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Old 9th July 2018, 01:31 AM   #1
Green
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Default Is this a tourist trap or a real deal?

I know nothing about this type of keris with 'gold' decoration and most that I saw have been told to be of low quality touristy items.

Yet, I kind of attracted to this particular one. The bling is very understated and the hilt looks like it is made of a good material but what is it?

The pamor also looks fine to my still untrained eyes ( despite a few years looking at keris now).

Would love to know opinions on this keris . It went for a relatively low price on ebay last night... congrats to the winner (not me).
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Old 9th July 2018, 03:07 AM   #2
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Well Green, i don't really know what you mean by tourist trap. This is a modern era art keris that dies seem to have at least some good craft applied. As such it is very collectable if that is within the realm of keris that one chooses to collect. But i don't know of any accepted dhapur that combines both the singo and naga motifs in a single blade so i don't see this keris as having any practical place within the social structure of Javanese keris culture, nor does the dress seem right for anything other than display.
I am not sure what the hilt material is exactly. The spot at the top looks mineralized making me wonder if this is some kind of partly fossilized ivory, but i don't really know.
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Old 9th July 2018, 03:23 AM   #3
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Agree with David. The hanlde is not a good match: a Yoygja model fitted on top of a Solo kris.
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Old 9th July 2018, 03:48 AM   #4
A. G. Maisey
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Yes, the blade is current era, nice quality, and would be totally acceptable as the blade used in a Javanese dress keris used by a person who was not involved in kraton or elite level society activities.

Yes, recognised dhapurs and relevant iconography can have a part in places where these things are understood, but Central Javanese dress is almost a national standard now in Indonesia, so you will find people in Jakarta and Surabaya, and even Bali,wearing a keris as a part of formal dress that does not really relate to Central Javanese kraton standards.

The incorrectly matched hilt is possibly the result of an ill informed dealer attempting to create an attractive and saleable item, but it could equally be the result of somebody who knows no better trying to be a bit blingy.

In any case, it cannot be thought of as one those rather mythical Tourist Keris.
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Old 9th July 2018, 07:28 AM   #5
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Quite a nice kris indeed in spite of the mixing of the elements, from the pics the hilt seems to be made from walrus ivory (typical "marble" appearance inside).
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Old 9th July 2018, 08:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Quite a nice kris indeed in spite of the mixing of the elements, from the pics the hilt seems to be made from walrus ivory (typical "marble" appearance inside).
Regards


While I cannot say anything about the kris itself, the hilt doesn't look marbled like walrus ivory to me. In my oppinion it is plain bone, displaying the usual porous structure.
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Old 9th July 2018, 10:09 AM   #7
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Indeed Marius. While the porous structure is right on top it seems bone to me too. If we could see the bottom part, it would help.
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Old 9th July 2018, 01:21 PM   #8
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One vote for Tridacna here...
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Old 9th July 2018, 02:20 PM   #9
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Tridachna is very hard and brittle... it would be quite impossible to carve the intricate designs on this hilt i think...

Also, from my experience , the tridacna imperfections are small holes due to porosity effect...
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Old 9th July 2018, 02:22 PM   #10
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Tridacna is a no IMHO, it has a dense structure. The picture is deceiving, it does not look that white in reality?
Besides, I think the Blewah is not matching either. It should not have pendok at all.
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Old 9th July 2018, 03:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Yes, the blade is current era, nice quality, and would be totally acceptable as the blade used in a Javanese dress keris used by a person who was not involved in kraton or elite level society activities.

Yes, recognised dhapurs and relevant iconography can have a part in places where these things are understood, but Central Javanese dress is almost a national standard now in Indonesia, so you will find people in Jakarta and Surabaya, and even Bali,wearing a keris as a part of formal dress that does not really relate to Central Javanese kraton standards.

Perhaps you can clarify a few things for me Alan and take this into a area i don't believe we have had much discussion about. Yes, i was being a bit of a sticker for tradition in my comments. I do take you word that this keris, if dressed differently, would be acceptable as a Javanese dress keris for those in common society. Anyway, as a dress keris one would not be all that likely to be showing off the details of the blade in public anyway. But i would like to further address this mixing of iconography. We have certainly moved into an era in modern keris making were anything goes when it comes to keris design. Many of these more fanciful new creations can get a bit over the top and it is difficult to see them as anything other than artist interpretations of keris rather than keris themselves. An edit does seem that many of these new keris makers take the position that more is better. More features, more elements, no matter where they might be drawn from. This one is a bit more subdued however and done rather tastefully IMO. But i find myself questioning this mixing of naga and singo on the same blade. We have never really fully discussed (as far as i can recall) the cultural significance of these two symbolic creatures when applied to to keris. Well, i guess that's not completely true, as there has been much discussion of the naga for sure, but not so much the singo as it relates to placement on the keris. But what hasn't really been talked about much though is who such keris (naga or singo) would be particularly suited for. Yes, we live in an era where anyone with the money can own anything they please, but what was the original intention here. Who in proper keris society would a naga keris be best suited for and who in that society would a singo keris be suited for. I don't imagine it would be just anybody and i'm not sure that both would be suited for the same person. So i am curious about your take on the purpose of both these iconic creatures when placed upon a keris blade, what meaning and purpose they were meant to serve and whether one can make any sense and purpose out of having both on a blade at the same time regardless of whether or not there is any pakem to back up such a choice.
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Old 9th July 2018, 04:22 PM   #12
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I think the hilt is made from fossil walrus ivory and in my opinion it is relative poorly made for Javanese standards.

I found something remarkable on the Wranka. The Wranka seems too short for the blade, so the bottom of the Wranka was cut off and the point of the blade lies free. To hide this, they made a new elongated Pendok.
In my opinion the Wranka was not made for this Keris and is probably older than the blade.


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Old 9th July 2018, 05:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M
I think the hilt is made from fossil walrus ivory and in my opinion it is relative poorly made for Javanese standards.

I found something remarkable on the Wranka. The Wranka seems too short for the blade, so the bottom of the Wranka was cut off and the point of the blade lies free. To hide this, they made a new elongated Pendok.
In my opinion the Wranka was not made for this Keris and is probably older than the blade.

Fossilized ivory of some sort is indeed a possible material Roland.
I am afraid i do not see any exposed blade at the tip of the sheath though. I do see different colored wood and what it looks like to me is that this is not this is not the original pendok for this gandar and there is now some exposed wood that was once covered by a different pendok. The gandar would probably be the easiest part of a sheath to replace if indeed the blade was too long for the original one so i can't image that someone would do a fix like you have suggested when they could simply add a longer gandar onto the sheath. The problem here seems to be that this pendok is too long and so will not slide up far enough to cover this part of the gandar.
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Old 9th July 2018, 07:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
While I cannot say anything about the kris itself, the hilt doesn't look marbled like walrus ivory to me. In my oppinion it is plain bone, displaying the usual porous structure.


Hello Marius,
The colour of the hilt at the base and the top, and the very smooth surface are not indicative of buffalo bone. If you have the book from Wolfgang Schilling "Faszination kris", you can refer to it. See another hilt specimen probably made from walrus ivory also (the top one).
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Old 9th July 2018, 10:23 PM   #15
A. G. Maisey
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David, the questions you have raised are at the heart of understanding the keris. However, to address those questions we must place them within a framework that encompasses time and place.

In my "Interpretation" article I addressed the Naga and the Singo in terms of pre-Islamic Jawa, and to a degree also in terms of pre-puputan Bali. You can see what I wrote here:-

http://www.kerisattosanaji.com/INTERPRETATIONPAGE4.html

Following the domination of Jawa by Islam the structure of society changed and the way in which the Hindu-Buddhist iconography was understood also changed. In my opinion there seems to be a consistent inconsistency in the way in which much of keris iconography is understood across the various societies that we can identify as "keris bearing societies".

When we consider the keris in terms of pre-Islamic Jawa we are dealing with a society and culture that existed within a well defined framework. The Hindu-Buddhist period in Jawa has been extensively studied over many years and we have a good body of work to draw upon that permits us to form opinions that can be defended. We can construct hypotheses, and perhaps even theories, and whether or not those hypotheses and theories are correct, we are able to establish a foundation that provides a beginning to the gaining of an understanding of the keris as a symbol of a culture.

However, when Islam replaced the Hindu-Buddhist belief system, the rules changed, and those changes have continued until today. To respond to your questions in simplistic terms we can go and have a look at one or another of the multitude of keris books that we now have available, and we can either accept or reject what we read there. If we do not particularly like what we read, we can go to a different book, and continue thus until we do find something that we can agree with.

In present day Javanese society it seems as if the Singo Barong is more or less generally accepted as a symbol of power, authority and resolution, if found on a keris it indicates the hope of the bearer to possess these qualities.

In present day Jawa the Naga appears to be more or less generally accepted as a symbol of power and wisdom, and if found as a motif in a keris, then that expresses the hope of the bearer to possess these qualities.

So, Singo Barong:- power, authority, resolution.
Naga:- power , wisdom.

Put them together:- power, authority, resolution, wisdom.

Who needs this?
Well, everybody I guess, but such qualities are particularly relevant to leaders and rulers. Maybe if a night-bus driver has dreams of becoming head of his company, or head of his village, or head of his nation, the first thing he needs to do is take himself down to his local market and buy a keris naga, keris singo barong, or better yet, a naga and a singo barong neatly mated in the one keris.

But this symbolism expresses a hope, not necessarily a reality, so what we then have is the present day interpretation of the keris as :-

"A Prayer in Steel".

Which could be understood as an Islamic interpretation of something that a Hindu-Buddhist in 13th century Jawa might have interpreted in a somewhat different way. When Islam set out to re-organise Javanese society, it followed the soft road of conversion by taking existing symbols and beliefs and gently and gradually changing those symbols and beliefs into ideas that were more acceptable to Islam.

For those of us outside the relevant societies, the way in which we understand the keris becomes a matter of understanding the people who have the keris as a part of their societal and cultural fabric, and attempting to come to terms with the way in which those people understand or understood the keris, within a defined framework. Our own limited understanding is secondary.
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Old 9th July 2018, 10:41 PM   #16
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I too think its walrus ivory, but perhaps bleached or at least treated chemically.
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Old 9th July 2018, 10:52 PM   #17
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My comments on the dress are these:-

the wrongko is old, probably pre-WWII, the pendok is also old, definitely pre-WWII, it is made from mamas and is of a style that is exceptionally rare in post-WWII wrongkos, the pendok was not originally fitted to this gandar, the manner in which the wrongko + pendok has been presented is extremely amateurish, the imperfect fitting of pendok to gandar is totally unacceptable and makes this keris unable to be worn in polite society. Possibly the pendok may be able to be refitted in an acceptable way, but a far better solution would be to fit a pendok bunton. A cheaper fix would be to smooth and reduce the gandar and fit a velvet cover to the gandar, the colour for the velvet would need to match the kraton code.

I cannot see sufficient of the hilt to pass comment on the quality of workmanship. What I can see seems to indicate that craftsmanship is adequate, and compatible with the overall level of quality represented by the ensemble. The mendak appears to have some age and would probably test as silver.

The incorrect mating of hilt and wrongko I commented on in post #4.

My overall opinion is that it is a pretty decent keris, it needs a little bit of revision in presentation, but that is something extremely minor, and not really worthy of comment. What we can see here is the way keris are often bought once they appear on the market outside Jawa, or for that matter, even within Jawa when offered for sale by private people or non-specialist dealers. If it went cheap, whoever got it did well.
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Old 10th July 2018, 03:56 PM   #18
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As a knifemaker I have worked with walrus ivory often in the past. So I‘m 100% sure that this is walrus. The prices for that kind of material are very high. It looks not very old but the prices for a piece of raw ivory of that size (with cites ) will be at around 300 $ or more. Not a material that somebody will use for a tourist trap
Just my opinion

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Old 10th July 2018, 09:02 PM   #19
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Thomas, you have said:- "--- Just my opinion ---"


Not all opinions are equal:- there are informed opinions, and there are uninformed opinions; the informed opinion has value, it is the other opinion that is '"just an opinion".

By virtue of the fact that you are familiar with the material under discussion, your opinion in respect of this material must be regarded as an informed opinion.
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Old 11th July 2018, 07:55 AM   #20
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Thank you Thomas for the interesting pics and I support your opinion, we have learned something new about the identification of walrus ivory which is often wrongly attributed
I wish I could have noticed this kris on Ebay!
Regards

Last edited by Jean : 11th July 2018 at 10:56 AM.
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