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Old 27th May 2023, 08:27 PM   #1
wildwolberine
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Default Parang, Java? Old blade?

Javanese name for this sword?

Wondering if anyone can improve on van Zonneveld. Closest match is with this sword on page 134 of Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago labeled “Sword, West Java”. Dense wood hilt, no scabbard. Nice blade with very coarse texture, obvious pamor. Possibly old blade/new hilt? Would this be lumped under “parang”? Thanks!
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Old 27th May 2023, 10:53 PM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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No, not parang, but pedang.

Pedang translates as "sword".
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Old 28th May 2023, 12:14 PM   #3
kai
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Good quality example from western Java, indeed. BTW, I'm quite sure this hilt is from horn.

The Sunda sphere of influence has had a very long and varied history (pretty much rivalling tanah Jawa in East and central Java throughout historic times). As usual, it's not any uniform culture - there are lots of local differences. Thus, narrowing down origins to specific regions and time periods can be as much a challenge as coming up with reasonably specific names.

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Old 28th May 2023, 05:26 PM   #4
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Default Alemeng vs pedang

This post is a good segue into a question that I have pondered over and not found an answer that puts my mind to rest. I believe I believe this inquiry is very relevant to clarify original post's identification. My sub-inquiry is the differences between a pedang and an alemeng. They can have similar blade construction and profile. The handle can be vaguely similar as well. I am not arguing the attribution, but I am asking for more clarification on the subject in general. I have attached some pictures from A. Ubbe, 3 alemeng and 1 kelewng as well because of its tepak kuda style handle. So, my question is I guess what are the major differences between the Jawa and Sulawesi tool/weapon? I see minor differences in blade profile but enough variation in each region that this doesn't seem easily generalized. Do the alemeng generally have a central ridge on the spine, the few pedang I have seen do. I cannot tell spine thickness from the pictures. Does that typically vary by region? The shape of the sweep of the hilt and pommel seem the major difference that I see. Is the Jawa hulu considered a hoof or tail feathers in shape?
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Old 29th May 2023, 02:51 AM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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The difference in names comes from the difference in locations & consequently dress.

We're looking at Bugis terminology & Javanese terminology.

In Central Jawa this blade is going to be called a pedang, in any dress at all it can be called anything else at all in any other place at all.

Names vary from place to place, from time to time and from person to person. The same person can give a different name to the same object on a different day, and/or if it is being used in a different way, or worn in a different way.

In my experience it becomes a pretty pointless exercise to pin an unchanging, nailed down, cast iron name on something, and this does not only apply to weaponry, it is general across almost everything.

Kai has indicated that getting a "specific" name for something is difficult, well, the concept of something having a specific name is dependent upon time, location, place, circumstance, & person. In these societies "specific" means what the person you are speaking with, & what you, yourself, can agree is correct.

EDIT

Just a bit if clarification, in Javanese a pedang is a sword, a parang is a chopping tool, but today's pedang can well be tomorrow's parang:dad bought himself a pedang to wear when he does guard duty at the kraton, but then he died, junior got the pedang and he used it to clear some scrub so he could build a house, and that's when it became a parang.

In Balinese the word "parang" appears not to exist, but "peding" means "sword".

In Sundanese a "parang" is a farming tool for chopping light scrub,"pedang" is "sword".

In Malay a "parang" is a chopping tool, a "pedang" is a sword.

Both parang and pedang have classifiers, FX, a "pedang suduk" is a stabbing sword in Javanese, a "pedang sabet" is a slashing sword in Javanese, ie, a sabre, and there can be specific forms of each type, but opinions on what is what do vary, as previously noted.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 29th May 2023 at 04:27 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 29th May 2023, 05:20 AM   #6
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Sounds like the language is rife with nuance, and unspoken yet situation-specific contextual understanding.

Would this nuanced communication be understood by all in the culture, or is it somehow caste-specific? A complex culture, seemingly.
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Old 29th May 2023, 06:53 AM   #7
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Yeah Bob, pretty much so, I'll only talk about Javanese, because Bahasa Indonesia is based upon Malay, and Malay is historically a market place language, it lacks the fine tuning of Javanese, and also Balinese. I will not talk about Balinese because i do not know this language particularly well. But Javanese is a very socially based language.

It is a multi level language so one addresses one's betters in a higher form of language whilst the betters address their underlings in a lower form of language, there is not an immense difference in the three or four major levels, mostly it is just the addition or substitution of "respect" words.

However, in my experience, Javanese communication relies very heavily upon the unspoken, it relies upon body language, inflection in the spoken word , and the understanding between speaker and listener.

Javanese in its spoken form is played with, in a sort of a way, in a similar fashion to the way Cockney rhyming slang is played with, the people engaged in the conversation will understand each other, a casual listener might not.

Words get changed, almost at will, FX, keferis might mean keris. A linguist once wrote that Javanese people communicate in a similar fashion to Humpty Dumpty, they believe that they own every word they speak and what they say is never more nor less than what they mean. If you don't understand, well then, that's your problem. Maybe you were not meant to understand.

Javanese is in linguistic terms not a standard language, when you add this to the various levels of the language, and to the many dialects and group forms of the language, it becomes quite difficult for an outsider to get a clear understanding of things.

Javanese culture is difficult to categorise as single culture, so if you ask would every person who speaks Javanese across the entire Javanese society understand everything that every other Javanese speaker might say, then in my opinion, not necessarily so, provided no word games are going on most people would get a good general idea of what has been said, but might need some clarification.

Javanese society is not divided into castes, but it does have social stratification. Two people who meet for the first time will usually spend a few minutes on very polite questioning in order to determine the language level that they need to use to each other. These days a lot of educated people cut straight to the chase and switch into Bahasa Indonesia, which does not have similar levels of difficulty.

Yes, complex culture, complex society.

EDIT

One other little thing that I probably should add to my comments on the nature of Javanese communication is this:- there is an overall tendency, or maybe even commitment, to try to provide responses in communication that reflect what the responder believes the other person wishes to hear. In simple terms, if we believe that the person we are speaking with is of the opinion that it is not raining, even though we can see the rain drops falling, we do not point out that it is definitely raining, we give a response that in some way agrees with his opinion.

Javanese people try not to be confrontational and not to disappoint a questioner. Truth & accuracy are not valued if they fail to agree with the perceived belief of the other person.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 29th May 2023 at 11:06 PM. Reason: Irrelevant comment removed
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Old 29th May 2023, 02:15 PM   #8
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Compare, in up Sunda, down Sulawesi. Both from my collection.
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Old 29th May 2023, 02:17 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone! Very interesting discussion. I will treat the hilt differently now that I know it’s horn. Much lighter color than the carabao horn I’m more used to seeing.
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Old 2nd June 2023, 07:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
... One other little thing that I probably should add to my comments on the nature of Javanese communication is this:- there is an overall tendency, or maybe even commitment, to try to provide responses in communication that reflect what the responder believes the other person wishes to hear. In simple terms, if we believe that the person we are speaking with is of the opinion that it is not raining, even though we can see the rain drops falling, we do not point out that it is definitely raining, we give a response that in some way agrees with his opinion.

Javanese people try not to be confrontational and not to disappoint a questioner. Truth & accuracy are not valued if they fail to agree with the perceived belief of the other person.
Alan, I think this is no small thing for outsiders to understand. The co-existence of "objective reality" and an "alternate reality" is well accepted in spiritual matters. Indeed, I would say it is the norm for Westerners to perceive the physical and spiritual worlds as parallel but different realities.

But when "objective reality" is contradicted, despite clear evidence to the contrary, most Westerners find that hard to accept. We might think that person is delusional or suffering from a mental illness if they insist it is not raining when it clearly is.

When this spills over into business transactions, it can be very frustrating. For example, you want to buy some tailored clothing and ask when it will be ready. You are told "next week." Next week comes, and it's not ready. It will be ready "next week." The same scenario repeats itself several more times, and after six weeks the clothing finally appears and it is excellent. Everyone is supposed to be happy and grateful that a successful transaction occurred. What bugs me, however, is why not say at the start "we are very busy and it will take six weeks." But that might disappoint me, so we go through the "next week" polite response several times before it is done. This wastes my time and theirs. I would much prefer to know what the actual state of affairs is than be treated and placated like a child.

This approach is common throughout Asia and SE Asia. I'm sure many people on this Forum have their own stories to tell of similar examples of how Asian politeness offends them. However, when in a foreign country we need to be respectful of different practices and customs. So I've learned to go along with the "polite untruths" and excuses to preserve harmony. That doesn't mean I think such behavior is polite, honest, or transparent. It's part of the cost of getting things done in different cultures.
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Old 3rd June 2023, 06:46 AM   #11
A. G. Maisey
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Yep.
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