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Old 22nd April 2019, 12:47 AM   #1
A. G. Maisey
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The last one in this series.
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Old 22nd April 2019, 09:48 AM   #2
Jean
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An older version of Madurese sandang walikat or "soldier" wrongko?
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Old 22nd April 2019, 11:11 PM   #3
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AFAIK, this is based on a traditional Madura scabbard style (with a somewhat cubistic design). Usually, this type exhibits a distinct cross-piece (which IMVHO does not really vibe with the sandang walikat category) and added protrusions along the lower sides.

I'd guess that this style with the added carving here is a later development. Any provenance details on this example, Alan?

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Old 23rd April 2019, 02:26 AM   #4
A. G. Maisey
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Yes Kai, Sumenep, early 1980's.

I do not have a local name for it, it was purchased covered in filth. It is old.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 03:33 PM   #5
David
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I am curious what people think about the hilt. Though there is no particular anatomy that points directly to this it gives me the over all impression that it is feminine in nature. So could this be a form of wadon hilt or do some think it represents some specific figure?
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Old 23rd April 2019, 03:57 PM   #6
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Thanks, David! I wanted to highlight this hilt as well but forgot.

I can't remember having seen such a hilt before! Not sure what kind of iconography is being referred to here.

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Old 23rd April 2019, 04:15 PM   #7
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
Sumenep, early 1980's.

Thanks!


Quote:
it was purchased covered in filth. It is old.

I agree that this is not Karmadikan; I was guessing at early 20th c.?


Are there any early examples of any of the heavily carved wronko types (lion, bird, floral) known?

You mentioned that these seem to be based on earlier non-kraton style(s). I hesitate to tag them with labels like "folk art" or "self-made" since some of these carvings clearly show a lot of effort as well as skill - more likely crafted by artisans on a local/village level?

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Old 23rd April 2019, 10:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
I hesitate to tag them with labels like "folk art" or "self-made" since some of these carvings clearly show a lot of effort as well as skill - more likely crafted by artisans on a local/village level?

Kai, while sometimes "folk art" can indeed be lacking in technical skill this is certainly not always the case. I have seen Alan use the term to describe certain Gabilan style wrongko and some of these have exquisite carvings. I think you can find a lot of good carvers work at many levels of society but these village artisans are carving shapes and motifs that are not according to established "pakem". For me at least that qualifies them as "folk art".
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Old 24th April 2019, 01:21 AM   #9
A. G. Maisey
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The societies that I know well in Indonesia are not like the societies that I, and I would guess, most people who contribute to this discussion group live in. A man might earn his living as a farmer, or a truck driver, or a bank clerk, but he often has other skills as well that can see him earn extra money as a entertainer, as a court dancer, or as a carver. The people who work in metal --- silver-smiths and so on --- follow dedicated trades, that's what they do for a living, but wood carving seems to be a skill that many people have.

In the early 1980's I found I had a need for somebody who could work reliably on wrongko work for me. I'd tried a few of the well known tukang wrongkos, and for a number of reasons I was very dissatisfied with their work or their ethics.

I asked Pak Parman (Mpu Suparman) for a recommendation and he sent me to a gentleman named Agus Irianto. He told me that Agus was honest, reliable and trustworthy. I asked about the quality of his work, I was told that Pak Parman had only seen one example of wrongko repair that Agus had done, but that Agus was the grandson of one of the really great m'ranggis, and had a family line of m'ranggis that stretched back a couple of hundred years. Pak Parman was confident that Agus could do the work I needed.

I ordered a Solo gayaman from Agus --- I'll post a pic of it in a couple of weeks. When it was delivered I asked Agus how long he had been working at doing wrongko work. He told me that he had only just started and that the gayaman that I had ordered was the first complete wrongko he had made.

Prior to working at wrongko work, he had worked on a road gang spraying bitumen, but this was in Malang, a day's journey from Solo, and his family was in Solo, so he came home. I asked him who had taught him to make wrongkos. His answer was "naluri". "Naluri" is instinct, inherited skill. He was channeling his grandfather.

Agus worked for me for 12 years, and in my opinion his work was the finest that I have seen done by any tukang wrongko of the present era. The reason he stopped working for me was because he needed more money, wrongko work pays barely enough to keep body & soul together, certainly not sufficient to keep a family.

I do not think that this idea of inherited skill is unique to only people in Indonesia. My father was a fine art cabinet maker. His father was a timber carter, but his grandfather was a cabinet maker, and many generations of his family before that were littered with cabinet makers.

I myself had a side job doing custom built rifle stocks. I made one for myself, nobody taught me how, I just took my time and did it right. I then got orders from my mates and from others. I was working by pure instinct, with a little bit of input on finishing that I had picked from my father.

Nobody is one dimensional, we all have skills that we do not normally use, and maybe never even know we have until we try to do something outside our taught experience.

In the islands of Maritime South East Asia in the long past, carving was a skill that all men used and was used by their group as a measure of the sensibility of a man. I think that probably the last society in which this idea was alive is Dyak society, where a woman was measured by her skill in weaving, a man by his skill in carving. Dyak mandaus and other weapons had the blades made by skilled craftsmen, but the hilt and scabbard was carved by the owner, and the skill in carving was used as an indication of the man's nature, and thus his fitness as a partner.

If I brand something as "folk art", it is simply because I use a modern easily understood idea to convey a message. I do not want to have to write or speak 5000 words every time I comment on some piece of art, SE Asian or otherwise. In fact, the only reason I've written this lengthy post is because I have time to fill, and writing takes my mind off the oppressive heat and humidity.

Yes Kai, I think this example of dress is probably 1900 - 1940. It might be a little bit earlier, it is certainly no later.

Yes, there are many examples of old, sometimes very old, carved wrongkos with animal and floral motifs floating around. I myself have several.

I have never regarded this hilt as exceptional. it is nice, competent carving, I have seen many that are similar. If I remember I'll have a close look at it when I get home and see if I can make further comment.
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Old 27th April 2019, 02:16 PM   #10
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Hello Alan,

Thanks for your comments!

I'm surely the last to claim that one needs any university degree to be good at just about anything! (Sometimes formal education helps - sometimes it doesn't; same-o for learning by doing or growing into a family business... )

I realize that carving is a really widespread skill and that off-season periods allow for a diversity of side activities. This may well explain the majority of these heavily carved wronko which tend to exhibit modest craftsmanship. However, there also are some examples which display superior flow of lines and attention to detail; I'd assume that someone with such skills and talent quickly rises into a semi-pro role and doing such work not only for himself but also for others. Division of labour seems to be a very common and widespread trait in human cultures.

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Old 27th April 2019, 11:11 PM   #11
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
I think this example of dress is probably 1900 - 1940. It might be a little bit earlier, it is certainly no later.

Yes, there are many examples of old, sometimes very old, carved wrongkos with animal and floral motifs floating around. I myself have several.

Which age would you estimate for the oldest examples you've seen? I believe I've seen some dating to the 19th century but none which convinced me of being older.


Quote:
I have never regarded this hilt as exceptional. it is nice, competent carving, I have seen many that are similar. If I remember I'll have a close look at it when I get home and see if I can make further comment.

I checked some references and a naturalistic face surrounded by some stylised motifs does show up, indeed. Often the carving seems more floral while the source of yours seems less obvious; epaulettes also seem to be a common motif with these hilts despite their apparent civilian nature.

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Old 28th April 2019, 12:52 AM   #12
A. G. Maisey
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I cannot give age estimates Kai, that would be pure guessing, no more, no less. I have a few of these wrongkos, all are in my opinion definitely pre-WWII, but I'm not prepared to go any further than that. All I can do is look at something, handle it, and get a general impression of age from condition and wear. That is, in my opinion, simply not good enough. Ten years worth of stressed use might easily equate to a couple of hundred years wrapped in cloth in a cupboard in a store-room.

Yes, people who do have high levels of skill, either inherited or taught, do tend to be employed by others, but in farming communities and simple rural communities the same does not apply, at least this is so in Jawa and Bali.

People regard this type of carving as enjoyment and a way to fill time and demonstrate personal skill. To understand the way that people in these types of communities see their world you really need to have spent time living with them. Quite simply, they do not see the world, nor do they think in a similar way to people who live in urban communities.
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Old 28th April 2019, 08:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
The last one in this series.

Honestly I really don't like this kind of work...but, of course, is my personal taste
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