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Old 27th July 2009, 08:00 AM   #1
erikscollectables
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Default Symbolism of Bali Cecekahan handle?

Atlhough my interest in krisses is broad I never included Bali in my collection. Now I have by accident a Bali cecekahan hilt that came from a friend.To my surprise I do like it a lot.

I would like to learn more about the symbolism of this hilt. Who has more info on this? Reading throug the books I have I found very little.

Type of the hilt used by lower classes - maybe specifically by warriors - is about all. Nothing about the decorations - notches on the back etc.

And those of you who have nice variatons on this cecekahan hilt please do share here!

Regards, Erik
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Old 27th July 2009, 04:00 PM   #2
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Hi Erik,

in my collection I have only the style you have. The handles with more notches seems to be very rare, I've seen only a few and I look already long time for a one with more notches. Here two examples from my collection.

Regards,

sajen
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Old 27th July 2009, 10:46 PM   #3
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Hi Erik,

There was almost a "frenzy" on that hilt.
Nice one.

Here 2 examples I have at this moment.
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Old 27th July 2009, 11:13 PM   #4
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Plus one, and something a little different.
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Old 28th July 2009, 04:20 AM   #5
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Here's another couple I could put my hands on. I've got a few more around somewhere, but they're on kerises I think, and too difficult to find.

Actually the name of this hilt form is "cekah solas" :- cekah = a thick slice; solas = eleven (Balinese).

The strict form of the hilt has eleven cuts, five on each side, and one in its front. Also called cekah redut --- don't know what "redut" means.

In the old days they were considered to be a hilt for soldier, or a pendekar.
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Old 28th July 2009, 09:01 AM   #6
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Default ELEVEN NOTCHES hilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by erikscollectables
I would like to learn more about the symbolism of this hilt. Who has more info on this? Reading throug the books I have I found very little.
Dear Erik,
IMHO one of the complete book on Bali and Lombok Kerises is Ir Lalu Djelenga's book, "Keris di Lombok" (1994, 2000). It is interesting to read on this special "danda" or "danganan" (keris hilt), usually used by (Balinese and Lombokese) soldiers, selected soldiers with very special ability named "Pemating". A commando type of soldiers, which usually they are 'invulnerable' to weapons.

The normal "cekahan" hilt, usually has "eleven notches" ("solas takikan" in Lombokese dialect). That is why, this type of hilt usually named as "Cekah Solas" danganan, or Cekah Solas hilt, or just say it in universal words as "eleven notches hilt"... ("solas" in javanese language is "sewelas", or eleven in English)

The form of this hilt almost similar with "Bondolan" type (please see the comparison from my collection below), an ordinary type of Balinese of Lombokese hilt. The difference only lies on the "takikan" (notches) in the grip-side.

The normal notches are eleven -- please count: five on each plain side, and one notch on the front side (please see the picture). If more than eleven notches, then it will be called as "Cekah Redut". Unordinary cekahan...

This type of hilt (also bondolan type) -- according to Mr Djelenga -- now maybe use for any type of Balinese or Lombokese warangka, whether it is a gayaman, ladrang or even "jamprahan" (special warangka for pedanda or Hindhu priest)...

GANJAWULUNG
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Old 28th July 2009, 09:22 PM   #7
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Default CEKAH Redut?

Similar to Alan's "more than eleven notches" hilt -- I count at least 98 "takikan" (notches) in one hilt. Is it cekah redut?

GANJAWULUNG
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Old 28th July 2009, 11:51 PM   #8
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I have 2 of these hilts and i have noticed that on mine as well as Erik's and a few others there is also 5 lines notched into the back of the "head" of the hilt. Does anyone here have a clue as to the symbolism of these notches?
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Old 29th July 2009, 12:12 AM   #9
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Here's another one.

This used to belong to me, but it has moved house. The new owner has kindly permitted its publication here.
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Old 29th July 2009, 01:46 PM   #10
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Exactly one of my questions too.
Will start travelling now so only join the forum again after the holidays but hope to learn more then...

Regards, Erik

Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I have 2 of these hilts and i have noticed that on mine as well as Erik's and a few others there is also 5 lines notched into the back of the "head" of the hilt. Does anyone here have a clue as to the symbolism of these notches?
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Old 29th July 2009, 02:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erikscollectables
Exactly one of my questions too.
Will start travelling now so only join the forum again after the holidays but hope to learn more then...

Regards, Erik
In Jensen's KRISDISK you can learn more
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Old 29th July 2009, 03:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcokeris
In Jensen's KRISDISK you can learn more
Care to share what you know here Marco? We don't all have Jensen's KrisDisk.
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Old 29th July 2009, 03:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Care to share what you know here Marco? We don't all have Jensen's KrisDisk.
......The both hilts (Bébondollan and Cecekahan) might be a stylization of the Balu Mekabun (the veiled
widow) a representation of the death-goddess Durga. The incisions in Cecekahan hilt is said to represent the
folds in her sarong. Cedric Le Dauphin: The Hilts of Krisses, Chaos, Paris 2002, p 165. See chapter 5 p 2
and Fig 34 and chapter 6 Fig 74, 75 and Fig 82.

IMO the notches are not an arcaic meaning. They are only good for a better hold with hand (difficult to loose the handle)
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Old 29th July 2009, 04:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcokeris
IMO the notches are not an arcaic meaning. They are only good for a better hold with hand (difficult to loose the handle)
I am not convinced of this Marco. When i hold my 2 examples in the tradition grip (thumb and forefinger on the blade) my hand does not come in contact with these notches so i cannot see how they can aid in giving a better grip on the blade. Also, ever example i have seen has 5 notches, so it leads me to believe that there must be some significance to the number.
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Old 29th July 2009, 07:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I am not convinced of this Marco. When i hold my 2 examples in the tradition grip (thumb and forefinger on the blade) my hand does not come in contact with these notches so i cannot see how they can aid in giving a better grip on the blade. Also, ever example i have seen has 5 notches, so it leads me to believe that there must be some significance to the number.
I was in the impression that Balinese kerises are hold differently from Javanese as the hilts are way much bigger? - Either I am wrong; your Balinese hilts are of the smallish side of how they come and/or you have Alexander Karelin´s hands David!

Also, I too have a hard time accepting that there is not any symbolism to the design having in mind that almost everything if not all having to do with the keris is/was symbolically loaded.

Thanks,

J
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Old 29th July 2009, 08:38 PM   #16
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I can see your point Jussi .

Still .......
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Old 29th July 2009, 08:46 PM   #17
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....Also, ever example i have seen has 5 notches, so it leads me to believe that there must be some significance to the number. [/QUOTE]
This is a 9+9+3 example....but how many othes with different numbers there are?
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Old 29th July 2009, 10:00 PM   #18
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You can find another very interesting "Cekah Redut" (more then eleven notches) in Zonneveld's "Traditional weapons ..." on page 67. It is also polychrome - blue (black?), red and gold(?). This polychrome design looks very fine, somewehere "japanese"

These carvings on one side (five (?) lines). I have seen them only on cecekahan, never bondolan. May be, it is a symbol, bound to a certain group of people, the selected warriors with "Pemating"?

I allways thought, they are another primitive form of a face, but they are on the other side of hilt, and only on cecekahan (?).

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Old 29th July 2009, 10:21 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcokeris
....Also, ever example i have seen has 5 notches, so it leads me to believe that there must be some significance to the number.
This is a 9+9+3 example....but how many othes with different numbers there are? [/QUOTE]
Marco, just to clarify, i am inquiring about the 5 straight notches that are cut into the back of the "head" of the hilt, not the notches cut down the sides of the hilt. This last example you have posted also has these same 5 notches.

Jussi, i have average size hands and i have little problem extending my forefinger onto the blade much the way it is shown in the photo posted by Rick. The hilts are normal Bali size and i have no idea who Alexander Karelin is. Though i will point out that i have a number of smaller than average bondalan style hilts which make this grip very easy.
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Old 29th July 2009, 10:59 PM   #20
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David,

I might be wrong but I´ve understood that the Balinese kerises are more or less gripped like you would a normal big handled kitchen knife. That said I gather that every guy in the old days had his own favorite way of grasping the weapon if used as such. - Not doing so would be pretty unlikely IMO but this is an area I have no expertise in so dont know. The contrary just sounds illogical.

Alexander Karelin is the greatest still living wrestler ever. Famous not only because he was on a league of his own in his heyday but also because of his huge build and intellectual virtuosity in such areas as writing and poetry to name a few. - A true renaissance man if you will.

Anyways I think we still havent found any answers to the original question Erik asked, anybody?
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Old 29th July 2009, 11:47 PM   #21
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Aside from the 'notches' David mentioned I see some lightly scribed curved lines on the same area of these 'notches' .

Is this a representation of the eye of Shiva that is often seen on Bali/Lombok wrongkos ?
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Old 30th July 2009, 12:48 AM   #22
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The first two hilts I have shown are not conventional cekah solas:- the first one has 27 notches, I do not have the patience to count how many the second one has. The first with 27 notches also has five notches at its top back, and a double wideng on each face.

The other five hilts I have shown could be called conventional cekah solas.

Three have no notches at the top back.

One has six notches, and these notches are not of a uniform nature.

One I do not own and I do not know how many notches it has.

Statistically this is an insignificant sample, however it is sufficient a sample to demonstrate that the presence and number of notches is not consistent in this type of hilt.

I do not know the reason for the presence of these notches when they do exist, and I doubt that anybody now does know. All we can do is to guess, and any guesses we make will be virtually impossible to support with any kind of convincing argument.

I do not like making this sort of guess, as I believe that guesses, theories, hypotheses and ideas that cannot be supported with either evidence or a logical argument are simply time wasters and non-productive.

However, with the disclaimer that what I will now say in respect of these features found in some Balinese hilts is only the spouting of empty words and an indulgence in the spirit of fun, I here offer a suggestion:-

the Balinese keris is worn at the back, with the top of the keris sitting high above the shoulder, this places the hilt of the keris in a very obvious and easily seen position; I suggest that these notches could be an indication of either rank or cast.

Similarly, the wideng ( that small scroll-like engraving adjacent to the notches) could perhaps also be indicative of rank. A wideng on a Javanese wrongko was the prerogative of the sons and grandsons of the ruler, a similar purpose could have existed in Bali.

Regarding the grip used with the Balinese keris.

I have never seen an old photo of a Balinese man gripping a keris where that keris was gripped in the fencer's grip as in Jawa.

Every example of keris grip that I have seen has been of the entire hilt gripped firmly, often with the first joint of the index finger anchored against the top of the gonjo, as in the photo posted by Rick. My own experimentation with gripping Balinese keris has demonstrated to my satisfaction that in general the Javanese fencer grip is not suitable for use with a Balinese keris.

There is something that should be noted about the basic difference between Balinese and Javanese attitudes. Historically the Javanese tended towards gentility and refinement, even if this was often only feigned. On the other hand, the Balinese from very early times up to very recent times (C1910) were regarded as rough, unruly, dangerous and murderous, often given to quick fits of temper. Back in the 19th century Kuta was a den of criminals and cut throats ( maybe things haven't changed all that much).

Translating this cultural variation into the gripping of a keris, it is easy to see the delicate Javanese grip as a reflection of societal attitude, and the firm grip employed with the Balinese keris as a reflection of that society's attitudes.

There can be no doubt that the keris is an object that is very subject to symbolic interpretation. Some of this symbolism can be supported, some is simply fantasy. When we begin to attempt to provide a symbolic interpretation, or a reason, for any feature noted in the keris, we first need to place that interpretation within a time frame. This is particularly true of the Javanese keris, where symbolic --- and philosophical --- interpretation has changed over time, and in fact is still developing.
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Old 31st July 2009, 04:38 PM   #23
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While searching for images of Balinese actually holding drawn keris i came across this hilt which seems a different form from the cecekahan hilt but incorporates the same "accordian" notches.
I was not at all successful finding images of the grip on unsheathed Bali keris, other than dancers stabbing themselves in the Barong dance. Alan if you have some i would love to see them. I do concede that the "fencers" grip is not very practical, though i do have 3 small bondalan hilts where it is very comfortable to use. Most Bali hilts are too large though. My original point however was to point out that these 5 (or 6) straight notches at the back of the "head" have nothing to do with getting a better grip on the hilt regardless of how you hold it.
I must disagree that looking for theories is a useless exercise. Claiming any unproven theory as fact would indeed be misleading, but throwing around theories can help to stimulate the thought process and can sometimes lead us to unexpected realizations. If i don't know the answer to something i cannot see any benefit to not discussing the possibilities of it. IMO we are here to discuss keris, not necessarily to have or even find all the answers about them. Sometimes that journey can be more insightful than the destination itself. I see no waste of time in such discussions as long as the argument do not become circular in nature.
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Old 31st July 2009, 09:02 PM   #24
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Grip and cecekahan in one picture
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Old 31st July 2009, 09:05 PM   #25
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Ah yes, thanks Gustav. This was one i was already familiar with.
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Old 31st July 2009, 10:12 PM   #26
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And a very "moving"picture of the grip when you try to stab yourself.
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Old 1st August 2009, 01:05 AM   #27
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I don't have any pics I can show you David. I've seen pics over the years, but they have been in various books, some I own, some I don't, and since this is something that doesn't interest me very much, I do not keep records of where they are.

I agree that the little notches at the back would have almost no impact at all on grip.

As for discussion.

A theory is a supposition, or a system of ideas that has been constructed to explain something. We do not ever need to prove a theory:- if we can prove it, it is no longer a theory.

However, when we propose a theory we should be able to support that theory with a logical argument, or with evidence. As noted, we do not need to prove it, but we should be able to come up with some convincing and above all logical arguments to support our ideas.

We are not in academia here, this is just an open discussion amongst friends, so perhaps we do not need to be as strict as might be the case in an academic setting, however, as in any subject, there can be varying levels of knowledge held by the participants in the discussion.

In the situation in which we find ourselves, that is, an online discussion group that is populated by people of various nations, various ages, various levels of knowledge, and for the most part using names other than their own names, we have absolutely no way of knowing the level of authority with which any contributor speaks.

Moreover, the discussion that takes place is open to observation by many people across the globe who never take part in any discussion.

Now, factor in the friendly, non-confrontational nature of discussion that does take place here. We all put our views, and are almost never called upon to support those views. Thus, our discussions generate a lot of opinions, but very few supportable theories. What we have is a "good ideas club".

I'm not criticising this. Its a friendly atmosphere, quite unlike some other on-line discussion groups, we don't seem to have any abrasive personalities --- the ones who have appeared from time to time have gone elsewhere to exercise their egos when they found that they could not get a fight.

But the very positive factors that have formed the nature of our discussion group are also negatives in any search for expanded understanding.

All of these factors operating together have, I believe, the potential to create a situation where somebody's "good idea" can be taken up by members of the community who access these pages and before long be turned into accepted wisdom, but wisdom that cannot be supported.

I am not arguing for change. We have a friendly , social group. I like it that way. I can get enough argument and confrontation in other aspects of my life, I do not want it in something that I see as one of my areas of relaxation.

But let us not delude ourselves that our friendly exchange of good ideas is contributing to a better understanding of the keris.

If we want that better understanding to become reality, then the "good ideas" are going to have to become more structured and be supported by logic or evidence.

If we do this, then we might be able to generate some theories.

If we do not, then what we have is friendly, social intercourse.

Which, I agree, is not a waste of time, but it is not productive in fostering a better understanding founded in reality.
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Old 1st August 2009, 01:55 AM   #28
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Where do notches stop, and checkering begin?
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Old 1st August 2009, 03:57 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Where do notches stop, and checkering begin?
That last one i posted is the missing link between them.
BTW Alan, your PM mail box is full.
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Old 1st August 2009, 04:16 AM   #30
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Fixed.
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