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Old 22nd May 2019, 10:20 PM   #1
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,521
Default Keris of Hamengkubuwana VII

From time to time discussion has occurred in this forum that centers around royal keris.

It seems to be a generally held idea that because a keris is a "Royal Keris", or obtained by purchase through the back gate of a kraton, that such a keris must be some sort of exceptionally valuable piece of tosan aji.

Well, it ain't necessarily so.

Similarly, keris from the late colonial period can be very easy to confuse with keris made in the current era.

Back in the 1980's I visited store rooms that held keris and other Kraton Surakarta property. I have examined keris belonging to princes and other high ranking Surakarta noblemen. Not all "Royal Keris" are particularly wonderful.

Here is an absolutely terrible photograph of a keris on display in the Museum Sonobudaya in Jogjakarta, Jawa Tengah, the caption tells us what it is. In spite of the fact that this photo was taken under conditions resembling the bottom of a coal mine at midnight, through filthy, dusty glass, and without flash, I think that most people should be able to form an opinion of the origin of this Royal Keris.

Sultan Hamengkubuwana reined from 22 December 1877 to 29 January 1921.

Not everything is quite what many people may take it to be.
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Old 23rd May 2019, 06:52 AM   #2
Anthony G.
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 184

thanks Alan for the photo, nice keris
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Old 1st June 2019, 11:19 AM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 118

I swear I'm becoming far worse at reading between the lines.. or at least figuring out when I'm supposed to be. Or maybe it just comes with still being quite green about a particular subject matter

Anyway, I got there in the end

So putting aside that it's most likely not what the caption says it is, what's the convention or etiquette around displaying royal pusaka? It's my understanding that according to Javanese ethics or conventions around puusaka, you do not publicly display them, and yet I can go to a museum or a keraton and see many. Or is this not considered "public"?
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Old 1st June 2019, 12:27 PM   #4
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,521

My idea when I put this pic up was that a whole heap of knowledgeable people would jump in and tell us we were looking at a current era Madura.

OK, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

However, I've seen this keris at a very close distance, and in my opinion it is definitely pre-current era.

Then there is the date. HB VII died in the 1920's. Current era Madura that looked like this did come into existence until around the 1990's, prior to that they were still pretty crude.

The museum itself is linked to the Jogja Kraton. Anything is possible, but personally I'm prepared to accept what the display label states as truthful.

The point of the exercise is this:- it can be somewhere between difficult and impossible to provide a certain estimate of exactly what we are looking at based upon an image on a computer screen, especially a bad image, like this one.

As for "pusakas", well just because somebody, royal or otherwise owns a keris, that does not necessarily make it a pusaka.
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