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Old 2nd November 2010, 02:34 AM   #1
Rick
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Question Methuk To Mendak

The Keris Buda I have seen have a separate Gonjo topped off with a Methuk (for the most part) as is seen in many Tombak .

Can we accept that this was a common early form of securing the Gonjo to the Wilah ?

I wonder; if this is so; at what time or era did the Mendak start to replace the Methuk in the development timeline of the keris in Jawa ?

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Old 2nd November 2010, 03:05 PM   #2
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People look, but don't respond, probably because they don't have any answers. That's alright, neither do i ,but i do think it is an interesting question.
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Old 2nd November 2010, 03:31 PM   #3
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Also not an answer, but some more questions:

is it possible, the early keris (with methuk) could be used also like spearheads?

If yes, how long was this praktice applicated?

Is the use of methuk bound to the phenomena of rectangular pesi?

What are the practical advantages using a rectangular pesi, regarding the early keris?
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Old 2nd November 2010, 07:17 PM   #4
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" Is the use of methuk bound to the phenomena of rectangular pesi? "

Not as far as I can see .

Round pesi on tombak have methuks .
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Old 2nd November 2010, 07:51 PM   #5
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Thank you Rick

I wasn't clear enough, my question should be:

Is the use of methuk ON KERIS bound to the phenomena of rectangular pesi?
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Old 3rd November 2010, 01:32 PM   #6
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Sorry Gustav, I have no answer to your question .
I simply do not know enough .
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Old 3rd November 2010, 11:43 PM   #7
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This is a really good question Rick, and perhaps one of the more puzzling matters in the history of keris development. I know it is something that I myself have often thought upon.

I do not believe that the reason for the methuk was to secure the gonjo, rather I feel that that it was to provide a base for the hilt and to allow spacing to achieve the desired grip.However, having said that, I must admit that I am only theorising, as I have never had an old keris buda apart to see exactly how the methuk and gonjo are fixed. Since keris buda are nearly always in excavated condition when you meet with them, disassembly is not really an option.

As to when the mendak replaced the methuk, I think we would probably have to begin to answer this question by careful inspection of the early keris that we find in European collections, the sort of thing that we see in Jensen's published works. I can't determine what I'm looking at from the pictures, so it would be necessary to visit the exhibits in person and make a determination.

Does anybody here live close to any of the places identified as holding these early keris?

It would be a very worthwhile exercise to go and inspect them.

I have a personal belief that there was a transition from the methuk to the modern decorative mendak by way of cast bronze mendaks. I have a number of these, and when I get some decent light here --- wet at the moment where I live --- I'll photograph and post the images.

Gustav, this theory of keris being interchangeable as spear heads is an old one, but it does not stand. I have not ever seen a keris blade in a spear shaft in any carving on any candi. This does not mean it did not happen, but there is no evidence that it did.

In historic times it is virtually certain that the keris was never used as a spear.

Secondly, the tang of a spear needs to be very long, in order to resist the much greater forces that apply to a spear blade. The short tang of keris does not provide the necessary support to allow it to function as a spear head.

There are two possible reasons for a square or rectangular tang:- firstly, a square tang is much easier and more economic to forge; secondly a square tang prevents a hilt from turning. It appears that keris buda were used with totally different grips than are used with the modern keris, and used with an overhand grip, rather than with a rapier grip. Prevention of the grip turning would be a distinct advantage for a dagger used in this way.
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Old 5th November 2010, 12:39 AM   #8
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Below are 15 mendak.

Numbers 1 to 8 are cast, I believe in bronze, but some could be either brass or copper. These are all very early mendak, mostly excavated, they are solid cast, and I believe were the early mendak form that took the place of the methuk.

Number 9 is iron with kinatah work, again from an early period, my guess is possibly Mataram.

All the mendak from 1 to 9 are strong, functional mendak that would support the base of the hilt and help to prevent it cracking during use. Without this mendak, the base of the hilt would impact upon the top of the gonjo, the edges and irregular form of which could encourage failure of the hilt under pressure.

Numbers 10 to 14 show what the mendak became when it changed to a decorative accessory, rather than a functional part of a weapon that was required to withstand sometimes severe or jolting forces during a strike.

Number 15 shows how the methuk changed to a decorative form in Bali.

Often we find that Balinese hilts do not have a mendak (uwer), so we might ask the question of why those Balinese hilts without mendak (uwer) did not split. If we look at the form of the base of a Bali hilt, where it comes down to the gonjo, it is slightly rounded, which brings the contact point of the hilt to a slight radius and that radius is what contacts the top of the gonjo, which automatically removes or at least greatly reduces the risk of splitting.

The Javanese hilts seem to have gone in a different direction and opted to retain the spacing of the hilt from the gonjo, which would indicate a different method of use.

The above is only theoretical and in the absence of a time machine it could be argued backwards and forth till the cows come home, but it is perhaps one reasonable explanation of how this loss of the methuk occurred.
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Old 5th November 2010, 12:41 AM   #9
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And the last three.
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Old 5th November 2010, 12:52 AM   #10
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Nice Alan, thank you!
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Old 5th November 2010, 01:04 AM   #11
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So, might we conclude that the Methuk seen on archaic Keris forms are indeed the progenitors of the evolution of the Mendak ?

Or do I rush to judgement ?
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Old 5th November 2010, 05:32 AM   #12
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Thanks for the pictures and your thoughts on this issue. I've never seen cast bronze Javanese mendak, though I have some cast brass(?) pendoko for Bugis kerises. There are some similarities, though size is certainly not one of them, and the age of these Bugis pendoko are probably not as great as the Javanese examples here.
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Old 6th November 2010, 10:44 PM   #13
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I think you're right Rick.
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