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Old 10th March 2022, 09:22 PM   #1
SanibelSwassa
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Question Garuda Kris

I thought it might be interesting to revisit the Garuda Kris topic and open the floor to origins, providence and symbolism for the forum members. I recently acquired a third Garuda Kris from England. It was collected by a British Naval officer in the 1920ís while aboard a Royal Navy Hydrographical Survey Ship in the British North Borneo region.
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Old 11th March 2022, 06:08 PM   #2
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Garuda? I'm familiar with garuda kukris. Interesting.---bbjw
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Old 11th March 2022, 06:29 PM   #3
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Quote:
I recently acquired a third Garuda Kris from England. It was collected by a British Naval officer in the 1920’s while aboard a Royal Navy Hydrographical Survey Ship in the British North Borneo region.
Wow, you have been busy - congrats on acquiring these neat pieces, especially the 2 old ones!

Dimensions and a close-up of the sosoran area (base of the blade) taken from exactly above would be great though!

I might stipulate that the link to Garuda is far from established! It seems likely that this type of pommels originates from successively abstracted figural keris hilts (Java, Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, brought to bangksa Moro possibly via coastal Malay communities from Borneo); their exact symbolism is also not convincingly established yet. An originally protective function as well as a root in ancestor worship can be assumed though.

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Kai
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Old 12th March 2022, 12:54 AM   #4
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SanibelSwassa,

Thanks for posting these interesting examples. Of the older two, the shorter one with scabbard looks to be Maranao in origin and is of the typical "archaic" form. I would place the longer one as a little later, perhaps early 19th C, and appears to be Sulu.

The largest and most recent one is probably Maguindanao in origin from the late 19th C.

An excellent trio of this uncommon hilt form spanning more than a century of kris development across different Moro groups.

Last edited by Ian; 12th March 2022 at 10:38 AM. Reason: Incorrectly attributed third one as Maranao instead of Maguindanao
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Old 12th March 2022, 08:29 AM   #5
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Will work on getting a few pics as requested.

Working theory:

Blades from left to right: Maranao (left); Sulu (double fuller with twist core) (middle); Malay (double fuller with twist core) (right)

The weight of the Malay blade(much lighter) and the corse grain of the steel are significantly different from the other two blade. Also the silver wrapping style of the Left most kris’ hilt is a style seen in Malay kris.

With that said input or theories are definitely welcome and appreciated.

A discussion around the Garuda and symbolism is also welcome. The two archaic kris hilt style, carving and form start to give some basis for comparison. If there are other forum members with examples of this style of hilt form I would also encourage posting those for us to all compare and contrast.

SS
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Old 12th March 2022, 10:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanibelSwassa View Post
... Working theory:

Blades from left to right: Maranao (left); Sulu (double fuller with twist core) (middle); Malay (double fuller with twist core) (right)
...
SS
I agree that the one on the right may well be Malay in origin. However, the elephant trunk area does closely resemble the Maranao style, and the raised bands on the hilt are also found on Maranao pieces. In my earlier comment, I misidentified the largest one on the left as Maranao--it more closely resembles Maguindanao work in the elephant trunk area (per Robert Cato).
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Old 13th March 2022, 05:02 AM   #7
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SS, amazing collection. I really like that 3 siko example with the octagonal (?), ferrule.
Hereís one that I have but really doesnít compare to yours.
This one is really small with a brass or some copper alloyed blade. The hilt has a carving of a ďTree of LifeĒ.
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Old 13th March 2022, 06:51 AM   #8
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Wow!! Thank you for sharing the example from your collection. The carving on the hilt is very interesting. There is definitely serious symbolism in this hilt style.

Iím including another example I found in Europe but that isnít for sale. It also has similar characteristics. Both of the archaic kris have very nice twist cores. Have you checked yours?
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Old 13th March 2022, 06:58 AM   #9
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Here are some additional pics of the two archaics.
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Old 13th March 2022, 05:05 PM   #10
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Hello SS,

Quote:
Both of the archaic kris have very nice twist cores. Have you checked yours?
Albert's blade is made from a copper alloy - so no pattern welding to be expected.

It also seems to be quite a bit younger, possibly with a recycled hilt/pommel. From the design, the hilt might well be from a similar period as your younger example that you got from Charles.

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Kai
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Old 13th March 2022, 05:09 PM   #11
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Hello Ian,

Quote:
In my earlier comment, I misidentified the largest one on the left as Maranao--it more closely resembles Maguindanao work in the elephant trunk area (per Robert Cato).
Thanks for your clarification - I was already wondering whether you had mixed things up...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 13th March 2022, 07:14 PM   #12
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Just getting old, kai. I intended to write Maguindanao originally, but it came out Maranao. Brain and fingers not in sync.
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Old 13th March 2022, 11:37 PM   #13
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Can someone explain to me how or why this hilt form has become associated with Garuda. I'm having a hard time seeing it.
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Old 14th March 2022, 12:59 AM   #14
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Hello David,

As mentioned, this is believed to have evolved from the stylised figural hilts.

I believe the notion got stuck from old western keris literature speculating on a possible relationship of these "bird-like" hilts and Garuda. Among a bunch of problems with this assumption, this is missing the obvious problem that Garuda is not especially favoured by shivaistic followers/rites/symbolism...

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Kai
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Old 14th March 2022, 01:38 AM   #15
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Kai, I've noted this mention of "copper alloy".

I do not understand what is meant by this.

With modern technology, yes, we can alloy ferric material with copper.

We can alloy copper with other materials too, but none of these alloys could serve adequately as the blade of a combat weapon.

Even the copper/ferric alloys are not really suitable for weapon use.

I do not know of the use of copper in traditional smithing technology, not in Maritime SE Asia, and in fact, not anywhere in the world.

Are you able to clarify exactly this term "copper alloy" ?
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Old 14th March 2022, 02:44 AM   #16
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I think Alan that Albert is referring to the entire blade being of some copper alloy like bronze or brass - basically a ceremonial and I doubt made for battle. Might explain the small size of the blade and the fact that the front of the ganga is missing the animal form (ie. stylized eagle or elephant).

Please correct me if I am wrong Albert. Otherwise, I'm with Alan on this then.
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Old 14th March 2022, 11:13 PM   #17
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Jose, to answer your question, Yes, copper + tin or copper + zinc alloys.
Iím really not sure what the blade composition is other than having copper content. Nothing mentioned about being a battle blade.
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Old 14th March 2022, 11:20 PM   #18
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As I understand it, copper and brass blades are for ritual and supernatural uses. Protection against "witches and demons".
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Old 15th March 2022, 01:45 AM   #19
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For a discussion point of reference Iíll post two pictures of archaic kris that might help in the orientation of perspective for this hilt form. From there maybe we can delve into other symbolic references and how their origins might point in the direction of Garuda. Of course other possible interpretations for discussion would be seriously appreciated.
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Old 15th March 2022, 01:47 AM   #20
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Obviously we are focusing on the pummel at this point.
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Old 15th March 2022, 02:47 AM   #21
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Hereís another pommel of similar form. I donít have a current photo of the whole sword.
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Old 15th March 2022, 05:55 AM   #22
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KinoÖ thank you!! Look for as many examples I can find to try to correlate characteristics, symbolisms and potential origin. And and all comments and thoughts are very welcome.
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Old 15th March 2022, 05:48 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanibelSwassa View Post
For a discussion point of reference Iíll post two pictures of archaic kris that might help in the orientation of perspective for this hilt form. From there maybe we can delve into other symbolic references and how their origins might point in the direction of Garuda. Of course other possible interpretations for discussion would be seriously appreciated.
While i realize that the image of Garuda has an impact all across S.E.A. i do have to wonder why an Islamic culture would place enough importance upon it to consider it's symbolism appropriate for use in this manner. I don't see much left in this abstracted form to be able to definitely identify it as a bird form, but it very well could be. But why Garuda? The Moro, more specifically the Maranao people, have a long history with the mythical bird Sarimanok for instance. Why are we fixated on Garuda as a symbol for an Islamic weapon?
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Old 15th March 2022, 07:30 PM   #24
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Another one, simple and in wood: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...highlight=kris
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Old 16th March 2022, 04:44 AM   #25
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I donít know that Iíd call this a fixation but rather a hypothesis. We have a Kris form that significantly deviates from all other Moro forms. I am suggesting that one possible reason for the divergence is that the form is dislocated from the traditions which bind other Kris making groups within the region. My working hypothesis is that the makers of this form are not the traditional Islamic Moro smiths with which we are accustomed. The pattern of the hilt form is significant and distinct from the other forms to a degree to which conjecture as to origin, symbolism and form change are IMHO questions we should be open to exploring.

As for the bird formÖ I would ask you to look again at the two archaic hilts I last posted and look first for the similarities, which I find to be very compelling. Once those are identified then questioning the dissimilarity and the possible reasons for them could help us determine different directions for discussion as to origin, etc. It is for this reason Iíve asked forum member to assist in locating any other reference pieces for this discussion.

Theories on other symbolic forms that could be the genesis for these deviations are definitely open for discussion and ideas in that vain will be appreciated. I would however point to the fact that the Garuda figure as far as cultural timetable relevance throughout SEA is very significant and all kris forms likely have some influence from exposure to these earliest of documented empires that encompassed these areas. However, Buddhist, Islam and then Christian empires definitely overlaid this same region. Also given that what I will refer to as ďNativeĒ mythology certainly existed and was likely significantly influenced by each of these successive empires over time.

My question as a starting point for this discuss is to dive into the possible answers, not to prove the one I think potentially viable.

With that said here is another pic I found in the forum that is interesting. I believe Ron may have owned this kris.
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Old 6th May 2022, 07:29 PM   #26
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Hi, my kris also has an indomalay hilt which Rafngard referred to as Jawa Demam. Like you, I'm also trying to research its history in the Bangsamoro timeline. I like how it fits in my hand.
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Old 7th May 2022, 06:23 AM   #27
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What a fabulous Kris! So far my research is pointing toward the Northern Coast of Borneo and I am still skeptical as to the Jawa Demam origin for this Kris style. The Hindu and Buddhist influences among the peoples of this area are well documented and date back to the 4th century. My working hypothesis is that the symbolisms and form that date back to these earlier societal beliefs stayed as a part of the culture and mythology and are the bases for the form we see in these more rare Kris. With that said the mythological, Sarimanok is definitely another potential source for this form, but given the area I am finding as the origin for these Kris I am not seeing that as likely. I think discussion on these points iare important. hopefully it leads us closer to understanding the group of smiths from which these blades come.

As a side note it appears there was significant trade in kris blades of high quality between Moro and Malay peoples and that Moro Kris blades became status symbols throughout the sultanate.
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Old 7th May 2022, 04:42 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanibelSwassa View Post
What a fabulous Kris! So far my research is pointing toward the Northern Coast of Borneo and I am still skeptical as to the Jawa Demam origin for this Kris style. The Hindu and Buddhist influences among the peoples of this area are well documented and date back to the 4th century. My working hypothesis is that the symbolisms and form that date back to these earlier societal beliefs stayed as a part of the culture and mythology and are the bases for the form we see in these more rare Kris. With that said the mythological, Sarimanok is definitely another potential source for this form, but given the area I am finding as the origin for these Kris I am not seeing that as likely. I think discussion on these points iare important. hopefully it leads us closer to understanding the group of smiths from which these blades come.

As a side note it appears there was significant trade in kris blades of high quality between Moro and Malay peoples and that Moro Kris blades became status symbols throughout the sultanate.
Thanks for sharing your research!

I'm not well-versed in Mindanao and Sulu art, but I can see traces of Moro patterns in our odd hilts. Also, to note- I read that jawa demam has a certain ambiguity when it comes to what's depicted on the pommel- sometimes it's indeed viewed of as garuda; but it can also be viewed as a crouched man carrying a snake. This is interestingly parallel to the prevailing symbols in Mindanao and Sulu- Mindanao, for its sarimanok, and Sulu, for its naga.
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Old 9th May 2022, 08:49 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xasterix View Post
Thanks for sharing your research!

I'm not well-versed in Mindanao and Sulu art, but I can see traces of Moro patterns in our odd hilts. Also, to note- I read that jawa demam has a certain ambiguity when it comes to what's depicted on the pommel- sometimes it's indeed viewed of as garuda; but it can also be viewed as a crouched man carrying a snake. This is interestingly parallel to the prevailing symbols in Mindanao and Sulu- Mindanao, for its sarimanok, and Sulu, for its naga.
I must admit that i have never heard Jawa Demam described as a "crouched man carrying a snake". The generally accepted theory is that the name, which basically means "Feverish Javanese" comes from an abstract figure that appears to be a man bent forward (nor crouching) with his arm wrapped across his belly as if in physical distress. Ergo "feverish". This is not to say that was the original intent of the form. I suppose it is possible it was originally intended as a bird form, but i suspect that many of these long-nosed or "beaked" figures more likely were derived from various long nosed wayang characters rather than birds.
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Old 9th May 2022, 10:38 PM   #30
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I agree with David on all points. And especially regarding the term "bird" hilt, I don't see a bird in the hilts which get described as bird hilt.
Kerner distinguished two basis positions by figural hilts, the squatting figure with crossed arms and the squatting figure with the left arm resting on the knee and the right arm around the knee. See the picture for the first one from his booklet "Keris-Griffe Aus Museen und Privatsammlungen", page 42.
And this is also the figure in question, at least I see here a similar figure Kerner shows in the middle row.
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