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Old 5th September 2022, 09:50 PM   #1
Ganapati
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Default Keris w Koranic writing on it

I just bought this keris from England and was told it is a significant keris

Please tell me your thoughts thank you
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Old 6th September 2022, 12:08 AM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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I cannot give any opinion upon the "significance" of this keris. "Significant" is not an objective concept, it depends upon factors that are either difficult or impossible to assess.

However I can to a limited degree comment upon the keris, only limited, because it is extremely difficult to appraise any keris from even the very best photos.

Blade:- I have no idea of the age of this blade, the pamor has been well managed, it does appear to have some erosion, the blumbangan is boto adeg (upright/standing brick). My guess would be 19th century, but having said that I have seen very recent blades that present the same & similar indicators. Although it has some indicators that might place it in Jawa, based upon what I believe I can see in the photos, I am virtually certain that this is a keris blade from Madura.

Pendok:- the material will probably test as mamas, it is a Madura topengan style, dates from between +/- 1880 to +/- 1930. I would expect to see a lidhah of cloth or metal or turtle shell covering the exposed gandar. Bare wood is OK when the wood is worthy of being exposed, but the wood in this gandar is not meant for display.

Gambar:- the gambar/atasan of the wrongko is a Central Javanese style, probably intended as Solo, but it looks very much like Madura work, probably from Sumenep area. Sumenep has an Arab Quarter and a lot of committed Muslims live in Sumenep, most are involved in the furniture trade, most of the products produced are exported to the Middle East, China & to Jakarta.
The carvers working in this industry in Sumenep are capable of very fine work.I believe that close examination would confirm that this wrongko atasan is of recent manufacture, and very probably replaced the original atasan. This "Koranic Text" style is not uncommon in Madura, East Jawa and the North Coast, and since about the 1990's it seems to have increased in popularity amongst Muslim people. One thing is certain, it is not a style that can be considered as traditional Javanese/Madurese in origin and its popularity has increased with the rise of Islam.
This type of wrongko is popular with some Muslim people, but it is rarely taken outside the house, to wear such a keris in public would be seen as a bit too extreme in both Jawa & Madura. Such keris dress would almost certainly never be worn by either a traditional Madurese or Javanese man.
Is the material used in this hilt kerbau (water buffalo) horn?

Hilt:- I'm assuming that this hilt is not ivory, but probably denatured antler or bone, it probably dates from the 19th century, it is unlikely to be original to this keris --- this is no big deal, keris dress is frequently changed --- however, it is regrettable that it no longer has the selut which would have originally been fitted to it. From what little I can see of the hilt the carving seems to be of fair middle quality, ie, neither particularly good nor particularly bad.

Mendak:- definitely old, probably +/- 1880 to +/-1930. It looks like a pretty decent sort of mendak, it is Madura, but it is very definitely out of place when mated with this hilt, it is far too big, this mating is laughable at best and it indicates that whoever put this keris together did not understand the applicable standards. It has probably been put together by a dealer based in Jakarta, only my guess, but it is an informed guess.

Overall, its not a bad keris, many collectors would find something like this quite desirable, it has been let down in its presentation by minor inadequacies --- the slorok, the mendak, the missing selut --- but for inclusion in a collection, I doubt that most Western World collectors would be too concerned.

But significant?

If it is significant to its custodian it is significant, its that simple.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 6th September 2022 at 12:37 AM.
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Old 6th September 2022, 03:50 PM   #3
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Hello Ganapati
Is the gambar materia bufalo horn or wood?
If it's wood , has the gambar a stong sweet smell?
Nice keris
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Old 7th September 2022, 04:14 AM   #4
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Its ivory from what I can tell will post more pics
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Old 7th September 2022, 02:19 PM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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The gambar is the top section of the scabbard, in this case the part with script upon it.

The hilt certainly does look like ivory, but if this keris was imported into another country from England it cannot possibly be ivory.

If indeed it is ivory, perhaps the moderators might consider the implications?
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Old 7th September 2022, 10:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
The hilt certainly does look like ivory, but if this keris was imported into another country from England it cannot possibly be ivory.
It looks like the hilt could be ivory to me as well, but we will know more when Ganapati posts some close-ups of it. I would not say that is impossible if that is the case. Rather i would say it is damn lucky you received it. It does seem old enough to qualify for antique ivory, but from the sounds of it there was no certification involved here so technically U.S. Customs would seize this if discovered.
Regarding all the rest i am pretty much in agreement with Alan. I am not sure what the seller might have been trying to imply with the suggestion that this was a "significant" keris. With a better fitted mendak, and perhaps a cloth to fill the opening in the pendok this is keris would certainly be a decent collection addition. It seems to be a decent blade in well made dress. The hilt, especially if ivory, is a fairly nice one, though i think it might look better turned 180. I do hope though that you didn't have to pay extra for the "significant" factor.
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Old 7th September 2022, 10:31 PM   #7
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David, it is not just the seizure factor, there are very heavy penalties involved for both the sender & receiver of ivory that has been sent without the proper documentation. And where seizure occurs it involves the entire item that incorporates the ivory, not just the ivory.

I've been watching this ivory insanity since it began, now many years ago, I have seen reports of extreme penalties being enforced, particularly in the USA, and I know of two instances of heavy penalties that involved friends of mine.

This Forum is based in the USA, to my mind there could be some unfortunate implications if an open admission of illegal import by a member were to be noticed by the wrong people.

But I'm probably being over cautious, I believe that if Ganapati checks this hilt again it will turn out to be bone or denatured deer antler.
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Old 8th September 2022, 01:54 PM   #8
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Hi folks. Well I have deleted the posts that displayed what I consider EXTREMELY rude and unnecessary remarks directed at a particular forum member here as well as the follow up remarks referencing the outburst. Obviously we have a zero tolerance policy for remarks of this nature.
Just a reminder to the membership, when incidents like this happen it is best to simply report the post (thanks Kai) than to respond to the violator as that only risks further outbursts..
Alan, I do understand your concerns about illegal ivory completely and know that your comments of caution were intended to protect the OP, not attack him.
Since the OP has left our ranks and there is not much else to be said about this keris that serves the community I will lock this thread and we can all move on. Thanks!

Last edited by David; 8th September 2022 at 02:11 PM.
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