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Old 2nd April 2018, 01:36 PM   #1
alexish
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Default Uniquely Singapore Merlion Keris inspired by unduk-unduk

A uniquely Singapore keris inspired by the national icon of Singapore - the Merlion, as well as by the peninsular unduk-unduk keris.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 07:08 PM   #2
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Bugis? (Pun Intended)
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Old 2nd April 2018, 09:05 PM   #3
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Actually, this keris is inspired by the unduk-unduk (seahorse) keris of Terengganu state, peninsular Malaysia. Please see attached image. The sarung is a traditional form called Kusriwo, which is also associated with Terengganu state of peninsular Malaysia.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 09:49 PM   #4
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Thanks for posting the Terengganu keris, as well. Gives some perspective. Roughly how old is the unduk-unduk in the photo?

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Old 3rd April 2018, 12:26 AM   #5
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The photo was taken from another thread in the vikingsword forum. I think it should be at least pre-war in age.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 04:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treeslicer
Bugis? (Pun Intended)

I'm afraid i'm missing the pun and since others have PMed me equally confused i guess i'm not alone.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 06:04 PM   #7
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Alexis, an unique keris indeed. I cannot recall the Merlion ever being used in keris design before and find it a strange choice indeed. As far as i can tell the Merlion is a completely modern and commercial construct. The following passage from Wikipedia discusses it's origin.
The symbol was designed by Alec Fraser-Brunner, a member of the Souvenir Committee and curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium, for the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in use from 26 March 1964 to 1997 and has been its trademarked symbol since 20 July 1966. Although the STB changed their logo in 1997, the STB Act continues to protect the Merlion symbol. Approval must be received from STB before it can be used. The Merlion appears frequently on STB-approved souvenirs.
So you have placed a modern "mythological" beast created by a British ichthyologist for commercial purposes (promotion of tourism) on your keris as a replacement for the more traditional seahorses (unduk-unduk). I placed "mythological" in quotations because as far as i know this is a completely fabricated beast with no local mythology actually attached to it. Seems rather spurious to me. Also sounds like you might have transgressed some local legalities since the symbol of the Merlion is still apparently protected by the STB and permission must be granted for its usage. Someone might take this keris for an official STB souvenir.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 06:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I'm afraid i'm missing the pun and since others have PMed me equally confused i guess i'm not alone.

You've never heard of Bugis Street in Singapore? Looks like a credible provenance to me. Even the time frame's correct for a tourist piece with a merlion on it. If they'd sold keris along with the other amenities available there before it was "cleaned up", this might have been a valid "Bugis" design.

All joking aside, this thing probably will confuse collectors sometime in the future.

Alexish, did you have this blade made in Madura like the last one?

Last edited by Treeslicer : 3rd April 2018 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 07:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treeslicer
All joking aside, this thing probably will confuse collectors sometime in the future.

I was just thinking the same thing myself. This and a few others of Alexis' commissioned designs might present some real enigmas a generation or so down the line.
Thanks for clearing up the pun. No, i haver never been to Singapore and was not familiar with this street, but now see it.
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Old 3rd April 2018, 08:35 PM   #10
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Hello Alexis,

Quote:
Actually, this keris is inspired by the unduk-unduk (seahorse) keris of Terengganu state, peninsular Malaysia.

IMHO there are only very few nicely chiselled unduk-unduk and even fewer well-sculpted blades with this feature.

Legalities and the merlion being some kind of commercial modern idea aside, I don't think its placement in the pudhak sategal area is well advised: IMHO the stocky body completely breaks the flow of lines of the whole blade. If you have to, it might possibly work out reasonably well as a figure at the gandik area though...


Quote:
The sarung is a traditional form called Kusriwo, which is also associated with Terengganu state of peninsular Malaysia.

I don't think this rather non-traditional version will "fly" with northern Malayan aesthetics. Got it carved on Madura, too?

You're certainly rattling the cage with those creations. However, I believe this is too much of a mix'n'match approach with too many influences from distinct cultures to be digestible from a more traditional perspective.

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Old 4th April 2018, 12:14 AM   #11
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Actually, the 'Bugis' pun has meaning, because this keris was actually commissioned from a Singapore dealer who has a shop in the Bugis street area.
Perhaps, some of you maybe able to guess who the 'dealer' is. He actually has a local patent for putting Merlions on kerises.

Aside from the blade, any of you fellow collectors have any further opinion on the Sarung, which I think is quite a traditional Malay Kusriwo design, even though it was carved in Madura?
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Old 4th April 2018, 12:39 AM   #12
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Well Alexis, no one has a "patent" on the Merlion other than the Singapore Tourist Board (STB). One can apply to the STB for permission to use the image of the Merlion and my understanding is that if they approve you may use it at no charge. Your Singapore dealer may have made such arrangements with that board.
I really know only one Singapore dealer, but i do not believe his identity is pertinent to this discussion.
Your "Malay Kusriwo" sheath does indeed seem to be based upon a traditional Malay form, but i believe the carving flourishes and the manner in which they are carved gives it away fairly easily as a Madura product. As for the blade itself, this does not seem to be one of the better quality ones you have shown in the past. Is this the same smith who did your "Minangkabau" keris, because if so it does not seem to be at the same level of craft or execution, especially when we examine the carving of the greneng and the open carvings around the base.
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Old 4th April 2018, 01:36 AM   #13
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Default Sarung - Original Designs

Dear Collectors,

These are the original sarungs that inspired my piece. Any opinion whether these are traditional designs?
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Old 4th April 2018, 01:41 AM   #14
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Default Original Unduk Unduk Blades

Here are the original designs of the unduk-unduk blades that inspired my Merlion piece. Any opinion?
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Old 4th April 2018, 02:18 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
Actually, the 'Bugis' pun has meaning, because this keris was actually commissioned from a Singapore dealer who has a shop in the Bugis street area.
Perhaps, some of you maybe able to guess who the 'dealer' is. He actually has a local patent for putting Merlions on kerises.


IMHO, if the keris originates from Singapore, that changes the whole complexion of the matter. However innovative the design might be, a merlion seems quite appropriate incorporated into a piece of Singaporean contemporary art, and given the proper permission from the STB, legal as well.
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Old 4th April 2018, 02:27 AM   #16
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Default Material used

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
A uniquely Singapore keris inspired by the national icon of Singapore - the Merlion, as well as by the peninsular unduk-unduk keris.


Hi

Any idea what kind of material is used to make this modern contemporary keris-like keris?
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Old 4th April 2018, 03:34 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
Here are the original designs of the unduk-unduk blades that inspired my Merlion piece. Any opinion?

Well, the first thing i see in your models is a modern interpretation of an unduk-unduk keris design being mass produced for market. You show three exact copies of a keris design here. I don't think i have ever seen three keris made so precisely like the other. Same dhapur, sure, we see that often, but with nuanced differences, not carbon copies of one another. All these keris and the dress are very contemporary and more along the nature of commercial art pieces than ethnographic weapons. If a feeling of authenticity was your goal i feel like you would have stood a better chance basing your design on a nice pre-WWII example of an unduk-unduk keris than these modern clones. Then you take your copy one more step removed from traditional ethnographic weaponry by adding the Merlion, a symbol created for the Singapore Tourism Board by a citizen of the former colonial power (Great Britain), to be used by sports teams, in advertising, for branding, tourism as well as a symbol of national personification. The symbol appears frequently on STB-approved souvenirs.
We often ask ourselves here what defines a keris? What distinguishes a keris from a work of modern art or a keris-like-object? I believe the answers to that question will be slightly different from each and every collector. But i do think it is fair to say that what you commissioned here stands firmly outside the realm of ethnographic weaponry. Of course, your mileage may vary.
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Old 4th April 2018, 03:36 AM   #18
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I believe that the sampir/warangka is made of kemuning wood, as seen from the flashing grain; while the blade is besi kelengan without pamor.
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Old 4th April 2018, 05:49 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexish
I believe that the sampir/warangka is made of kemuning wood, as seen from the flashing grain; while the blade is besi kelengan without pamor.


Isn't besi kelengan not considered correct for making heirloom blades from? Here's a reference: http://www.kerispusakajawa.com/2017...baja-untuk.html
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Old 4th April 2018, 02:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treeslicer
Isn't besi kelengan not considered correct for making heirloom blades from? Here's a reference: http://www.kerispusakajawa.com/2017...baja-untuk.html

Well, this website is the first time i have every seen that written about keris kelengan. I'm would need to see some cross-referencing to take that more seriously. I might also add that what is true for keris Jawa is not necessarily true for keris from other regions of Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula, so even if we could find some verification of such a restriction it would not necessarily apply to a keris form the Peninsula. Keris Tajong are most commonly seen with pandai saras that are generally pamor-less. I think you might get an argument from numerous collectors if you were to discount all of those blades as invalid for the distinction of pusaka.
Of course this blade isn't actually a Peninsula blade, is it? It was manufactured in Madura in the form of a Peninsula style blade, or at least, with the intention of appearing that way. Though it is a dhapur that is completely new at the same time. So i don't see how any rules of iron types or lack of pamor can apply to such of keris even if they do exist. At the same time i don't see modern art pieces like this likely to be applied to a pusaka scenario down the line anyway so it seems a bit of a moot issue.
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Old 4th April 2018, 02:59 PM   #21
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Default May I make Myself Clear

Speaking as the person who founded this sub-forum:

We exist to discuss traditional kerises and their cultures; not modern art.
These pieces you keep presenting are no different than fantasy barbarian swords from Kult of Athena, Bud K etc., cartoons imo.

They pollute the and distract from the aim of the forum.
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Old 4th April 2018, 03:03 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Speaking as the person who founded this sub-forum:

We exist to discuss traditional kerises and their cultures; not modern art.
These pieces you keep presenting are no different than fantasy barbarian swords from Kult of Athena, Bud K etc., cartoons imo.

They pollute the and distract from the aim of the forum.



My apologies, I will only present traditional pieces in the future.
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Old 4th April 2018, 05:12 PM   #23
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In current era keris production there are obviously numerous schools of thought at play. While i am in complete agreement with Rick as to the intended nature of this forum i don't want to give folks the idea that we do not embrace the discussion of any current era keris. Personally i do see the keris as a LIVING art form and believe that there is room for evolution of design, however, i think that needs to be in compliance with generally accepted guidelines of current keris production. Who decides these guidelines? At one time it would be the keraton and i am sure that many keris smiths and enthusiasts still see established pakem of various keris centers as the guide for what a keris should look like from any given region. Yes, there have always been unusual keris that were made outside these centers and did not adhere to recognized pakem, but generally i believe that even village smiths did their best to create acceptable keris dhapurs back in the day.
Obviously there is another end to that spectrum and we have seen a great deal of anything goes mishmashes of designer modern art pieces. Alexis has presented a number of cross-cultural designs on this forum that are unique and defy both traditional categorization and cultural identity. Often they have a decent sense of craft, but the question arises as to whether they are truly ethnographic keris or merely modern art pieces. Nothing wrong with modern art, per se, but the question arises, is this what we talk about here on this forum.
I am trying to make these distinction because i do not want to give anyone the impression that this forum is not interested in discussing current era keris. Again, the keris is a living form and part of the evolving Indonesian/Malay cultural heritage. New keris that are created as cultural objects within established guidelines are certainly open for discussion here. But when a keris is created by personal whim with a mishmash of cultural influences, sometimes even completely outside the spectrum of any actual keris culture influence (i am thinking of your "Viking" keris dress here Alexis, and your "Anglo-Saxon" keris dress or when you commissioned a "Bali" hilt with a Sinhalese lion design), i do believe it falls outside the intent and purpose of this forum. The keris is an object of cultural identity (amongst other things) and confusing that cultural identity though incongruous or impulsive mashups of style and form, however visual pleasing they might be to some, might be art, but i am not convinced they are keris.
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Old 4th April 2018, 07:16 PM   #24
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"eth·no·graph·ic
ˌeTHnəˈɡrafik/
adjective
adjective: ethnographic; adjective: ethnographical

relating to the scientific description of peoples and cultures with their customs, habits, and mutual differences."

IMHO, even if something is not of obvious collector interest, it can convey a great deal of ethnographic information. The Pacific Rim cultures are all in a state of change, and what's been posted above hammers that home. Cultural use of kerises certainly didn't end with 1945, or 1964, or 1982, or 2001, or whatever date you care to posit. Neither is it totally uninteresting that, judging by one of the photos Alexis posted, some keris makers have entered the age of tool-and-die manufacturing, adapting Western techniques to their own cultural goals.

Of course, it poses me a question of whether I display such works among antique kerises of identifiable tangguh, or next to the Randalls and Pumas......

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Old 4th April 2018, 08:27 PM   #25
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Humble opinion noted......
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Old 4th April 2018, 11:24 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treeslicer
Neither is it totally uninteresting that, judging by one of the photos Alexis posted, some keris makers have entered the age of tool-and-die manufacturing, adapting Western techniques to their own cultural goals.

Of course, it poses me a question of whether I display such works among antique kerises of identifiable tangguh, or next to the Randalls and Pumas......

Frankly i believe that the use of tool-and-die manufacturing as seen in these three identical keris unduk-unduk that Alexis based his own re-design upon is more a matter of reaching commercial goals rather than cultural ones.
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Old 5th April 2018, 03:03 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Frankly i believe that the use of tool-and-die manufacturing as seen in these three identical keris unduk-unduk that Alexis based his own re-design upon is more a matter of reaching commercial goals rather than cultural ones.


Culture being that part of human behavior which is learned, are you proposing that commerce is instinctual?
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Old 5th April 2018, 04:59 AM   #28
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Humans are capable of learning quite a few things that i would not consider indicators of culture.
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Old 5th April 2018, 05:22 AM   #29
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Default steel (materials)

Pardon me but is the steel used a recycled steel? Any iron and nickel involve?
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