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Old 5th January 2012, 09:01 PM   #1
Harley
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Default Wilah nr2 hope you can help with identification

This blade is about 35 cm without pesi, when i bought this one they told it was from East Java/Madura, but i don't know if that is true.
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Old 5th January 2012, 10:48 PM   #2
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Yes, it possibly is East Jawa, I don't think Madura, very unlikely to be Central Jawa.

Not much of a blade, and nothing I can see to allow me to take a punt at giving it a classification.
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Old 5th January 2012, 11:13 PM   #3
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Thank you Alan, i shall place the third wilah here, because i think that it is a sort of the same as this one.
And i hope that this time i do it in the right way, but you have to scroll

regards,
Ben
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Old 6th January 2012, 04:26 AM   #4
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Harley, this blade is vastly better than the previous one.

I am uncertain as to a classification, but I think possibly north coast, towards the west. Stained properly this blade would come up nicely. Not a bad blade at all.
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Old 6th January 2012, 05:48 AM   #5
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Hullo everybody,

Harley, your blades that I have seen seem to come from the Cirebon/Tegal area. If all of them are similar, you must have had a field day buying them up.
BTW ..... if they are indeed from this area, then I would call them 'Sunda', especially if they are longer than 'normal' (i.e. more akin to the larger Balinese blades). The Sunda traditionally prefer their blades to be 'dry' looking. Hence they don't stain them.
Blades tend to be simple and not 'proud'/intimidating.
WRT to dapur, that's more difficult.
Cirebon has had the longest exposure to Jawa influence. So the blades tend to follow the prevailing pakem Jawa. Though there are still those who adhere to the old pakem. However, I have noticed blades which seem to be some form of 'marriage' between the two. Confusion? Or merely commercial opportunism?

Best,
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Old 6th January 2012, 11:34 AM   #6
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That is a nice surprise!
Thank you again Alan, you're of the greatest help to me.

Hello Amuk Murugul,

To my untrained eyes they where similar, but it says more about me then about the wilah's i 'm afraid
I don't think they are longer as usual, this one is 35,5 cm(I forgot to mention).
I can Imagen that it's so difficult to tell something about the blades and even more when there is some kind of marriage between to different styles.
Thank you very much for your contribution!

regards,
Ben
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Old 6th January 2012, 08:42 PM   #7
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Amuk, I cannot disagree that the second blade that has been posted may be able to be classified as Cirebon, however, in the system of classification that I was taught, Cirebon is not recognized as a classification.

The relevant classification that includes Cirebon is Pajajaran, and Pajajaran is sub-divided into at least three sub classifications, which are numbered, not named.

However, I am very reluctant to identify this second blade as Pajajaran, because although there are some indicators which point to Pajajaran, for instance, the bata rubuh blumbangan, there are too many conflicting indicators, and as the blade is out of stain it is impossible to appraise the nature of the pamor, which is a key indicator for Pajajaran keris.

Still, it may be able to be tagged as Cirebon. Regrettably I have never encountered a list of indicators for a Cirebon classification, either within the system that I was taught, nor anywhere else.

The first blade posted is quite dissimilar to the second blade. My inclination is to place it as East Jawa, but the quality of the blade is really too low to permit any sort of realistic attempt at classification, and from the photos I cannot even guess what the material might be like. In fact, it could be from anywhere, so if you feel inclined to place it in West Jawa, or Sunda, I will respect your opinion, but in the absence of indicators it is difficult for me to understand how you came to that opinion.
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Old 7th January 2012, 10:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Still, it may be able to be tagged as Cirebon. Regrettably I have never encountered a list of indicators for a Cirebon classification, either within the system that I was taught, nor anywhere else.


Alan,
The indicators of the blades attributed to tangguh Cirebon are described in the EK (page 463) but they are not very distinctive nor matching with the strong Cirebon blades especially.
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Old 7th January 2012, 10:41 AM   #9
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Yes Jean, there is a supposed mention in EK, along with other tangguh, but its not really the definitive sort of thing that I'm used to. I'm afraid that virtually all the people I know well in Jawa who are associated with keris tend to take EK with a fairly considerable grain of salt.

I suppose I should not have used "never", but I very often automatically discount, and thus forget, things that are not worth remembering.
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Old 7th January 2012, 01:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Yes Jean, there is a supposed mention in EK, along with other tangguh, but its not really the definitive sort of thing that I'm used to. I'm afraid that virtually all the people I know well in Jawa who are associated with keris tend to take EK with a fairly considerable grain of salt.

I suppose I should not have used "never", but I very often automatically discount, and thus forget, things that are not worth remembering.


OK Alan, I understand and agree especially in this case as advised earlier; Would you consider that the 2 blades shown on the attached pictures are representative from Cirebon/ Northern Java? Both have old blades and old matching sheaths. The first one measures 47 cm without peksi and the second one 37 cm.
Best regards
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Old 7th January 2012, 02:23 PM   #11
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from what I know, Harley's blade could be east Jawa, Madiun area. Look at the luk sedheng construction as opposed to Cirebon's shallow luks.
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Old 7th January 2012, 03:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
OK Alan, I understand and agree especially in this case as advised earlier; Would you consider that the 2 blades shown on the attached pictures are representative from Cirebon/ Northern Java? Both have old blades and old matching sheaths. The first one measures 47 cm without peksi and the second one 37 cm.
Best regards


This thread is on the way to become very very interesting!

Your second keris is a beauty Jean and to my humble opinion it is in all parts a genuine Cirebon/North-West coast keris. Like Penangsang write are the shallow luks are a good sign.

Regards,

Detlef

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Old 7th January 2012, 03:16 PM   #13
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This keris I bought recently and think that it is a genuine Cirebon keris as well. Notice again the shallow luks.
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Old 7th January 2012, 03:22 PM   #14
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And here the pictures of a Cirebon keris which was sold some time ago from a very good and trustworthy seller by ebay.


[EDIT]
I am truly sorry, Detlef but your pictures contained a commercial link and as such, were not allowed .
Perhaps you could edit out the link and repost the pictures ...

Rick
[EDIT]

Sorry Rick, my mistake, don't thought about this.
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Old 7th January 2012, 03:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amuk Murugul
The Sunda traditionally prefer their blades to be 'dry' looking. Hence they don't stain them.


As well interesting since I have read/heard this before. And I have done an observation: Many (if I am able to say so since I haven't seen so much) keris sheaths from this region are painted (look my first example) or coated with something I don't know so that you can't see the wood. Someone else are able to confirm this? And why is it like this?

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 7th January 2012, 09:11 PM   #16
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Jean, I don't intend to be difficult, nor evasive here, but I'm afraid that you, and just about everybody else who contributes to discussion here look at keris in a different way to the way in which I look at a keris.

You have shown me photos of two keris, one of which (the full pendok) is probably able to be classified as Cirebon, the other of which is possibly Cirebon, however, in respect of the blades alone, I am not prepared to offer an opinion on origin.

It is very possible that the full pendok keris has a blade that might be able to be classified as Cirebon, and comparison with Ben's blade is worthwhile.

However, although I nearly always talk in terms of "classification", what I'm really talking about is tangguh. I use the English word "classification" because I am mostly addressing an English speaking audience, in Jawa I would use the word "tangguh".

I have often stated that in my opinion it is almost impossible to give an opinion on tangguh from photos. I say "almost impossible", this is because sometimes sufficient indicators are apparent in a photo to permit a supportable opinion to be given. That opinion could , of course, always be incorrect, and only if a blade is handled can a definite, defensible opinion be provided.

The question of classification becomes very, very much more difficult when a blade is a simple dhapur:- no greneng, no ron dha, no sogokan, no kembang kacang. Lacking these indicators it can sometimes approach extreme bravery to offer an opinion in respect of a classification --- or perhaps such opinions simply demonstrate a lack of understanding.

In the Solonese system of tangguh there is no tangguh Cirebon. Cirebon is included in tangguh Pajajaran, and tangguh Pajajaran has several numbered sub-divisions. To be certain of any blade that is suspected of being tangguh Pajajaran one definitely needs the blade in the hand. An opinion cannot be supported on the basis of what can be seen in a photo.

It is worthwhile remembering that the idea of tangguh arose in the ranks of the aristocracy of Central Jawa, principally amongst those who were attached to the Surakarta Karaton, and it arose for a defined purpose. That purpose was not simply to permit neat record keeping and the maintenance of a filing system.

At the present time there is a plethora of tangguh from which to choose, however, thirty years ago, and before that, the number of available tangguh was very much more limited. One may draw one's own conclusions from this. So, now we have tangguh Cirebon, however as I have already stated, I do not know what the indicators are for tangguh Cirebon. The notes in EK are totally inadequate, I can find nothing in any of the classic guidebooks. Who truly knows the indicators for Cirebon? Indicators that will permit the identification of blade if it is tangguh brojol, or tangguh tilam upih?

Now, you Jean, and Detlef have posted some keris as examples of Cirebon keris.

What I can see is four keris that have elements of dress that may, or may not be Cirebon, and four totally different blades.

Bear in mind:- when I am talking about a classification, or tangguh, I am addressing only the blade, and what I can see in these examples are four blades that bear not the slightest resemblance one unto the other.

I have mentioned "indicators" several times. What I am looking for in respect of indicators is, as a minimum, this:-


1) Tanting : perceived weight.

2) Besi : iron

3) Baja: steel

4) Pamor: the material used to create the contrasting pattern observed on a keris blade

5) Pawakan: the form of the body of the keris; the overall visual impression

6) Gonjo: the wider , separate section at the blade base

7) Gandhik: the swelling at the front of the blade base

8) Blumbangan: the depression at the blade base gripped between thumb and forefinger

9) Sogokan: the fuller or fullers sometimes found in the sorsoran of a keris

10) Ada-Ada: the central ridge

11) Kruwingan: the depressions running on either side of the ada-ada

12) Luk-lukan: the waves

13) Wadidang: the broad curve of the blade into the gonjo

Only about half of these indicators can be appraised from a photo, and some of the indicators do not exist in a keris with a simple dhapur.

Then with Cirebon we have the problem of makers.
Who were the known mpus in Cirebon?
I cannot answer this off the top of my head, I'd need to go back and plow through The genealogies extracted from the "Descent of the Mpus of the Land of Jawa", however, going just on memory, I cannot recall any notable mpus who were directly connected to Cirebon. No notable mpus can very possibly be interpreted as no distinct style, only dominant characteristics. This again makes it quite difficult to classify Cirebon.

As I said at the beginning of this post:- I look at keris in a somewhat different way to most other people. Because of this I regret that I am unable to provide a supportable opinion in response to the question you have raised in your post #10.
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Old 8th January 2012, 10:11 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
You have shown me photos of two keris, one of which (the full pendok) is probably able to be classified as Cirebon, the other of which is possibly Cirebon, however, in respect of the blades alone, I am not prepared to offer an opinion on origin.
In the Solonese system of tangguh there is no tangguh Cirebon.
Now, you Jean, and Detlef have posted some keris as examples of Cirebon keris.
What I can see is four keris that have elements of dress that may, or may not be Cirebon, and four totally different blades.
Bear in mind:- when I am talking about a classification, or tangguh, I am addressing only the blade, and what I can see in these examples are four blades that bear not the slightest resemblance one unto the other.

As I said at the beginning of this post:- I look at keris in a somewhat different way to most other people. Because of this I regret that I am unable to provide a supportable opinion in response to the question you have raised in your post #10.


Hello Alan,
Thank you very much for your detailed and logical reply. First I apologize for not having shown more detailed pictures of these blades as it is a bit difficult for me at present, but it would probably not have brought much additional information regarding their classification. However I can take additional pictures of the sorsoran and ganja if you deem it useful.
My question was supposed to be simple but it ended-up to be much more complex than I expected!
Regarding the straight blade, my point is as follows: I agree that it is not distinctive in terms of dapur and pamor but it seems an old blade measuring 47 cm long excluding the peksi, so could it originate from another area than Cirebon/Tegal? (such as a manufacturing center). Of course these blades are quite rustic ones and were not made by empus. I have and have seen several similar ones (see another example).
The Central Javanese tangguh system ignores Cirebon and Banten although these two centers constitute a very reliable source of genuine old krisses dating from the 17th century brought to Europe by the traders and now found in the museums and old collections as shown in Jensen's Krisdisk.
Best regards
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Old 8th January 2012, 10:38 AM   #18
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Jean, when we play the tangguh game there are certain things that I regard as givens.

For example, show me any blade with a Surakarta ron dha, a boto adeg blumbangan, and I'm going to say that it is Surakarta.

It might well not be, but if that is all the evidence I've got, I'll back Surakarta every time, UNTIL I GET IT IN MY HAND.

In my hand, my opinion could well change.

Now, if I am shown a photo of a blade that lacks any definitive characteristics, how is it possible for me to even give a very wild guess as to point of origin? It simply is not. Such a blade could be from anywhere.

Let me hold it, examine it properly, maybe think about it for a couple of days, I might be able to put forward an opinion that I can support. But from a photo? I regret I do not have psychic powers.

Further, the tangguh system was never, ever intended to be applied to low , or even middle quality blades. Everybody who follows this Forum should have realized this by now, as it has been stated a number of times, not only by myself, but also by others.

Its fine to present a complete keris and claim such and such a place as its point of origin. I don't have any problem at all with this. But to try to hang a tangguh on the blade of this keris, when there is absolutely no evidence to support the opinion of the tangguh is just not on.

What virtually everybody in the present day fails to realize is that the tangguh system was not devised for the purpose of being able to identify old blades, stick a label on them, and put them in the right pigeon hole. The purpose of the system was far more serious than that, for the people concerned. I will not expand on this remark, as I have a paper in the pipeline.

Yes, a lot of blades that entered Europe early were obtained in Cirebon and Banten, but this does not mean that they were made there. There was a very active trade network throughout Jawa and the rest of S.E. Asia long before and continuing past the 16th & 17th centuries. The major power in Jawa in the 17th century was Mataram, at least some of these early blades collected in Banten and Cirebon must be from Mataram. It would be illogical to think otherwise.
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Old 8th January 2012, 02:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Jean, when we play the tangguh game there are certain things that I regard as givens.
Yes, a lot of blades that entered Europe early were obtained in Cirebon and Banten, but this does not mean that they were made there. There was a very active trade network throughout Jawa and the rest of S.E. Asia long before and continuing past the 16th & 17th centuries. The major power in Jawa in the 17th century was Mataram, at least some of these early blades collected in Banten and Cirebon must be from Mataram. It would be illogical to think otherwise.


Hello Alan,
Actually I am not playing the tangguh game (estimated manufacturing period and area of origin) for these long straight blades which I showed since they are not very old and there are no reliable indicators for tangguh Cirebon as you say, but simply to confirm their area of origin; this should be much simpler like for Balinese or Minangkabau krisses, etc. Unfortunately I never visited the area so I have no personal evidence to offer.

Regarding the blades collected during the 16th/ 17th century especially in Banten, there is evidence from the travellers that at least some of them were made locally. These luk blades are very strong and thick and do not look like at all the contemporary ones attributed to tangguh Mataram and I find it very disturbing for accepting the indicators attributed to tangguh early Mataram (or Majapahit since the smiths from Banten were supposed to have migrated from the collapsed Majapahit kingdom).
Best regards
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Old 9th January 2012, 05:32 AM   #20
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Jean, as soon as we begin to discuss the origin of a blade we are playing tangguh.

Tangguh is not dependent upon age, it is a system of classification, and it applies to all periods up until the present day.

If your objective is to confirm geographic area of origin, then you are most certainly playing tangguh.

There is no way that an area of origin opinion can be given except by reference to the indicators used in tangguh.

In respect of the blades so far shown in this thread, we have a number of blades of varying quality, varying age, varying state of preservation, and varying style and form. I am totally unable to say whether one or more of these blades originated in the Cirebon area . I simply do not know, and at present I have no way of knowing.

I do recall that Gonjo Wulung appears to have some knowledge of blades that at the present time are generally accepted as being of Cirebon origin. He may be able to answer your question. I cannot.

Away, and apart from anything else. the system that I learnt does not provide for a Cirebon classification, this system effectively says that Cirebon is pretty unimportant from the perspective of the original purpose of tangguh classification, and thus can be disregarded for practical purposes, it is able to be classified as one of the variations of Pajajaran.

If you wish to confirm origin of the hilts and scabbards, this is a different matter, and to the best of my knowledge I could not disagree with a Cirebon attribution for one of the scabbards, a couple are possibles, one I know as Tegal, one looks rather East Jawa. These are impressions based upon experience, I am not prepared to be absolutely definite in this matter because we are into an area of kerisology that is truly of very, very limited interest to me.

Regarding Banten blades, yes, I think it would be reasonable to assume that some blades were made in Banten, and we do have a reasonably good idea what the characteristics of a Banten blade are.

The practice of blade classification known as tangguh did not begin until well into the colonial period, at which time the blades that were attributed to early Mataram were already around 300 years old. What was being classified as Mataram was in fact only a shadow of Mataram. If we look at Mataram blades that were removed from area of origin when they were still young, we have a totally different blade.

I've said this many times already, but it does bear repetition:-

Tangguh is a system of classification; it uses the names of historical eras or geographic locations as the names of the various classifications; in the case of the recent past those names very probably bear some genuine relationship to the era, and to the geographic location, an example of this would be keris of tangguh Surakarta; in the case of long distant historical eras the name used for the tangguh and the actual historical era very probably have only a passing relationship, one that owes as much to popular belief and court poets as it does to fact.

A great number of Javanese and other keris fanciers will disagree with what I am saying here, and that is their prerogative, but when the various tangguhs are viewed objectively, and any sort of logical association is attempted between the blade and the historic era, the burden of reasonable proof must rest with those who wish tangguh to be a true identification with the relevant historic era.

It is best not to unquestioningly accept a tangguh classification as meaning that the blade to which that tangguh has been assigned did in fact originate in, for example, the realm of Majapahit, during the ascendancy of Majapahit.

When we try to reconcile the Javanese idea of "history" and the past with the Euro-centric idea of history and the past, we can only do so if we adopt a Javanese mindset, and in today's world, it seems to me that more and more Javanese people are moving towards a western mindset, and away from the mindset of their forefathers.
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Old 9th January 2012, 10:50 AM   #21
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Hello Alan,
Thank you for your detailed reply and I am sorry that you had to repeat your views regarding the tangguh classification which I fully share and I admit that I am looking at it with a purely Western historical point of view.
It is clear that the krisses from Cirebon/ Northern Java were not studied in detail and constitute one area of missing kris knowledge. Considering them as one variant of the Pajajaran krisses looks a simplification to me since the Cirebon Sultanate was independent from the 16th century.
I looked into my reference books and the only one referring to the Cirebon krisses in some detail is the Krisdisk from K.S Jensen but he focuses mainly on the hilts, and the kris blades shown are very diversified and some may not originate from Cirebon except the ones from the museums which can be traced back to the 16th/ 17th century. However I found one specimen of a long straight blades similar to mine on page 14 of the Cirebon chapter (figure 29a, lenght 42 cm, and estimated from 19th century). I also found another similar blade in volume 2 of the book "De Kris" from Tammens on page 260 (attributed to Tegal, 47 cm long, and estimated from Majapahit period, haha!). For the meantime and unless somebody can advise otherwise, I will continue to believe that these long straight blades with dapur Tilam Upih and full & indistinct pamor are one of the types of blades from the Cirebon/ Tegal area.
And regarding the distinctive blades brought from Banten and Cirebon to Europe during the 16th & 17th century, I am still waiting a valid theory for linking them with the contemporary Javanese krisses.
I have reached my limits on these subjects, other views will be welcome!
Best regards
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Old 9th January 2012, 01:47 PM   #22
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during Sultan Agung's attempts to capture Batavia from the Dutch, the Jawanese forces were centered in Cirebon/Tegal/Banten. Thus kerises during that period are actually easier to identify, being bigger and longer than normal keris as they were meant for war. This hefty size of kerises were later on called the corok classification. The Makassarese/Buginese, fresh from their defeat in Gowa makassar later on adopted the corok keris as one of their weapons, hence the keris sundang which later on spread to the whole archipelago especially in bugis dominated area in sumatra and kalimantan including southern filipina.
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Old 9th January 2012, 02:17 PM   #23
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Yes Jean, I agree, there is somewhat of a hole in understanding of exactly what the characteristics of a Cirebon blade might be. Since the people who wrote the rule book on this game were Javanese, this suggests to me that to the Javanese, Cirebon was not regarded as particularly important to them from the perspective of a tangguh classification for keris which might have originated from that place.

The people who wrote the rule book were not collectors who sought to pigeonhole keris, but Javanese aristocrats who had an entirely different motivation for developing a system of classification. To those people, clearly Cirebon simply did not matter.

Thus, they lumped Cirebon and other places to the west into one basket and called that basket Pajajaran. Yes, agreed, it is a simplification, for the apparent reason that Cirebon was not relevant to those aristocrats.

I think you know my views on identification of blades in European sources, so I'm not going to go there. However, let us look at the straight blades posted to this thread:-

Post #10 unable to be definite from the photo, but it appears to have some characteristics which could indicate Pajajaran (now corrected)

Post # 14 classifiable as Tuban

Post # 17 this blade displays some Mataram characteristics, as is usual, it would need to be handled for any certainty

But the important thing is this:- each of these blades is totally different one from the other, to my eye, no similarities at all, except that they are keris and straight. To my eye these keris are total strangers to one another.

Two of the waved blades are similar:- the blade in post #1, and the blade in post # 10.

In respect of the difference in appearance that exists between blades brought from the North Coast of Jawa in the 16th and 17th centuries, and Javanese blades that exist today and are claimed to originate from the same time frame.

What we see today are blades which are only shadows , or ghosts, of the originals. Erosion of material due to tropical climate and repeated cleaning over several hundred years has resulted the frail shadows that we see today.

I have a blade that has the provenance of having been brought to Holland prior to 1800. It is a perfect generic Mataram blade, except for one thing:- it is strong, thick and powerful. Virtually no erosion has occurred.

There is another factor that must be recognized:- simply because these early blades were collected on the North Coast, this does not mean they were made on the North Coast. I think close examination of these blades would result in classifications other than the North Coast for some of them.

Jean, I have no problem at all with anybody believing what he will about origin, or name, or almost anything else with keris. To me, these things are not particularly relevant to my own core interest. Javanese keris people believe that keris of modern form which are classifiable as Kahuripan and Kediri actually originated in those places during the relevant eras. If its OK for these people to believe that, its OK for western collectors to believe whatever they wish to believe. Meanwhile, the really big questions that surround the keris in Jawa and Bali go unrecognized, let alone addressed.

Keris in Jawa are surrounded by belief systems rather than systems based upon knowledge and logic. Why shouldn't western collectors be permitted the same indulgence?

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 9th January 2012 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 9th January 2012, 05:17 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Post #14 unable to be definite from the photo, but it appears to have some characteristics which could indicate Pajajaran

Post # 14 classifiable as Tuban

Alan, could you clarify this. You named 2 blades as post #14, but that post only contains one blade.
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Old 9th January 2012, 05:24 PM   #25
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Hello Alan,
Thank you for your interesting reply again and I will just make some minor observations:
You first say that the blade in post # 14 may be from Pajajaran and in next sentence from Tuban, I think that you mean post # 10 may be from Pajajaran and post #14 from Tuban, please confirm.
To my eyes, the blades shown in posts # 10 and # 17 are quite similar (the style of tikel alis for instance), however # 17 is more recent I think, and the differences may only come from the village smiths who made them. If you held # 17 in your hand, you would probably disregard the Mataram classification because of its size (43 cm without peksi). I show you two other similar blades for reference, the first one is 42 cm long and similar to post # 10 and the second one 40 cm long and similar to post# 17 (more recent).
Regarding the differences between the old blades in the European museums and those attributed to contemporary Javanese periods, of course I agree that the erosion should play a part. However the differences in the shape of these two categories of blades (size, luks, kembang kacang, ganja, gandik, etc.) are such that it does not appear to be a sufficient explanation to me, and the pamor should have virtually disappeared from these "ghost" blades, which is not always the case. Of course I assume that the dating and provenance of these krisses in the museums are basically correct, if not from where? (Bali as thought by Bambang Harsrinuksmo?).
And I fully agree with your conclusion....
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Jean
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Old 9th January 2012, 05:48 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PenangsangII
during Sultan Agung's attempts to capture Batavia from the Dutch, the Jawanese forces were centered in Cirebon/Tegal/Banten. Thus kerises during that period are actually easier to identify, being bigger and longer than normal keris as they were meant for war. This hefty size of kerises were later on called the corok classification. The Makassarese/Buginese, fresh from their defeat in Gowa makassar later on adopted the corok keris as one of their weapons, hence the keris sundang which later on spread to the whole archipelago especially in bugis dominated area in sumatra and kalimantan including southern filipina.


Thank you PenangsangII, I knew the term corok but did not know that these strong krisses originated during the 17th century. Effectively the old kris blades from Banten/ Cirebon in the European museums are generally stronger and longer than those attributed to tangguh Mataram (about 40 cm versus 35).
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Old 9th January 2012, 07:50 PM   #27
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Thanks David.

Now fixed.

Yesterday was a long day.
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Old 9th January 2012, 09:37 PM   #28
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Yes Jean. Wrong number. Written down correctly, transcribed incorrectly. I was up at 3.30am yesterday, drove to Sydney for a meeting, round trip of about 500 km, came home, watched Zulu, and wrote my post sometime around 1am. It was a long day.

Jean, the tikel alis in the two blades in posts # 10 and # 17 are about as different as Javanese tikel alis can get --- at least, according to what I can see on my screen they are. If we examine the tikel alis in #10 it appears to terminate in line with the tampingan, and in the hand, there would probably be a nicely rounded curved edge rising up into the gandhik. This style of tikel alis is what we regard as the "new" style. Apart from the way in which it terminates under the gandhik, the line of the tikel alis down (or up) the blade appears to curve gently into the blade edge, and to taper.

Now look at the tikel alis in #17. This tikel alis terminates past the tampingan and in the hand it would probably give the appearance of flowing openly through to the front of the keris. This is the type of tikel alis that we regard as the "old" style . Then look at the line of the tikel alis down the blade, it is more or less straight.

Then look at the radius of curve in the tikel alis on both keris:- utterly different.

Then look at the proportion and style of the sorsoran on both keris :- utterly different.

The proportion of the two blumbangans appears to vary.

The wadidang appears to have a different radius.

It is difficult to appraise the shape of a sirah cecak from a side view, but I feel that if we could look at both sirah cecak from above, there might also be a variation in form here, too.

I feel that examination of #10 with a loupe would possibly reveal that the edges of the pamor show a minute gap between pamor layer and core; I doubt that the edges of the pamor layer of # 17 will show a similar gap.

Yes, it is certain that where a blade is not produced by an empu or a pandai keris, variations in style can occur. Variations in style can also occur between equally skilled empus working during the same period, but these variations in style are minute, the variations in style that we are looking at in the two blades under discussion are immense variations.

To anybody who is used to following Javanese standards of appraisal, the differences of style between these two blades is immediately obvious and must place them into two totally separate categories.

If we look at the two straight blades shown in post # 25, stylistic variation is even greater.

If we wish to compare an old Javanese blade that was removed from Jawa 300 years ago, and a blade from the same era, and that we can be reasonably certain is from the same era, that has remained in Jawa, we first need to understand methods of construction and the degree to which rust and cleaning can erode a blade. In effect, we need the experience to be able to mentally reduce one blade, and increase the other. This is not a particularly easy thing to do unless we have had many years experience in the actual handling of vast numbers of blades in varying states of preservation.

Then we have the problem of variations in characteristics that flow from variations in tangguh. Without training and considerable experience it is simply not possible to carry out such comparisons.

A Javanese ahli keris looks at a keris blade with different eyes than those of an untrained person. He looks for a degree of detail that the untrained person is not even aware exists. It takes a very long time to learn the variations in detail that need to be identified. Even then, the most experienced of men can sometimes take a few days of constantly handling and thinking on a blade before being willing to offer an opinion.

Truly, we are knee deep in a very difficult and complex subject here, and one that cannot be addressed satisfactorily at arms length by way of images on a computer screen.

When we come to consider physical size of blade, what we know is this:- keris from Bali, Blambangan, and Banten all have similar proportions. These are the "big" keris. Keris from the western line of development generally are bigger than keris that have come from the inland line of development. It might be theorized that this size was at least in part a product of better availability of material in the coastal communities than in the inland.

Cirebon is on the north coast. It is westwards. It is next door to Banten.

Regarding the "independence" of Cirebon.

In the 15th century Cirebon was just a fishing village. By the early 16th century the location of Cirebon had moved by a few kilometers and the local ruler declared independence from his overlord, because this local ruler had converted to Islam --- probably for the same reason that Majapahit princes converted to Islam:- trade links.

Then Sunan Gunungjati came on the scene, and Cirebon developed as a sultanate and important trading port.

Mataram and Banten both wanted control of Cirebon, and Sultan Agung of Mataram eventually won dominance ( first half 17th century). Cirebon was always a comparatively minor place that was in truth, only a coastal base for Mataram. But this situation only continued for a comparatively brief period, because by the last quarter of the 17th century the Dutch had control of Cirebon. Under the Dutch the administration of Cirebon was split between two or three Javanese lords, the usual Dutch "divide and conquer" policy.

Cirebon began as a fishing village, it developed as an Islamic trade enclave, it had no line of descent from Javanese royalty, it was subservient to Mataram, and then under Dutch control. Is it any wonder that the aristocrats of the House of Mataram had no interest in the keris of Cirebon?

Perhaps modern keris collectors may have some interest in Cirebon, but this is not an interest that has any parallel in traditional Javanese thought or values.
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Old 10th January 2012, 01:47 AM   #29
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only until recently, Pajajaran (mostly found around Cirebon) kerises were not really appreciated by collectors based in Jawa, but the situation seems to gradually change. This phenomenon takes place because, outside Jawa, for example in Malaysia, the Cirebonese kerises are appreciated more due to close resemblance in terms of construction and material with that of Buginese and Malay originated kerises.

Historically speaking, though the courts of Jawa (Solo & Jogja) were the centers of keris culture within Jawa, Cirebon gained more influence throughout the archipelago due to its role in the late 16th and 17th century. In particular, after the fall of Gowa Makassar to the Dutch in 1669, many Makassarese nobels and muslim clerics settled in Cirebon, and also in Sumatra and peninsula. This explains why kerises from Sumatra, Peninsula, Kalimantan and even Celebes were greatly influenced by the Pajajaran (Cirebon) kerises.

And lets not forget that many great empus were actually from Padjajaran. They moved to all corners of Jawa island due to bad condition in Padjajaran kingdom (Karsten Jensen disk) and after the Bubatan tragedy. Even the great empu Supo was also from Padjajaran. However, the keris culture within padjajaran (Cirebon) does not evolve as much as Mataram's kerises. Here we see the padjajaran (Cirebon) kerises still maintain the demonic/rasaksa/buta bajang/ganesha hilts and the old ladrang of jawa whilst Jawanese kerises had adopted new styles of nunggak semi hilts and gayaman/ladrangan sheaths.
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Old 10th January 2012, 03:09 AM   #30
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Penangsang, can I assume that you are located in Malaysia?

I raise this question because some of your recent posts relating to the Javanese keris reflect a point of view that is at variance with the generally accepted beliefs in Jawa. I find this interesting, as it demonstrates the existence of a non-Javanese belief system that relates to Javanese keris.

Regarding the smiths of Pajajaran. It seems that they migrated en masse to Majapahit, and this occurred a long time before Cirebon was even a dot on the map.

In respect of the very recent popularity of keris of Pajajaran classification, I feel that this is indicative of an increase in interest in the keris in general as a collectable, and a parallel deterioration in traditional Javanese values.
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