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Old 30th January 2020, 02:56 PM   #1
RSWORD
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Default Opinions on Javanese Keris

Looking for some opinions on this Keris. Is there any specific meaning or symbolism to the gold patterns on the blade? Also, the scabbard seems unusual with the belt clip and chape. Also, the use of tortoiseshell strips on both sides seems out of the norm. Thank you in advance for sharing comments.
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Old 30th January 2020, 02:57 PM   #2
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Some additional photos of the scabbard.
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Old 30th January 2020, 05:54 PM   #3
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Hi Rick. That is both a very unusual blade and an unusual sheath. In fact i have never seen anything quite like that sheath. It is quite beautiful and seems to be skillfully constructed.
As to your first question i can say that without a doubt there is specific meaning and symbolism to the patterns on the blade. The real question is not whether there is meaning, but what exactly it is and i am afraid that i cannot say for sure. I can say the in multiple cultures around the world we see this circle with equilateral cross symbol. Generally it is considered a solar symbol in all those cultures and often the cross, with it's 4 points, refer to the 4 directions or sometimes the 4 basic elements. However i cannot say how this specifically translates into Javanese symbolism.
Tortoise shell is not that unusual as a decorative element of sheaths in both Jawa and Bali. I have not seen it arranged like this with two strips down each side though. Generally i see it used as a single front piece down the front of the sheath stem such as it is used in the Madurese sheath attached below. Are the metal fittings here silver? They look like they might be.
This is very unusual for a keris dhapur and nothing i have come across in various pakem before. It's hard to tell, but i think some reshaping may have taken place with this blade. Hopefully someone will come along who might know more about this. In the meantime i believe this might look more correct if you were to turn the hilt 180º.
I look forward to the comments of others on this unusual object.
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Old 30th January 2020, 07:53 PM   #4
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Thank you for the comments David and confirming my thoughts that this was an unusual keris for a number of reasons. The clip and chape are probably Coin or German Silver. I also appreciate your thoughts about what these symbols often mean in other cultures. Like you, I am looking forward to additional thoughts and comments about this piece.
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Old 30th January 2020, 10:08 PM   #5
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Someone should have more to say about the cross in the circle symbol. I have seen it quite often on keris. The other one i don't remember seeing.
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Old 31st January 2020, 05:25 AM   #6
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I've seen both these symbols,

The round one is, as David has said,widely recognised as a sun symbol, in Jawa it can refer to the Sun, or it can refer to Surya, the Sun Deity. If it is recognised as the weapon of Wisnu, it is his discus, and by extension refers to Wisnu himself. In Jawa this motif is called the Cakra.

The other symbol is uncommon, I have seen it illustrated, I have never seen it actually applied to anything. I do have at least one picture of it in one of my books, I've had a quick look and cannot find it. It is a legitimate symbol, not a one off, so somebody with the time and the inclination will find it sooner or later.

The white metal scabbard fittings are made from mamas, if they do not test as silver.

My impression is that this is a relatively recent creation. The blade gives me the feeling that it is a robahan (a changeling), but not yesterday, maybe late Colonial era, however, the kinatah work I am virtually certain is very recent.
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Old 31st January 2020, 07:57 AM   #7
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The other rajah motif on the sorsoran is called "pilulut" and is deemed to help the kris owner to charm the opposite sex, see another specimen, and also a similar type of scabbard.
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Old 31st January 2020, 09:57 AM   #8
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That's good Jean.

I knew it was around somewhere, where did you get the info, or were you told and made a note of it?
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Old 31st January 2020, 04:31 PM   #9
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Hello Alan,
I got it from the book Keris Jawa on page 250 for instance, but the reference about the magic properties is from another source which I cannot remember at present.
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Old 31st January 2020, 05:17 PM   #10
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Thank you Alan and Jean for the additional information. Much appreciated.
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Old 31st January 2020, 05:45 PM   #11
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R Sword --- you're welcome

"Keris Jawa"? I did not even consider that as a possibility for an answer, just shows how easy it is for prejudice to make one wrong. I looked in a whole heap of little primers from before WWII, and a few of the more recent small booklets and came up empty.

The talismanic qualities I obviously had no idea about, but I have been advised by a reliable Javanese source that the pi - lulut should be read in conjunction with the cakra, and in this sense it can perhaps better be understood as devotion to Wisnu, or indication of the owner being a devotee of Wisnu (Vishnu), and thus relying upon him for protection.

The root, "lulut", can be understood as absolute devotion, or tameness, as well as romantic love.
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Old 1st February 2020, 03:38 AM   #12
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I’m a little bit confused, which symbol is representing “pilulut”?

RSWORD’s keris showed 2 types of symbol : Circle and Oval.

Jean’s keris showed the same Oval symbol.

Keris Jawa showed Oval symbol but not the same as Oval symbol as RSWORD and Jean’s Oval symbol.

Keris Jawa’s Oval symbol is similar as RSWORD’s Circle symbol.


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Old 1st February 2020, 05:55 AM   #13
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The ganja (is it really a ganja or a carved line ?) is extremely slanting. Really odd.
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Old 1st February 2020, 06:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul B.
The ganja (is it really a ganja or a carved line ?) is extremely slanting. Really odd.

Paul, are you talking about the originally posted blade. If so the gonjo appears to be separate and the line appears very straight and parallel so i am confused about what you might mean.
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Old 1st February 2020, 06:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul B.
The ganja (is it really a ganja or a carved line ?) is extremely slanting. Really odd.

Paul, are you talking about the originally posted blade. If so the gonjo appears to be separate and the line appears very straight and parallel to the wilah so i am confused about what you might mean.
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Old 1st February 2020, 08:47 PM   #16
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Yes indeed the first one and the line seems so 'perfect' and the kinatah work a cover-up. Of course I can be mistaken.
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Old 1st February 2020, 09:55 PM   #17
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Paul, I believe that this is a separate gonjo, but very probably not the original gonjo. I think I expressed the opinion earlier that I believe this keris is a robahan, something that has been changed to make it more saleable.

If this keris were to be gonjo iras we could expect to see the lines of pamor running into the gonjo, but they do not. The gonjo is different material from the body of the keris.

The overall form of the keris is peculiar, the gonjo is not any type of acceptable form, the kinatah work is recent, by "recent" I do not mean last week, I mean much more recent than the body of the keris. This kinatah work could well be 80 or 100 years old, equally, it could be 1990's. The one thing I am certain of is that it is not original work.
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Old 2nd February 2020, 08:59 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustYS
I’m a little bit confused, which symbol is representing “pilulut”?

RSWORD’s keris showed 2 types of symbol : Circle and Oval.

Jean’s keris showed the same Oval symbol.

Keris Jawa showed Oval symbol but not the same as Oval symbol as RSWORD and Jean’s Oval symbol.

Keris Jawa’s Oval symbol is similar as RSWORD’s Circle symbol.


Cheers,



Hello,
The raja pilulut motif/ symbol is the oval one, but on the "Keris Jawa" specimen it has an additional transverse line which is uncommon.
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Old 2nd February 2020, 09:57 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Hello,
The raja pilulut motif/ symbol is the oval one, but on the "Keris Jawa" specimen it has an additional transverse line which is uncommon.
Regards


Thank you Jean, yes you are right.

I’ve found it also in page 58 of Keris Jawa:
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Old 2nd February 2020, 01:05 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustYS
Thank you Jean, yes you are right.

I’ve found it also in page 58 of Keris Jawa:


Yes, thank you!
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Old 2nd February 2020, 01:07 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustYS
Thank you Jean, yes you are right.

I’ve found it also in page 58 of Keris Jawa:


Sometimes I saw keris with a scorpion craving on the bilah, any idea what does it means?
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Old 2nd February 2020, 10:07 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony G.
Sometimes I saw keris with a scorpion craving on the bilah, any idea what does it means?


Hi Anthony,

Based on my limited knowledge the scorpion carving on the Keris is normally combined with Cakra carving (like RSWORD circle symbol) that represents Kalacakra.

Kala (scorpion) = Evil
Cakra = Weapon of Kreshna to destroy Evil

So Keris with Kalacakra carving means to protect the owner from Evil
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Old 3rd February 2020, 10:26 AM   #23
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You might be right YS, but then again ---

The scorpion is a bit of a problem child, how the scorpion is regarded is very subject to situation and to personal belief. If the scorpion is regarded from a Muslim point of view, it can have a somewhat different interpretation than if it is regarded from an Indian and Hindu point if view. In Jawa & Bali I have heard a number of interpretations of the meaning of a scorpion as a symbol, and frankly, I am reluctant to give an opinion on exactly what the scorpion means, because it seems to me that used as a talisman in Jawa & Bali, it can mean different things to different people.

Kresna is Krishna when he appears as a wayang character. Krishna is an avatar of Wisnu, and one of Wisnu's attributes is the cakra, so that's where Kresna's Cakra Baskara comes from, but then you have the problem of understanding if you're dealing with Kresna, or with Wisnu himself:- the cakra can certainly represent Wisnu, but can it also represent Kresna? Maybe.
Kresna's principal weapon was the conch shell --- he had others, but the conch is understood as representative of Kresna.

If we understand the cakra in the conventional sense of representing Wisnu, and then we attach one of the other interpretations for the scorpion, for instance "dominance", or "defiance", we can get a somewhat different reading. Scorpions are not always bad. Running on memory, but I seem to recall that in ancient Persia the scorpion was the symbol for Ishara, the Goddess of Love --- yeah, Persia is not Jawa, but in Jawa the scorpion can be a symbol for sex.

Reading talismanic symbols is a dangerous game:- you can read one meaning, based upon what you understand to be so, but you do not necessarily have the same understanding as the person who originally used that symbol.

But one thing is certain:- any talismanic symbol that we see attached to a keris has been designed to ensure that no evil spirits occupy the keris:- evil will always seek out an empty space, and a keris is more often empty than occupied.
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Old 3rd February 2020, 01:02 PM   #24
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Thanks for all the additional comments and discussion. It has been very enlightening.

I can confirm that the gangya is indeed separate.
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