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Old 25th June 2011, 10:33 PM   #1
RSWORD
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Default Sharing a keris for discussion

Hello. Thought I would share this keris for discussion. Very nicely carved ivory handle and the blade is solid, with good weight and nice patterning. I'm wondering what the scabbard may have looked like and if anything can be discerned from the style and decoration of the carving on the ivory.
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Old 26th June 2011, 07:00 AM   #2
Alam Shah
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The hilt look Maduran to me, in the Donoriko form.. the hilt cup Sumatran.. the blade, Bugis Sumatran, imho opinion. Lovely thick and wide blade with nice pamor works.

BluErf's wide cross-piece sheath would look elegant for this blade..
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=4732

or
John's sheath type..
http://johnylhan.multiply.com/photo...tion_1#photo=23

Last edited by Alam Shah : 26th June 2011 at 07:07 AM. Reason: add link
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Old 26th June 2011, 10:45 AM   #3
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Fully agree with Alam Shah
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Old 26th June 2011, 11:18 AM   #4
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Actually the hilt looks like a Malayan version (regarding the style of ornamentation) of a Madurese type, discussed here: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ht=madura+surya, to me.

Perhaps they copied also such hilts, besides Palembang ones: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=13963

There is of course the possibility, the hilt is a recent work, done somewhere in Indonesia. It simply don't look like an old Madura hilt to me. Actually most probably the combination hilt+pendokok isn't original, the visible half of bungkul looks strange.

Last edited by Gustav : 26th June 2011 at 11:59 AM. Reason: the last sentence added
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Old 26th June 2011, 05:30 PM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback provided thusfar. As far as whether or not the handle is a recent production all I can say having the advantage of piece in hand, is that the ivory has a nice mellow patina to it, and fine age cracks, that is more typically associated with an antique piece. While it is possible to artificially age ivory, it just doesn't have that same look and feel as an aged piece. I can only speak to the patina aspect of this though and not any stylistic elements.
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Old 26th June 2011, 07:32 PM   #6
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The hilt looks old to me and is very finely carved but I agree with Gustav that it does not seem to be Madurese, and a Malaysian origin is an interesting assumption and is matching with the style of pendokok.
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Old 26th June 2011, 07:44 PM   #7
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Yes, as Dave Henkel wrote about Kelantan and Terengganu: "around 1920 - 1940. There was a craze in those days for innovation and hybrid styles abound".

Some of the older Hulu Burung Serindit also do look Madurese inspired to me, also the appearance of more elaborate pamor patterns on Peninsular keris.

Last edited by Gustav : 26th June 2011 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 26th June 2011, 11:29 PM   #8
A. G. Maisey
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I beg to disagree with the Malaysian attribution of manufacture of this hilt.

Certainly, the blade is not Madurese.

Certainly the selut is not Madurese.

However, stylistically and in execution and material this hilt has every appearance of a piece originating in Madura, in fact I have several with similar motifs -- I just now tried to find them so I could photograph, but they are not amongst my collection hilts and must be on keris, and that then becomes half a days work, which I am not prepared to do just to prove a point.

Let me put this to you:-

if you saw this hilt away from the keris it is now on, would anybody say:-

"ah yes --- Malay copy --- not Madura"

I most sincerely doubt it.

The simple fact of the matter is this:-

once we move away from an area that is under the direct influence of a karaton, and where dress codes are more or less enforced, during the period from around, say, 1850, through to 1950, and even up until the present day, people would upgrade their keris with superior components that fell into their hands, whether those components were correct to local dress or not.

I have seen a great many examples of this practice over the years, and even in rural areas of Jawa it can apply.

I have nominated this time frame because this is the period when there was an explosion of trade and communication across Maritime S.E.Asia.

Then there is the confusion caused by mating incorrect components that is carried out by over enthusiastic collectors and avaricious dealers.

When we seek to nominate a point of origin for a particular item, be it part of a keris, or something else entirely, it is always wise to use known facts as our point of reference.
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Old 27th June 2011, 03:43 PM   #9
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Hello Alan,
Thank you for the correction and please show us the pictures of your similar hilts when the opportunity arises. As I said, I never saw a Madurese donoriko hilt with such a style of decoration except this one in a recent auction.
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Old 27th June 2011, 10:07 PM   #10
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There are two things, which are strange with this hilt in my eyes.

At first, if we look at this hilt as a concrete iconographic ensemble, it is lacking at least three components: the drapery abowe the bungkul, the second pair of wings, and the "medaillon" at the back of hilt. They are always coming with this iconographic type.

Exactly the substitutes of these lacking details are most strange in performance: the stiff floral ornamentic abowe of bungkul, the undefined feature instead of second pair of wings, and the strange flower vase with even more strange podium.

The hilt Jean posted is of course a completely other iconographic type, yet also the lines there are a little bit more flowing. The hilt in question has an other, static feeling, it is also absolutely two-dimensional.

If the details and execution are strange, we always are seduced to question the age and place of manufacture. And then we see such blade and pendokok coming with it in this case.

Of course I could be wrong, these are simply my doubts regarding this hilt.

Added some pictures of "normal" execution of this iconographic ensemble for comparison (sorry about flash):
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Old 27th June 2011, 11:52 PM   #11
A. G. Maisey
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Gentlemen, in my hilt collection I have in excess of 44 ivory Madura hilts of the donoriko and squirrel type, in addition to about an equal number of wooden ones. I have perhaps twenty or so more that are fitted to keris. If we look at a considerable number of hilts of the same type, what we find is that elements of design vary considerably, as does quality of execution.

Certainly, there are hilts where design is repeated, almost cut for cut, but as we move from these more expertly carved hilts, what we find is that the carver will very often improvise, in accordance with his degree of ability, or the extent of his knowledge.

Bear this in mind:- in the past, just as at the present time, not all keris dress was produced by master carvers, and not all keris dress was produced in accordance with the requirements of karaton formal dress.

In fact, in Madura, the only Karaton was in Sumenep, the other major school of design, Pamekesan was only a kabupaten, and although in Pamekesan there was a distinguishable difference in both design and execution from the styles of Sumenep, within the Pamekesan genre, there is also very considerable variation in both elements of design and execution.

In between Pamekesan and Sumenep there is a lengthy stretch of rural lands, that even today is a literal pain in the rear end to traverse. Before the sealed road went in, it must have been hell to go from one place to another, very probably the major contact was by boat, but when somebody was living more than a day's walk from the nearest port, how often do think they might have visited any major center of population? Were the carvers living in rural areas as au fait with accepted design elements and motifs as were the masters living within the karaton, or within the city of Pamekesan? Of course not. How could they be? Then we have the fact that many people would carve their own keris dress. Not every item of keris dress was always made by a man paid to do the job, and even the master carver had one or more apprentices.

Now, don't ask me for photos. Photos take time, a lot more time than the 5 minutes it has taken me to write this, and to be frank, I really don't care if what I say is accepted or not. Believe what you will. However, I would offer the caution that we should not base our judgements and opinions concerning objects from times long past, and their production, upon ideas conceived in the 21st century and from a cultural and societal foundation firmly rooted in Europe.


In respect of this particular hilt that is under discussion.

Does anybody truly believe that this hilt was carved with the intention of fitting a Bugis/Malay style pendongkok to it?

Have a look at what it looks like:- the hilt is stuck on top of the pendongkok like a pimple on a pumpkin. Its plain , pure, downright ugly.Totally kaku and obviously not intended to be seen together. Surely anybody with even minimal experience of keris aesthetics can see this.

The hilt is nice, the pendongkok is nice, but together they're a disaster.

Have a look at post #3 in this thread:-

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=13989

here we have another donoriko that has been fitted with an incorrect selut, but have a look at how it has been fitted, now compare with the hilt we are discussing.

If anybody wishes to move origin of this hilt to a location other than Madura, I feel that it will be very necessary to come up with some concrete evidence of such a hilt having been produced in a location other than Madura. Perceived variations in design and execution based upon an insignificant statistical base are simply not sufficient.

But as I have already said:- believe what you will; most of the field of kerisology is based upon belief rather than fact in any case. A bit more belief probably won't do any irreparable damage.
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