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Old 24th July 2018, 11:19 AM   #1
jagabuwana
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Default The West Javanese or Sundanese keris - a discussion

Id like to open up a discussion about Sundanese or West Javanese kerises. I use the two terms, but not interchangeably because of the following reasons:

1) despite Sundanese people living on the island of Java, they (well, we, seeing as I am Sundanese) consider themselves a distinct people with a distinct culture, while also having shared ethnolinguistic roots and histories with the Javanese people.

2) I have seen the term West Javanese being used to refer to kerises that come from that geographical area, which to the chagrin of some proud Sundanese, is called Jawa Barat or West Java instead of Tatar Sunda or Priangan/Parahyangan. For the purpose of the accuracy of my discussion, I will cease to use the term West Java, as what I am really interested are keris from culturally Sundanese lands and people as opposed to just a geographical area.

The reason is that I want to learn or perhaps approach an answer to the following questions:

1) If we accept from a historiographic and perhaps empirical point of view that the keris is an object born from the Javanese imagination, and from there we can say that there are Javanese keris as well as other classifications and sub-classifications of both Javanese and non-Javanese keris, is there then such a thing as the Sundanese keris?

2) If not, are there other qualities and features that we can distinguish for keris from Sunda, other than the classification of Pajajaran, which of course does not necessarily refer to having been made by someone from Pajajaran, within Pajajran, during the time of Pajajaran and so on?

3) With Pajajaran being a classification in the tangguh system, whose namesake refers to a Sundanese kingdom, how can a Pajajaran keris still be considered Javanese generally, as opposed to distinctly West Javanese or Sundanese?

Please start wherever you wish, or add questions of your own if you find this interesting.

~~

Attached are some photos of Sundanese regents with their keris visible in the photos. I have included these in case it gives extra material for discussion and comment, whether related to questions above or not.

1, 2, 3 - Raden Adipati Aria Prawiradiredja, Regent of Cianjur, with keris with dressings of various style

4 - Raden Adipati Suria Nataninggrat, Regent of Lebak, with what looks to me to be Javanese style dress.

5 - Wiranatakusuma IV (Dalem Bintang), Regent of Bandung.

6 - Painting of Aria Kusumadininggrat, Regent of Galuh
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:10 PM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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I'm going to try to cut straight to the bone on this one Jaga.

Firstly I am going to choose to understand your question in the most simple way I can. I need to do this because basically I am a very simple man who has difficulty in understanding things that are not straight forward and simple.

Secondly, I am going to think in terms of only the keris itself, ie, the wilah or blade. I intend to ignore dress.

Thirdly I am going to define the limits of Sunda in terms that relate to the limits of the Sundanese people, not some imaginary geographical concept.

You have disallowed the classification of all the sub-divisions of the Pajajaran classification from consideration, so we'll set that to one side. Once we do that, the classifications we have left are Banten and Segaluh.

Some people might currently want to include Cirebon, but I doubt that this is legitimate, as the keris that I have seen identified as Cirebon have been classified on the basis of dress, rather than wilah. The wilah has invariably been something that taken separately can be classified as something else:- Banten, Pajajaran, Segaluh, Tuban, Mataram.

I think that perhaps Banten and Segaluh are the limit of recognised keris classifications that can legitimately be attributed to Sunda. But possibly somebody else has some suggestions?

In respect of the position of the Pajajaran keris within the Solonese Tangguh Classification System, it is true that it is recognised not as a Javanese keris, but as a Sundanese keris, as such, it falls outside the honour system that sets the foundations of the Tangguh System generally, and this naturally impacts upon the position of Pajajaran keris within the system.

Perhaps Pajajaran is included as a classification within the Tangguh System because of the events of 1351 (?) when Pajajaran refused to give a princess to Hayam Wuruk as tribute and instead wanted her to be accepted as wife. Majapahit forces promptly massacred the Pajajaran company and then Pajajaran became a tributory state under Majapahit for a number of years. Javanese control of Sunda probably was only completely relinquished when Gajah Mada died in the early 1360's.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 24th July 2018 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:42 PM   #3
jagabuwana
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Thanks Alan, there was definitely a lot of fat and perhaps over-elaboration in my initial post and I appreciate that you've approached it concisely.

It wasn't my intention to disallow the Pajajaran classification from discussion, and I am also interested in whatever could be considered Sundanese dressings for keris, whether Cirebon or otherwise.

Where dress is concerned, I am interested to know if Sundanese elites had keris dressings that were distinctly Sundanese or otherwise regional, and I'd be interested on information about this from anyone who could elaborate.

On a slightly related note or observation, I have at least been able to confirm (albeit with only a very small sample of photos) that some Sundanese Bupatis wore keris that to my eye look somewhat like Solo ladrangan and yudowinatan style handle (whether it is actually Solo I don't know).

I have also found a thread by Ganjawulung (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18619) in which he shares his opinions on Sunda blades, where he says that they are longer than usual.

The thread also has some photos of specimens from Prabu Geusan Ulun Museum in Sumedang, which show a lot of wrangka gayaman, though I'm unsure if these are uniquely regional or Sundanese as opposed to being indistinguishable from other styles. The naga sasra keris also show yudowinatan style handles, though at least one of these is purported to be a gift from one of the Amangkurats of Mataram.
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Old 24th July 2018, 07:17 PM   #4
Bjorn
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As Alan has said, Sunda keris would be Pajajaran and Banten. Of these two, I'd say that the Pajajaran keris are more unique, as the Banten ones show similarities to keris from Bali and Blambangan. A popular theory is that this similarity is due to the exodus of keris makers after the fall of Majapahit.
If this theory is taken to be true, then the Banten keris would likely show a very high conformance to Majapahit, i.e. Javanese, styles.
Pajajaran keris, on the other hand, originated in Sunda, as far as I am aware.

As concerns the above mentioned theory, it is explicitly mentioned by Karsten Sejr Jensen on his Krisdisk. I suspect it has been referenced in other works as well, but perhaps other members could confirm this.
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Old 24th July 2018, 10:54 PM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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Yes Bjorn, the "pande migration" theory is pretty much generally accepted as being so. It might be, it might not be, but it does seem to be reasonable and logical.

Jaga, I have very little knowledge in respect of West Javanese/Sundanese keris dress that I would be prepared to be definite about. Anything I know in this regard is simply what can be read in published works, most of which I tend to automatically distrust.

I think that for a long time, the Solo dress form has been widely accepted as almost a "national" standard, certainly so since independence, and seemingly so, to a large degree, in late colonial times.
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Old 25th July 2018, 11:27 PM   #6
Amuk Murugul
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Hullo jagabuwana,

I am indeed heartened by your stated passion/enthusiasm and wish you well.
I just thought that Id drop you the following diagram of blade details (the details are in their simple/basic forms).
Perhaps you may wish to consider it. (It may point/spur you in a particular direction.)

Best,
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Old 29th July 2018, 02:49 AM   #7
jagabuwana
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Thanks all for your contributions. I have heard about this pande migration hypothesis too - makes sense.

Amuk Murugul, the diagram with Sundanese terms is much appreciated! Did you label this yourself? I am interested to know why the author would use the Dutch / pre reform orthography.


Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
In respect of the position of the Pajajaran keris within the Solonese Tangguh Classification System, it is true that it is recognised not as a Javanese keris, but as a Sundanese keris, as such, it falls outside the honour system that sets the foundations of the Tangguh System generally, and this naturally impacts upon the position of Pajajaran keris within the system.

Perhaps Pajajaran is included as a classification within the Tangguh System because of the events of 1351 (?) when Pajajaran refused to give a princess to Hayam Wuruk as tribute and instead wanted her to be accepted as wife. Majapahit forces promptly massacred the Pajajaran company and then Pajajaran became a tributory state under Majapahit for a number of years. Javanese control of Sunda probably was only completely relinquished when Gajah Mada died in the early 1360's.


I must have read your post with half a mind, because I didn't notice this the first time but this is of a lot of interest to me. It makes sense to include a Pajajaran classification in a Javanese tangguh system if it used to be under Javanese control.

I was intrigued by Groneman's referencing of FL Winter's (1871) account of a manuscript which I think he got access to from the Surakarta or Jogja keraton (either of the two, not clear which one) that accounts who commissioned certain keris to be made during their time as king. It probably has very little value as an empirical manuscript given that it starts with mythical figures. But then we get entries such as:
"Prabu Kuda Lalejan of Padjadjaran commissioned is empu Windu Sarpa to forge two keris in about 1170, namely:
31. dapur bradjol, forged from a single piece along with the gandja, with one pedjetan as the only decoration and
32. dapur betoq, a short weapon without sekar katjang or greneng."

I'm not sure where they got the year 1170 or which calendar they were using, but I'm not so interested in the chronological accuracy so much as I am in the idea that certain dhapur's are recognised to have been "invented" under Sundanese auspices. The others are:
- Tilam sari (Prabu Bandjaran Sari, empu Andaja Sangkala)
- Parung sari ("", "")
- Sinom Worawari (Prabu Munding Sari, empu Kandjat)
- Djalaq ngore (Prabu Pamekas, empu Andjani)
- Tjarita kalentang ("", "")
- Dapur Jangkung (Prabu Sijung Wanara, empu Martju Kunda)
- Dapur Pandawa tjarita ("", "").

If a keris classified as Pajajaran is not recognised as Javanese, and therefore outside of the honour system and this affects its value, does the recognition that a keris dhapur was supposedly first commissioned in a non-Javanese kingdom also affect its value or desirability?
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Old 29th July 2018, 12:18 PM   #8
A. G. Maisey
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The roots of the tangguh system might perhaps go back to the early 1700's, but the system seems to have become popular during the late colonial period. It fulfilled a needed function in Javanese aristocratic society during the late colonial period.

There could well be historic reasons for keris that originated in West Jawa to be included in a system that really only attached value to keris that originated in "The Land of Jawa", but the reason could as easily be argued to be economic rather than historic.

If keris that originated in areas other than The Land of Jawa could be classified in error as genuine Javanese keris, then it might have been deemed wise to provide guidance that permitted the identification of such keris.
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