Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Thank you Anthony and Kai.
My questions were put because I needed to confirm, not because I could not see what we all can see.
Anthony wrote:- "--- It is thin sheet of silver ---". He did not specify that it was a woven sheet of silver. Yes, it certainly looks woven, but there is a very distinct difference between a "sheet of silver", and a "woven sheet of silver". If not woven, then it would be embossed, and then we need to think about age. If woven, well, it looks a bit knocked around, so is it a comparatively recent production out of Lombok, or not?
Questions that it seems to me could only be adequately answered by a person who was totally familiar with the work of the recent Lombok makers, and who could examine this hilt under magnification.
But at least we now know positively that the silver is woven, we are not assuming it is.
In respect of the stones.
In my opinion this is not a hilt that has been made in accordance with correct Balinese cultural requirements, rather it has been made as an ornament, not intended for dress wear by a Balinese person.
If we care to play the Sasak card and plead that it is for use by a Muslim, well, maybe so, but then we need to look at the entire keris, and that keris no longer is able to be appraised as Balinese, rather, it is Lombok but with a Balinese blade and wrongko. The hilt becomes an anomaly, something that is not unusual in keris of whatever style that have come from Lombok.
The number of stones is 8.
Balinese religion and belief is heavily influenced by numerology, numbers should not be haphazard, they should be carefully selected. The really important numbers are 3 5 7 9 11, the numbers of the major deities, which in turn refer to the number of roofs on a meru, and number of roofs to be used in a cremation tower, which accords with a person's hierarchical status in society.
Probably the most important single number is three, in Bali everything seems to come in threes, so if the stones on the hilt had been assembled in sets of three, I would be thinking that, well, maybe this is Balinese, maybe there was some cultural consideration in its making, but what we have is this:-
OK, lets rearrange this:- RRR GGRGG
so now we have a set of three and a mixed set of five
intentional? I doubt it, but 3 + 5 = 8
8 is the number that symbolises the division of deities and space into their component parts, it is also the number that relates to the naga and to the elephant, and as the elephant, thus to Ganesha.
is the number 8 intentional in this hilt?
personally, I doubt it, I think we are just looking at coincidence.
because the most usual, the most accepted, almost the expected colours for use in this sort of ornamentation are WHITE RED BLACK, which are representative of ISWARA BRAHMA WISNU, together the colours are mixed, so as a complete entity the three colours become mixed colours and can be interpreted to represent SIWA. If we see these colours we know we are looking at something that is correct. We have the number three, we have the expected colours. It is right.
But we can get variations that are also correct, green, which is actually the colour for Sangkara can be a substitute, but can be interpreted as a different colour, white can be interpreted as mixed, and thus might refer to Siwa, rather than Iswara.
We can get partial assemblages, as in the hilt Gustav has shown where we have alternating WHITE RED = Iswara (or Siwa) + Brahma
so when we appraise this sort of thing we need to think in Balinese terms of colour symbolism and numerical symbolism :- is something intentional, is there a meaning, or is it just a pleasing assemblage?
So, to return to the hilt under discussion.
We have :- 8 , 3 , 5 , red , green .
This is the point at which we come to opinion rather than fact, opinion is based upon experience.
In my opinion the numbers and colours in Anthony's hilt have no meaning in a Balinese cultural context, they have been used to create a pleasing appearance only. As such, I cannot accept this hilt as something for use in a Balinese cultural context. It has been made as an ornament, or for use by a person who does not need or understand Balinese cultural necessity.
As I said:- opinion.
If anybody else has a different opinion they are entitled to it, and nobody need accept my opinion as graven in stone.