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Old 21st August 2020, 09:10 PM   #1
Interested Party
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Default South Sumatra?

I have been following the keris Palembang thread http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...91&page=1&pp=30 and the referenced materials closely. I wasn't sure if I should place this on that tread or a new one. In the end the discussion was so in depth I did not want to risk derailing a very enlightening dialogue. A big thank you to all the participants involved.

Here is a keris in what I think is a southern Sumatran style. The hilt is Jawa demam with two large repaired cracks. Whether cracked from age or being carved from green wood I do not know. The standard Garuda beak emerges from the back of the figure. What I find interesting is the second Garuda in the form of a geometric pattern at the top of the headdress/crown. Spirals at the top of the head serve as eyes. Leaves/tendrils frame a beak. In between the eyes tip of the beak there is a triangle formed of three leaves that appear as nostrils. The leaf motif is repeated on the front of the hilt possibly being eyes of the figure above a beak-like nose. If these leaves on the front of the hilt are seen as eyes for the figure as a whole then the three leaves mentioned above as being the nostrils of the geometric Garuda's beak could be seen as representing eyes as well with the third eye open and equal above the others. OR the figure could be seen as faceless similar to a Durga, and everything above the void/blank space could be interpreted as part of the figure's crown. The blanket on the left shoulder is patterned by vines. The blade is ganja iras very similar to the one in http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...light=palembang. The blumbangan is sloppily cut. These are the attributes I believe I have some understanding of.

The blade if it ever was stained, the stain has worn or been polished off. I have wondered if the blade has been shortened at some point? Would the blade be described as lurus vs sapukal? The pamor of each side of the blade is different. The blade does not quite sit flush in its warangka and has become even more prominent with intensive hydration of the wood with raw linseed oil, but on the bright side the piece no longer has that brittle, fibrous feel accompanied by a rasping noise when handled. The buntut, if not the whole sarong, strike me as a replacement. Finally, I believe the selut may be plated as it has a machined look at the bottom edge near the ganja diffrent than the rest of the metal.

How would one finish describing the blade? Would it have a tangguh and daphur? Age?

The hilt's dimensions are:
9.5cm long to bottom of selut
6cm deep
3cm wide
11.5cm in circumference

The blades dimensions are:
29cm long point to ganja
7cm wide at the ganja
2.4cm wide below the ganja
0.85cm thick at the ganja
0.60cm thick 3cm above the ganja
0.45cm at mid point
0.3cm 2cm from the tip
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Old 21st August 2020, 09:12 PM   #2
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Default Hilt pictures

Pictures of the hulu
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Old 22nd August 2020, 08:34 AM   #3
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The blade does not look Javanese so the concepts of tangguh and dhapur do not apply.
IMO this kris originates from Sumatra but with mixed elements, the blade is old and probably from South Sumatra (not in sepokal style), and it does not match with the Bugis scabbard, and the hilt is in Jawa deman (shivering Javanese) style probably from Central Sumatra.
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Old 23rd August 2020, 03:09 PM   #4
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Thank you Jean. Much appreciated. It seems I can grasp the symbolism and iconography a bit but how to describe a keris continues to elude me. I need a better library.
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Old 24th August 2020, 01:33 PM   #5
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By the way Marco Noris in his excellent book "Gods, demons, and ancestors - Art of Indonesian kris hilts" (page 16 & 17) attributes this style of JD hilt with spiralling eyes to South-West Sumatra and he may well be right. These hilts are found in several regions of Sumatra with minor variations only.
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Old 10th September 2020, 09:10 PM   #6
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I do need to pick up books authored by our members. So much to read out there.

Jean, you mentioned a Bugis type scabbard. In modern terminology how does that differ from what Gardner called a Northern type that he said comes from Perak?
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Old 11th September 2020, 08:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party

Jean, you mentioned a Bugis type scabbard. In modern terminology how does that differ from what Gardner called a Northern type that he said comes from Perak?


Gardner was based in Malaysia and he describes a Malay style of scabbard from Perak (Malaysia), but which is rather similar to the Bugis type of scabbard originating from Sulawesi, Sumbawa, and East Sumatra/ Riau islands.
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Old 11th September 2020, 05:03 PM   #8
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Thank you Jean. How does one tell the difference? Is it the presence of a lata in the op example?

Is the study of the keris is a game of cultural relativism and that if one is not native to a keris culture, to a certain extent, picking one culture as an anchor helps to interpret the deluge of information in the beginning? OR should one always view an object in relation to it's original culture. OPTION 3 Dualism. Compartmentalizing these opposing views in parallel interpretations of a work?

This subject somehow reminds me of being in a conversations with a Spanish, a Portuguese, and an Italian speaker at once. As Mr. Maisey said a few posts back, "kindergarten fees."
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Old 11th September 2020, 06:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interested Party
Thank you Jean. How does one tell the difference? Is it the presence of a lata in the op example?

Is the study of the keris is a game of cultural relativism and that if one is not native to a keris culture, to a certain extent, picking one culture as an anchor helps to interpret the deluge of information in the beginning? OR should one always view an object in relation to it's original culture. OPTION 3 Dualism. Compartmentalizing these opposing views in parallel interpretations of a work?

This subject somehow reminds me of being in a conversations with a Spanish, a Portuguese, and an Italian speaker at once. As Mr. Maisey said a few posts back, "kindergarten fees."


I am not qualified about Malaysian krisses so other members may tell more accurately.
There are regional variations among the style of Malaysian kris scabbards, and they slightly differ from the Indonesian Bugis pieces, especially the shape of the sampir (more or less massive and flared), the stem (more or less thick and long, narrowing or not towards the tip), and the style of buntut (tip of the stem).
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Old 11th September 2020, 10:28 PM   #10
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I.P., I think that perhaps your question posed in post #8 could well be central to any interest at all in the keris.

There is probably no "one size fits all" answer.

It is possible to simply like the appearance of the keris, and to collect keris as some sort of exotic, unusual thingamajig. I've known more than a few people who had this approach:- they liked keris, they collected keris, they knew almost nothing about the keris and had no real desire to know. The object itself was sufficient.

Other people might take a slightly more serious approach and learn how to perhaps identify location & time of origin of a keris, along with a few names in more or less the language or languages at point of origin.

There are other people who delve into the techniques and processes involved in manufacture, others who have an interest in cultural aspects, others who consider the history or development, and still others who have an interest in other things that I have not mentioned here.

My personal approach is that the keris is a weapon that has become a cultural icon and that to understand the nature of the keris one needs to understand its origins, its development over time, the ways in which it has been used and worn, the techniques of production both of the keris itself (ie, only the blade) and of its dress, and above all the way in which the culture & society from which a particular keris might originate is thought of within that culture & society.

No one of these approaches is necessarily correct nor incorrect, it is a matter of individual preference as to which road one wishes to walk along.

As to "kindergartens" I reckon I didn't get out of kindergarten until I was about 42 years old, 30 years after I obtained my first keris, and during that 30 years I had read everything in print & written in English that related to the keris. I might be a bit of a slow learner, but probably no more stupid than most people, it was just that I did not have access to the information I wanted until after I learnt the Indonesian & Javanese languages and could adapt my thinking process to the way in which Javanese people thought. I'm still only a learner.
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Old 12th September 2020, 06:19 PM   #11
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Something I know from the martial arts world feels relevant here.

"We're all beginners here; some of us have just been beginners longer."

Have fun,
Leif
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