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Old 27th August 2008, 06:42 PM   #31
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This brings me to a question concerning nem neman keris; are these new evolutions of form generally approved of in the Javanese keris world ?

Are there those who believe keris making should be a static art with strict prescribed shapes that are considered the zenith of keris form ?
The idea being to produce perfection within these parameters ?

Last edited by Rick : 27th August 2008 at 06:49 PM. Reason: I think I got it all this time ........
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Old 27th August 2008, 07:11 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
This brings me to a question concerning nem neman keris; are these new evolutions of form generally approved of in the Javanese keris world ?
Are there those who believe keris making should be a static art with strict prescribed shapes that are considered the zenith of keris form ?
The idea being to produce perfection within these parameters ?

Thanks Rick for posing a question which has been on my mind as well. Personally i am of 2 minds here. I do believe that there need to be growth and change on some level to keep the art fresh. However, some of these new ideas, like the double-blade lurus/luk keris shown her don't appeal to me at all. Sometimes it just seems like the boundaries are pushed just for the pushing's sake. Now i do really enjoy those leafy looking blades, a very nice and beautiful innovation there. But still i think that these evolutions must in some way fit into a cultural context and that is hard for me to judge from where i stand.
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Old 27th August 2008, 09:07 PM   #33
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Another question:
Are "nem neman keris" keris made after II° world war or also before ?
Another question:
Are keris made after II° world war keris made under western standard or something remains about the old estern classic way to make a keris?
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Old 27th August 2008, 09:30 PM   #34
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Western standard ?
Could you explain what you mean Marco ?
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Old 27th August 2008, 10:17 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Western standard ?
Could you explain what you mean Marco ?

If during II war (Japan invasion, no food,a lot of troubles) the art of making keris was lost ( sorry for my english), and if in 70es Mr Drescher (helped by Harjonegoro) teached to Yogya people (Supowinangun's sons) how to do again keris....i could think that modern keris are made now with different tecnique (western standard)
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Old 27th August 2008, 10:45 PM   #36
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Interesting observation Marco.

I think of Dietrich as a force that restarted a tradition that had stalled for a moment in time .
I don't see much that is Western about that except his name .

Keris are still made traditionally by age old methods developed by the indiginous peoples of Indonesia . Yes, some of the tools have changed; still that doesn't make western influence; just modern .
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Old 28th August 2008, 02:25 AM   #37
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It is generally accepted that the making of keris in Jawa disappeared with the occupation of Jawa by the Japanese.

It is also generally accepted that Mr. Dietrich Drescher was responsible for the re-birth of the making of keris in Jawa.

Both of these things can be taken to be more or less true, in a general sense.

However, although the broad tradition of keris making did disappear with the coming of WWII, and did not reappear until the well known involvement of Mr. Drescher, I personally knew one man in Jogja, who is now deceased, who by his own account was producing keris for dealers from the late 1950's. Not only was he producing keris, but he carried on his business from his father.

This was probably true, as a tukang wrongko I knew very, very well, in Solo a few years ago claimed that his grandfather had helped this man in Jogja, and the tukang wrongko's grandfather was, amongst other things, a pandai keris.

Additionally, a relative of my wife, who lived in Malang in East Jawa, and who was a keris collector, claimed that he had been able to have a keris made in the Malang area during the 1960's.

As with many things, there is the generally accepted story, which is probably true in a broad sense, and which for one reason or another it pleases us to accept as the "True Story".

Then there is reality which may perhaps not be quite so well known, nor accepted.

In the case of the Jogja gentleman mentioned above, his name was not known outside the keris trade, and because of the nature of his work, he preferred it this way.

The question of the techniques used to make keris cannot be answered simply.
There are a number of approaches that can be used in both the forge work and the benchwork.
Many, if not most, of the new generation of makers seem to be quite open in so far as their working methods are concerned, and they make no secret of the fact that they use electric blowers for forge work, electric grinders for benchwork, and in fact that they work in the most economic and time effective way in all respects.

However, it seems to suit some makers to work in a traditional fashion, using traditional hand tools, when they are being filmed or observed, and to use the more modern methods when they are by themselves.

I will state here that Empu Suparman Supawijaya only ever used handtools:- he did not own any electric tools of any type, and he considered their use as having no place in the art of the keris. The images are of Empu Suparman's tools. Apart from the usual forge tools, and a large file and medium sized file, these were the only tools he used to create a keris.

This brings us to "The Art of the Keris".

During the 1980's in Solo, the Anak-Anak ASKI held a number of exhibitions of their work. Included in this work were keris of traditional forms, and keris of new and divergent forms. I often heard the comment at that time that these new forms or keris were most certainly art, but that they were not keris.

Why were they not keris?

Because according to the hardcore traditionalists of that time, "Keris Art" was Karaton art.

Only the Karaton could determine the correct form for a keris, it was not up to an individual maker, and most certainly not the general public to say whether a keris was a correct form or not:- that was the prerogative of the Karaton.

By "The Karaton" these people meant only only one kraton:- the Karaton Surakarta Hadiningrat, which is indisputably the senior branch of the House of Mataram.

If the Karaton decreed that a keris form was indeed a keris, then it was. If the Karaton did not so decree, then it was not a keris.

Very simple--- well, at least from the perspective of these hard-core keris traditionalists.

Now, I was taught by one such traditionalist, and I do acknowledge that my personal opinion is exactly in line with that traditional perspective.

Keris Art is Karaton Art.

Only the Karaton can set the parameters which must be followed in the execution of this art form.

If those parameters are not followed, then the resultant creation is not a keris, but rather, a keris-like object, even though it may be superb art.

I am well aware that the nation of Indonesia is in a state of flux. It has been struggling for some time now to throw off the bonds of feudalism, and to embrace the ways of the West. The old traditional rulers have lost their power, and their tax base, and are dependent upon government handouts to maintain their crumbling authority, both actual and cultural.

Now we have the emergence of "Democracy", which I have been told many times by ordinary people in Solo --- people such as housewives, taxi drivers, factory workers, farmers --means that "everybody can do as they wish". In other words, Jack is as good as his master. The old restrictions of traditional allegiance, duty, obligation, both on the part of the servant, and on the part of the master, no longer apply.

In such an atmosphere, is it any wonder that those same factory workers, business executives, journalists, and others of the modern world now believe that they have the right to decree what is and what is not acceptable in the world of art, and especially in respect of the "Art of the Keris"?

However, the culture of any people has its roots and its strength, in solid tradition.
In any culture , there are arbiters of what is, and what is not acceptable in the cultural context, and the art of any people is an integral part of that people's culture.
Perhaps in time it may become acceptable for some group of persons within the Javanese cultural community to decree the acceptability or otherwise of various deviations from tradition in respect of the various forms of Javanese Court Art, or which the Art of the Keris is one.

However, in my opinion, that point in time has not yet been reached.
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Old 28th August 2008, 12:08 PM   #38
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Thanks Mr.Maisey for your clear explanation.
But...then another question rises in my mind: who is an Empu or ... (better) : when and why a person becames Empu?
From your explanation I suppose only for Kraton determination!
But then....I live in a cowntry notorious for corruption where people that have a lot of money can change the rules or can do all they want.... if, for paradox, keris art would be an italian art i'm shure a lot of Empu's title would be buy.
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Old 28th August 2008, 01:19 PM   #39
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There are two ways of looking at the question of who can be an empu.

Firstly we need to understand that an empu is not just a maker of keris. An empu is somebody who is an outstanding artist , or poet, or literary person, or armourer.

In Old Javanese this word was usually rendered as "mpu", and it was title of respect, not limited to only those types of persons I have just mentioned.It could be broadly understood as "The Honourable".

Such recognition was bestowed by a ruler, but it could also come from the common people:- thus, two ways in which to be recognised as an empu.

As to when a person can become an empu, well, that is dependent upon when he is recognised by either the common people, or by his lord, as worthy of the title.

I have already mentioned elsewhere that Empu Pauzan Pusposukadgo was reluctant to use this title, even though he may have been entitled to use it. This was because of his deep religious convictions, and his understanding that in terms of the keris, an empu was more than just somebody who was capable of making the physical entity that is a keris. In terms of the keris, an empu should also be able to embue the keris with a spiritual quality.

The word "empu" is often thrown around in a very careless manner, with little understanding of what this word actually means, when used to describe a keris-maker.

Consider this:- the two forms of Javanese culture where this title is bestowed in these latter days are in the realm of literature, and in the realm of keris production.The written word can contain magic in that it can cause visions and emotions to arise; it has the power to alter the state and perception of the reader or listener. For a man who makes keris to claim the right to use the title of empu, the keris that he makes must be more than just metal formed to a shape.The keris must exercise as great a magic in its own way, as does the written word.

As for corruption, and for titles received in exchange for the payment of money, well, I will not pursue that discussion in even the slightest degree.
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Old 29th August 2008, 03:30 AM   #40
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As usual, a clear and thorough explanation by Alan. I learned a lot from his post.
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Old 29th August 2008, 10:59 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
(...) an empu was more than just somebody who was capable of making the physical entity that is a keris. In terms of the keris, an empu should also be able to embue the keris with a spiritual quality.


Thank you for your insight Mr. Maisey. Could you please explain what you mean by "spiritual quality" on this context.

Thank you,


J
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Old 30th August 2008, 04:18 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcokeris
But...then another question rises in my mind: who is an Empu or ... (better) : when and why a person becames Empu?
From your explanation I suppose only for Kraton determination!
But then....I live in a cowntry notorious for corruption where people that have a lot of money can change the rules or can do all they want.... if, for paradox, keris art would be an italian art i'm shure a lot of Empu's title would be buy.

Dear Marco,
You need not to buy or waste money to get "empu" title. Because "empu" is not a "formal title" as "doctor" or "phd". Not at all. Some one will be called "empu" by other people because he is mastering very well in certain cultural ability -- such as literature, or keris making. Empu was a kind of recognition -- maybe like "maestro" in Italy. Or just "ahli", expert, specialist... Never someone call himself "empu", or mention his own name with predicate "empu"...

Mr Pauzan Puspasukadgo -- for instance. Like any other else -- who people call them empu -- he will not call himself "an empu". As does, "empu" Subandi Supaningrat -- for instance. Although the name "Supaningrat" was given by the late King Paku Buwana XII on 2002 (at that time, the King gave him "rank" of RT or Raden Tumenggung) a titulary or honorary title for his activity in keris making. King Paku Buwana XIII on 2006 then gave higher rank for empu Subandi as Kanjeng Raden Tumenggung (KRT) after 3-4 years in service on keris making.

Mr Pauzan Puspasukadgo even got from lower rank, as "lurah pande keris" (as high as village chief) of keris making on 1979. Of course, during the late King Paku Buwana XII. On 1985, Pauzan then was given higher rank as "Mantri Anon-anon" (as high as 'minister') with title Mas Ngabehi Puspasukadgo. (the King usually gave names according to the activity of someone).

The name "supa" which was given to Subandi, indicates that this man's activity is keris making, like "empu supa" in the past. Also "kadgo" which literally means as "keris" too). On 1998, Pauzan was given name as Kanjeng Raden Tumenggung (KRT), then on 2007 King Paku Buwana XIII (now still reigning) gave him higher rank, KRAT or Kanjeng Raden Aryo Tumenggung Pauzan Puspasukadgo...
Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Not quite Empu Pauzan Pusposukadgo, but poleng, none the less.

There's some clever little fellers up in Aeng Tong-Tong, isn't there?

No Alan, not Aeng Tong Tong. This "keris like object" is made by Mr Pauzan Puspasukadgo. Not by someone out there in Aeng Tong Tong. According to him, this betok with "poleng" motif, was his 6th work with "poleng" motif. Up to now, according to him, he has been made six kerises only, with "poleng" motif. (Number 5th, according to Mr Pauzan, is in the United States -- Mr William Koh). The poleng one in Bentara Budaya Jakarta, was made on 1993 by Mr Pauzan, and the William Koh's keris was made earlier on 1992.

I hope I don't make mistake in my written words...

Ganjawulung

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Old 30th August 2008, 04:44 AM   #43
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Pak Ganja, could I most humbly suggest that you return to the post of mine which shows a keris with pamor poleng, and my remark that "there are some clever little fellers in Aeng Tong-Tong."

Is it not logical that this remark applies to the image of the keris that I posted, rather than the image that you posted?

The keris of which I posted an image is an Aeng Tong-Tong production.

The "not quite Pauzan Pusposukadgo" refers to the very obvious fact that the quality of the keris of which I posted an image is far below the quality of the Keris made by Pak Pus, of which you post an image.

Additionally, I consider it inaccurate to refer to the keris made by Pak Pauzan as "a keris-like object".

This is most definitely a keris.

On the other hand, the artistic creations of some current era makers are most definitely not keris, even though they may be very fine works of art.
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Old 30th August 2008, 05:05 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Pak Ganja, could I most humbly suggest that you return to the post of mine which shows a keris with pamor poleng, and my remark that "there are some clever little fellers in Aeng Tong-Tong."

Is it not logical that this remark applies to the image of the keris that I posted, rather than the image that you posted?

The keris of which I posted an image is an Aeng Tong-Tong production.

The "not quite Pauzan Pusposukadgo" refers to the very obvious fact that the quality of the keris of which I posted an image is far below the quality of the Keris made by Pak Pus, of which you post an image.

Apologize me, for the misunderstanding, Alan. I misunderstood your remarks with the other post, of course -- a language handicap. So once again, please apologize me for that mistake...

Ganjawulung
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Old 30th August 2008, 06:03 AM   #45
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No apology required Pak Ganja.

It is very easy to misunderstand a casual remark in a language that is not one's own.
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Old 30th August 2008, 07:09 AM   #46
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Mr. Maisey, dear Ganja
thanks for your explanations: as always clear and update.
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Old 15th September 2008, 07:25 PM   #47
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Default Another Nem Neman

This is just another Nem Neman to throw out for you all to look at. It is very difficult to get all of a reflective pattern to come out when you view the piece at only one point. Especially when the pattern is as complicated as this one is. It is basicly a zig zag line running down both halfs of the blade which meets in the middle at a point and forms a diamond shape in between every conjunction. In addition there are short dashes on both sides of the Ada Ada in this diamond shaped area and at the quarter points of the blades width in the area opposite the touched points. In short in the areas that have the space to accept these dashes.
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Old 15th September 2008, 08:28 PM   #48
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That is very nice !
I think picture 2 shows the chatoyancy best Mick .
Nice pamor control .
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Old 16th September 2008, 01:08 AM   #49
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Ahh.. good heavy blade and well executed. Nice young keris!
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Old 9th October 2008, 01:26 AM   #50
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I agree, looks realy good! Mick, who made it?
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Old 10th October 2008, 12:45 AM   #51
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This blade is thought by some to be by Empu Pjajasukatgo during the reign of PBX in Surakarta.

This is the keris that was taken to Empu Yosopangarso and Empu Djeno Harumbrodjo by Garrett Solyom in 1976 so that they could use it to create a copy for him utilizing all of the rituals that would be required for this type of commission. This was the first high quality piece that they had ever seen. This work resulted in the photomontage and text published in Garrett and Bronwen’s Cataloge for “The World of the Javanese Keris” exhibition at the East-West Center in Honolulu.

There is a better picture of this piece (number 153) on page 56 of the same cataloge.
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Old 16th October 2008, 12:08 AM   #52
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It looks like the same, but the photo in the book shows the other side. Never the les.. a real looker!!
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Old 5th January 2021, 07:04 AM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
It is generally accepted that the making of keris in Jawa disappeared with the occupation of Jawa by the Japanese.

It is also generally accepted that Mr. Dietrich Drescher was responsible for the re-birth of the making of keris in Jawa.

Both of these things can be taken to be more or less true, in a general sense.

However, although the broad tradition of keris making did disappear with the coming of WWII, and did not reappear until the well known involvement of Mr. Drescher, I personally knew one man in Jogja, who is now deceased, who by his own account was producing keris for dealers from the late 1950's. Not only was he producing keris, but he carried on his business from his father.

This was probably true, as a tukang wrongko I knew very, very well, in Solo a few years ago claimed that his grandfather had helped this man in Jogja, and the tukang wrongko's grandfather was, amongst other things, a pandai keris.

Additionally, a relative of my wife, who lived in Malang in East Jawa, and who was a keris collector, claimed that he had been able to have a keris made in the Malang area during the 1960's.

As with many things, there is the generally accepted story, which is probably true in a broad sense, and which for one reason or another it pleases us to accept as the "True Story".

Then there is reality which may perhaps not be quite so well known, nor accepted.

In the case of the Jogja gentleman mentioned above, his name was not known outside the keris trade, and because of the nature of his work, he preferred it this way.

The question of the techniques used to make keris cannot be answered simply.
There are a number of approaches that can be used in both the forge work and the benchwork.
Many, if not most, of the new generation of makers seem to be quite open in so far as their working methods are concerned, and they make no secret of the fact that they use electric blowers for forge work, electric grinders for benchwork, and in fact that they work in the most economic and time effective way in all respects.

However, it seems to suit some makers to work in a traditional fashion, using traditional hand tools, when they are being filmed or observed, and to use the more modern methods when they are by themselves.

I will state here that Empu Suparman Supawijaya only ever used handtools:- he did not own any electric tools of any type, and he considered their use as having no place in the art of the keris. The images are of Empu Suparman's tools. Apart from the usual forge tools, and a large file and medium sized file, these were the only tools he used to create a keris.

This brings us to "The Art of the Keris".

During the 1980's in Solo, the Anak-Anak ASKI held a number of exhibitions of their work. Included in this work were keris of traditional forms, and keris of new and divergent forms. I often heard the comment at that time that these new forms or keris were most certainly art, but that they were not keris.

Why were they not keris?

Because according to the hardcore traditionalists of that time, "Keris Art" was Karaton art.

Only the Karaton could determine the correct form for a keris, it was not up to an individual maker, and most certainly not the general public to say whether a keris was a correct form or not:- that was the prerogative of the Karaton.

By "The Karaton" these people meant only only one kraton:- the Karaton Surakarta Hadiningrat, which is indisputably the senior branch of the House of Mataram.

If the Karaton decreed that a keris form was indeed a keris, then it was. If the Karaton did not so decree, then it was not a keris.

Very simple--- well, at least from the perspective of these hard-core keris traditionalists.

Now, I was taught by one such traditionalist, and I do acknowledge that my personal opinion is exactly in line with that traditional perspective.

Keris Art is Karaton Art.

Only the Karaton can set the parameters which must be followed in the execution of this art form.

If those parameters are not followed, then the resultant creation is not a keris, but rather, a keris-like object, even though it may be superb art.

I am well aware that the nation of Indonesia is in a state of flux. It has been struggling for some time now to throw off the bonds of feudalism, and to embrace the ways of the West. The old traditional rulers have lost their power, and their tax base, and are dependent upon government handouts to maintain their crumbling authority, both actual and cultural.

Now we have the emergence of "Democracy", which I have been told many times by ordinary people in Solo --- people such as housewives, taxi drivers, factory workers, farmers --means that "everybody can do as they wish". In other words, Jack is as good as his master. The old restrictions of traditional allegiance, duty, obligation, both on the part of the servant, and on the part of the master, no longer apply.

In such an atmosphere, is it any wonder that those same factory workers, business executives, journalists, and others of the modern world now believe that they have the right to decree what is and what is not acceptable in the world of art, and especially in respect of the "Art of the Keris"?

However, the culture of any people has its roots and its strength, in solid tradition.
In any culture , there are arbiters of what is, and what is not acceptable in the cultural context, and the art of any people is an integral part of that people's culture.
Perhaps in time it may become acceptable for some group of persons within the Javanese cultural community to decree the acceptability or otherwise of various deviations from tradition in respect of the various forms of Javanese Court Art, or which the Art of the Keris is one.

However, in my opinion, that point in time has not yet been reached.



Hi

Pardon my ignorance but does it also applies to the Balinese keris as well or else which authority actually should dictate the Balinese keris standard etc?
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Old 5th January 2021, 07:57 PM   #54
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I cannot give an authoritative answer to that question Anthony.

Balinese society is structured in a different way to Javanese society. The rulers do not live in a Karaton that is in effect a walled city within a city that covers many acres and provides accommodation for those who are attached to the kraton.

In Bali the ruler lives in a Puri, which is not as grand as the Kratons of Jawa were, and judging from the puris that still exist, there was no concept that people attached to the puri needed to live under the eye of the ruler. If a ruler, or somebody attached to the ruler's puri wanted to order a new keris, he would call the pande to the puri, or visit him.

I do not know the degree of control that a ruler had over the dhapur of a keris.
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Old 6th January 2021, 12:49 AM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I cannot give an authoritative answer to that question Anthony.

Balinese society is structured in a different way to Javanese society. The rulers do not live in a Karaton that is in effect a walled city within a city that covers many acres and provides accommodation for those who are attached to the kraton.

In Bali the ruler lives in a Puri, which is not as grand as the Kratons of Jawa were, and judging from the puris that still exist, there was no concept that people attached to the puri needed to live under the eye of the ruler. If a ruler, or somebody attached to the ruler's puri wanted to order a new keris, he would call the pande to the puri, or visit him.

I do not know the degree of control that a ruler had over the dhapur of a keris.


Dear Alan

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 8th January 2021, 01:17 PM   #56
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I vividly recall the occasion when (with my parents as a preadolescent) I visited a place billed as an art gallery. In that place was displayed a pair/ set of mens drawers, affixed to a white canvas with large lumps of masticated pink chewing gum.
To clarify: this was a single undergarment for men; use of the word "pair", or the suffix "s" (usually an indicator of plurality in English) may be misleading to someone for whom English is a second language. English is not my first language.
During my first year of college I was taught that a body styling itself the Modern Language Association of America has claimed for itself the authority to decree what is or is not correct usage of the English language.
In the movie "Inglourious Basterds", an Englishman posing as a German is found out by a "Gestapo major". The Englishman, knowing that "the jig is up" and no longer speaking German, makes a quip about "going out speaking the King's [English]".
Legitimate authorities exist, as well as authorities without legitimacy. I hope I'm not being too abstruse.
I'm the custodian of a few keris kamardikan, most made by Empu Tidak Dikenal. I'd never consider acquiring any keris luk dan lurus, or with pamor catur.
Come on...honestly...have some class. I understand that tastes may vary, but if it looks hokey, it is hokey; and if it looks cheap and cheesy...calling it something it's not doesn't make it any better than what it is.
Any Old Boy knows that if it's not cricket, it's just not cricket, Old Boy.
In memory of Richard Chave Sanderson (June 24th, 1973 - February 20th, 2008).
Mickey the Finn
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Old 8th January 2021, 04:24 PM   #57
Jean
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You are too clever for me, Mickey!
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Old 10th January 2021, 02:42 AM   #58
David
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
You are too clever for me, Mickey!

Perhaps he meant obtuse...

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Old 10th January 2021, 11:09 AM   #59
A. G. Maisey
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Old 10th January 2021, 11:55 AM   #60
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"Abstruse" means "abstrus" in French (from latin abstrusus, which I speak fluently ) but I had to check in the dictionary for finding the meaning: "Difficult to understand" and this what I felt when reading the post from Mickey, may be I should drink a bottle of Finnish vodka?
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