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Old 24th February 2007, 04:40 AM   #1
Buntel Mayit
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Default The skewness of a keris blade

Dear keris aficionados:

I would like to know whether the skewness (condong, leleh, mayat) of a keris blade determines/refers to particular tangguh. Can it also be used to judge/evaluate/appraise that the blade is fit with pakem? Is there any exact value (in a degree of skewness) that must be obeyed in making a keris blade? Is an Mpu allowed freely to apply the degree of skewness based on his taste?

Just for information, a new keris magazine (PUSAKA KERIS Khasanah Budaya Nusantara) has been released. The first edition was released last week (15 Feb – 16 March edition). The advisor is Mr. Wiwoho Basuki, one of respected keris connoisseurs in Indonesia. It’s a good news for keris community since there are two magazines (along with Pamor Magazine which started earlier) so that the needs of readings about keris can be fulfilled.

Regards.
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Old 24th February 2007, 08:10 AM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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Buntel Mayit, I can possibly answer this question for you to your satisfaction, but before I try to satisfy your query it would assist if you could tell me if you are Javanese or not, because some of what I may say might not make a lot of sense if I were to say it to somebody who did not come from a Javanese cultural background. If you are not Javanese I will try to realign the way in which to answer you to a frame work that can fit into an English language base.
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Old 24th February 2007, 01:42 PM   #3
David
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Hi Alan. While it certainly would be more trouble for you i would encourage you to try to answer this question in both ways if Buntel Mayit is indeed Javanese so that we non-Javanese might also understand your answer.
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Old 24th February 2007, 11:15 PM   #4
A. G. Maisey
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Yeah, I thought about this David. In fact I thought about it for half a day before I even put up the response that I have. I did think for a while it might have been better to say nothing.

I am not sure that if I try to explain this idea of what is ideally intended in the condong leleh ( the forward lean of a blade over the gandik) it would be understood by anybody from a non-Javanese cultural background. The reason for this is that I would be trying to explain a feeling engendered by a particular gesture of respect. It is something that is simply outside the cultural framework that I live in in Australia, which shares a common cultural foundation with the USA,UK, and so on.
Don't worry, I won't use Indonesian or Javanese, I'll use English, but I cannot put the feeling or idea into an English framework.

Most of what Buntel Mayit has has raised can be addressed outright and is not a problem, but the feeling thing is.

Lets wait and see what Buntel Mayit responds to my post.
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Old 26th February 2007, 03:17 AM   #5
Buntel Mayit
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Dear Mr. Maisey:

I am sorry for being late in replying your post. Of course I can inform you that I am an Javanese.
Thank You.

Regards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Buntel Mayit, I can possibly answer this question for you to your satisfaction, but before I try to satisfy your query it would assist if you could tell me if you are Javanese or not, because some of what I may say might not make a lot of sense if I were to say it to somebody who did not come from a Javanese cultural background. If you are not Javanese I will try to realign the way in which to answer you to a frame work that can fit into an English language base.
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Old 26th February 2007, 10:44 PM   #6
A. G. Maisey
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Thank you for your response, Buntyel Mayit.

Please understand that what I shall say about the matters you have raised are not my own invention, the result of my own investigations, nor my own conclusions. What I shall say is what I have been taught, and these remarks reflect a Surakarta perspective, which may not be universal.

Tangguh.

The condhong leleh of a keris blade does not form one of the parameters used to assign tangguh. Indirectly it may be considered as one of the component parts of the pawakan of a keris blade, but by and of itself it is not an indicator of tangguh.

Pakem.

The condhong leleh of a keris blade is not a consideration in the pakem of dapur. Dapur is concerned with the ricikan of a blade, not with the condhong leleh of a blade.

Appraisal or evaluation of a keris blade.

Yes, the condhong leleh of a keris blade does need to be considered in the appraisal of a blade.
A blade maker can exercise his own taste in affixing the offset of a blade, but if he is, or was working to a particular pattern that would fit within a recognised tangguh, then if that blade is to have the correct pawakan for that tangguh then the maker needs to work within the applicable parameters for that tangguh.If he fails to do this, then in appraisal the blade will be marked down because the pawakan is incorrect for the attempted tangguh.

Exact value of blade offset (skewness)

In a Surakarta blade the correct degree of blade offset can be achieved by taking a line which is at right angles to the base line of the blade and extending this line from the centre of the base of the pesi to the point of the blade. In a blade of normal length this line will be between 5 and 6 centimeters from the point. This orientation is carried out after the blak has been drawn onto the calon.This gives the broad guideline, but the actual offset will not be reached until the full form of the blade has been developed. This degree of offset is determined by the maker in accordance with the way in which that maker understands the artistic principles which govern the form of a keris, and requires constant re-evaluation and revision during the carving of the blade.

The objective of the maker should be to create a blade form that generates a feeling of peaceful harmony within the knowledgeable viewer. This feeling can be likened to the feeling that we have when somebody greets us, or pays respect to us by sembah; it can also be likened to the feeling that we may have when we see a man in a formally respectful position with his hands crossed in front of him, and his body slightly bowed forward.The keris maker should be trying to achieve an effect that will bring a feeling of deep peace and harmony into the knowledgeable viewer.

To develop this idea a little:- in the case of either the sembah, or the man in a respectful position, the body will bow forward just a little, if the body bows forward too much the person will look awkward, and may even be considered to be expressing himself in a sarcastic manner. On the other hand, if the body does not bow forward to a sufficient degree the person appears stiff, and the person's attitude might be interpreted as being arrogant, or that in his heart he does not truly have respect.In either of these cases, the feeling of the person to whom the sembah is given, or who is observing, will not be a feeling of peace and harmony. The awkward angle of the body, or the upright angle of the body will generate a feeling of perhaps slight unease, or perhaps distaste, or in some circumstances, perhaps even anger. It is the same with the condhong leleh of the keris blade:- you should not feel unease when you view it, you should feel peace and harmony.

To achieve this feeling is the most difficult single thing in the making of a keris, and it is seldom achieved perfectly. During the making of the blade constant minor adjustments need to be made to angle and proportion in order to try to reach this objective of a blade that creates the desired feeling.Very, very few makers will achieve this objective, and none will consistently achieve it.

I have heard a keris referred to as "a prayer in steel". Taken literally this can appear to be nonsense, but if we look into ourselves and find the peace and harmony that is generated by sincere prayer, then some of us may realise that this feeling can sometimes be generated by the viewing of a keris blade by a person who is able to absorb himself into that keris blade.

To return to pragmatism. A large part of the effect upon the viewer of any keris blade lays in the condhong leleh of that blade. If it is too upright it is stiff; if it is too far forward over the gandik it is awkward. Either of these effects will destroy harmony, and thus destroy the value of the blade as an art work.

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Old 27th February 2007, 06:04 AM   #7
Buntel Mayit
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Dear Mr. Maisey:

Thank you for your insightful explanation.

Regards.
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Old 2nd March 2007, 03:34 AM   #8
rahman
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Thank you Mr Maisey for that very cogent expalanation.

I have long looked for the condong leleh in the keris, and you can get this feel as much in Javanese keris as in Malay/Bugis and Sumatran pieces as well.

Indeed, you can even discern many new keris for their lack of a good condong.

I has wanted to ask if there s a certain degree of incline, but after reading your explanation I understand better the significance. It is a matter of 'roso' (feeling) more than a fixed angle.

I think the condng leleh goes beyond just the incline to the overall flow of the blade. The feeling of 'sembah' is clear to the good blade.

Thanks again for this piece of enlightenment.
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Old 2nd March 2007, 05:55 AM   #9
Alam Shah
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A good question and an excellent answer.

In my short experience with kerises, I've seen blades bent at the pesi (shaft), just below the ganja, to get a good angle / 'feel' (rasa, roso) of the ergonomics of the blade. With the ensemble, doing a few thrust strokes and parry, one feels the balance and better control of the blade's movement

I've seen mostly on straight blades with the hilt firmly attached to the blade. There are occasions where I've seen on wavy blades as well. There are always exceptions.
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