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Old 23rd September 2016, 08:33 PM   #1
NotoriousCal
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Default Meteorite iron?

Hello group, Is it common to find a keris made from meteorite or have some in the blade?
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Old 23rd September 2016, 11:35 PM   #2
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Cal, while i don't want you to get the idea that this will always be the answer, but you will literally find pages upon pages of previous discussion on the subject of meteoric keris blades in our archives. I would recommend that you place "Meteorite Keris" in our search engine and have fun with the long read ahead.
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Old 24th September 2016, 01:10 AM   #3
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The definitive reference for an answer to this question is a paper by Bennet Bronson that was published in "Historical Metallurgy", Vol. 21, No.1, 1987. The paper is "Terrestrial and Meteoritic Nickel in the Indonesian Kris".

Very briefly, if the keris is not a very high class Central Javanese keris made between about 1800 and 1930 it is extremely unlikely to contain meteoritic material.

I think Mpu Djeno made a keris containing meteoritic material, Pande Keris Yantono and I made two during the 1990's, I think a couple more have been made since 2000.

Keris containing meteorite are very scarce and extremely expensive.
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Old 24th September 2016, 01:47 AM   #4
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Thank you both for your reply. I would think that a keris would be more expensive having meteorite. I definitely would want one if I could find one.
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Old 24th September 2016, 08:25 AM   #5
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Hello Alan,
You are killing the dreams of many collectors!
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Old 24th September 2016, 12:16 PM   #6
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Jean, love is only real when it recognises deficiencies and accepts them.
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Old 24th September 2016, 01:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I think Mpu Djeno made a keris containing meteoritic material...


This is consistent with my informations.
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Old 24th September 2016, 01:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Hello Alan,
You are killing the dreams of many collectors!


And the business of many ebay sellers!
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Old 24th September 2016, 03:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Jean, love is only real when it recognises deficiencies and accepts them.

So true...though i am not sure that i recognize the lack of meteoric material in any particular keris as a deficiency.
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Old 24th September 2016, 07:32 PM   #10
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In a physical sense, of course it is not, David, but in the sense of an additional attribute, most especially for Jean's dreamers, and for salesmen, it may be a severe deficiency.
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Old 28th September 2016, 07:48 AM   #11
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Hello Alan,
Sorry if this subject was raised earlier in the forum but some members of the Solo kris circles claim that meteorite iron was used for making pamor blades besides the Prambanan meteore. From memory they identify it from the prickly touch, look, and "resonance" for those able to feel it.
These 2 blades are examples of what they identify as made from meteoric pamor, what do you think?
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Old 28th September 2016, 08:59 AM   #12
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Yes, it is a widely held belief that pamor made from meteorite does have a very slightly prickly feel to it. The two blades that I have been involved in making that definitely contain meteorite do have a very faint prickly feel. Another blade that I have which is attributable to Jayasukadgo also has a very faint prickly feel. Jayasukadgo was a Surakarta empu during the era when Surakarta empus did sometimes use meteoritic material.

However --- over the years I have handled other blades that have very little possibility of containing meteorite, and these have also had a very slight prickly feel.

"Resonance" ?

Yeah, right. For those who believe.

The "look" of the blade?

Here is a pic of a blade that very definitely has pamor made from meteorite.

Does it have some sort of distinctive look that jumps out at you and screams "METEOR!!!" ?

Jean, I've been exposed to these beliefs for a very long time. If somebody believes that he can identify meteor by look, touch, feel, or because it whispers to him when he's asleep, who am I to argue with him?

In my experience the claim that a blade contains meteoritic material begins with the way it looks:- if it has pamor material that is a little bit out of the ordinary and cannot be easily identified, then this is a sign that it is probably meteor --- for those who believe.

Then the "testing" begins, the feeling of the blade with eyes turned skywards or slightly closed, the deep concentration, the announcement that it feels slightly prickly.

Somebody else who is present will feel the blade and confirm the prickly feel --- would they dare not to? This is Jawa don't forget. Avoid conflict and disagreement at all times.

Then the edge of the blade will be flicked with a fingernail and it doesn't matter what sound it makes, this will be a sure sign that it is meteoritic pamor.

It must be very clearly understood that virtually all keris knowledge as it is today is in fact a belief system, or a network of belief systems. This knowledge is based in societal and cultural beliefs and mores and has very little to do with reality.

If we are to understand the keris, we must understand these beliefs and when the occasion calls for it we must not challenge these beliefs --- apart from being a waste of time this would also be impolite.

But the acceptance of the belief, when this is called for, need not divert us from reality. We just don't speak of reality when belief is the order of the day.

Belief (and good manners):-
if a Javanese gentleman assures you that a particular blade is made from meteoritic material, accept his assertion, declare that it feels prickly and compliment him on his prize possession.

Reality:-
which meteors were used to produce the blades that contain meteoritic material?
where is the record in the old literature of meteor falls?
where, prior to the late 18th century, is there mention or inference in the literature that keris contained meteoritic material?

No answers?

Totally unimportant. Belief and reality never were very comfortable bed-fellows.
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Old 28th September 2016, 10:33 AM   #13
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Thank you Alan for your informative and wise reply!
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Old 28th September 2016, 07:14 PM   #14
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Aside from the good explanation of Alain, i can only add a little comment.

The meteoritic iron of the Prambanan meteorite was very expensive. Dr. Groneman mentions 10 guilders N.I. for about 30 grams.
Further he mentions that it was difficult to obtain and it took the empu Karja di Krama a long time to get it.

Karja di Krama forged the kris for Dr. Groneman for an amount of 40 guilders N.I.

According to Dr. Groneman an everage of about 200 grams pamor material was added to a kris. In the case this should have been all meteoritic iron there should be for about 60 guilders meteoritic iron in a kris of 40 guilders.

So to my opinion, apart from the fact that it is very rare that meteoritic iron was used, the amount of meteoritic iron in an old kris is very small.
It was folded in a piece of other pamor material before welding it in the blade.

So, i think, it will be very difficult too, to feel a difference on the surface of the blade, caused by the meteoritic iron.

I hope there will be a kris in the future where it is proved by analyzing, that meteoritic iron is present. Then, if the blade is still in good condition, we might be able to feel differences in material caused by the meteoritic iron and describe them.
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Old 28th September 2016, 09:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seerp Visser
I hope there will be a kris in the future where it is proved by analyzing, that meteoritic iron is present. Then, if the blade is still in good condition, we might be able to feel differences in material caused by the meteoritic iron and describe them.

But Seerp, we already have numerous examples of keris that we know actually have meteorite in them as Alan has pointed out. That is because they were made at times when this process was fully recorded. The prickly feel that some describe can also be felt on pamor that very likely does NOT contain meteorite so having such keris to go by seems not to be a very good standard to make a positive judgement.
BTW, you can gone to this site and calculate the value of a guilder in, say, 1900 (or any date). http://www.iisg.nl/hpw/calculate.php
It seems that in 1900 the cost of a single gram of Prambanan meteorite was around $50 if Groneman's records are correct. That seems a bit high by today's standards.
The cost to make the keris is close to $600 by today's value which many would say is quite low for empu level workmanship on a keris.

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Old 29th September 2016, 02:00 PM   #16
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The way in which meteoritic material was used by Javanese smiths was that a number of small pebbles (pieces) of the material were placed into a piece of iron that was folded over into an envelope, this envelope was then welded, forged out, welded again a number of times until the meteoritic material was incorporated into the iron. This process was no different to the way in which any pamor material was used, and it remains the same today.

The typical Javanese forge uses charcoal, sometimes the forge is just a shallow depression in the ground --- I have seen Balinese smiths using this type of forge also --- the blower was an ububan :- lengths of bambu with plungers like big feather dusters. Whether the forge was a depression in the ground, or whether it was raised higher on bricks or stones, the actual fire-bed was bowl shaped, quite shallow and was side blown.

In a forge of this design it is virtually impossible to weld any type of pamor material, meteoritic or otherwise, into a homogeneous piece of material that can then be welded with iron to provide the pamor for a blade, the difficulty is that it is not possible to take a weld on a number of uncontrolled pieces of material floating around in the fire. This difficulty is overcome by using the envelope approach.

In modern times commercial nickel or some other factory produced contrasting material is used, and we only need to deal with a single piece of regularly shaped material.

The picture above of the keris that pande keris Yantono made, using meteoritic material that I welded uses pamor that was made with meteoritic material that had been combined into a small billet thus the billet of meteoritic material could be incorporated into the iron in exactly the same way as if it had been commercial nickel.

I welded meteoritic material used in the keris above, in a gas forge, not in charcoal, not in coke. I welded a number of billets of meteoritic material, all of which were made with a number of small pieces of Arizona meteor. Small pieces, because at that time--- about 1990--- it was incredibly difficult to buy large pieces of meteor, and even the small pieces were very expensive.

I did initially attempt to weld meteoritic material in a coke forge, and I did have limited success, but it was a very wasteful process, and very, very difficult. I never used the Javanese envelope method with meteoritic material.

Using a gas forge for welding is about as difficult as making a chocolate cake --- in fact I'd say that making a decent chocolate cake is quite a bit more difficult than taking a weld in a gas forge.

The same is not true of coke, nor of charcoal.

I am quite certain of the way in which Javanese smiths welded pamor. Apart from having seen it done, and I myself having tested this method, I have a copy of a smith's textbook that was compiled under the aegis of the Karaton Surakarta, and this is the method shown in that text book.

So when we speak of "meteorite pamor", we are not talking about the entire bulk of pamor material being from a meteor. We are talking about the contrast in the pamor being provided by meteoritic material that has been welded with iron. We do not need very much meteor.

In respect of using analysis to prove that a keris has been made from meteor.

Beginning in about 1988 and continuing until the time of his passing, I cooperated with Prof. Jerzy Piaskowski of Poland in the metallurgical examination of Javanese keris. Prof. Piaskowski wrote several papers detailing the results of his examinations.

According to the information provided to me by Prof. Piaskowski, it is not possible to identify material of meteoritic origin once that material has been removed from the meteor and put through forging processes. This was the case 20 years ago, I do not know if this situation has now changed.

In about 1983 Haryono Arumbinang Msc, of Yogyakarta, carried out a series of examinations of keris in the Yogya Atom Laboratory. He examined a number of keris dating from early periods, and he discovered that some of these keris contained titanium.

This discovery was seized upon by the Javanese keris community as proof that Javanese smiths in ancient times were able to successfully weld titanium into the pamor of a keris, and that the titanium itself was proof that the pamor was made from meteoritic material.

In fact, titanium is very widely distributed on earth, the difficulty with titanium is not its rarity, but with its extraction from the other materials that carry it. There was no need for the titanium to come from meteors:- it was already right here on earth, and all around us.

But even today you will still hear some Javanese keris authorities maintaining that the presence of titanium in keris is proof that those keris contain meteoritic material.

Belief is a wonderful thing.
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Old 30th September 2016, 06:06 PM   #17
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I am not a metalurgist, but I think the titanium that Bpk Arumbinang detected came from some ilmenite (FeTiO3) that are probably present in the ore that were used for the keris. I am not sure if that is possible, but ilmenite does contain iron.
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Old 30th September 2016, 07:11 PM   #18
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Alain,
The kris you showed has a beautiful pamor. Since i am a blacksmith i am very interested to know how to make this pamor.
In fact since some time i am looking for the secrets behind the pamor Bulu Ajam too. For me a very special and beautiful pamor.
Here in the Netherlands and Belgium (where i live) we know the feather damast, but the pamor of our Indonesian brothers impresses me very much. Are you willing to inform me about the way to forge this?
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Old 2nd October 2016, 09:30 PM   #19
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Seerp, this pamor is made by surface manipulation, essentially it is the same process that is used making the Middle Eastern ladder patterns. Udan mas, bonang, banyu tetes, all these pamors are just simple surface manipulation.

Bulu ayam is an East Jawa name for ron duru. The legend with ron duru is that an empu made it once during his lifetime, and then he died.

I'd sooner not be responsible for your death Seerp.

But seriously, when I was taught how to make ron duru I was cautioned that this knowledge was sufficient for me alone. I am prohibited from telling you how to complete the entire process. What I can tell you, and this is common knowledge, is that it is made by stacking, splitting and rewelding.

I suggest that you get hold of the books of Jim Hrisoulis, from memory I think you need "The Master Bladesmith". You should be able to work out how to do it by analysing the information you will find there.

Working with plasticine can help a lot in working out how to make various pamor patterns.
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Old 3rd October 2016, 07:21 PM   #20
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Thank you Alain to be so worried about my health.
But in my case it will be different. I am 73 years old, so i want to forge the bulu ayam before i die.
The stacking and splitting is the difficult way. I thought there was a brilliant way to make the pamor easier.
I have the books of Jim Hrisoulas and will study them again.
Thanks again
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Old 4th October 2016, 06:12 AM   #21
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Sorry Seerp, I do not know any easy way.

If you already know the split and stack method, and can preserve the motif in a full length blade, you're already equal with any pattern welder whom I know.
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