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Old 16th February 2020, 12:41 AM   #1
elsquibble
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Default Crudely Carved Hilt - Seeking Information - Buta Nawasari?

I bought this hilt to possibly go on my keris that I posted here recently(the one that has been ground to make it wavey). I paid almost nothing so no great loss if it doesn't suit.

It seems to me to be a very crude carving compared to any other examples I can see, upon comparing to some photos it looks sort of like Buta Nawasari but I am not sure. I think it is probably a very recent tourist piece but looking for any thoughts. Apologies for the bad photos I had trouble getting the detail. Thanks.
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Old 16th February 2020, 07:49 PM   #2
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I think you may be correct on all fronts. Frankly i have never seen an example of this form so crudely executed. You might well have made a better example if you carved one yourself.
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Old 16th February 2020, 07:52 PM   #3
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Hmmm, I don't know what I am looking at!? It is not only crudely cut but broken too? Not worth keeping.
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Old 16th February 2020, 10:42 PM   #4
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I don't think it's broken, it is hard to make it out in the photos it's easier in person. I will look for a better one and just put this one on a shelf.
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Old 17th February 2020, 06:40 AM   #5
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Can see one arm and with a bit of fantasy two legs but where is the head? Here is another better example of the BN handle (recent also).
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Old 17th February 2020, 10:07 AM   #6
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Ready for the trash bin. Every euro spent on it was one euro too much.
Better spent a little bit more for a decent ukiran.
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Old 17th February 2020, 12:59 PM   #7
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Yepp, you hit the nail.
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Old 17th February 2020, 06:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul B.
Hmmm, I don't know what I am looking at!? It is not only crudely cut but broken too? Not worth keeping.
I don't think it is broken Paul, just really poorly carved. The head is there, it is just thrown back and hard to see in the photos.
I'm afraid i do have to agree with my fellows here. Even at a very low price this was nothing but money thrown out the window. I do realize that different people will have different standards, but by my own this hilt is not suitable for anything beyond those fake pamor tourist keris-like-objects that you can find on eBay and in Bali marketplaces. You don't want to go overboard and buy a hilt that is far beyond the quality of the keris you are trying to dress, but if you search eBay you can probably find something suitable for this kris between $40-60usd.

Last edited by David; 19th February 2020 at 02:35 AM.
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Old 18th February 2020, 09:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elsquibble
It seems to me to be a very crude carving compared to any other examples I can see, upon comparing to some photos it looks sort of like Buta Nawasari but I am not sure. I think it is probably a very recent tourist piece but looking for any thoughts. Apologies for the bad photos I had trouble getting the detail. Thanks.
If you stretch your imagination a bit, you may see it as a beautiful piece of modern art from a talented artist rather than junk, see the interpretation of the pudak flower in the back and the face for instance, it reminds me of Miro...
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Old 18th February 2020, 11:45 AM   #10
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Jean, I'm not going to get into any sort of discussion in respect of the artistic worth of this hilt. It is a hilt. There are artistically fine hilts, and artistically inferior hilts, and everything in between.

However, what has thrown me is your reference to "the interpretation of the pudak flower in the back".

I cannot find a pandanus flower anywhere, and frankly, if this hilt is Nawa Sari, I would not expect to.

Where is the pudak flower?
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Old 18th February 2020, 01:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Jean, I'm not going to get into any sort of discussion in respect of the artistic worth of this hilt. It is a hilt. There are artistically fine hilts, and artistically inferior hilts, and everything in between.

However, what has thrown me is your reference to "the interpretation of the pudak flower in the back".

I cannot find a pandanus flower anywhere, and frankly, if this hilt is Nawa Sari, I would not expect to.

Where is the pudak flower?
Hello Alan,
You should not take my comment too seriously, the pudak flower or else is clearly seen on the top right pic, you can distinguish the hand grasping it also....
PS: 11 posts may be sufficient for commenting on this piece?
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Old 18th February 2020, 07:43 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone looks like I did well there
Like I said I don't mind as I hardly paid anything. Will be keeping an eye out for a decent hilt.
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Old 18th February 2020, 10:16 PM   #13
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Thank you very much Jean, you have given me the response that I was seeking:- you have clearly identified the object held by Nawa Sari as a pandanus, or pandan, or pudak flower.

However, I feel I must strenuously disagree with you that there has been sufficient discussion about this hilt. By your mention of the pudak flower you have with this single word turned this discussion in what I personally deem to be a very useful direction. Simply forget the quality or lack thereof of the hilt and focus on the idea:- we have here a representation of Nawa Sari.

Nawa Sari is frequently encountered in Bali, usually at or near the entrance to a pura (shrine, temple), sometimes near the entrance of buildings, often important buildings, sometimes government offices. In Bali Nawa Sari is regarded as one of the most powerful guardian figures, and this is his function when placed at an entrance:- he guards the entrance.

When he is employed as the hilt of a keris, his function is precisely the same as when he is placed at the entrance of a pura, that is, he guards the keris against the possibility of entry by any evil entity. The keris has the same nature as a shrine, and just as a shrine or pura must be guarded against entry by evil, so must the keris.

Now, where does the pandanus flower fit into all of this?

Well, the pandan or pudak flower was the flower used by Siwa when he was practicing his tapasya. The word "tapasya" is from the Sanscrit, and its meaning is "deep meditation". The word has come into Balinese & Javanese & Indonesian as "tapa", and has the meaning of asceticism. Asceticism is tied to the concept of deep meditation because such meditation in these places is practiced in extreme physical discomfort, even pain.

Because the pudak flower is Siwa's flower used in deep meditation, it is taken to represent Siwa himself, thus Nawa Sari is grasping behind his head a representation of Siwa and the inference is that Nawa Sari is ready to bring forth the power of Siwa against any evil entity that attempts to enter the pura, or the keris, that he is guarding.

The name "Nawa Sari" is interesting. In Balinese the word "nawa" means "nine", the word "sari" is situational and has several meanings depending upon the situation, but all these meanings can be understood to have the same essence. The meanings of the word "sari" in Balinese are understood as:- flower, pollen, mother's milk, the best of something, egg yolk, yellow, rice, coins when used in an offering.

Thus, in the context of the name "Nawa Sari", the word "sari" can be understood as "flower", so Nawa Sari : Nine Flowers. Clearly there is a deeper meaning to this name, and I am still working on the "nine", I suspect it is tied to the Balinese Trinity. I've been working on Nawa Sari for around 25 years, but I have not yet been able to get a clear explanation of the "nine" part of his name. This is one of the problems with deities in Bali, they are not regarded in the Mediterranean way, but rather in a distinctly Balinese way --- which we need not go into here.

The two images below show a somewhat sharper image of Elsquibble's Nawa Sari, and an image of Nawa Sari showing very clearly what his pudak flower should look like. This carving of Nawa Sari is situated at the entrance to a pura in Ubud, Bali.

I said I was not going to comment on the quality of the hilt under discussion, but I will say this:- in the hilt under discussion the character of the deity represented is perfectly clear, it is Nawa Sari, and it cannot be understood as anything other than Nawa Sari. If this is clear to people here, would it not also be perfectly clear to any evil entity?

Jean, I probably owe you an apology, I phrased my query on the pudak in a way that I thought would draw you out. I apologise if my wording was unsettling.
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Old 19th February 2020, 09:06 AM   #14
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Thank you Alan for the interesting discussion about Nawa Sari, and no apology needed
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Old 20th February 2020, 07:39 PM   #15
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Very interesting information, thanks for taking the time to write all that. I'm glad I picked it up now if only to initiate an interesting discussion.
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Old 17th March 2020, 12:08 PM   #16
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So that's what he's holding. Based primarily on photos of fine hilts taken from sub-optimal perspectives, I had become convinced that it was the amputated lower leg of a cloven-hoofed animal he was either using as a back scratcher, or holding poised to deliver a mighty overhand swing.
I've seen many a hilt which, to me, convey the impression that the carver had arrived at a deadline, and, ready or not, that hilt was now going up on the block as-is.
This particular hilt is actually quite a good model of how I might begin roughing out a Buta Nawasari myself.
I really can't help but wonder: why didn't he finish it, or, at least put some more time into it? His return would surely have been much greater. I can think of only one possible explanation, which presupposes that the hilt was not originally carved for the purpose of selling it.

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Old 17th March 2020, 01:20 PM   #17
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May I propose an alternative view?
This "hilt" well represents an abstract form of art. It could have been carved by Picasso some 80 years ago. Please refer to the worldwide known painting "Guernica"to see what I mean. However I advise to keep this carving well hidden in a drawer: in 100 or 200 years it could end up in a museum as an example of an "old artistic expression"....
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Old 17th March 2020, 05:28 PM   #18
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I am on the same page you are on, Gio.
I just checked in here this morning and, yes Picasso came to my mind also, including Guernica.
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Old 17th March 2020, 10:43 PM   #19
A. G. Maisey
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OK, so Picasso did it on one of his visits to Bali --- probably lazing on Kuta beach in between surfing (he was brave man).

Or maybe it was Antonio Blanco.

But lets just pretend that Picasso was not involved and Antonio was too busy with building his little palace.

We are all accustomed to seeing beautiful, artistically carved hilts flowing from Bali. For a long time these hilts have been produced either by fully professional artists or by talented amateurs. We tend to forget that in early Maritime South East Asia one of the measures of the sensitive nature of a man was his ability to carve his own weapon hilt and scabbard. This was the societal balance of a woman's ability to weave.

Men : carving; women : weaving.

This same measure could still be seen in operation amongst the Dyak peoples as late as the 1970's. It was one of the ways that a man or woman demonstrated their fitness for marriage.

In rural Central Jawa men will still, today, make their own keris fittings, not to demonstrate fitness for marriage, but to save money that they they cannot afford to spend.

In April of last year a Balinese gentleman gave me a hilt that he had carved, it was rather crude, he had painted it with gold paint. He was not a hilt carver, a craftsman, yes, but he did not carve hilts. In Bali, people other than professional hilt carvers also carve hilts.

My immediate impression when I first saw this hilt was that it was a learner's first attempt, or it was the product of somebody who could not afford to pay somebody else to work for him.
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Old 18th March 2020, 12:49 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

This same measure could still be seen in operation amongst the Dayak peoples as late as the 1970's. It was one of the ways that a man or woman demonstrated their fitness for marriage.
Examples of nice Dayak carvings and weavings...
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Old 18th March 2020, 02:08 PM   #21
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Jean, I don't think that we can categorise bead-work as weaving.

Beautiful basket, but not what we think of when we consider weaving. I'm talking about the type of weaving that produces a blanket, or an ikat cloth.
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Old 2nd November 2022, 02:42 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
The name "Nawa Sari" is interesting. In Balinese the word "nawa" means "nine", the word "sari" is situational and has several meanings depending upon the situation, but all these meanings can be understood to have the same essence. The meanings of the word "sari" in Balinese are understood as:- flower, pollen, mother's milk, the best of something, egg yolk, yellow, rice, coins when used in an offering.

Thus, in the context of the name "Nawa Sari", the word "sari" can be understood as "flower", so Nawa Sari : Nine Flowers. Clearly there is a deeper meaning to this name, and I am still working on the "nine", I suspect it is tied to the Balinese Trinity. I've been working on Nawa Sari for around 25 years, but I have not yet been able to get a clear explanation of the "nine" part of his name. This is one of the problems with deities in Bali, they are not regarded in the Mediterranean way, but rather in a distinctly Balinese way --- which we need not go into here.
A couple of questions, Alan:
  • Have you come any closer to an explanation of the "Nine" meaning in his name?
  • What do you mean by the Mediterranean way of regarding deities? I took this to mean that depicting and naming Mediterranean deities has far less euphemisms, ambiguities and hidden or multiple meanings than Balinese ones. But I'd like to clarify that with you.
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Old 2nd November 2022, 04:22 AM   #23
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No Jaga.

My idea of work when it comes to these sort of things is to have something in the back of my mind and when opportunities arise in the field --- in this case, in Bali --- ask questions or prompt discussions. I do not go after something by looking at everything ever published, I do not take all that much notice of the opinions of people from outside the society. I do try to extract ideas, knowledge & opinions from locals, on the ground.

Now, this sort of washes over onto your "Mediterranean" question. When I wrote that I don't know what was in my mind, but if we look at the way the old Greek & Roman gods and goddesses were thought of, the general opinion of them throughout society, seemed to be pretty consistent, and I guess that does to a degree reflect the European way of acting & reacting. There are goodies & baddies, goodies do good things, baddies do bad things, and the old gods were a bit like elevated humans.

But in Bali we have a different way of thinking about the gods & goddesses, no god or goddess is totally good or bad, and the way in which gods and goddesses are thought of can & does vary from one village to another.

Like --- let's talk about Durga for a minute. I do not recall ever talking with a western person who had an interest in Balinese or Hindu-Buddhist matters who did not immediately ID Durga as the very embodiment of blood thirsty evil.

OK, Durga was not always Uma or Parvati or Gauri, she was also Candika & Bhairavi & the Durga that non-Hindu Westerners usually think of. These names i have quoted are just a few of Durga's names. More than a few of my Hindu mates have Durga as a household deity. Durga can be both good and bad, and like most gods everywhere, can be in different places at the same time, & thus doing both good & evil at the same time.

The ideal is that that good & evil should always be in balance, it is no more desirable for a period of time to reflect all good, as it is for it to reflect all bad.

The real problems arise when things get out of balance.

Consider this:if a period of time is given over totally to good, that automatically means that for the world to get back into balance there must be an equivalent period given over to evil.

Imagine that, total evil everywhichway we turn, no escape. Not a good prospect, but if we have equal & balancing quotas of good & evil existing in the same period, life becomes bearable.

And that concept of "bearable" is about as much as any of us can reasonably hope for.

So, to get back to Bali & Durga, in village "A" Durga might be thought of as Candika, but a few kilometers up the road at village "B" she might be thought of as Parvati. Different names, different characters, but the same goddess, and if represented in art, she will look different.

This is just one of the problems of identifying identifying characters in art --- totogan hilts for example. If we know exactly where the carving was from, who carved it, when it was carved, and for what purpose, then we have a fair to reasonable chance of identifying the character. If we do not --- good luck.
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Old 13th November 2022, 09:59 PM   #24
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Do not know much about Kris hilts or Indonesian wood carvings.

But what if this is not a crude slapdash amateur thingie, but just a rough preliminary and unfinished handle?
I suspect 8 that unsigned Rembrandt’s sketches would not sell even for a price of Big Mack.
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Old 13th November 2022, 10:51 PM   #25
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It might well be Ariel, but as with many things associated with art/craft work in Jawa/Bali, we don't really know unless we are there watching while the thing is produced. Often we just guess.
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Old 13th November 2022, 11:45 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
But what if this is not a crude slapdash amateur thingie, but just a rough preliminary and unfinished handle?
I never imagined we would have so much to say about such a terrible little carving.
I will step out on a limb where perhaps Alan would rather not. Firstly i have seen many of these rough little "Nawa Sari" hilts, though this is possibly one of the roughest. They generally accompany Bali tourist keris, the ones that are stock reduction blades with fake pamor. So this is nothing unusual.
Secondly, if this was just a roughed out "sketch" awaiting a finishing hand, from the looks of it there would not be enough wood left to form a proper togogan hilt once the details were carved.
Lastly, at least to my eye, the wood appears to have had some finish put on it.
But even if that were the case, why would it matter. It is what it appears to be, w roughly carved figurative hilt of very little appeal or value that would not be a very respectable choice for any Bali keris.
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