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Old 15th October 2017, 11:03 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Kampen, The Netherlands
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Default Help translation asked

A few years ago I bought this keris from a fellow collector in the Netherlands. I didn't notice initialy, but a Friend Toon Bosmans, discovered two inscriptions on the back of the pendok. It is very hard to make a readable photo of it, so I asked an other friend of mine Janno Nijenhuis to try and draw these inscriptions. My question: is there anyone who can read and translate this scripture for me, please?
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Old 15th October 2017, 10:19 PM   #2
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 4,956

Reading this sort of thing is not always as simple as might be expected. It looks like Javanese Hanacaraka, and if the letters have been reasonably closely executed I can probably get it brought into Roman text --- my own understanding of Hanacaraka is not good enough to read text presented like this, however I have sent images to a relative who will be able to read it if the letters are standard renditions and the words are in fact Javanese words.

The reason for the qualifications is that very often these sort of inscriptions can be written in a "secret language". In the past, but seemingly not so much now, people in Jawa would develop a language, or use an existing language, that we could liken to our own "pig latin", except vastly more complex. Social groups would do this sort of thing, as well as families.

Similarly, cypher languages were used, where an ordinary word could have a meaning other than it appeared to have --- a very simple parallel in English might be Cockney rhyming slang, the conversation of two people skilled in the use of this form of language can be totally incomprehensible to an outsider.

Add the further complication that Javanese is a multi level language to begin with --- minimum two levels, and dependent upon social context perhaps as many as 11 levels --- and it gets to the point where one can only understand something if the speaker or writer wishes another person to understand.

In any case, I've sent the query and when I get a response I'll post the result.
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Old 18th October 2017, 07:54 AM   #3
A. G. Maisey
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I have had a response from my relative.

The letters in this Hanacaraka text have not been written in a standard way, they appear to have parts missing, almost as if the message is in code.

My relative is very familiar with Hanacaraka text and he is unable to make sense of this text as it stands. However,when he returns home to Solo this coming weekend he will refer it to a very elderly gentleman who is familiar with some of the variations of Hanacaraka, and see if he can read it.
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Old 18th October 2017, 10:50 AM   #4
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Location: Netherlands
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What if the text was copied wrongly?

Maybe literally copying it using a thin paper and a soft-tipped pencil might help.
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Old 23rd October 2017, 10:12 PM   #5
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
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My relative has returned the two images below to me, and you can see what has been written on them.

The image with the Javanese letters:-


is unintelligible, his comment is:-

"kelihatannya huruf terputus, sehingga tdk. terbaca"

Free:- "it looks as if the letters have been cut to the point where this cannot be read"
Literal:- "looks it letter cut until not read" (past tense)

The image with the Javanese letters:-

Line 1:- NYA HA JA YA

NYA:- is an abbreviation for "nyonya" = a Chinese or European married woman
HA:- can be understood as an exclamation = "how about?" or "yeah, for sure!" or "so!"
JA & YA are dependent upon when and where the inscription was made

the entire line depends upon how it was intended to be read


if we read this line as :-" lengkara arum" it can be understood as "impossible to be fragrant" but this might also be intended to be understood in a figurative sense

As with just about every Javanese inscription of this type that I have seen, the only person who truly knows what this is meant to say is the person who had it put there.

Sometimes an inscription like this might be the name of the keris, or it might be a personal motto, or known saying, perhaps a short prayer, but usually it is something that is not intended to be understood by whoever might read it.

With this sort of thing it is always possible to take what might be able to be understood and fill in the gaps by guessing, but if we do that we place our feelings and interpretations onto something that was not intended to be understood by others in the first place. Then, even if we do manage to extract something intelligible from it, what we finish up with could well be intended to be understood in a figurative sense.
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Old 27th October 2017, 01:42 AM   #6
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Thank you for taking the time to do this mate.
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