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Old 12th May 2015, 11:32 PM   #1
A. G. Maisey
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Default Mendak

Most keris have a little ring in between the hilt and the blade base, in Jawa this is called the mendak, or uwer, or wewer. Mendak is the common term.

In recent years it has been very, very difficult to obtain a suitable old mendak when one is needed to complete a keris in old dress. In fact, many keris collectors who have begun to collect during, say, the last 5 years, have never even seen an old mendak.

Here are a couple of pictures some old mendak, mostly Javanese and Madurese.
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Old 17th May 2015, 01:59 PM   #2
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Hello Alan,
Very nice and rare collection!
Although this subject was already raised in the past, could you please show us some representative and rare specimens of mendaks from Central Java (Yogyakarta and Solo), Cirebon/ West Java, East Java, and Madura as the distinction is not clear for most of us.
Thank you and best regards
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Old 17th May 2015, 10:39 PM   #3
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Not clear to me either Jean.

Nor to anybody I know in Solo.

My personal opinion is that whilst some things are pretty obvious and known to virtually everybody, such as the distinction between Jawa and Madura, just about everything else is up for grabs.

In fact, going back a long time to when I got my first few keris, keris that had been collected mostly in Batavia (Jakarta) in about 1920, most of those keris had no mendak at all. I know that some mendak patterns are accepted by many people as Jogja, and others as Solo, but then you get the situation where you find something that has previously been identified as Solo being identified as Jogja, because it is on a big Jogja jejeran, rather than a small one.

For as long as I've been going to Indonesia, which is 40 odd years, the distinction that seems to be most usually made is between Central Jawa and East Jawa/Madura.

East Jawa Madura are generally a little bit bigger, and are hollow, Central Jawa are fabricated and a little bit smaller, but in practice it seems as if the general rule for use is that if the mendak fits the jejeran, and looks OK, that is what gets used.

If we look at keris that we know to be pre-1700, what we find is that a lot of these keris do not have mendak, even though they would have been collected as virtually new keris. Others of these early keris have a quite high fabricated mendak, with some applied ornamentation.

Then we have the rare iron mendaks, which I think probably belonged with the North Coast iron seluts, and I believe are a direct continuation of the metuk which preceded the mendak.

Sorry Jean, I cannot answer your question.

Actually these mendak are not really a collection, they're just a few of the more interesting ones I have, I've probably got about 500 mendak and wewer, all stored in bottles.
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Old 18th May 2015, 10:06 AM   #4
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Perhaps this is a foolish question, but what lies behind the rarity of these objects? Have they been ignored, or unremarked by collectors, until now? They don't seem all that fragile so they ought to survive, are they being sold to jewelers when the family hits dire straits? What do you say?
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Old 18th May 2015, 01:55 PM   #5
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The new ones are not rare, and you can buy really cheap ones for almost nothing --- good ones cost, sometimes cost big when we are talking top quality and premium materials, but the old ones seem to have been used up.

By "used up" I mean that they have broken, or been lost and the quite small existing stock has been re-distributed to existing old keris. I've often had old keris in my hands that didn't have any mendak, or had a junk modern one, or if an old mendak was fitted, it was crushed and broken.

Over a 50 year period I've simply bought every halfway decent old mendak that I've come across. That's why I have so many. Not "collection", more "accumulation".

Many old mendak were pretty fragile. The iron ones, cast bronze and cast brass were not fragile, but there were very few of those, however, the fabricated ones would in many cases have crushed and broken if the blade hit a bone when thrust. The hollow East Jawa/Madura ones you can crush between your fingers.
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Old 18th May 2015, 10:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Over a 50 year period I've simply bought every halfway decent old mendak that I've come across.


And here we are, wondering why old mendak are scarce

Nive collection btw.
Allways good to bring this under the attention.
I really dislike the cheap mendak that are sometimes seen on nice old keris.

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 18th May 2015, 11:05 PM   #7
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But there is a reason for those cheapy mendak Willem.

A good brand new mendak can cost more than a pretty reasonable sort of keris.

A good old mendak can cost more than a decent keris.

It wasn't always like this, but it is now.

If somebody in the keris trade in Indonesia wants to sell a good keris, and by keris, I mean the keris itself, not including the dress, they limit their buyers by dressing that keris in premium component parts, so they either sell the blade bare, or use cheap, low quality dress.

This permits the new owner to dress the keris as he sees fit. However, if he wishes to use older dress on the old keris, he may take quite some time to assemble the quality parts he needs, and one of the more difficult parts is the mendak.
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Old 19th May 2015, 12:24 AM   #8
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What kind of mendak would fit a Pathani Tajong with a Swaasa cover for the "nose"?
Are those available? How much would they cost?
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Old 19th May 2015, 03:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
What kind of mendak would fit a Pathani Tajong with a Swaasa cover for the "nose"?
Are those available? How much would they cost?

AFAIK most keris tajong don't really have a mendak. Some have something more similar to a selut around the base of the hilt and some closer to what i would call a pendokok or hilt cup. I also have seen many with nothing at all between the hilt and blade.
I'd prefer to keep specific discussion of the cost of things off the boards.
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Old 20th May 2015, 12:13 AM   #10
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Alan repeatedly mentioned high prices of old mendaks.

I just asked him to elaborate on the already expressed qualitative view by adding some quantification.

Nobody here is buying or selling anything specific; we are talking about generalities. Something along the lines: a Swaasa pendokok may cost between $ 200 - 1000. Nothing more.
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Old 20th May 2015, 02:45 AM   #11
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Ariel, I'm talking about mendak, not Balinese wewer nor Peninsula pendongkok.

As with all things prices depend upon who is buying and who is selling, where the transaction takes place and at what market level one buys:- a collector in London or New York will pay more than a market retailer who sells in Central Jawa.
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Old 20th May 2015, 07:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Nobody here is buying or selling anything specific; we are talking about generalities. Something along the lines: a Swaasa pendokok may cost between $ 200 - 1000. Nothing more.

As Alan points out Ariel, this thread is about old Javanese mendaks, not swaasa pendokoks. In the keris world these are apples and oranges. There is no one price range for anything that fits between the hilt and blade of every type of keris in all of Indonesia. The culture of collectors of Javanese keris is not the same as it is for Peninsula keris. A swaasa pendokok for a keris tajong will cost whatever the market will bare and will be determined by a number of factors, including, but not limited to the price of gold at the moment (and the weight of the actual pendokok), the level of craft of the part and the rarity or antiquity of that particular pendokok. However, I would still prefer that we keep discussion of the specific cost of such things off the forum. It is a simple request.
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Old 1st March 2018, 11:58 AM   #13
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Pick up this old topic to introduce a genuine old mendak.
Unsure about the material. Could either be ivory (no schraeger lines spotted) or deer / antler? Small repair needed at the bottom where a chip was broken off. Very white dense from the inside.
Any suggestion about it and which handle (Solo / Djogja or even Madura) is best to combine?
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Old 1st March 2018, 03:02 PM   #14
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I doesn't look like ivory Paul. Could be bone or antler. Could even be resin from the looks of it. Is there a thick layer of shellac over it?
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Old 1st March 2018, 05:01 PM   #15
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Just oiled it and it should soak a bit (it was very dry) so that's why it appears so shiny.The structure is very dense so I doubt if it is from bone.
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Old 1st March 2018, 05:06 PM   #16
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I might suggest that you wipe it dry once you feel it has soaked enough and re-photograph it. The oil is a bit distracting to the subject at hand.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 02:07 PM   #17
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More interested to know were it comes from than the material itself.
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