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Old 29th June 2018, 11:35 AM   #1
Paul B.
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Default Keris Solo for identification

Here is a recent purchase of a keris from Solo.
The blade is strikingly wide with fine Pedaringan Kebak pamor and interesting pamor at ganja sides.
This could be a Tuban blade from Pajajaran era?
Gandar iras dress (it may look pretty young but it isn't) Cendana kayu?
Anybody interested to chime in?
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Old 29th June 2018, 04:12 PM   #2
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I like the blade. It's sturdy and shows character.

If possible, post a photo of the top of the gonjo (like shown on the below illustration). Tuban blades have a very specific style of gonjo, so such a photo could help in identifying if the blade has a Tuban style (which is not to say it would originate from the Tuban era).
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Old 29th June 2018, 06:18 PM   #3
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Here is a pic and it looks quite the same to me.
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Old 29th June 2018, 07:40 PM   #4
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Paul, I'm afraid you've read too much into the illustration I provided. The illustration I added was only to show from what angle to take the photo, it does not show a Tuban gonjo.

As your photo is taken from an angle, it is difficult to see, but from what I can glance I'd say the gonjo is not Tuban.

In this thread you can read more about what a Tuban gonjo looks like.
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Old 29th June 2018, 08:05 PM   #5
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Maybe it isn't the original ganja.
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Old 29th June 2018, 09:21 PM   #6
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Based upon what I believe I can see in the photos, the gonjo might be a replacement, I cannot tell from the photo, and the blade classification is moving towards Tuban, but I would hesitate to give it as Tuban.

However, this brings us back to a continual problem with the Tangguh system of classification:- if it is not Tuban, what is it?

Is it in fact classifiable at all?

Well, I think it probably is classifiable but I'd need it in my hand to give any opinion, and that opinion would be based upon a balance of the indicators.

But is it Tuban Pajajaran?

No, sorry we cannot go there. As with just about all tangguhs, there are definite indicators that you can home in on as soon as you look at a blade, and then you try to confirm or discard those indicators by putting the other indicators on one side or the other of the balance.

In Tuban Pajajaran the lower gonjo tail below the buntut urang,that is, the area where we would look for a tungkakan if there was one, declines as it joins the wadidang. On Paul's keris the gonjo is straight, thus it cannot be classified as Tuban Pajajaran.

There are multiple other indicators that would need to be assessed in the hand, but that single "tungkakan" indicator disallows Tuban Pajajaran.

If we classify a blade as Tuban-Pajajaran, that does not necessarily mean that it originated in the Pajajaran era. The Pajajaran era ended in 1579.

The pamor at the gonjo sides is simply a random pamor that has had its appearance altered by forging to elongate the pattern, the wrongko is probably Cendana Jawa, that is unscented sandalwood.The jejeran is less than good,as also is the mendak, in fact these two items spoil the entire ensemble, which is actually pretty nice.
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Old 29th June 2018, 09:34 PM   #7
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Thanks Alan for your insight and I have replaced both mendak and handle as I fully agree these are 'disturbing' elements.
The ivory handle has an integrated selut that is a decoratively carved bases. Quite unusual.
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Old 29th June 2018, 10:27 PM   #8
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Very nice Paul, very nice indeed, but if you have one, I'd change that very nice ivory hilt for a dark wood hilt, possibly a yudowinatan?

It is deemed to be good taste to have a hilt that is darker than the wrongko.

Really as it is now it looks wonderful, its just that the darker hilt is more in line with conformity.
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Old 30th June 2018, 12:13 AM   #9
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This begs the question Alan.
What would this ivory jejeran be suitable with?
Or is it just bling?
The carving looks to be exceptional.
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Old 30th June 2018, 03:10 AM   #10
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Rick, I'm talking top level kraton taste. The elite in the Surakarta Kraton tend towards restraint. Its a case of "less is more". Rolls Royce type class, where you do it rather plain but top quality X 200%.

One of the established standards for top class dress combination is that the hilt should be at least a little bit darker than the atasan of the wrongko. Yeah, at night-time functions you'll see the diamond seluts come out, and sometimes diamonds on the pendok. But plain high quality is more or less the benchmark of good taste.

So just where does a brand new, dead white ivory jejeran belong? Frankly, I cannot see it in a kraton setting. Maybe in a non-kraton setting, plenty of opportunity there I guess. I've got several planar hilts in ivory, only one is new and white, that is mated to a wrongko that is also dead white.

This wrongko of Paul's is a real classic, nice old mamas pendok, its a terusan, or iras gandar, should this sort of wrongko be mated to new ivory hilt that has been made as a display piece? I think not. I'd like to see it with a good, old tayuman yudowinatan.

There is no doubt that this keris looks nice as it is, but it is a classic, in my opinion it would look better presented as a classic. In a kraton setting I cannot imagine who might be able to wear it the way it is.
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Old 1st July 2018, 02:10 PM   #11
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So 'white always meets white'? Is that what you're saying Alan?
I am aware of the 'unwrtitten' rule that a handle should look darker than the scabbard. So it just means that ivory handles are only applicable as in the underneath pic?

BTW> Why are ivory Solo ukiran much more scarse than the Djogja ones from the same material?
Any clue why there is a kind of kendit in the scabbard depicted below? It is not a scratch.
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Old 1st July 2018, 09:14 PM   #12
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I don't know about the "always" thing Paul, all I know in this respect is what I've seen, and I can never recall seeing ivory dress actually being worn. I'm inclined to think that at least in Solo it could be more a display thing than something that has a place in the dress code.

Ladrangs are used for formal occasions. Ivory should not be exposed to sunlight. Gayams are for non-formal occasions. One really tries to avoid wearing a gayaman when one should be wearing a ladrangan. Just where does a complete ivory gayaman fit in? Just hypothesising now, but maybe at a wayang performance, or a public dance performance, but these days most people choose to wear Levis and batik, rather than Javanese dress.

But then keris are worn all over Jawa, I guess anything goes once you move to Jakarta or Surabaya. Jakarta in particular is not really regarded as a part of Jawa, of course it is not, but I have known a lot of people in Solo who have seemed to regard Jakarta as beyond the Pale, just as in 17th century Ireland only the Pale fell under English authority, and the area beyond the Pale was thought of as uncivilised, barbaric, so these Solo people regard Jakarta as almost a different country, not civilised at all. So, once outside the influence of a kraton, things change.

Why more ivory in Jogja than Solo? Keris in Jogja have become an industry, Jogja itself is easy for outsiders to penetrate, Solo on the other hand is very reserved, secretive, you do not get accepted to the "inside" very easily in Solo, but in Jogja its pretty much a matter of what you are worth. Keris craftsmen in Solo are people who are spread out all over the place and they work alone, in Jogja there can be a community of keris craftsmen. Jogja has higher production, lower standards. If ivory sells, ivory will be produced on the hope of speculative sale. Doesn't work like that in Solo.

The "kendit" is possibly because the carving needed to go close to the skin of the ivory.
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Old 2nd July 2018, 05:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
One of the established standards for top class dress combination is that the hilt should be at least a little bit darker than the atasan of the wrongko.


Hi Alan, do you happen to know if the same is customary in Yogya as well?
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Old 2nd July 2018, 07:07 PM   #14
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I was looking up something in Jensen's Krisdisk just now, and happened to stumble across the below pic. If the ensemble is entirely authentic, it seems to suggest that in Yogyakarta it may not have been a custom to have a jejeran be of a darker colour than that of the wrongko.
Of course, this is a sample of only 1, so we really can't extrapolate with any certainty from only this photo.
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Old 2nd July 2018, 09:13 PM   #15
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Sorry Bjorn, I do not know the standards that apply amongst the Jogja elites.
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Old 3rd July 2018, 07:33 PM   #16
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No worries, Alan.

I had actually noticed that Solo keris often have an ukiran that is darker than the wrongko, but I didn't know this was a custom or informal rule.

In future, I'll be more conscious of the colour combinations when looking at Yogya keris.
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Old 4th July 2018, 09:27 AM   #17
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On the topic of ivory dress, I happened to come across the below ensemble in a book I was browsing through.
According to the caption it was a gift from Hamengkubuwono VIII to Queen Wilhelmina in 1923.

No doubt this piece was meant for display only, as there would have been absolutely no occasion for this keris to be worn in any setting.
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Old 4th July 2018, 11:53 AM   #18
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What we are looking at here Bjorn has not the smallest thing to do with the keris as an item of dress.

Javanese people, commoners as well as kings, were and are in the habit of gifting a keris to a person with whom they desire to form a strong bond. The gift of a keris forms that bond and encapsulates the binding power of the Naga Basuki (Vasuki).

I guess that Queen Wilhelmina might not have been aware of the implications from a Javanese point of view when she accepted the gift.
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Old 4th July 2018, 05:23 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjorn
On the topic of ivory dress, I happened to come across the below ensemble in a book I was browsing through.
According to the caption it was a gift from Hamengkubuwono VIII to Queen Wilhelmina in 1923.

No doubt this piece was meant for display only, as there would have been absolutely no occasion for this keris to be worn in any setting.


The pendok is reversed? What a shame for a royal kris!

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Old 4th July 2018, 07:18 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
The pendok is reversed?

Yes
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Old 5th July 2018, 07:32 PM   #21
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Alan, I very much doubt that any of the Dutch sovereigns who were gifted a keris had any real understanding of either the keris or Javanese culture.

Jean and Marco, the above seems to apply to the caretakers of the keris as well!
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Old 17th July 2018, 07:53 PM   #22
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Hello all,

Would the below be considered to be a type of Tuban gonjo?
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Old 17th July 2018, 09:15 PM   #23
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"--- a type of ---"?

yes, very probably.
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Old 18th July 2018, 06:50 AM   #24
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I actually only just realized I have a blade that may well have a type of Tuban gonjo, and I deliberately wrote "a type of" as there seem to be numerous sub-classifications, and I don't believe I'm aware of all of them.

Tuban-Pajajaran and Tuban-Mataram are the two I've seen bandied about.
I don't think my blade qualifies as either as the gonjo is straight and the blumbangan is not Mataram.
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Old 21st July 2018, 04:52 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
If we classify a blade as Tuban-Pajajaran, that does not necessarily mean that it originated in the Pajajaran era. The Pajajaran era ended in 1579.


So what's in a name?

Alan you once mentioned that your teacher Empu Suparman (alm.) would believe without doubt that something classified as Tangguh Pajajaran was made within the borders of that kingdom, during the era it existed.
On the other hand, Empu Pauzan (alm.) thought the opposite, or at least that tangguh wasn't "real".

Like you, I would disagree with neither of them, but I think Empu Suparman's belief here is something I might have to run with and use as a benchmark for the sake of this question. So then what does it mean to classify something as Tuban-Pajajaran? Does it mean: a tuban style blade that, in the beliefs of some, was made during the time of Pajajaran and within the kingdom?
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Old 21st July 2018, 06:56 AM   #26
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Where tangguh is concerned Jaga, the name can mean a whole variety of things,and some of those things are according to the belief of an individual.
Pajajaran might mean Pajajaran era, it might Pajajaran geographic location , it might mean Pajajaran style, it might mean all three, or it mean none of these.

That's why some people might say:- "tangguh nggak sungguh'

However, if we use a systematic approach we can very often classify a keris blade according to the weight of its indicators, having arrived at the classification what it actually means is perhaps open to question, but one thing is certain:- a Blade classifiable as Majapahit is worth more than a blade classifiable as Tuban-Majapahit, and a blade classifiable as Koripan will cost less than a blade classifiable as Mataram, Sultan Agung --- even though both these blades are very similar to one another. Here I have given only two examples, but the tangguh classification of a blade is very definitely tied to its market value.

So, tangguh can be very real, or it can be very unreal. Depends on perspective.

When it does become extremely unreal is when we believe that without doubt tangguh Majapahit means that the blade was undoubtedly made during the Majapahit era.

Where it becomes very real is where we believe that tangguh Surakarta was made during the Surakarta era. Why? because Surakarta style could not possibly have existed prior to the Surakarta era, and even though many want us to call current era keris "Kemardikan", Tangguh Kemardikan was never a classification in the old tangguh system, and in fact Kraton Surakarta still exists, so we are still in the Surakarta era.


But in the real world whatever tangguh something might happen to be, it means nothing, or close to nothing to virtually all collectors who are not a part of Javanese society. To appreciate the relevance of a particular era or name, or word or idea we need to have an understanding of these eras, words, names, and ideas as that relevance is understood in the particular society.

To an outsider it is just curiosity, to a member of the relevant society it is a part of his cultural heritage, to dealer it is plain old hard, cold cash.

Perception:- what you see from where you stand.
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:46 AM   #27
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Makes sense, thanks Alan.
What is it then that makes a keris that is tangguh Majapahit worth more than Tuban-Majapahit?
I understand the answer might be due to the belief placed in the meanings, inferences and values behind the tangguh system, but to continue the "what's in a name?" angle, can a possible meaning of Tuban-Majapahit in this context be "a Majapahit-style blade from Tuban", or "a Tuban-style blade from the Majapahit era" , or am I way off?
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