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Old 15th March 2022, 03:41 PM   #1
shadejoy
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Default Resin-based Warangka & Hilt

Hello, would like to solicit your opinions on resin-based warangka and hilt. Have you guys had any experience with the material?

I am interested in learning if resin is an ideal alternative to regular wood material used for warangka and hilt, and how would resin, oil and wilah react over time if Keris is left sheathed for long period of time.

I appreciate the discussion.
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Old 15th March 2022, 04:34 PM   #2
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Just an opinion, but i do not consider resin hilts and sheaths suitable for anything beyond a souvenir keris-like-object.
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Old 15th March 2022, 05:04 PM   #3
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The horror, the horror!
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Old 15th March 2022, 06:55 PM   #4
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Look at this one which has some age (1980's), it is not my favorite of course but not so bad. I also have one hilt made of a similar materials, I did not realize it when purchasing these 2 pieces.
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Old 15th March 2022, 07:10 PM   #5
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Sure, it can occasionally look like close to the real thing (usually mimicking ivory), and it is far too often presented as the real thing, which is criminal IMHO. But i see no reason that it is necessary as an alternative. For new dress i would rather have bone or antler for an ivory substitute than molded resin. I don't see it as a wood substitute either and though some woods have indeed become rare i doubt that resin can serve as a reasonable look-alike for those materials.
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Old 15th March 2022, 09:13 PM   #6
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Just an opinion, but i do not consider resin hilts and sheaths suitable for anything beyond a souvenir keris-like-object.
The idea I have is to use the resin as the core while the whole outer warangka is enveloped in full silver. I have seen full silver warangka, more often in Bugis Keris. Hoping to prolong the life of warangka with less maintenance should the wilah is oiled frequently.

In the traditional Warangka, and to quote Alan "..storing an oiled blade in a wooden scabbard is a sure and certain way to stain the wood and eventually damage that wood and the value of the scabbard, the cellulose material."

And to add, some say that it might develop mold (jamuran) on the wilah.

So I was thinking that maybe resin would be a good alternative for the core part that is in contact with the steel blade, am curious to learn the interactions and what effects it may cause between resin, oil and steel blade in the long run.
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Old 15th March 2022, 09:36 PM   #7
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I happened to find in Yogya (in the big market) handles made of resin. In their form they were also quite good and mimicked those made of bone, horn... Their price was very low. Obviously they have been explained to me that they are handles for Indonesian people who cannot afford a higher expense for other types of handles.
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Old 16th March 2022, 12:27 AM   #8
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I feel that resin might be acceptable if the purpose was purely to provide a storage facility for the keris, equally, resin hilts & scabbards might be acceptable in a non-traditional setting, or a very low economic level setting, as dress used for a keris in its function as an item of formal dress.

For example I have seen both a blade made of cardboard & a blade made of a tin can used as items of formal dress in a poor village setting in Central Jawa.

However, no traditional Javanese person could ever accept resin as an acceptable substitute for the traditional materials.

I would never even consider applying the insult of resin dress to any keris.

But as long as nobody else ever saw it, as long as it was kept in a singep, in a locked drawer, in a locked cabinet, in a locked room, I guess it might provide a suitable storage facility.
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Old 16th March 2022, 01:44 AM   #9
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I feel that resin might be acceptable if the purpose was purely to provide a storage facility for the keris, equally, resin hilts & scabbards might be acceptable in a non-traditional setting, or a very low economic level setting, as dress used for a keris in its function as an item of formal dress.

For example I have seen both a blade made of cardboard & a blade made of a tin can used as items of formal dress in a poor village setting in Central Jawa.

However, no traditional Javanese person could ever accept resin as an acceptable substitute for the traditional materials.

I would never even consider applying the insult of resin dress to any keris.

But as long as nobody else ever saw it, as long as it was kept in a singep, in a locked drawer, in a locked cabinet, in a locked room, I guess it might provide a suitable storage facility.
What I have in mind is not to create entire warangka from resin. Only the core. The attached picture might clarify my intention. The warangka is from gold with natural stones/gems encrusted. This warangka and all other golden warangkas outthere including silver warangka, I believe, are still commonly using wood as the core. So the wooden core (cellulose material) would need to be replaced eventually from recurring oil stain. I thought ..resin might be the answer to that. Keep the gold and silver material as the outer part but use resin as the core for better, longer life of warangka and the blade.

I feel like I made everybody idea that I was going to make cheap warangka. Definitely not. Just thinking about getting a more luxurious new dress. Essentially the project's aim is to improve esthetic (full gold or silver warangka) with better functionality (using core material that is better withstand oil staining and degradation).
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Old 16th March 2022, 02:01 AM   #10
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Full Silver warangka. Note the wood as its core.
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Old 16th March 2022, 03:01 AM   #11
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The wood used in the core of a metal covered wrongko is never expensive wood, moreover, it is never seen, it does not matter in even the smallest degree if the oil penetrates the wood. In fact, it is perhaps desirable that the oil does get into the wood, as it will form a barrier between the cellulose of the wood and the ferric material of the blade.

Where oil stains do matter is where an expensive, sometimes irreplaceable timber has been used in an expensive, irreplaceable wrongko. If you cannot see the wood, and that wood is low grade wood in any case, it doesn't matter.

What does matter always is preservation of the blade.

In traditional thought, the dress, no matter how luxurious & expensive has no real cultural value. Throughout the existence of a keris, dress is changed frequently and for many reasons, so it is really only people who value money and people who value the art of the dress who care about the oil stains.

In traditional Javanese thought the replacement of a scabbard is seen as something desirable, in a way, something like replacing an old wife with a younger woman, again, something that is not at all uncommon in Javanese society.

Collectors try to avoid staining a wrongko, it detracts from overall appearance, & from value. The actual users of keris are usually a bit less particular.

But apart from all that there are the perceived feelings of the keris itself to consider. It is widely believed that the material used for a wrongko should ideally be a material that the keris itself will feel comfortable being next to.

Again we can draw a comparison with women:- just because we see something as beautiful that does not necessarily mean that the keris will perceive it as beautiful. One of the most highly favoured woods for a keris is scented sandalwood, this is a very plain wood unless it has some sort special grain, like simba (feather crotch), so giving a keris a scented sandalwood wrongko is like paying respect to it.

On the other hand, we might find ivory to be a very attractive material for a wrongko, but ivory is hard, unyielding, cold. The ivory wrongko is a statement of our own prestige, but we need to ask if the feelings of the keris are in accord with our own feelings, or if in fact we might be acting in a slightly disrespectful way.

Writing the above my thoughts were circling around things I was taught by Javanese teachers, but it perhaps does not hold true that a similar system of values would apply in Bali, or anywhere else outside of certain areas of Jawa.

I guess, in the final analysis it all comes down to one's own personal system of values.
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Old 16th March 2022, 04:51 AM   #12
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In fact, it is perhaps desirable that the oil does get into the wood, as it will form a barrier between the cellulose of the wood and the ferric material of the blade.
I'm a bit confused. In one of your posts you said.. "It goes without saying that I do not store my keris against cellulose material. Wood is a cellulose material. Nobody who has any respect at all for a steel blade should store that blade in such a way that it is in contact with cellulose material. Apart from which, storing an oiled blade in a wooden scabbard is a sure and certain way to stain the wood and eventually damage that wood and the value of the scabbard."

So, oiled blade in the scabbard is actually preferable, as it'll form a barrier and perhaps replacing and replenishing the wood's natural oils to add protection?

I think in traditional thought, the dress does have real cultural value. Perhaps Kesultanan Jawa (Yogyakarta & Surakarta) is a perfect example of it; how each function/venue dictates which Keris dress to use: Sandang Walikat, Ladrang or Gayaman. The color scheme of the wrongko also identifies one's status in social structure.

I'm almost positive that you've covered these topics in the past. I know I've seen them.

Sometimes people bring the Keris to complete the ensemble for royal ceremonies. Then the Keris is decorated with precious stones and diamonds. Even the sheath is made of beautifully textured wood or metal or ivory as you mentioned, carved in such a beautiful way, plated with glittering gold as the pride of the wearer.

With that said, warangka/wrongko in my opinion is an important part of a Keris. Wrongko is the first thing that people see. It may reveal one’s position in the socio-economic structure of society. In a way, it's a form of communication through symbolism.

I can relate to your parable about having multiple women Kinatah is added on to the wilah or gonjo as form of appreciation to the Keris for fulfilling its 'duty'. I think such practice is not new. So I wouldn't be surprised if people have been doing the same with wrongko ..other than perhaps because it was worn out and due for replacement.

Although I have heard that certain woods have their own 'tuah' but I cannot tell if one might or might not be compatible with certain Keris. I don't have any reference about that specific subject so I can't comment on the perceived feelings of the Keris in regards to the dress and its material. Plus, I'm not at all spiritual. Would love to figure out how to 'tayuh' though. I do fully agree that esoteric, as subjective as it may be, is an integral part of Keris culture.

At the end of the day it's as you've so eloquently put (as always) ..it all comes down to one's own personal system of values.
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Old 16th March 2022, 01:05 PM   #13
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SJ, I am very sorry if my writing has caused you some confusion, I will try to remedy this.

In essence we are talking about preservation of ferric material.

There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved, but the basic principles are that we need to isolate the ferric material from agents that can generate corrosion.

One of those agents is cellulose material.

Wood is a cellulose material.

So we are well advised to ensure that if we wish to prevent corrosion occurring in ferric material, we do not store that ferric material in a situation where it is in contact with wood.

Of course there are other agents that can cause corrosion in ferric material and many ways of isolating the ferric material from the corrosive agents.

One of cheapest, more practical, and lowest in cost of those anti-corrosive systems is the application of oil to the surface of the ferric material.

Where a piece of oiled ferric material is inserted into a wooden cover, the wood of the cover will absorb and eventually become saturated with the oil that transferred from the ferric material, it will become so saturated that the oil will form a barrier between the cellulose material which is wood, and the ferric material, which might be a keris or any other type of blade.

I am most definitely not recommending the insertion of oiled blades into wooden scabbards, my recommendations in respect of the storage of blades have remained virtually unchanged for many years and have been published many times in a number of places.

I have found that a very practical method of protection for blades made from ferric material is that the oiled blade be kept in a plastic envelope and preferably out of the blade's scabbard.

It would seem that my comments in respect of the cultural value of keris dress were also insufficiently precise to provide a clear understanding of my meaning, and I do apologise for any misunderstanding or confusion my brevity might have caused.

I will try to do better.

In Javanese thought the only part of a complete keris that has true cultural value is the blade, the wilah.

It is the blade that links the seen & unseen worlds, it is the blade that ties the present generation to past generations, it is the blade that is iconic of Siwa , it is the blade that is iconic of the Gunungan, and thus of Mount Meru which is Mount Kailash, dwelling place of the ancestors and the Gods. Only the blade can be considered to be sacred.

The dress for the blade is no more important than clothing is for a man.

In the case of a man, and of a keris, that clothing is subject to certain societal dictates, and in terms of the "cultural" value of keris dress, it is these societal dictates that form the framework within which the dress components of a keris find their function.

However, in strict terms, these dictates are societal, rather than cultural, yes, there is a very fine line between societal standards and cultural values, and sometimes it might be a little difficult to identify that line, but in the case of keris dress we are addressing a societal standard, rather than a cultural value.

One of the ongoing problems associated with the keris is that there are many perspectives from which the keris may be assessed. For those people who are not a part of keris society the manner in which they perceive the keris is very, very different to the manner in which an experienced person who is a part of keris society will perceive the same keris.

The dress of a keris is something that relates to the hierarchical position and personal tastes of the custodian of the keris, it is no more important in the cultural value of the keris than is the setagen that a man winds around his waist.
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Old 16th March 2022, 01:50 PM   #14
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The dress for the blade is no more important than clothing is for a man.
My perspective I have regarding the importance of dress is perhaps also from the Hindu-Siwa. The concept of Lingga Yoni. The union of the phallus as the masculine organ with the yoni which is the symbol of the feminine organ that produces the energy of creation, which is the basis of all creation.

Keris I think, is another form of Lingga Yoni. Where the Wilah is the Lingga and Gonjo is the Yoni. Where Wilah Peksi is the Lingga and the Hilt/Handle is the Yoni. Finally, the wilah is the Lingga and the Wrongko is the Yoni.

My opinion on this is that the dress or wrongko is an integral part of Keris. So much so that some people say you have to have the steel blade, wrongko and hilt together ..to be called a Keris.

Alan, I learn so much from you about Keris it's not even funny. I followed your suggestion ..here are my Keris, the wilah is separated from handle and wrongko, oiled and vaccum-sealed. They're tucked away in a wooden box along with their sheaths.
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Old 16th March 2022, 10:31 PM   #15
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There is more than a single way to understand the keris.

If one way is different to another way, this does not necessarily mean that one way is wrong & the other way is right. It becomes a matter of perspective.

However, not all perspectives necessarily have the same value, just as all opinions do not have the same value. For example, if I have a blocked drain, I call a plumber, I do not call my motor mechanic.

SJ, your remarks on the relative importance of the dress of the keris reflect a perspective that has become quite popular in relatively recent times. I have noted that it is particularly popular with keris interested people --- and philosophers (most Javanese people are philosophers, whether they realise it or not) --- in the Ngayoga area.

The thought process goes like this:-

the keris, ie, the wilah, is inarguably masculine, its primary iconic relationship is Gunungan, which then leads to Meru, Mount Meru, Mount Kailash, Siwa, Gods, ancestors

the wrongko is female in nature

together the keris and the wrongko represent the unity of humanity > society > the world > the cosmos

this resonates with the Hindu idea that no man is complete without a woman, no woman is complete without a man, this unity of male & female is the foundation of society, the foundation of universal harmony and the foundation of creation & life

this idea is encapsulated in the Javanese pepatah:-

Curiga manjing warangka, warangka manjing curiga :-

broadly:- "the wrongko completes the keris, the keris completes the wrongko"

this little saying is dragged out at every wedding celebration, and in many situations where mutual cooperation completes a relationship.

When we understand more of the way in which Sufism has shaped Javanese society we begin to understand more of the way in which these ideas have blended with Javanese indigenous ideas, and the ideas that have come from the old Jawa Hindu-Buddhist traditions.

One thing that Islam seems not to have been able to harmonise away is the role of the hilt as guardian. But they did attend to this little problem very neatly by introducing the planar form, during the Demak era, and representing the remnant demonic features as leaves:- patra = leaf.

EDIT

It has been suggested to me that I should refrain from delicacy and provide a literal translation of the little Javanese quote, rather than a broad translation.

Accordingly, here is the exact translation of the quote:-

"Keris enter wrongko, wrongko enter keris"

Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 17th March 2022 at 11:37 AM. Reason: accuracy
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Old 17th March 2022, 10:28 AM   #16
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here are my Keris, the wilah is separated from handle and wrongko, oiled and vaccum-sealed. They're tucked away in a wooden box along with their sheaths.
Hello Shadejoy,

And do you keep them in a safe at the bank?
Personally I prefer my way and to be able to enjoy my krisses whenever I like and without having to perform any maintenance of the blade after the initial treatment with WD40, just checking the condition from time to time. However I live in a dry environment.
Regards
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Old 17th March 2022, 11:44 AM   #17
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Spoken as a true collector Jean.

Bravo.

I used to be exactly the same.
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Old 17th March 2022, 01:44 PM   #18
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Hello Shadejoy,

And do you keep them in a safe at the bank?
Personally I prefer my way and to be able to enjoy my krisses whenever I like and without having to perform any maintenance of the blade after the initial treatment with WD40, just checking the condition from time to time. However I live in a dry environment.
Regards
Haha.. no, not in a safe. I think it comes down to lifestyle and personal preference. Don't get me wrong, I love my Keris, they are magnificent and valuable to me. My daily life isn't that hectic but between work and family, there is always something to do and places to go. There was one time I neglected my Keris for over a year in its scabbard untouched and noticed a small speck of discoloration on its wilah. It was thankfully gone after applying gun oil. So this time I thought I should do something differently.

Very nice pair of Panakawan blawong!!
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Old 20th March 2022, 09:56 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
There is more than a single way to understand the keris.

If one way is different to another way, this does not necessarily mean that one way is wrong & the other way is right. It becomes a matter of perspective.

However, not all perspectives necessarily have the same value, just as all opinions do not have the same value. For example, if I have a blocked drain, I call a plumber, I do not call my motor mechanic.

SJ, your remarks on the relative importance of the dress of the keris reflect a perspective that has become quite popular in relatively recent times. I have noted that it is particularly popular with keris interested people --- and philosophers (most Javanese people are philosophers, whether they realise it or not) --- in the Ngayoga area.

The thought process goes like this:-

the keris, ie, the wilah, is inarguably masculine, its primary iconic relationship is Gunungan, which then leads to Meru, Mount Meru, Mount Kailash, Siwa, Gods, ancestors

the wrongko is female in nature

together the keris and the wrongko represent the unity of humanity > society > the world > the cosmos

this resonates with the Hindu idea that no man is complete without a woman, no woman is complete without a man, this unity of male & female is the foundation of society, the foundation of universal harmony and the foundation of creation & life

this idea is encapsulated in the Javanese pepatah:-

Curiga manjing warangka, warangka manjing curiga :-

broadly:- "the wrongko completes the keris, the keris completes the wrongko"

this little saying is dragged out at every wedding celebration, and in many situations where mutual cooperation completes a relationship.

When we understand more of the way in which Sufism has shaped Javanese society we begin to understand more of the way in which these ideas have blended with Javanese indigenous ideas, and the ideas that have come from the old Jawa Hindu-Buddhist traditions.

One thing that Islam seems not to have been able to harmonise away is the role of the hilt as guardian. But they did attend to this little problem very neatly by introducing the planar form, during the Demak era, and representing the remnant demonic features as leaves:- patra = leaf.

EDIT

It has been suggested to me that I should refrain from delicacy and provide a literal translation of the little Javanese quote, rather than a broad translation.

Accordingly, here is the exact translation of the quote:-

"Keris enter wrongko, wrongko enter keris"

That is it. Thank you for explaining to us in more detail, it's well-defined.

Historically speaking, prior to Hinduism came to Nusantara, people at the time, especially in Java, had their own indigenous ancient religion that worshipped their ancestors (para Hyang) who resided in Mountains. When Hinduism came from India, Javanese took the religion and developed it as its own by synchronizing the incoming Hinduism with their indigenous ancient religion. Thus, creating Nusantara's own culture that broke free from Indian influence and had grown by itself.

Mount Penanggungan was believed as the macrocosmos for Javanese at the time. It's believed as the peak of Mahameru (Meru) which was moved from India to Java where the Gods resided, as was told in Kitab Tantu Pangelaran. It broke free from the original story of Samudra Manthana from India.

So to me, the concept of 'Gunungan' stayed and evolved even after the shift from Javanese indigenous beliefs to Hindu-Buddhism. Mount Penanggungan resembles the concept of Indian Mahameru where the mountain is surrounded by smaller mountains in eight cardinal and ordinal directions. It's the concept of Nawadewata of eight gods in each direction with Siwa in its center.

The end of Majapahit era was riddled with turbulence and unrests. Around 1500s, Demak, the first Islamic kingdom in Nusantara successfully toppled Majapahit. As a result, Kadewaguruan intellectuals fled to Blambangan and eventually Bali. Then, cultural acculturation occurred between Javanese Hindu and Balinese culture. The union was so strong that it formed a new religion, which Balinese people know as Tirta religion and then finally called Hindu Dharma. Meanwhile, Islam's influence back in Java assimilated with the original Javanese indigenous beliefs creating Islamic Java culture as we know today.

I definitely have heard of the saying before.. Curiga manjing warangka, warangka manjing curiga

Is it fair for me to say that the pepatah is more from the Islamic Java perspective rather than Hindu Java? I want to say that it's coming from Javanese wisdom and philosophy of manunggaling kawulo Gusti or perhaps a concept of leader and his people?

I would like to reiterate of your sentiment, that I take the difference in perspective as enrichment. There is no wrong and right way in seeing this. Afterall, Keris is full of symbolisms. There are many ways of interpreting it.
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Old 20th March 2022, 11:14 PM   #20
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SJ, there are many perspectives, many understandings to much in this world.

History & societal progression are two fields that seem to be more rich than most in the ways in which interpretations & beliefs can vary.

The ways in which the people of a society provide ready access to the ideas upon which a society stands are usually expressed in forms that are characteristic of the society itself. In the case of Javanese society we have a synthesis of indigenous beliefs overlaid with Hindu-Buddhist beliefs, overlaid by Islam, and in the modern era overlaid again by the values of the developed world.

Frankly, I am reluctant to attempt to dismantle the elements of Javanese society in any attempt to categorise one element as attributable to a single influence. We need to bear in mind that when we consider entities that progress as a thread through time, that to form an opinion on any one part of that thread we must first identify the window in time that we are looking through.

In simple terms:- time alters perspective.
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Old 21st March 2022, 12:15 AM   #21
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SJ, there are many perspectives, many understandings to much in this world.

History & societal progression are two fields that seem to be more rich than most in the ways in which interpretations & beliefs can vary.

The ways in which the people of a society provide ready access to the ideas upon which a society stands are usually expressed in forms that are characteristic of the society itself. In the case of Javanese society we have a synthesis of indigenous beliefs overlaid with Hindu-Buddhist beliefs, overlaid by Islam, and in the modern era overlaid again by the values of the developed world.

Frankly, I am reluctant to attempt to dismantle the elements of Javanese society in any attempt to categorise one element as attributable to a single influence. We need to bear in mind that when we consider entities that progress as a thread through time, that to form an opinion on any one part of that thread we must first identify the window in time that we are looking through.

In simple terms:- time alters perspective.
..and such is life, absolutely. Thank you as always for your insight.
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Old 21st March 2022, 02:23 PM   #22
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~cringe~ ~shudder~
Honestly, I really do not think so. Some things are simply not cricket, old boy; and some things are simply not done. Certain things are so far beyond the pale of decency that to even raise the question...

Quote:
I would never even consider applying the insult of resin dress to any keris.

But as long as nobody else ever saw it, as long as it was kept in a singep, in a locked drawer, in a locked cabinet, in a locked room, I guess it might provide a suitable storage facility.
It might do, hypothetically speaking, as a storage facility...of sorts...but there's still the matter of the indignity inflicted upon the keris...

I've read about fibreglass warangka a few years ago. I've seen photos of cardboard kotak. I also have a singep here beside me, made of some sort of synthetic fabric with a "pseudo-batik" pattern incorporating the logo of some football club with the initials "ACM", the red cross on a white field of England, and the year 1899... If anybody ever gussied me up in such a getup, even on a "casual Friday"...

Just because a thing exists, it doesn't mean it ought to, nor that it's appropriate to use said thing for the purpose it's artificer intended.

M. t. F.

Last edited by Mickey the Finn; 21st March 2022 at 02:32 PM. Reason: Attempted improvement of syntax.
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