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Old 15th May 2018, 11:45 PM   #1
jagabuwana
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Default Corroded keris

I'm interested in acquiring this keris from an auction with a view to clean and restore it. I'd be curious to see how clean I can get it and what lies beneath. I like to think I learned enough lessons from the last time I cleaned an old blade (the hard way ) to give this proper treatment.

However the extent of corrosion on this blade is more extensive. Has anyone had experience cleaning and dressing a blade with this degree of age and wear, and what was your result?

Secondly, I'm interested in this keris because I like the shape and style. Is it dapur brojol?
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Old 15th May 2018, 11:49 PM   #2
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Apologies, here is the keris. The file quality diminished when I resized it but hopefully it gives you a good idea.
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Old 16th May 2018, 04:47 AM   #3
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It's a Bugis sepokal blade!
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Old 16th May 2018, 05:04 AM   #4
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Yes, I have cleaned a very great number of blades as bad and worse than this, I can show after pics, but I cannot show before pics. I don't record this sort of thing, its just a job, nothing special.

Household vinegar and patience.

The stain process can get a bit difficult, but the clean process is straight forward.
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Old 16th May 2018, 08:05 AM   #5
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Yes, I've cleaned also several keris blades in a similar bad condition like the blade in question but I've used citrus acid instead of vinegar. Like Alan said, it's just a job which need patience.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 16th May 2018, 11:48 AM   #6
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Thank you Detlef and Alan.

Some questions:

1) What characterises a sepokal blade? The keris books I have on hand (Groneman and Solyom & Solyom) don't mention it. I have done some cursory research on Google and haven't been able to find any statements or descriptions of sepokal blades, and it seems that both keris luk and keris lurus can be keris sepokal. I could be wrong (maybe it's my eyes..) but from what I can see, keris sepokal are slightly convex, if one were to draw a line following the centre of the blade from peksi to penatas. Is my observation correct, a red herring, or entirely incorrect?

2) Without dressings, what features of this blade make you say it's Bugis? My question is not a challenge or a skepticism towards your assessment, and I am asking only so that I may learn. Interestingly, many blades (though not necessarily dressings) that I am drawn to are bugis keris. There is an aspect about them that I can only describe as bold, strong or aggressive to my eye and feeling.
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Old 16th May 2018, 12:30 PM   #7
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1) this "sepokal" thing seems to be something of a Peninsula naming convention. I do not know how the name came into usage, but it is popular with collectors in the Western World for use as a name for this type of blade.

In Jawa there is a dhapur named "sepokal", but it is supposed to be either a 13 luk or an 11 luk, I forget which. I've never seen one, but I have heard it mentioned.

The name used for the dhapur of the keris shown in this thread by specialist Bugis collectors is similar to "sepokal", it is "sapukala" and from what I can gather it simply refers to a straight blade, a blade that in Jawa we would call "lurus", so personally, I would tend to think of the name as a description rather than a dhapur.

2) in accordance with Javanese (ie, Solonese) tangguh naming conventions the form of a Bugis blade is "like a young bambu shoot", and the faces of the blade are flat, with wide, even kusen (gusen). Usually the gandhik is thin and low, the blumbangan shallow, the gonjo is short, there is no ada-ada, sogokan are very seldom seen. When it is clean you will most likely find that the iron has a texture like sand and if it has pamor --- which is probable --- that pamor will be coarse and white. It is essentially a tool designed to end life, it is not a work of art.

Detlef is absolutely correct, it is a Bugis style of blade and it would named as "sepokal" by most collectors in the Western World. But where it might be from it is very probably impossible to say.
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Old 16th May 2018, 01:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
The name used for the dhapur of the keris shown in this thread by specialist Bugis collectors is similar to "sepokal", it is "sapukala" and from what I can gather it simply refers to a straight blade, a blade that in Jawa we would call "lurus", so personally, I would tend to think of the name as a description rather than a dhapur.

I believe that Jagabuwana's observation is correct that blades that are considered sapukala or sepokal have a slight arch or curve to them so while they probably can be referred to as lurus they are not entirely straight. I do believe this is seen more as a dhapur that simply a description of any blade that is lurus.
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Old 16th May 2018, 10:45 PM   #9
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David, in Javanese terms a blade that lacks luk is considered to be straight.

Some blades that possess luk can be named as a specific dhapur or form, and that form will have the blade characteristics specified as well as the number of luk.

Where a blade is waved but is unable to be classified as a particular dhapur, it is simply referred to as a waved blade with so many luk:- "keris luk lima", for example.

Where a blade is straight but cannot be classified as a particular dhapur it is simply named as a straight blade:- "keris lurus".

OK, so now we need to look at what was published in "Senjata Pusaka Bugis", Ahmad Ubbe.

In his descriptions of Bugis keris with this "sepokal" style blade he uses the word "dapur" instead of "dhapur" to refer to the shape of a blade. In Indonesian "dapur" means "kitchen", in Javanese "dhapur" means "shape, form, design". It is reasonable to assume that he means "dhapur", so I think we can accept that he means design, not kitchen. "Dhapur" is a Javanese word, it is not a Bahasa Indonesia word.

He calls the keris of this "sepokal" form "Keris Sapukala", and in his explanation of "dapur" he gives "dapur" as "Sapukal", which he brings into Bahasa Indonesia as "Sapu Rata", in BI "sapu rata" can be understood as "flat broom".

So Ahmad Ubbe clearly considers the word "Sapukala" or "Sapukal" to be a dhapur.

This is the point at which I disagree with his understanding of exactly what the word dhapur means. Dhapur is a specification. It is not a generic description.

However, Ahmad Ubbe gives the dhapur of "Sapukala" to every straight blade included in Senjata Pusaka Bugis, thus it becomes a generic description, rather than a specification. The description "Sapukala" is given to all straight Bugis blades, it is not used only for those blades with the "young bambu shoot" profile.

Certainly we can accept that specialist collectors of Bugis keris consider the word "Sapukala" to be a dhapur --- even though they use the wrong word to refer to a keris specification --- but it seems clear to me that they do not really understand what the word dhapur means.

Thus "Sapukala" becomes generic, not specific. It becomes a description, not a specification.

Yes, I am being pedantic, and this was one of the thoughts behind my recent "Precision in use of language" thread. If we do not write what we mean, how can we be understood?

Here we have a large, good quality book that has been written by people who are accepted as expert in the Bugis keris, but it seems that they have had some difficulty in coming to terms with the very basic concept of exactly what the word "dhapur" means --- let alone how to spell it.
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Old 16th May 2018, 11:43 PM   #10
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1) So where we seem to arrive at now is that sapukala/sepokal is not a dhapur, it is instead generic description for keris lurus Bugis. The next question that comes to mind then is, can a Bugis sepokal blade also be classified with a dhapur, or is the generic term sepokal only used when it has not been fashioned according to a dhapur?

2) Thinking ahead here. Seeing as this is a Bugis style keris, would it be improper to dress it with components other than those that are typically Bugis such as a pistol grip ukiran? Is there a convention or ethic around selecting dressings according to the style or origin of the wilah?

For what it's worth, I too appreciate the precision in the use of language. Personally for me it makes for better learning and comprehension, and your point is understood clearly, Alan.

Best,

Novan
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Old 17th May 2018, 01:13 AM   #11
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Novan, to me the sepokal designation simply means a straight Bugis blade, but to others I suppose it could be taken as a dhapur, but if it is taken as a dhapur that then calls into question the meaning of the word dhapur. I was making a point in my previous post, but frankly I don't really care what we call it, I'm personally happy with calling it a straight Bugis style keris.

If we take it that Ahmad Ubbe's book represents the way in which specialist Bugis collectors view keris forms, it seems to me that they do not differentiate one straight blade form from another, and their idea of dhapur in a waved blade seems to begin and end with the number of luk. To me, this seems to indicate that within Bugis society the keris occupies a somewhat different position to the position that it occupies in Javanese society.

As for the appropriate dress for a Bugis blade, I think most collectors are in agreement that when a blade style can be identified it is correct to dress that blade in a scabbard and hilt that is societally correct. However, I have found Bugis, Madurese, and Balinese blades dressed in various forms of Javanese wrongko and hilt. This is because in the old days the lords of Jawa recruited mercenaries from Bali, Madura and from men of Bugis cultural background.

Bugis culture can be found in many places throughout SE Asia, and Bugis dress style varies slightly according to exactly where the Bugis community was/is located.
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Old 17th May 2018, 02:39 AM   #12
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I am intrigued by the technique of de-rusting ( de - crusting:-) )the blade with vinegar.
Is it going to work on non-Indonesian blades? Say, Katars?

Can you be more specific about the strength of the vinegar, soaking/ non-soaking etc?

Thanks for any instructions.
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Old 17th May 2018, 02:57 AM   #13
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Any mild acid can be used to get rid of rust, I used pineapple juice for a long time, like about 50 years, but then the stuff I was using became unavailable, the substitute was rubbish, so I went to ordinary household white vinegar, the cheapest I can buy.

I use a wall paper trough to soak the blades, inspect daily, rinse daily, scrub with various things depending on what needs to got rid of, pick off the hard encrustations with a sadler's awl, sometimes scrape off big encrustations with a small scraper made from a three corner file.

Treatment time can vary from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, I just keep returning the blade to the vinegar until it is clean, sometimes it might be necessary to change the vinegar. I have never known the vinegar to cause any blade damage.

I've used this method on a wide variety of blades, seems to work well on everything I've tried it with, however, a katar might have small gaps where metal meets metal, and it would not be easy to get residual acid out of those gaps. Occasionally I might use a slurry of bi-carb of soda to kill the acid, then thoroughly rinse off the bi-carb.
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Old 17th May 2018, 04:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey


As for the appropriate dress for a Bugis blade, I think most collectors are in agreement that when a blade style can be identified it is correct to dress that blade in a scabbard and hilt that is societally correct. However, I have found Bugis, Madurese, and Balinese blades dressed in various forms of Javanese wrongko and hilt. This is because in the old days the lords of Jawa recruited mercenaries from Bali, Madura and from men of Bugis cultural background.



Interesting - thank you. I don't consider myself a collector and was asking more from the perspective of metaphysical/cultural ethics. As you suggested about the Bugis, we Sundanese don't have the same relationship with the keris as Javanese society does. But if there was a rule or consideration to be applied to dressing blades that is of cultural or spiritual consequence, I'd like to adhere to it or at least be aware.

First thing's first though... win the auction
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Old 17th May 2018, 11:40 AM   #15
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Hello Novan,

Quote:
First thing's first though... win the auction

Keep in mind that buyer's premium, shipping&handling fees, and customs tax/fees will considerably add to the total cost. Most auction houses charge way more for shipping than the mere postal fees (which also have gone up quite a bit) - it's a good idea to ask for an estimate in advance (if you don't know from prior experience).

Are there any local sources you could tap into? For basic blades this may be cheaper (and better since you could closely examine them prior to purchase).

On ebay/etc., you also can find good buys (even bargains if you're patient, really patient) - however, as with any online transaction, it is often difficult/impossible to determine how deep any pitting really is and how much of the blade has been lost to corrosion. Caveat emptor...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th May 2018, 11:55 AM   #16
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Hello Novan,

Quote:
I don't consider myself a collector and was asking more from the perspective of metaphysical/cultural ethics. As you suggested about the Bugis, we Sundanese don't have the same relationship with the keris as Javanese society does. But if there was a rule or consideration to be applied to dressing blades that is of cultural or spiritual consequence, I'd like to adhere to it or at least be aware.

If you consider wearing this keris at any Sundanese event, the fittings should be in tune with that. Coming with any keris in Bugis fittings may raise an eye brow...

For any other cultural/metaphysical considerations (that I'm aware of) any fittings of decent quality (and without defects) will do. While widely-traded keris blades will usually be found in local fittings according to the local dress code, most surviving examples of this type will certainly be found with Bugis(-influenced) fittings.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th May 2018, 11:57 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
1) this "sepokal" thing seems to be something of a Peninsula naming convention. I do not know how the name came into usage, but it is popular with collectors in the Western World for use as a name for this type of blade.


When I first started collecting keris in the late 1980s, if I recall correctly, keris like these were never described to me as sepukal but rather as keris lok 1. As long as there was a curve to the blade like a claw, it was keris lok 1. Sepukal seems to be a "newish" term to describe blades of this sort, coming in the vocabulary here in the 2000s. I am still in the habit of calling them keris lok 1.
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Old 17th May 2018, 12:23 PM   #18
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Hello Alan and Ariel,

Quote:
Any mild acid can be used to get rid of rust, I used pineapple juice for a long time, like about 50 years, but then the stuff I was using became unavailable, the substitute was rubbish, so I went to ordinary household white vinegar, the cheapest I can buy.

Industrially produced concentrated vinegar (glacial acetic acid) is usually cheapest (check both the kitchen as well as the cleaning supply!). It comes in concentrations from 10%-99% - beware, the high concentrations are pretty nasty! Dilute down to 1%-5% to start with (yes, pour the concentrated acid into the water rather than vice versa! ).


Quote:
I use a wall paper trough to soak the blades, inspect daily, rinse daily, scrub with various things depending on what needs to got rid of, pick off the hard encrustations with a sadler's awl, sometimes scrape off big encrustations with a small scraper made from a three corner file.

I prefer to work over the blades at least twice daily; I also make sure to thoroughly degrease the blade prior to the acid treatment. If oil shows on the surface, I remove the blade, dry it and degrease again (fittings and crevices can harbor residual oil) - this makes sure that the acid can work on all remaining rust (and, thus, shortening the exposure time).


Quote:
Treatment time can vary from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, I just keep returning the blade to the vinegar until it is clean, sometimes it might be necessary to change the vinegar. I have never known the vinegar to cause any blade damage.

This may be true for the keris Jawa culture. OTOH, acetic acid of any notable concentration will eat away iron (and steel even quicker)! If you compare early collected keris from European collections with their "relic" counterparts that have been traditionally "washed" multiple times, I believe it is fair to say that acetic acid (as in coconut "water"/vinegar) does damage keris blades in the long run. The loss of material may be mainly from removing rust which certainly develops quite quickly in a humid tropical climate; however, put some clean steel in vinegar for days and you'll clearly see corrosion. Thus, I suggest to limit the time in any de-rusting fluid as much as possible. (And, of course, the higher the acid concentration, the shorter the exposure time (with checks/cleaning done more often)!


Quote:
I've used this method on a wide variety of blades, seems to work well on everything I've tried it with, however, a katar might have small gaps where metal meets metal, and it would not be easy to get residual acid out of those gaps. Occasionally I might use a slurry of bi-carb of soda to kill the acid, then thoroughly rinse off the bi-carb.

With vinegar, this is actually an unnecessary step: The beauty of acetic acid is that it is quite volatile - you easily smell it.

Just heat the blade thoroughly, and any residual water as well as acetic acid is gone! A hairdryer is a pretty safe tool - if you're kinda paranoid (which is a good trait for any conservator!), make sure to heat just above the boiling point (i. e. 100C). This may be easier in a temp-controlled oven - however, arsenic is also volatile...
(Anyway, ventilate well and don't do this in your collection room!)

Regards,
Kai

Last edited by kai : 17th May 2018 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 17th May 2018, 02:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagabuwana
First thing's first though... win the auction

I guess i missed that this keris we are discussing is not yet yours. General forum policy prohibits that discussion of items that are currently up for auction. Please make sure that you have read all forum policies, including the list that is specific to the Keris Forum, before posting again.
I am locking this thread for now. If and when you do win this auction to can send a message to either myself or Rick and we will re-open it for further discussion.
Thanks!
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