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Old 9th July 2017, 02:54 PM   #1
Athanase
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Default Strange Mendak on Yogyakarta Keris

Hello

Here is one of my new Kriss (My First with a Yogyakarta hilt).
The blade measures 37cm long (9.5cm wide for the Gonjo).
Unfortunately there is no scabbard.

The brass mendak/selut? is of very unusual shape and with very poor finishes.
This is very strange as it looks old, but its quality is worse than the blade and handle.
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Old 9th July 2017, 04:12 PM   #2
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Nice keris but the mendak (selut) is wrong.... better to change it
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Old 9th July 2017, 05:10 PM   #3
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I agree. I frankly couldn't tell you what this is for, but i don't think it is at all correct for this keris.
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Old 9th July 2017, 05:34 PM   #4
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This mendak is very badly proportioned for this Keris, but since it seemed a bit old I preferred to ask before changing.
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Old 9th July 2017, 06:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athanase
This mendak is very badly proportioned for this Keris, but since it seemed a bit old I preferred to ask before changing.

I'd say even worse than the problem of proportion is that it does not seem to be culturally Javanese. I am not sure what area of keris culture it actually originates from, but i don't think it is Javanese.
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Old 11th July 2017, 05:04 PM   #6
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Looks a bit like a small brass drawwer handle that has been trimmed down and had a few decorations bashed into it.
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Old 16th July 2017, 04:53 PM   #7
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Hello,
After 2 days of effort (1 to remove the handle and the "selut" securely attached by mastic and "resin"? and 1 to re-drill the handle partially obstructed by glue / resin). Here is the Keris with a more correct mendak.
It's an old copper mendak with traces of silver plating. I had a brand new silver-plated mendak but the diameter of the Pesi was too wide....
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Old 16th July 2017, 06:01 PM   #8
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Personally, I find the parijoto copper mendak to look very pleasing on the ensemble.
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Old 16th July 2017, 10:12 PM   #9
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Old 16th July 2017, 10:43 PM   #10
A. G. Maisey
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Looks good.
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Old 17th July 2017, 04:01 AM   #11
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Yes, it definitely looks better now. The pamor is more striking in this new photo. I like this keris.
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Old 17th July 2017, 08:16 AM   #12
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It does look much better.

Something I am noticing: the 13 waves are very well executed, in the sense that they are strongly curving. I don't recall that I have read anything yet about strongly curving versus weakly curving luks. Or I might just have missed it...

Are there any norms about the extent of the curvatures? Or might we just simply need to say the empu was very expert in executing the waves?

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Old 17th July 2017, 08:40 AM   #13
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Thank you everyone for your comment.
For the strong curves I can't comment because it is the only one of my Kriss with a blade like this one.
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Old 17th July 2017, 08:46 AM   #14
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The form of a wave (luk) is dependent upon the classification of the keris:- long, slow waves point towards one classification, short, deep waves point towards a different classification.

I've used the word "classification" as a substitute for "tangguh", it doesn't mean "tangguh", but it is a more objective way of thinking about a blade.

See:-

http://www.kerisattosanaji.com/keristangguh.html
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Old 17th July 2017, 01:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan van Zyl
I don't recall that I have read anything yet about strongly curving versus weakly curving luks. Or I might just have missed it...

As Alan has pointed out, this is dependent upon the classification of the keris and while i would agree that this keris is well executed i would personally avoid using the terms "strong vs. weak" to describe this feature since that seems to imply a "good/bad" aspect to the feature being assessed. I might suggest "deep vs. shallow" or something like that since i would not say that deep luks are "better" than shallow luks or that the maker's skills are necessarily any better on this keris because of the deep luks than the skills of a smith who has created a shallow luk keris.
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Old 17th July 2017, 08:38 PM   #16
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If our interest has turned towards the level of skill of the person who made this keris, perhaps a detailed examination of the execution of the various characteristics of the keris might be useful.

For example, does anybody have any comments on the sogokan, greneng, kembang kacang?
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Old 17th July 2017, 09:33 PM   #17
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Hi Alan
I will be the fish on the hook here and all my comments are based on what I see in the photos. For me the sogokan is not well executed, the edges are wavy and there is poor symmetry, this is in contrast to the blumbangan. The greneng is not crisp but it is adequate. The kembang kacang is interesting, very elongated and less worn than the work under it, I wonder if it has been reshaped
cheers
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Old 17th July 2017, 10:31 PM   #18
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Well, i believe i would like to see a much clearer and more detailed photos before i would set out to pick apart the garap of this particular blade. Certainly it is not a master work. Simply a nice and serviceable blade that i like the look of.
I am assuming this is not a contemporary blade and there is, no doubt, wear to all the ricikan of this blade, but frankly there is not a single photo presented here that would allow me to make an opinion on the greneng of this blade, worn or not. I do see the unevenness of the sogokan that Dr. D mentions, but again, there is no telling what this blade looked like when it was first produced.
What i will say again is that i like this blade and would gladly add it to my collection. I am much more concerned with the rust i presently see in the sogokan than whether i believe it was crafted by expert hands.

Last edited by David : 19th July 2017 at 04:59 AM.
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Old 18th July 2017, 11:27 AM   #19
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Of course, the terms describing the depth/shallowness of the waves as "strong/weak" was poorly chosen. Yes, the tangguh classification needs to be taken into account. I noticed the relatively deep waves immediately, because the waves of my Bugis Riau keris are relatively shallow in comparison. Thanks, Alan & David.

Like David, I also would gladly add it to my collection!

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Old 18th July 2017, 12:02 PM   #20
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Yes, these fotos are less than adequate to enable a thorough critical assessment, but even though they could be improved, I believe we can see sufficient to permit some valid opinions to be formed. In a way, seeing photos like these does reflect the real life situation of buying in a market in Jawa, the light in the markets is very far from ideal, the pressure from the mass of people one is surrounded by, and from the seller, often forces an opinion when it might be wiser to delay until the available info was a little better.

Taking these things into consideration I do feel that legitimate comment can be made about this blade, and it is an interesting blade to comment on.

The first thing that hits my eye is the very badly shaped sogokan:- the front edge of the sogokan in the grey background foto is appalling.
But was it like this originally?
I do not believe so.

Another incongruous thing with the sogokan is the fact that the poyuhan (the very tip of the sogokan) does not produce a nice neat balanced meeting of the two sides of the sogokan.

If we compare the two sogokans, one on each side of the blade, it seems that the sogokan in the foto on the red background has nice straight edges , so maybe that wavy edge in the grey foto is due to damage, or maybe it is due to a flaw in the material. But even though the edges of the red background sogokan do look better, once again the poyuhan is much less than good.
Is this due to age, or damage, or was it like this from the beginning?

I don't know, and even if the fotos were very much better, I still wouldn't know. I would need the blade in my hand and 3X loupe screwed into my eye.

The only thing I can say with confidence is that right now, these sogokan suck.

If we look at the blumbangan and the gandhik, what we can see is very skilful work. Both these features are very well sculpted, but the kembang kacang is thin and wispy, very much like a Madura kembang kacang, or as DR.D. suggests, a KK that has been heavily eroded and perhaps reshaped. However, there is an irregularity under the KK which might indicate that this KK once had a jenggot. Again no better foto could tell me any more than I can see now, I would need to handle the blade.

But, if the jenggot is missing --- why?

The greneng is a real puzzle. Yes, there is clear evidence of some erosion, but we can see that we are looking at a Mataram rondha. However, there is nothing that resembles a correct kanyut. Even though the greneng has lost form --- if it had good form to begin with --- it still appears to be relatively thick, not thin as is usually the case with an eroded greneng.

In short, the greneng is a mess, as it is, it does not carry any message at all. The gonjo seems to be original, so what I'm thinking now is that maybe some extremely unskilled person took a file to the greneng and tried to improve something that had been eaten by erosion. But if this happened, why is the flow of greneng into wadidang still smooth?

Additionally, if the greneng and the jenggot were subject to erosion, why is the outline of the blumbangan still perfect to the point where it looks like it came off the bench yesterday afternoon? Then we have the gandhik, it looks like HB, and it is very, very nice.

The ada-ada is clean and perfect. No erosion at all to the wadidang. The pamor is lifting away from the core, but the edges of the core show none of the expected fraying that is usual when pamor retreats to this degree.

But the pamor itself is very well handled. Complex, and beautiful. All marks of an extremely competent smith.

So we have a competent smith, but several different levels of competence in the garap, and unexpected levels of erosion overall.

Based upon what I believe I can see in the photos, there are too many inconsistencies in this blade to permit any definite opinion in respect of the maker, or more likely, the makers. Frankly, I do not know if I am looking at an old blade that has been subject to erosion, I do not know if the blade has been re-worked, I do not know if I am looking at a relatively recent blade that has been subjected to processing.

What I do know is that there are more inconsistencies than I can feel comfortable with.
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Old 18th July 2017, 05:27 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athanase
Hello

Here is one of my new Kriss (My First with a Yogyakarta hilt).
The blade measures 37cm long (9.5cm wide for the Gonjo).
Unfortunately there is no scabbard.

The brass mendak/selut? is of very unusual shape and with very poor finishes.
This is very strange as it looks old, but its quality is worse than the blade and handle.


On the top right and below pics with the grey background, it appears clearly that the tikel alis was very poorly carved (added later?) and it has affected the outline of the front sogokan. I am also of the opinion that this blade was modified by somebody much less skilled than the original maker.
Regards
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Old 18th July 2017, 05:57 PM   #22
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Some pictures taken quickly, but it's difficult to take nice pictures because all my windows are north (with a tree in front), and with the photoflash it's too bright and blurry.
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Old 18th July 2017, 06:10 PM   #23
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Well gentlemen, i would not necessarily argue with anything said here, which seems to be quite a bit of i don't know. Alan, you know quite a bit more than most of us on these matters, but i, for the life of me, would never be able to make any definitive statements on the greneng from these photos, even when i attempt to blow them up on my screen. So more power to you. Except that just about everything you do have to say about this keris comes back to the fact that you would still have to handle it personally to really know more, which is pretty much what i said. What we have is a keris that may have had later work done on it by a lesser skilled craftsman for reasons unknown. It certainly isn't the kind of extravagant yet haphazard work done by unscrupulous dealers to raise the salability of a keris by adding all kinds of previously absent features. Seems more to be work done on already present features. Perhaps there was damage that simply needed to be repaired. Maybe it looks better now, maybe it looks worse. We will never know. All i can say is that i would have been quite pleased if my very first keris looked this good in spite of all its inconsistencies. I personally have never been able to afford "perfect".
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Old 18th July 2017, 06:24 PM   #24
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Thanks Athanase, those are definitely better photos which may or may not attract a new round of speculation.
I still see some problems with the sogokan in these new shots of course. I can also certainly see the greneng better in these latest pictures though i will leave any judgement of that to others.
Curious that someone would take the take to make possible adjustments to the kembang kacang, greneng, tikel alis and sogokan and then leave the edge of the blade all raggedy like that. You would think if they were going to do all that other work they would "fix" the edge as well.
I still like this keris despite its blemishes and foibles.
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Old 18th July 2017, 10:39 PM   #25
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Thank you Athanase for these new photographs.

We now have material that in my opinion has turned this thread into perhaps one of the most valuable threads in recent times.

Firstly, let me say this:-

WRONG WRONG WRONG:- MAISEY WAS WRONG

These new photos permit me to form a much better, and much more accurate opinion of the keris. David opined that we needed better photos, I should have listened to him, he's a pro, I'm not. I thought I could see enough to make legitimate comment from the original fotos. I was wrong.

So now I'll start again.

This is definitely an old blade, it has not been altered, added to nor detracted from in any way, however, the level of craftsmanship is somewhat less than good.

My comments in my previous post were incorrect in many respects, and this is one of the things that makes this a valuable thread:- we all need very good photographs to give any idea at all of what we are looking at. I thought I could see sufficient from the original photos : I could not.

In these new pics I can see exactly the degree of erosion that I would expect on an old blade, if we look at the erosion on the blade edges we can see that from the 4th luk to the point the edges are ragged. This tells us that the blade has been hardened from the point to the mid-point of the 4th luk, proof positive of age. Very, very few current era blades are ever hardened, and the form of erosion on this blade indicates natural erosion, not forced erosion.

The sogokan is now much more clear. It is not well done, but it is correctly done, the poyuhan was correctly sculpted, and loss of form can be put down to age.

The tikel alis:- clean, clear well formed, original.

The gandhik is very well sculpted, but at the expense of stealing material from the kembang kacang, which would have been rather slight, even when new.

The greneng is the big surprise to me:- it is correctly cut, the man who cut it knew what he was doing, but his level of knowledge was at pandai level, not mpu level. He has cut correct Mataram rondha, but has cut them poorly, and the complete greneng says less than it should. It was a major error on my part to try to read the greneng from the original pics.

Taking everything into consideration, I am inclined to give this keris as HB (yaitu Hamengkubuwana, atau Yogya).

Overall, it is a nice old keris.

I've learned a good lesson from this, and I hope we have all learned that decent photos can make a world of difference in an opinion.

ATHANASE
Re your photo difficulties.
If you have north facing windows looking out onto trees, and you are in the Northern Hemisphere --- which of course you are --- you are in an ideal situation to take very good keris or other photos.
I'm not a pro, as is David, but I have been taking keris photos for a very long time. I'm in the Southern Hemisphere and my situation is exactly similar to yours:- south facing windows looking out onto trees.
My suggestions to you would be to shoot from a tripod, use remote release, use a neutral backcloth, use bounce boards (three ply faced with aluminium foil) to throw light onto your subject. In processing you will probably always find that the image will improve by removing cyan. Sharpen. Never use a flash. To me, these are the essentials, anything else can be an extra.
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