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Old 29th April 2020, 11:19 AM   #1
mariusgmioc
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Default "Balinese Keris" book

Hello,

Does anybody have the book "Balinese Keris" by Kam Garrett?

Is it worth buying?
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Old 29th April 2020, 12:00 PM   #2
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Yes, I have it and it is worth buying IMO, I learned some interesting information, the author lived in Bali for a long time.
I bought it from the Leiden Museum bookshop.
Regards
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Old 29th April 2020, 01:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Yes, I have it and it is worth buying IMO, I learned some interesting information, the author lived in Bali for a long time.
I bought it from the Leiden Museum bookshop.
Regards


Merci beaucoup!
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Old 1st May 2020, 01:23 AM   #4
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I'm curious - what makes this better than other Bali books?
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Old 1st May 2020, 02:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
I'm curious - what makes this better than other Bali books?


Good for people like me who only knows English.......
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Old 1st May 2020, 08:00 AM   #6
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I think I would prefer to reserve comment on this subject.
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Old 1st May 2020, 08:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Battara
I'm curious - what makes this better than other Bali books?


First and as Anthony said, the book is written in English. The author studied Asian Art at the Hawai University, then he was trained as a professional Javanese court dancer and performed across the world. He moved to Bali and became curator of a major art Museum in Ubud.... He converted to Balinese Hinduism and immersed himself in Balinese culture for many years and in the study of the Balinese kris with the help of local experts. I would consider his book as the Balinese equivalent of the book "The World of the Javanese Kris" written by G. and B. Solyom, although some members may not agree as I understand....
Regards

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Old 1st May 2020, 12:44 PM   #8
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Apart from the keris book, Garrett Kam has also published these pieces of writing:-

https://independent.academia.edu/GarrettKam

I would suggest that everybody should buy this book, together with Pak Neka's publications and form their own opinions.

Perhaps the value of any piece of writing is found in the knowledge of the reader and that which he wishes to learn from what he reads.
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Old 1st May 2020, 06:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I think I would prefer to reserve comment on this subject.

I certainly respect your decision not to comment, but can i ask if you have actually read the book in question, or if not, is your decision not to read it based upon the previous writings of Garrett Kam?

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Old 1st May 2020, 08:45 PM   #10
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Sorry David, I really should not comment, I am in a position where it would be unfair to do so.

I'm not making any comment against the book, I'm not making any comment in favour of it, I have simply said that I will make no comment, but on the other hand I have suggested that people who are interested in the subject matter, ie, Balinese keris, should buy not only Garrett Kam's book, but the Neka books, and actually every other book that they can get their hands on.

In a roundabout way my suggestion is that people should build knowledge and then form their own opinion of the value of anything that they might happen to read.

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Old 2nd May 2020, 09:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
In a roundabout way my suggestion is that people should build knowledge and then form their own opinion of the value of anything that they might happen to read.


I agree.
Regarding this book, my appreciation is as follows:
. The major interest of this book is that it describes the place and use of the kris into the Balinese culture, which is quite unique.
. The author is apparently not a kris expert himself but he was assisted by an experienced Balinese kris collector so that the kris information given is adequate. Having read the master books from Neka and Djelenga (in Bahasa Indonesia and somewhat confusing), I did not learn much new knowledge in this book, but appreciated some aspects such as the Balinese kris terminology and the fact that the daphur types were not actually used in Bali.
. So overall I found that this book is a very good and unparalleled introduction to the Balinese kris in the Balinese cultural context.
Regards

Last edited by Jean : 2nd May 2020 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 2nd May 2020, 11:17 AM   #12
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this new book should be released in Bali this summer (covid permitting)
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Old 2nd May 2020, 12:07 PM   #13
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Thank you Marco.
Do you know more about this book (authors, contents, etc)?
Regards
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Old 2nd May 2020, 12:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Thank you Marco.
Do you know more about this book (authors, contents, etc)?
Regards

dear Jean I know very little about this book. The book is in Bahasa and in english and the authors are:
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Old 2nd May 2020, 02:04 PM   #15
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Thank you Marco. Hum, only one of the 3 authors seems to Balinese....
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Old 2nd May 2020, 08:50 PM   #16
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Let us not hang the messengers Jean ---
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Old 3rd May 2020, 05:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I'm not making any comment against the book, I'm not making any comment in favour of it, I have simply said that I will make no comment, but on the other hand I have suggested that people who are interested in the subject matter, ie, Balinese keris, should buy not only Garrett Kam's book, but the Neka books, and actually every other book that they can get their hands on.

In a roundabout way my suggestion is that people should build knowledge and then form their own opinion of the value of anything that they might happen to read.

While i do not disagree with the general concept here Alan, i do need to point out that some of us have only so much money to put into our keris libraries. So for me personally, the idea of purchasing "every other book that they can get their hands on" is not really a workable model, especially given that many books on keris come with a large price tag given they can only really be sold in a rather limited market and end up being little more than repetition of old info with a few new snazzy photos attached. That is why i believe it is good to have a fair and open-minded discussion with knowledgable people who have indeed read the book in order to determine if that book is worth adding to our libraries or something that will only take up shelve space while adding little if anything to our present knowledge base.
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Old 3rd May 2020, 09:47 PM   #18
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OK David, you want more than I intended to give?

If a journalist is given information long before it becomes publicly available, and his informant is somebody who is in a privileged position in respect of the information itself and the people it involves, and his informant has told him that the information is off the record, tell me, what does that journalist do?

Most especially what does he do if he wants to obtain information in future from his informant? Sometimes the information might never become publicly available, sometimes it might become available long after it is of any interest to anybody, but the rule is the same:- if one is given privileged information one keeps one's mouth shut.

Sometimes we are in possession of knowledge that it unwise to give to others, and would undermine our integrity if we did . In respect of the book under discussion, I do not have a copy of this book, but I have seen and read the material that is contained in this book.

As to my remark about purchasing "every other book that they can get their hands on", that remark contains a qualification that very adequately takes care of the money problem that we all face at some level or another. If one is a little short of funds then clearly one is unable to get their hands on a lot of things.

Going back a long time, the only way I could get my hands on Raffles' "History of Java" was to do a 50 kilometer round trip to the State Library in Sydney, and then spend the afternoon reading and making notes. I needed a copy of that book more than a mongrel dog needs a hiding, but only originals were available from antique booksellers and they were simply beyond my means.

I do understand what you have said David, and in fact the core of my post #10 is in the last line of that post.

In my experience the way in which to build knowledge is first & foremost to identify exactly what it is that one wishes to know or to learn, and that identification of "knowledge needed" then becomes one's guide to where and how to seek that knowledge. In respect of knowledge concerning keris, and in particular Balinese keris, very seldom does the material presented in print that focuses upon keris assist the understanding of a true student of the keris.

But on the other hand, if one is not so much a student of the keris, but rather a collector of the keris, then the nature of the knowledge needed is different, and knowledge at this "collector level" can be added to by virtually everything in print.

I will leave it to other people to comment on Mr. Kam's book, since I do not actually own a copy of the publication, I will not.
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Old 3rd May 2020, 10:49 PM   #19
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I understand and appreciate your position, Alan, thank you.

Like you, I have been in this type of situation many times (not including my career as a chaplain).
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Old 4th May 2020, 08:19 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
So for me personally, the idea of purchasing "every other book that they can get their hands on" is not really a workable model, especially given that many books on keris come with a large price tag given they can only really be sold in a rather limited market and end up being little more than repetition of old info with a few new snazzy photos attached.


I agree with you David and this applies especially to the Balinese/ Lombok krisses for which the true experts seem to have vanished, or are not in position to write something relevant for the collectors.
Since the master kris book "Keris Bali bersejarah" was published by Pak Neka, the book shown by Marco is the third one recently written about Balinese kris, one of them by Pak Neka himself and the other by his co-author, and this last one directed by Javanese authors....
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Old 4th May 2020, 08:40 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
I agree with you David and this applies especially to the Balinese/ Lombok krisses for which the true experts seem to have vanished, or are not in position to write something relevant for the collectors.
Since the master kris book "Keris Bali bersejarah" was published by Pak Neka, the book shown by Marco is the third one recently written about Balinese kris, one of them by Pak Neka himself and the other by his co-author, and this last one directed by Javanese authors....


I would very much like to buy this book,Keris Bali bersejarah" which is about sgd200 plus but it is not in English and therefore I hesitate for very long time. Therefore I am aiming for the last one which you mentioned.
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Old 4th May 2020, 08:51 AM   #22
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Jean, I started field work for information gathering of keris in 1974. I had visited Jawa and Bali a few times before that, but it was in 1974 that I began to understand what I needed to do and how to do it.

Gathering information in Jawa was not really so difficult, there were plenty of people with some knowledge and at the level I was working at all through the 1970's I had no difficulty at all in filling notebooks with things I had not previously known or understood. Of course, from 1982 forward it was a very different game,but my early efforts produced a lot of general knowledge type info. But only in Jawa.

Bali was and is different. Genuine keris knowledge in Bali is a very different matter. Keris understanding in Bali is woven into Balinese religious beliefs, it is something that is quite simply not available for the asking.

You have mentioned Pande Wayan Suteja Neka's Big Bali Keris Book.

Who wrote the text for that book? Have you closely examined this text and tested it?

The usual "knowledge" that collectors of anything at all cherish is names and dates. Provided we stay within those parameters the keris of Bali does not really pose too many problems. But if we wish to understand the keris in its cultural and societal contexts in Bali we are faced with some barriers that in my experience can be almost impossible to scale. Talking to the people who supposedly have a somewhat deeper knowledge of the Balinese keris than is usual will not help you very much.
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Old 4th May 2020, 10:36 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

You have mentioned Pande Wayan Suteja Neka's Big Bali Keris Book.

Who wrote the text for that book? Have you closely examined this text and tested it?

The usual "knowledge" that collectors of anything at all cherish is names and dates. Provided we stay within those parameters the keris of Bali does not really pose too many problems. But if we wish to understand the keris in its cultural and societal contexts in Bali we are faced with some barriers that in my experience can be almost impossible to scale. Talking to the people who supposedly have a somewhat deeper knowledge of the Balinese keris than is usual will not help you very much.


Yes Alan, I have to agree with you and I know that the Neka's big keris book was mostly written by his Javanese co-author, which makes it somewhat questionable, but it is the "best" available source of common Balinese kris knowledge for the collectors. And it seems to me that the Garrett Kam's book tries to address the role of the kris in the Balinese culture?
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Old 4th May 2020, 11:31 AM   #24
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Jean, I will not be drawn on this matter.
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Old 18th May 2020, 03:17 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony G.
I would very much like to buy this book,Keris Bali bersejarah" which is about sgd200 plus but it is not in English and therefore I hesitate for very long time. Therefore I am aiming for the last one which you mentioned.


After weeks of hesitation, I finally bought this book which shipped from Europe. I would said, good book.
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Old 19th May 2020, 05:43 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony G.
After weeks of hesitation, I finally bought this book which shipped from Europe. I would said, good book.


Now, this is a book that I would love to have in English!
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Old 21st May 2020, 07:48 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
OK David, you want more than I intended to give?



In my experience the way in which to build knowledge is first & foremost to identify exactly what it is that one wishes to know or to learn, and that identification of "knowledge needed" then becomes one's guide to where and how to seek that knowledge. In respect of knowledge concerning keris, and in particular Balinese keris, very seldom does the material presented in print that focuses upon keris assist the understanding of a true student of the keris.

But on the other hand, if one is not so much a student of the keris, but rather a collector of the keris, then the nature of the knowledge needed is different, and knowledge at this "collector level" can be added to by virtually everything in print.



Please forgive me if it is bad manners to ask. What would be a good reading list for a student of the keris (Balinaese and Javanese as well)? I have been finding the whole subject fascinating. Covid has limited my purchasing power but has given me the gift of time which I am trying to put to judicious use. I never realized I still had so many dreams.
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Old 21st May 2020, 10:03 PM   #28
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I have included a bibliography at the end of my "Interpretation ---" article that will most certainly give you an education, but it will give a person who only wishes to collect, much more than he needs, or wants, to know.

http://www.kerisattosanaji.com/INTERPRETATIONPAGE1.html

If you could give an indication of what you want to gain from any reading, perhaps specific recommendations could be made.
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Old 21st May 2020, 11:08 PM   #29
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Thank you!!!! I have been skimming your article and bibliography (looking on line for availability as I go, I would read Groneman next if he wasn't so expensive). I am looking forward to having the time to thoroughly absorb the information you have presented this evening. For me constructing a reading list is simple. I am looking for values (I watch what things seem to sell for on the internet and add a grain of salt), estimation of age, trying to understand construction methods, why certain motifs were used and the significance of these motifs, how all this is tied into the culture (and of course learning to differentiate the peoples who made and used the keris and said peoples relative values and beliefs). Not to overlook how they were used in the martial aspect that was the keris' reason for being. As an example I enjoyed all aspects of Ghiringhelli's "Keris hilts" but it seemed topical and I wanted to dive deeper into the subject. The above list is in not in order of importance. I think I am a bit entranced by the mixture of art, culture, and martial application. Oh and one last thing I am a sucker for classification systems, so the right word for the right object has always been a pet peav of mine. I have one major handicap in this endeavor of not being a successful polyglot. I can only read English and, occasionally these days, Spanish. Simple, right? Thanks again to you A.G. and all the other members of the forum for the help in broadening my horizons!

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Old 22nd May 2020, 12:43 AM   #30
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Here are my initial thoughts:-

Estimate value:- ie, what is a fair price for a keris?

Estimate age:- ie, when was the blade made, when were other components made ?

Construction:- ie, how was the blade made, how were other components made?

Reasons for motifs:- ie, cultural and societal significance of design & ornamental motifs used in the keris?

As a cultural icon:- probably links back to motifs, both can probably be considered together

Societal differentiation & background:- this involves anthropological & sociological study

Use as a weapon:- this covers a very broad field and involves a lot of opinion & very little fact, Don Draeger might be the place to start, but the enquiry should really be narrowed down to precisely what is being sought

Classification:- if classification for a collector based in the modern world outside S.E. Asia, Jean Greffioz' recent book is hard to go past. If classification in a different sense, tighter specification is needed.

Only texts in English

If my understanding of your needs is incorrect in any way, or needs to be expanded, please amend my rough outline above.

When we can nail down exactly what you need I can probably make some recommendations, and I believe other of our regular contributors could probably add to what I might recommend.
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