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Old 3rd May 2020, 02:42 PM   #1
Mickey the Finn
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Default Re: Posting photographs; "Keris Ligan".

A most interesting re-visitation of the Balinese "keris ligan" topic. Once I shake off my sluggardly stupor and get my inventory organized, I'll photograph and post pics of the one (or two) I'm currently the caretaker/custodian of. One I believe is from Bali or Lombok. The other is more definitely Javanese, and may not quite fit the criteria. Actually, both have a warangka, but... When I get around to photographing and posting the pics... But then, I recall that Mr. Maisey, for good reason, doesn't post photos of his keris… I myself have never posted naked pictures of myself anywhere online, at any time, for that matter. Now that I think about it, let me posit a question to the moderators and to anyone else who would like to "weigh in": is it "okay" to post photos of a keris I currently "own", which were taken by a third party prior to my acquisition of the keris, when such photos were taken for the consideration of prospective "buyers" of the keris?
I understand that there are multiple ways in which this question could be understood. I'm not so much concerned with the legalities of copyright (I've not asked permission of the photographer, but I certainly would do, prior to posting any third party photographs) as I am with the traditional, moral, and ethical aspects. My former fiancée once gave me a portfolio of photographs of herself, taken many years before we had ever met. I never showed a single one of them to anyone, and never posted any online. She took them back after breaking off our engagement, along with her engagement ring; all of this is unquestionably within the bounds of propriety and common practice in the "western world". If I were to consider the matter from a jurisprudential perspective, I'd say that as long as permission from the original third-party photographer of the keris had been granted, posting the photos would be "okay". The traditional, moral, and ethical perspective in "the home of the keris" is what I'm more interested in. It's 07:32 05-03-2020, and I haven't slept yet; I've spent several hours in trying to word this post as precisely as I can, but I've not been able to attain the degree of precision I would like. I hope the readers will understand the gist of the sort of feedback I'm soliciting.
Thank you.
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Old 3rd May 2020, 05:35 PM   #2
David
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Well, it's not a bad question Mickey. I would say however the reality, in this situation, the only issue to be at all concerned about would indeed be the copyright issue. A keris you own is not the same as a fiancé you have broken off an engagement with. It is your property now, so showing images of that keris if you choose to do so should not be a matter of ethics or morals. The photograph, however, may be considered the property of the person who took it. I would say that in most cases there would probably be no issue since the photograph was probably taken as a tool to sell the keris and the sell could probably not care any less what you do with it at this point. But it would indeed be good practice to check with them first. I speak these words not without any experience in these matters as i am, myself, a professional photographer so i am stating a professional option here, for whatever that is worth.
In a reverse scenario, where you have photographs YOU have taken of a keris that you have since sold and wish to show those images in a public forum, that might be more of an ethical question, but not really a legal one. The photographs are legally yours and a keris is not considered a "person" under most legal systems i am aware of, but it would probably be a good courtesy to ask the new owner of that keris if it was alright to publish those images since that person might now consider that keris their own private matter. Kind of like your wife's old boyfriend posting naked photos of her that he took on the internet, but not quite, since again a keris is not a person by law. But it would be good manners to ask first.
But to answer what the "traditional, moral, and ethical perspective in 'the home of the keris'" actually is, that is probably a more complicated question. Times have certainly changed. A lot. And i suppose we would need to examine that from the perspective of both time periods and geographic location to give any specific answers here. I would say that at one time it would probably have been unheard of, or at least considered extremely gauche, for someone to be very public with showing off their keris blade, let alone publishing photographs of it on an international public venue such as the internet provides. In a cultural sense the keris is a personal object of power, representative of not only the owner himself, but if keris pusaka, his entire kinship group. The dress is meant to be viewed in public, but not the blade itself. I would suspect that in days past you would only show your keris blade to people that you were very close and comfortable with. But i am speaking about the keris as it served as a cultural icon, not as a collectable. In the keris collecting world we have all types of people form all different cultures who view and interact with this object in very different ways. This is even true of collectors who are themselves a part of the Javanese or over all Indonesian cultures. For some it is a collection of deep spiritual significance, for others it is just a collection of art objects or a way to collect wealth. For some it is all of these things simultaneously. We live in a modernized world and many people in Indonesia have either by want or circumstance become rather Westernized, for better or for worse. So there are indeed many Javanese collectors who don't think twice about showing off parts or even all of their collections in online forums. But there are still people within those cultures who would find this inappropriate.
What you note about Alan's practice is a decision to take to heart the old school approach to the keris, so if Alan isn't selling a keris in his collection he does not show the blades. This is a practice that i expect was instilled into him through his apprenticeships and contact with people in high-level traditional Javanese society.
To a certain extent i have also embraced this idea of the privacy of one's keris blades, though not to the great extent that Alan has. I have many keris where i have freely shown images of the blade, but i do maintain a private sector of my collection that i am only wiling to show to people i know well. I must say that i don't particularly see any need for or make any judgements about people living outside of the world of keris cultures who show their blades freely. As a Western collector there is no reason why i should feel these blades should be kept private for any cultural or spiritual reasons. Still, sorry to say, but there are keris in my collection you will probably never see posted in this forum. That said, what others do is their own business.
Of course all this does indeed make discussing the keris and our collections difficult at best. Many collectors such as myself don't live in regions where they have keris clubs or other opportunities to view keris in person. We rely on people who are willing to show parts of their collections so that we can approach any meaningful discussion about these blades. Image what it would be like to have a keris forum were no one was willing to show their keris blades. Though photos on a computer screen are certainly not the best way to view a keris it certainly beats a complete blackout of images. So i am grateful to all of those willing to share their collections so openly even if do still withhold a portion of mine.
I do still find it odd when i do see an Javanese person post photos of keris that they say is their family pusaka. I have found that in recent years the concept and meaning of the word "pusaka" seems to be changing somewhat, or at least widening, but i tend to hold onto an old school interpretation of that word. But again, it is a new age and old traditions seem to be fading away. Many collectors from outside the culture that i encounter these days seem to believe that they can own someone's pusaka. The very word "pusaka" has become a selling point in many keris sales, a keyword to spark and encourage interest in the keris for sale. While i do see that someone's keris pusaka can indeed be sold, i am afraid that i do not understand how someone else's pusaka can then become their own. A part of their collections, yes, but still maintain it's status as pusaka? That confuses me. But i do think that maybe i have become a little sidetracked and am now off the general topic you intended for this thread.
These are, of course, just my opinions. Others may think differently on these questions. Your mileage may vary.

Last edited by David : 4th May 2020 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 4th May 2020, 09:13 PM   #3
A. G. Maisey
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Mickey, my approach to not displaying photographs of the keris in my possession is purely and simply a personal choice that I have taken because I do not like the idea of people whom I do not know, and who have never exchanged a personal word with me looking at images of things in my possession that they cannot possibly have any understanding of, nor respect for.

Even if people visit me and ask to see my "keris collection", what they actually get to see and handle are keris that I intend to offer for sale in the not too far distant future. People I know well and whom I know to have a degree of understanding and respect are treated differently.

I guess only you, yourself, can provide the correct answer to your own question. It comes down to your personal feelings.

If you do not feel even the smallest bit uncomfortable about exhibiting photos of these keris, then why hesitate to do so? You have no personal connection to them, they are not a part of you, why hesitate to let others see images of them?

On the other hand, if you have even the slightest doubts about the wisdom of giving everybody in the entire world access to images of things that are in your possession, you might sleep better if you do not open the doors of your security room.
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Old 6th May 2020, 04:58 AM   #4
Rafngard
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Thank you (paljon kiitoksia, suomeksi) to Mickey for asking this question. And many thanks also to David and Alan for their thoughtful, salient responses.

You've all explicated a number of things I've struggled to put into words for some time.

Thanks,
Leif
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Old 6th May 2020, 05:14 AM   #5
Anthony G.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey the Finn
A most interesting re-visitation of the Balinese "keris ligan" topic. Once I shake off my sluggardly stupor and get my inventory organized, I'll photograph and post pics of the one (or two) I'm currently the caretaker/custodian of. One I believe is from Bali or Lombok. The other is more definitely Javanese, and may not quite fit the criteria. Actually, both have a warangka, but... When I get around to photographing and posting the pics... But then, I recall that Mr. Maisey, for good reason, doesn't post photos of his keris… I myself have never posted naked pictures of myself anywhere online, at any time, for that matter. Now that I think about it, let me posit a question to the moderators and to anyone else who would like to "weigh in": is it "okay" to post photos of a keris I currently "own", which were taken by a third party prior to my acquisition of the keris, when such photos were taken for the consideration of prospective "buyers" of the keris?
I understand that there are multiple ways in which this question could be understood. I'm not so much concerned with the legalities of copyright (I've not asked permission of the photographer, but I certainly would do, prior to posting any third party photographs) as I am with the traditional, moral, and ethical aspects. My former fiancée once gave me a portfolio of photographs of herself, taken many years before we had ever met. I never showed a single one of them to anyone, and never posted any online. She took them back after breaking off our engagement, along with her engagement ring; all of this is unquestionably within the bounds of propriety and common practice in the "western world". If I were to consider the matter from a jurisprudential perspective, I'd say that as long as permission from the original third-party photographer of the keris had been granted, posting the photos would be "okay". The traditional, moral, and ethical perspective in "the home of the keris" is what I'm more interested in. It's 07:32 05-03-2020, and I haven't slept yet; I've spent several hours in trying to word this post as precisely as I can, but I've not been able to attain the degree of precision I would like. I hope the readers will understand the gist of the sort of feedback I'm soliciting.
Thank you.



I was told that many keris owners especially from SEAsia do not want to share their bilah full photo.

Reason: concern that the other keris makers might copy the design and thus causing the keris bilah to lose it's 'uniqueness' especially if the keris is newly made.

Another factor is due to spiritual reason.
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Old 24th May 2020, 11:17 AM   #6
Mickey the Finn
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My thanks to those who have provided feedback.
After I'd submitted my post, it occurred to me that my question regarding the posting of photos was actually a sort of "fishing for a loophole".
My reasoning was: if the guy I acquired the keris from photographed the wilah while he was the owner of the keris, and prior to my acquisition of it, the photos he took would be photographs of the wilah of his keris. Because the photos he took were taken before the keris became my keris, if I were to post any of the photos he took (contingent upon gaining his permission to do so first, of course), I would be posting photos of his keris (because the photos were taken by him while he was the owner of the keris, in spite of the fact that I subsequently became the owner of said keris, which remains in a condition essentially identical to that seen in his photos).
Mr Maisey has hit upon a point which is very pertinent. Messrs Anthony G and David have both hit upon that which I was primarily concerned with in my original post: the spiritual reasons.
From a strictly jurisprudential perspective, there's no issue with my posting photos of the wilah which I've taken myself. There's no issue with posting photos of the wilah taken by a third party if that third party has granted me permission to do so.
But we're discussing keris here, not a 1958 Plymouth Fury. For myself, some particular firearms, cutting or stabbing weapons, edged tools, and keris are not just commodities; some particular ones are akin to relics. A keris may not be considered a "person", (nor a valid representative, proxy, second, or 副) by any currently recognized legal system, but this does not mean that a "personage" is not inhabiting/ indwelling/ attached to/ associated with a particular article, such as a keris, and it does not mean that that such a personage is not "familiar" (in it's many nuances of meaning) with the person who currently holds the title deed to said keris, as well as those who have done so previously.
Just because times have changed, it doesn't mean that the way things were done years ago isn't the way things ought to be done now, and it doesn't mean that what was believed years ago ought not to be believed still.
Mr. Maisey: Less than a handful of people where I work know that I collect "Indonesian weapons" (for lack of a more precise and less political term). I've told most of them that my collection is housed in a certain heated storage facility miles from my residence. There is no truth whatsoever to the tale I've told them; it's a deliberate "red herring". I told that lie to lessen the likelihood that anyone they then go on to share that information with will then burglarize my residence in an effort to steal my antiques. Seekor anjing besar, kucing hitam semi-liar, dan dua bintara (pembunuh terlatih pemerintah, tanpa merentangkan kebenaran; satu suka, dan yang lainnya hanya berdarah dingin dan berpikiran bisnis) biasanya hadir di kediaman, untuk meningkatkan ketenangan pikiran saya.
I've read (and what I've read may not be true) that it's not unheard of to substitute a ganja tanpa pamor
to hide/disguise the pamor of the wilah proper, or to use kinatah emas on the original ganja to the same effect.
Again, this post may not have attained the degree of precision I would have liked, but at 04:17, it's the best I'm willing to attempt before I get some sleep.
With my respect,
Mickey
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Old 25th May 2020, 11:30 AM   #7
Green
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Interesting topic regarding whether one should or shouldn't show photos of their keris. Coming from keris bearing culture myself (Kelantan , Malaysia) and having been interacting with many keris collectors , makers and sellers in Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Indonesia for several years now all I can say is there is neither right or wrong either way. I've met people like Mr Alan Maisey and also many other serious collectors that are more than happy to display their collections in exhibitions and photographs taken by everybody.

And there is nothing about esotoric or mystical aspects that keris should not be photographed and be seen by non owners, at least as far as in the Muslim area of keris culture (All except Bali).
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Old 25th May 2020, 12:35 PM   #8
A. G. Maisey
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Well Green, it is a different world now to the one I learnt in, and the men who taught me learnt in a different world again.

In my experience the collectors and keris authorities of today have very different standards to ones that I was taught were correct and respectful. The study and understanding of the keris at the present time bears only a passing similarity to what it was in Central Jawa 50 or 60 years ago.

But still, you are right about this:- whether or not one observes the common courtesies of a time now past is totally up to the person concerned, there is more than one way to understand the keris, and the understandings of yesterday do indeed bear very little resemblance to the the understandings of today. The path one wishes to follow is entirely one's own choice.
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