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Old 18th January 2022, 08:48 PM   #1
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Default New kris book: "Keris Pasundan - Malacak jejak"

As advised in the Keris Swap Forum a few weeks ago, I purchased and read this new book and give my general comments hereafter:
. The book is written in Bahasa Indonesia and a partial translation into English would have been welcome...
. The printing quality of the book is good, however some pics using a black background are too dark and the details are hardly visible.
. The book describes the krisses from the Sundanese (West Java) province, including the old Hindu kingdoms of Sunda and Galuh (ending in 1297), the Sunda/ Pajajaran kingdom (1297 - 1579), and the subsequent Banten and Cirebon Islamic Sultanates.
. As advised by the authors, the documentation available regarding the old krisses from West Java is very scarce, and the book is mostly based on recent documents such as the Cerat Cariyosipun Para Empu ing Tanah Jawi (1919), Serat Paniti Kadga (1929), and Cerat Centhini (1823, during the reign of PB V in Surakarta).
. The krisses shown in the book belong to some museums such as Museum Geusan ulun (Sumedang), and some specialized collectors.
. The text describes in detail the history of the region and some aspects of the krisses such as the various types of iron, but after my first reading I still feel confused about the identification & classification of the Sundanese krisses because of the book structure and my difficulty in translation....
I will give more detailed comments about the krisses shown in the book in a separate post.
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Last edited by Jean; 18th January 2022 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 18th January 2022, 10:03 PM   #2
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More detailed comments about the keris classification and specimens shown in the book:
. The classification includes the krisses from the old kingdoms of Galuh/ Segaluh & Sunda (8th-13th century), the later Hindu period of Sunda/ Pajajaran (14th-16th century), and the Banten & Cirebon sultanates (from 17th century). Because of the large variation of the periods, geographic areas, and origin of the collection of these krisses, there is a great diversity among the krisses shown creating some confusion for the book reader.
. The book does not use the usual Javanese terminology for dapur, pamor, and ricikan according to the Sundanese tradition.
. There are some descriptions of the features of the Sundanese krisses especially on page 82 of the book summarized as follows: "The blade has a thin shape, leaning to the front side, the front side of the ganja is long and its tip is rounded, the pejetan is shallow, very few blades have a groove to the tip, the waves of the wavy blades are shallow, etc...".
The Segaluh blades are correctly described with a protruding gandik but some specimens are not very representative.

However many krisses shown in the book have different features than described above, for instance:
. Many blades show a primitive naga (or pair of nagas) or other animal (tiger, frog..) carved on the gandik, and a pair of pudak sategal on the sor-soran.
. Some wavy blades have very deep luk, similar to the one shown on the attached pic.
. Some Sundanese blades are not thin and others seem very influenced by the blades from Central or East Java.
. I expected to see some specimens of the strong wavy blades supposedly imported from Banten to Europe during the 17th century but there are none. However there is one specimen of keris corok with a big blade.
. The estimated age of some krisses appears unrealistic (too old).
. Many hilts attached to the krisses originate from Central or East Java.

In conclusion and in spite of my comments (partly due to the language barrier) the authors did their best to produce this book based on relatively scarce documents and collections, and they should be thanked very much for their effort.
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Last edited by Jean; 19th January 2022 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 19th January 2022, 10:00 AM   #3
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I hope that our respected Sundanese member Amuk has read the book and will provide his authorized and honest comments.
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Old 20th January 2022, 01:25 PM   #4
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For those of you interested by the Sundanese krisses and who can fully understand Bahasa Indonesia, I attach the records of the late Chief Empu Wirasoekadga from Surakarta PB X period and related to the features of the krisses from tangguh Pajajaran (I failed to translate them). Of course these records originate from a traditional expert from Surakarta, not a Sundanese one.
It should be noticed that the empus mentioned in these records are somewhat different from those listed in the Cerat Centhini and shown in the Keris Pasundan book.
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Old 20th January 2022, 07:30 PM   #5
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Many thanks Jean
I will try to have one copy even if, cause covid, shipping from Indonesia now are very expensive.
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Old 20th January 2022, 10:02 PM   #6
A. G. Maisey
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Jean, working from the notes you have presented, I can understand your frustrations.

The original notes would have been handwritten in Honocoroko, Jawi, from that they would have been transcribed to Roman text, that Romanised Jawi was then translated to Bahasa Indonesia. Many opportunities for misspellings and incorrect translations and misunderstandings.

Apart from that, Mpu Wirasukadgo would have obtained his understanding from verbal transmission, which would have been a generally accepted version at that time.

Then you have the fact that these notes refer to various specific makers, rather than to overall tells relating to a classification.

Something you might not realise is that in Jawa, especially in Kraton society, a person does not have the same name at birth that he has when he goes into the grave. Each time a situation in his life changes, so does his name. He gets a rise in rank, his name changes, he hits a patch of bad luck, his name changes, he goes to live in a different location, his name changes.

Even when he does not change his name himself, other people will change it for him, he might be known to his neighbours as Pak Wasijo, but to his business associates as Pak Wakijo.

Mpu Pauzan Pusposukadgo was just Pak Fauzan for many years, then he began become well known, so he became Mpu Pauzan Pusposukadgo, AKA Pak Pus, and he , himself, never used "Mpu/Empu". Mpu Suparman had a number of different names, in fact every Javanese person I know has had several different names, and sometimes more than only one name/identity at the same time.

This applies not only to Javanese people, Chinese people too, in Jawa will have several names.

Some of the names of empus in the notes you have shown do align with Pangeran Wijil's babad, others do not, still others, like Keleng for example were known by one name in one place, and a different name somewhere else, in Pjjrn Keleng was Keleng, in Madura he was Kasa(Koso), in other places he was Kekep, and he travelled around from Blambangan to Pjjrn and places in between.

If you think you have much chance of making sense of all these old notes that have been through half a dozen transcriptions and twice as many translations, think again.

To have any chance of coming to terms with this stuff we need to go back to the original text, get a competent transcription into Romanised text, get that Roman text translated into Bahasa Indonesia, and then be able to read it in BI and check it against the original.

It is a long process. It is what I did with Pangeran Wijil's babad. You need at least competent double checks at every stage, even then, some of the ideas are not really all that easy to put into either BI or into English.

But having done all that you then need to ask if you are looking at fact as you & I understand fact, or if you are looking at the individual belief of somebody, or if you are looking at something that the original author's Lord wanted to see.
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