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Old 2nd April 2020, 05:58 PM   #1
David
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Default Mataram Wedung

I was debating whether to show this wedhung that i have recently acquired on this forum. Frankly there are many keris in my collection that i consider "not for public display" and had thought i might also consider this wedhung a to be a part of that more personal collection. Some may have already seen the dress of this wedhung as it had been posted by it's previous owner in threads about painted dress (sunggingan). However the blade has not been shown here before.
I decided to show it after scanning our pages on information about wedhung and realizing that very little has actually been discussed about these interesting court blades and i have also never seen one quite like this one here or elsewhere. So it seems like a good item to add to our archives. I also thought that perhaps we might all be a little bit bored in these pandemic Covid-19 days and need something interesting to look at and discuss.
This is a reasonably old example (late 16th - early 17th C) that can conservatively be placed as early Second Mataram, when Islam became the official dominant culture of Java. It has a more elongated blade than many later wedhung with the unusual (though not unknown) feature of a sharped false top edge from the tip to about the middle of the blade. It is a pamored blade with an elegantly cut wideng (like the greneng on a keris). The blade is 12.75 inches and length over all in the sheath is 18.5 inches. The blade is still extremely edge sharp.
The sheath is old (though probably not original) and received this beautifully executed alas-alasan motif sunggingan sometime in the second half of the 20th century. It carries the crest of the Surakarta keraton. It has a subtlety carved sash clip (sangkletan) made of white horn and held in place with silver bands.
The blade carries pamor. In the Surakarta keraton this is an indication that the blade belonged to a member of the royalty (prince), but i do not know is the same rules apply in Mataram times. It does seem likely that the wedung became a required item of court during this period of Mataram rule. Wedhung certainly existed in the in the pre-Islamic times of the Mojopahit Empire, but i cannot find any information yet on their place within that societal hierarchy. Once they did become a requirement for court wear they were seen as a symbolic implement meant to ensure the wearer's willingness to cut the path for their sovereign. In the Surakarta keraton ranks up to bupati anom may only wear a plain black wedhung, ranks of bupati and pangeran may wear a pamor wedhung. I do not know if this also applied to, say, wedhung in the Yogyakarta keraton or any other for that matter. So any information that can be added here on wedhung and the practices of their application in other areas and times in Java would be appreciated.
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Last edited by David : 3rd April 2020 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 2nd April 2020, 10:11 PM   #2
David R
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Blades from this part of the world are so different that for those of us more used to Western, Chinese and Japanese, they are a bit of a shock. Thank you for posting this.
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Old 2nd April 2020, 10:36 PM   #3
jagabuwana
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Full of allure and power. That is so special... wow.
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Old 3rd April 2020, 01:08 AM   #4
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Quoting/paraphrasing information on wedung conveyed to me by a recognised expert in this area, (any error is mine not theirs)

The wedung was not a weapon in the sense of a tool to kill people, and it was not a utility knife.

It was a symbol of the willingness of a servant ( ie, court attendant) to cut a way through the forest for his or her Lord
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Old 3rd April 2020, 01:47 AM   #5
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Thanks for confirming my comment drdavid. Though i don't think it is fully correct that the wedhung did not sometimes serve in the function of a utility knife, at least in some symbolic way. The blades were meant to cut though (as the sharpness of mine conveys) and i believe they were probably often employed to cut things, if not in a completely practical way, then surely at the pleasure of the Sultan.
And though not generally considered a weapon, i have heard from a reliable source (perhaps even your same expert ) of very large wedhung used in beheadings.
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Old 3rd April 2020, 02:57 AM   #6
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David I am sure we are talking the same expert. Your example is magnificent, I have one that is much plainer
cheers
DrD
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Old 3rd April 2020, 08:41 AM   #7
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Lovely!

The blade shows quite clear signs of very old age, so late 16th - early 17th C seems to be quite realistic.

Thank you for sharing it with us, and thank you for the information to come with it!
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Old 3rd April 2020, 06:57 PM   #8
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We have this illustration which i believe comes from Raffles of a gent wearing both a keris and wedung. So this would be very early 19th C as Raffles History of Java was first published in 1817.
It should be noted that women within the keraton were also known to have worn wedung.
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Old 5th April 2020, 02:02 PM   #9
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Just to compare, here is my Wedung. It is of course much more recent (I suppose XIXth century). The previous owner polished the blade but it does not seem to have pamor.
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Old 5th April 2020, 05:54 PM   #10
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Thanks for posting Athanase. Yes, this looks like a nice old wedung and i think 19th century may well be correct. I don't really no enough about them to be completely accurate, but i suspect this is a Surakarta form from others i can compare it to, though i might be missing some subtlety of form that places it elsewhere. A shame someone saw fit to polish the blade. If you could manage to stain the blade i believe it would have a better look.
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Old 5th April 2020, 08:40 PM   #11
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Here is mine. Seems to be pretty old and fully original. Some wood got rotten, horn hook was broken and repaired who knows when.
Any guess-timates of age?
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Old 5th April 2020, 08:45 PM   #12
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I'd give both as Surakarta, and both as 19th century.

Athanase, if this wedung was mine I'd be using cold gun blue on it. Repeated applications will give a very deep blue, approaching black. It is even possible that there might be a metal treatment that will blacken it. Try sculptors supplies for a black treatment, and gun shops for the cold blue.
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Old 5th April 2020, 09:39 PM   #13
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Thanks Alan.
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Old 5th April 2020, 11:12 PM   #14
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You are most welcome Ariel.
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Old 6th April 2020, 09:43 AM   #15
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A very nice and fairly old example David! Now I know that this slender wedung blades attributed to Mataram!

Here you can see my example, not so old: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=wedung

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 6th April 2020, 04:44 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
A very nice and fairly old example David! Now I know that this slender wedung blades attributed to Mataram!

Here you can see my example, not so old: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=wedung

Regards,
Detlef

Thanks Detlef. I do remember that thread and your example. If you recall i mentioned back then my desire to add one of these to my collection. Mission accomplished.
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Old 6th April 2020, 08:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Thanks Detlef. I do remember that thread and your example. If you recall i mentioned back then my desire to add one of these to my collection. Mission accomplished.


Yes David, I remember. And now you have a very nice and old example in your collection.

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 6th April 2020, 09:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
Yes David, I remember. And now you have a very nice and old example in your collection.

I guess good things really do come to those who wait.
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