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Old 17th August 2019, 12:32 PM   #1
chiefheadknocker
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Default Very unusual old keris , any ideas ?

I picked this up recently , i thought it looked like an unusual hilt for a keris , though i could be wrong ,
the hilt i think is made from bone.
whats your thoughts on it ?
the blade is 32 cm long total length 43 cm
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Old 17th August 2019, 05:07 PM   #2
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Moro hilt and Indonesian blade?
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Old 17th August 2019, 05:14 PM   #3
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Hi yes that was my thought a moro hilt on a indonesian blade , but when you see the hilt its very small and surely would be too small for a moro kris , im stumped
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Old 17th August 2019, 07:50 PM   #4
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Well, it is most certainly a Moro hilt on an Indonesian blade. I can't say that this stumps me. The small size of the hilt is not that unusual. Especially some older Moro kris tended to be smaller and then there is also the possibility that the hilt came from a child's kris. How and when they came together is anybody's guess though.
BTW, i am not convinced that the pommel is bone. Would need to see better photos and/or handle it, but it could be ivory.
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Old 17th August 2019, 09:03 PM   #5
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Hi david , im no expert but i guessed it must be a moro hilt though very small, i have added some more pics of the hilt and as you can see the pommel can be removed , im not sure if its ivory or not ?
i have taken a picture of it against what is allready a small moro hilt to give it some perspective
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Old 17th August 2019, 11:33 PM   #6
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No expertise here either, but it has the look of bone to me.

Aside from the appearance of bone, the dagger has a utilitarian look, on which I doubt ivory would be used.
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Old 19th August 2019, 03:00 AM   #7
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This is definitely a Moro, possibly Sulu, hilt.

Lots of trade between the Indonesian and Philippine archipelagos. I have seen Indonesian kerises owned by Moro datus.

There are many Moro kris hilts and krises that were made for children of datus. Perhaps this hilt is one of them onto a traded keris as a gift.
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Old 19th August 2019, 07:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob A
No expertise here either, but it has the look of bone to me.

Aside from the appearance of bone, the dagger has a utilitarian look, on which I doubt ivory would be used.


I am not sure about the hilt materials either from the pics but it is not whale bone, nor buffalo bone (which would be pitted inside), so I tend to believe that it is either marine ivory or tanduk rusa (deer antler). However the piece may be too large for being carved from deer antler.
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Old 19th August 2019, 04:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob A
No expertise here either, but it has the look of bone to me.

Aside from the appearance of bone, the dagger has a utilitarian look, on which I doubt ivory would be used.

I agree with Jean that this doesn't look quite like bone. Marine ivory is a possibility. The surface is rough and scuffy so it is difficult to clearly see the structure.
I am not aware that all ivory kris pommels were only for ceremonial weapons Bob. Certainly the more elaborate junggayan pommels on datu class kris didn't see much action, but the more simplified ivory kakatau pommels i think may well of graced the hilts of kris that saw more use.
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Old 20th August 2019, 12:48 PM   #10
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Those lines that are present on the sides of this material look a lot like the lines that we see on cow/buffalo/sheep horn. I think we can rule out sheep, but how about white water buffalo (kerbau) horn?
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Old 20th August 2019, 04:34 PM   #11
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Hello Alan,

No, albino water buffalo is yellowish with quite some translucence. While the delamination does resemble horn, the material does look like bone to me. There hardly is any difference to the grip which evidently is bone...

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Old 20th August 2019, 05:18 PM   #12
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The purchase and sale of antique marine ivory (for scrimshaw) is still legal in Massachusetts where I live.
I've seen my fair share of examples close up and that really looks like marine ivory to me.

Possibly Dugong.
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Old 20th August 2019, 08:44 PM   #13
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Hello Rick,

I would not want to exclude tooth/ivory for the pommel; however the craftsmanship is unusual, especially the rather rough finish.

From the dimensions, this is unlikely to be dugong; spermwhale is much more common in these waters/cultures (as is use of elephant sources).

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Old 20th August 2019, 08:58 PM   #14
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As I said in my last post 'possibly' dugong.
So if it is not dugong I still believe it to be marine ivory.
As far as craftsmanship, well I guess that depends on the individual 'Craftsman' and this particular maker barely qualifies as one.
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Old 20th August 2019, 09:18 PM   #15
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You're probably right Kai, but I've only ever seen lines like that in horn. Sheep horn is very translucent, ordinary cows horn varies, as does kerbau horn.

In fact, as Rick has said, it looks like marine ivory, but I've handled a lot of marine ivory and never seen those "layer lines".
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Old 20th August 2019, 10:47 PM   #16
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I think Rick is correct. Marine ivory of some sort--walrus, whale, dugong, hippo, ... The "layered" appearance is very marked on hippo ivory and might fit the appearance here. As others have already noted, not a high degree of craftsmanship in the carving, so probably not derived from an exotic/rare/precious source.


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Old 20th August 2019, 11:55 PM   #17
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I think I see a core showing on the underside of the beak.
Need a better picture or better photoshop skills than mine.

Beside it is a picture of the core in the pommel of the avatar Kris that some of you use here.
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Old 21st August 2019, 08:09 AM   #18
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Please see this hilt made from marine ivory and which has many "layer lines".
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Old 21st August 2019, 08:23 AM   #19
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Yes Jean, it sure does. I wonder why?

I've got a lot of marine ivory, not just hilts, but also carvings from netsuke size to ones as big as a very large whales tooth, I've also got some scrimshaw, and an unknown number of whales teeth that are still natural. I've not seen that layering effect on anything that I have. I wonder what causes it?
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Old 21st August 2019, 11:28 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Yes Jean, it sure does. I wonder why?

I've got a lot of marine ivory, not just hilts, but also carvings from netsuke size to ones as big as a very large whales tooth, I've also got some scrimshaw, and an unknown number of whales teeth that are still natural. I've not seen that layering effect on anything that I have. I wonder what causes it?


Yes Alan it is very unusual, and the only one in my collection (some of my hilts show few layers on the sides). It most probably originates from Sulawesi (I bought it from a Bugis gentleman in East Kamimantan) but I don't know for sure from which tooth it is made. It does not seem to be made from elephant ivory (no cracks, etc.), nor from dugong (the tooth is too small), probably not from hippo (no visible interstitial line, etc.), and probably not from walrus (not common and no typical marble appearance). So which alternative remains? Sperm whale tooth but the aspect is not typical of it. Other opinions are welcome, I add the pic of the other side for reference.
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Old 21st August 2019, 08:28 PM   #21
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Thanks for all your input here , ive taken a couple more pics , im no expert but i dont think its bone , ive owned fijian whale tooth necklace (tabua) and the composition is more like this than bone
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Old 21st August 2019, 09:46 PM   #22
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Inconclusive as far as that hole being a natural feature of the material.
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Old 22nd August 2019, 09:43 PM   #23
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I think Jean's example is most likely hippo ivory. See here for some pics of hippo ivory that show similar patterns.

A quick search for "keris" and "hippo ivory" produced an item currently for sale in The Netherlands. I won't post the link for obvious reasons. But the description included an interesting claim about Bugis trade with Africa:
The Buginese type keris is one of the oldest known in Indonesia, The hippo ivory hilts were imported by Buginese sailors in Africa before the 15th century as described in Robert Dick Readís Penjelajah Bahari.


Last edited by Ian : 22nd August 2019 at 10:09 PM. Reason: Added quote
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