder if this is in large part due to the non standard nature of the mother tongue of the society, or perhaps a further development of the society's hierarchical structure.

The keris can be a difficult subject. For this reason, when writing, or speaking about the keris, I attempt so far as I am able, to use terms that I believe are widely understood, and where suitable, to frequently use words taken from English, an international language, in order to clarify my meanings. The use of obscure language that is understood by only a limited number of people does little to spread an understanding of the keris and its associated culture.

I'm sorry it took me so many words to explain myself Jussi, but I doubt that I could have shortened what I have written, and still have made any sense.
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