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Old 4th December 2010, 01:14 PM   #1
Marcokeris
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Default Sulawesi (toraja?) keris

during my last trip to Balý i found this keris
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Old 4th December 2010, 01:29 PM   #2
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Nice, but i'm afraid made for those who travel for pleasure
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Old 4th December 2010, 01:35 PM   #3
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Old 4th December 2010, 05:12 PM   #4
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The repousse looks like recent work. I agree that the quality is tourist quality.
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Old 5th December 2010, 10:17 AM   #5
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I would not say tourist quality but rather common or low quality as this piece seems to have been used, what is the base materials of the metal oversheath?
I attach the picture of a similar used piece in my collection, the base metal is silver.
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Old 5th December 2010, 12:01 PM   #6
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Looks like a ceremonial piece used for weddings, as part of a traditional wear.
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Old 5th December 2010, 12:37 PM   #7
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I am with Alam, looks like a wedding kris with some age.
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Old 5th December 2010, 12:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
.. I attach the picture of a similar used piece in my collection, the base metal is silver.
Best regards
Jean
Hi Jean,
Your keris blade is of better workmanship, a well-made piece of Sulawesi standard.. However, the base areas where the 'goldish' material is, seems to be 'disturbed' at the greneng, making the flaring area seems a little awkward..

Shahrial
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Old 5th December 2010, 01:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
Hi Jean,
Your keris blade is of better workmanship, a well-made piece of Sulawesi standard.. However, the base areas where the 'goldish' material is, seems to be 'disturbed' at the greneng, making the flaring area seems a little awkward..

Shahrial


Hello Sharial,
I fully agree that my piece is not an art masterpiece but I think a genuine Toraja kris made by a local smith for wearing during burial and wedding ceremonies especially. The base of my blade is not harmonious and quite similar to Marco's one (ganja iras, thick and roughly carved gandik and kembang kacang), I don't think that there is anything wrong under the gilt silver plate but I will check. I agree that Marco's kris is a genuine piece also but of common quality, I visited the Toraja area 15 years ago and there were absolutely no genuine or even tourist piece for sale so these pieces are quite rare to find.
Best regards
Jean
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Old 5th December 2010, 02:41 PM   #10
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Hi Jean,

Thanks Jean for your feedback. I'm not saying that it's not genuine, but merely stating what I see from the posted picture.. I agree with your opinion on both keris. Quality do differ. Toraja is capable of producing beautiful workmanship.. it is evident in the bladed weapons from that region, the dua lalan, etc. Coming back to keris, here's a link to another toraja keris, (( link )).. although the picture is not too clear and the blade is not visible.. the toraja form and quality workmanship is evident..

Best regards,
Shahrial
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Old 5th December 2010, 04:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
Hi Jean,

Coming back to keris, here's a link to another toraja keris, although the picture is not too clear and the blade is not visible.. the toraja form and quality workmanship is evident..

Best regards,
Shahrial


Hello Shahrial,
Very beautiful kris, obviously not in the same category as mine! But is it Toraja or rather from Makassar/Gowa/ Bima? The picture is not clear but the hilt rather looks to depict Arjuna or Bima than a Toraja ancestor.
Thank you and best regards
Jean
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Old 5th December 2010, 05:32 PM   #12
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The blade of my keris is , of course, very simple. i suppose the blade was put inside the sarong subsequently because the base of blade is more little of the hole of sarong.
I agree that is a ceremony keris (but not for rich people).
I like a lot the quality of work of the sarong and selut. Also i like the type of glasses used in decoration and i suppose they are old like sarong.
When i bought the keris the blade was very very rusty and dirty then i try to stain it : it was really very difficult because i did't try to separate the blade from the hit.... and when i used water to clean warangan the blade comes, in a very fast way, very dark.
About material sarong i don't know what could be: is metal over a wood core.
IMO tourist keris are completey different
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Old 5th December 2010, 06:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
I visited the Toraja area 15 years ago and there were absolutely no genuine or even tourist piece for sale so these pieces are quite rare to find.

I wonder if this is not because Toraja really has no long standing keris culture to speak of. When did the keris first come to Toraja? It has obviously been incorporated somewhat into their rituals (i believe into their elaborate death ceremonies), but it seems to me that this didn't take place until the 20th century. This particular highland culture of Sulawesi was rather insular before then. Their culture, architecture, symbolism, specific animistic beliefs and rituals, are very unique to the area. Even to this day they are different from the majority of Indonesians as their culture has, for the most part, adopted Protestant Christianity as it's religion, with only a 5% muslim population. Has anyone seen a well provenanced 19th century Torajan keris?
I searched through some photos looking for some Torajan keris culture. It is interesting to note that in the photos below keris are only carried by very specific women in the ceremonies shown. In some of the overview ceremonial images i see no keris present. The keris held by the singular woman is clearly in Javanese dress. I cannot see the dress clearly enough in the image of the two women w/keris to know if there is anything specifically Tojaran about them or if they are Bugis style keris.
Here is a nice overview of the Tojara.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toraja
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Last edited by David : 5th December 2010 at 07:43 PM. Reason: wrong website posted
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Old 5th December 2010, 06:25 PM   #14
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Of course i did find this image of a giant statue of a Toraja warrior that stands in Makale. Anyone have an idea when this was made?
Also here is an old image of 3 old warriors with a Dutch Salvation Army official in 1930. Notably missing from their attire is any presence of keris.
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Old 5th December 2010, 07:03 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David


Please note that the saleroom notice from Christie says that:
"The entry should read: Sulawesi, Bugis, gold keris" so this is not a Toraja kris.
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Old 5th December 2010, 07:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Please note that the saleroom notice from Christie says that:
"The entry should read: Sulawesi, Bugis, gold keris" so this is not a Toraja kris.

Yes Jean, i did note that and was going to throw it in with my argument, but forgot, so thank you.
So what exactly is a Torajan keris then. What provenance leads us to believe that either yours or Marcos originated in this very specific culture?

Edit: Oh, i see what happened there. I posted the wrong link in that place. I had meant to post this Wiki page.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toraja
I will also amend that post, thanks, but your remark about this particular keris from Christies still holds true...
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Old 5th December 2010, 10:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Hello Shahrial,
Very beautiful kris, obviously not in the same category as mine! But is it Toraja or rather from Makassar/Gowa/ Bima? The picture is not clear but the hilt rather looks to depict Arjuna or Bima than a Toraja ancestor.
Hi Jean,
I guess not of the same quality. But what I was getting at is, there are different quality of work. The keris that I've linked, oops! my mistake. While trying to get a quick example, linked to a questionable one. I've watch a documentary about the Torajan some time back, which showed keris, as well. That made me thought that it existed within the culture. Perhaps it is like Northern Nias, where it's an 'imported' culture. For the Torajan, perhaps the influence comes from the south, probably Makassar.

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Old 6th December 2010, 10:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen
I am with Alam, looks like a wedding kris with some age.



Besides the general question, how a wedding keris in general, independently from the area of its origin, has to look like - what are the criteria that make him to a [B]wedding keris, declared as such from a member of an outside culture without any further background information - particular in the case of this here presented keris from Toradja(?) land with its quality as it is, it would be of greatest interest for me to receive the facts upon which this attribution can be done.

Thanks and as an advise, it is not my aim to offend anyone in any manner, but this question, and more so the answer, is of real interest for me.

guwaya
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Old 6th December 2010, 10:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Hello Sharial,
I agree that Marco's kris is a genuine piece also but of common quality, I visited the Toraja area 15 years ago and there were absolutely no genuine or even tourist piece for sale so these pieces are quite rare to find.
Best regards
Jean


Sorry Jean,

I traveld in Sulawesi nearby the same time and as well as in Makassar (Ujung Pandang by that time) as well as in Rantepao I saw and became offered a lot of tourist pieces, and grubbing through the shops I would say I saw more tourist pieces (to use this term) than honest ones.

Additionally by that time Sulawesi Artshop in Kuta/Legian Bali already had two shops offering a lot of Sulawesi touris pieces as well as the terrible brass made Bali hilts set with mostly class-stones.

Again, it is not in my interest to offend enybody - but it has to be said as this are my personal experiences.

guwaya
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Old 6th December 2010, 12:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guwaya
Besides the general question, how a wedding keris in general, independently from the area of its origin, has to look like - what are the criteria that make him to a [B]wedding keris, declared as such from a member of an outside culture without any further background information - particular in the case of this here presented keris from Toradja(?) land with its quality as it is, it would be of greatest interest for me to receive the facts upon which this attribution can be done.

guwaya
Hi guwaya,

Since you've been to these lands, perhaps you could enlighten us, members of the outside culture..

For some information, an interesting book to read-up, "Southeast Asia: A historical encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor - vol. 2" edited by Keat Gin Ooi. In page 881-883, reference from Zerner's 1977-1978 fieldworks, it is mentioned that Toraja iron smiths used plugs of metal from old railroad ties and Land Rover shocks and springs. Much earlier irons sources were open pit mines in Seko to the northeast. trade for iron ore and nickelous iron with the Palopo region (a vassal state of the Luwu kingdom) was also important. The Toraja highlanders had extensive trade relationships with the coastal Muslim states, and the prestige of goods from "far off Java" (batik, keris) was also a key part of Toraja political status systems. Seko smiths used forge and pattern welding techniques also employed in creating Javanese keris. Seko forgers' ability to produce decorative nerve patterns on sword blades by forge-welding nickelous iron to iron sponges was greatly admired by Toraja smiths, Zerner reports. Surface patterning was highly valued in Toraja aesthetics, extending even to their regard for dappled water buffalo.

In the 1970s the Toraja forge consists of an open-air fireplace banked on three sides with rock walls. Zerner reports that the smith, the bellow pumper, and the hammerer worked together in a kind of rhymatic dance, and "the air itself tastes of smoke and iron, steam and charcoal". Cool water and citrus juice solutions were used to moderate the red heat of the forged metal, as it is shaped into plow blades, ax heads, rice-cutting tools and ceremonial swords. The latter were loci of power and mnemonics for creation myths.

Zerner terms Toraja iron forging "a generative idiom". Puang Matua, the creator ancestor, "forged the heavens, forged the earth, forged the ancestor of the earth, called Patala Bunga, forged the ancestor of cool water, called Patala Merang, forged the ancestor of fire, called Patala Lamma, forged the ancestor of mankind, called Datu Laukku," in the words of the Mount Sesean tominaa priest Tandi Datu. Human iron smiths take on extraordinary qualities given their heirship to these world creation powers. Tominaa consecrate the implements on ironworking (a new forge, for instance) and, given the crucial role of iron-tipped tools and weapons...

Ancestral swords, forged elsewhere in places like Seko and Palopo, were costly and part of inalienable house treasures. Pong Sirintik from Seko, the mythical master smith, "see the mother of iron" and is regarded with special respect because he controls life's animate forces and forges a tool or weapon from them. This allies him with the 'deata' spirits' control of the land and with (in premodern times) the Toraja aristocrats' ownership of slaves..


.. for more info, do refer to the book..
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Old 6th December 2010, 12:59 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
Hi guwaya,

Since you've been to these lands, perhaps you could enlighten us, members of the outside culture.. :

.. for more info, do refer to the book..



Hi Alam Shah,

First of all: I am myself from an outside culture so I don't know what I have to enlighten. As such a foreigner I am mostly intereted in receivig an answer to my question dedicated to sajen (and you).

Thank you for your answer with detailed informations, just, it is no answer to my question which was: "what are the criteria that make" the here shown keris to a [B]wedding keris, ...... ."
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Old 6th December 2010, 01:09 PM   #22
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Interesting and informative passage Shahrial. Thanks for posting it.
However, i must point out that nowhere does it even suggest that the smiths of Toraja make keris. The one reference to keris is that Seko smiths used forge patterns and techniques like those employed in the making of Javanese keris. So it doesn't even say Seko smiths made keris. It goes on further to say "Cool water and citrus juice solutions were used to moderate the red heat of the forged metal, as it is shaped into plow blades, ax heads, rice-cutting tools and ceremonial swords. The latter were loci of power and mnemonics for creation myths." I do not think that we can assume that "ceremonial swords" mentioned here are keris.
I have little doubt that "tourist" blades can be found in Toraja and are probably made there, and keris may be among them. Tourism is currently what drives their economy. In 1984 it was declared by the Indonesian government the official "second tourist stop after Bali". But my question still stand as to whether or not the keris is really a part of their culture as it is in other parts of Indonesia. We see two women holding keris in these public ceremonies which are specifically put on for tourists, but we don't see any other village member wearing a keris, and strangely (for me anyway), none of the men. One of the women hold a Javanese keris. We see a giant statue of a Torajan warrior with a strangely dressed keris at his waist, but this was obviously built in the latter part of the 20th century, again for the tourists i suspect, and when we look at an old photo from 1930 that actually shows 3 Toraja warriors with their weapons none of them are wearing a keris.
There are some interesting points made in the Wiki article i linked about the effects of tourism on the culture of the Toraja. How certain rituals have been emphasized over others and some lost all together based on the needs of this industry. It mentions how "the image of Torajan society created for the tourists, often by "lower-ranking" guides, has eroded its traditional strict hierarchy". So is our current picture of Torajan life completely accurate?
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Old 6th December 2010, 01:45 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Interesting and informative passage Shahrial. Thanks for posting it.
However, i must point out that nowhere does it even suggest that the smiths of Toraja make keris.
Actually it is quite clear that they don't manufacture keris, in the 1970s anyway and probably post-WWII. It's imported from other areas. Sometime back, I did discussed with some Bugis decendents from Makassar regarding Bugis weaponry, mainly swords blades fitted on the 'Dua Lalan' of the Torajan.. it's similar to the Makassarese 'Alamang' (alameng), except for its fittings.. I was informed that the blade was exported from other areas into Toraja and the fittings were customised there.. now it seems clearer..
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Old 6th December 2010, 02:00 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guwaya
Hi Alam Shah,

First of all: I am myself from an outside culture so I don't know what I have to enlighten. As such a foreigner I am mostly intereted in receivig an answer to my question dedicated to sajen (and you).

Thank you for your answer with detailed informations, just, it is no answer to my question which was: "what are the criteria that make" the here shown keris to a [B]wedding keris, ...... ."
Guwaya,

Since we are outside the culture, then why mention it? Where are you from?
I reckon I'm not obliged to answer you, or do I? Perhaps one of the pointer is emulation.. What does these keris have in common in terms of external look? It may be imported from other region where it is used for ceremonial event, such as wedding in Luwu or other regions.

Last edited by Alam Shah : 6th December 2010 at 02:47 PM. Reason: add text
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Old 6th December 2010, 02:05 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
Actually it is quite clear that they don't manufacture keris, in the 1970s anyway and probably post-WWII. It's imported from other areas. Sometime back, I did discussed with some Bugis decendents from Makassar regarding Bugis weaponry, mainly swords blades fitted on the 'Dua Lalan' of the Torajan.. it's similar to the Makassarese 'Alamang' (alameng), except for its fittings.. I was informed that the blade was exported from other areas into Toraja and the fittings were customised there.. now it seems clearer..

I am confused because the passage that you just quoted seems to imply that smiths are, or at least were making ceremonial sword blades (as well as other cutting implements and tools) in Toraja in the 1970s.
In the 1970s the Toraja forge consists of an open-air fireplace banked on three sides with rock walls. Zerner reports that the smith, the bellow pumper, and the hammerer worked together in a kind of rhymatic dance, and "the air itself tastes of smoke and iron, steam and charcoal". Cool water and citrus juice solutions were used to moderate the red heat of the forged metal, as it is shaped into plow blades, ax heads, rice-cutting tools and ceremonial swords. The latter were loci of power and mnemonics for creation myths.
Do you believe this dress shown here in Marco's and Jean's examples are a style particular to Toraja or is it borrowed perhaps from neighboring Makassar or some other culture in Sulawesi? Do you think the dress in these examples was actually made in Toraja, or is that imported as well. I must say that from looking at other Torajan art i do not see any of their particular designs and motifs exhibited in these keris.
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Old 6th December 2010, 02:27 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah

I reckon I'm not obliged to answer you, or do I?


Naturally not! - So far, so good!
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Old 6th December 2010, 02:49 PM   #27
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So i've moved on to youtube ( ) in search of the Torajan keris and we do in fact see it as part of the present day "traditional" wedding. Again it is interesting to see girls and boys in traditional dress with keris.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up-t9AOn-Mw
You can also see women in a traditional dance with "keris" in their waist bands. I suspect from the look of these that these are not real keris, but merely props. Were they always a part of this traditional dance?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkDn...feature=related
At about 8:16 into this video on a Torajan funeral they do show a couple of men in traditional dress holding keris and then also in procession.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5csjrfQV20w
However here is another, perhaps older, video of a funeral where i see no keris present throughout the ceremony.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qtz...feature=related
I would have expected to see some keris in the waistbands of the men singing at the end of the video at least.
I am curious about what this all means in terms of how and when the keris may have been assimilated into the Torajan culture and what it means for them as opposes to, say a Javanese or Balinese man.

Last edited by David : 6th December 2010 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 6th December 2010, 03:28 PM   #28
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Of course, if we closely examine the dress of Marco's keris it becomes obvious that it's design is based on the beautiful gold keris that graces the cover of Mr. van Zonnefeld's Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago.This is an important keris because besides it's beauty it was collected before 1750 in Sulawesi. It was in the possession of Stadholder Willem IV in the mid 18th century and was probably obtained by the VOC during unheavals with Makassar in 1666-1669. Elements and motifs of this dress has lead many to believe that it was actually created in Java. The blade is also distinctively Javanese. Note that Marco's keris has the same depiction of garuda on the sheath and well as a similar mustached (wayang?) figure for the hilt.
Jean's example seems to be patterned after the example that graces the cover of Tammens De Kris Vol. I, a sheath which he describes as 17th century Celebes, a South Sulawesi court piece. Interestingly enough this one also seems to have a Javanese blade. You can see a very similar naga motif on Jean's sheath as on this one.
So what basis do we have to call these examples Torajan?

Last edited by David : 6th December 2010 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 6th December 2010, 07:03 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Yes Jean, i did note that and was going to throw it in with my argument, but forgot, so thank you.
So what exactly is a Torajan keris then. What provenance leads us to believe that either yours or Marcos originated in this very specific culture?

Edit: Oh, i see what happened there. I posted the wrong link in that place. I had meant to post this Wiki page.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toraja
I will also amend that post, thanks, but your remark about this particular keris from Christies still holds true...


Hello David,
Sorry for the late reply, I was travelling today.
I don't know much about Toraja krisses but 2 main issues:
. The kris was present and an important symbol at least within the Toraja noble population until recently, and I know of 2 Torajan people who owned a gold kris pusaka during my stay in Kalimantan in the 1990's, unfortunately I could not see the pieces (one was stolen, and the other kept in a bank safe!).
. To me the genuine Toraja krisses are derived from the old royal krisses from Makassar/ Gowa/Bima like the specimen from Christie's but the craftsmanship is much inferior, the hilt seems to depict a Toraja ancestor rather than an Hindu hero, and the sampir has a similar shape to the Bugis krisses. I attach the picture of a good replica of a royal South Sulawesi kris so you can see the difference with the Toraja kris from Marco and mine.
Best regards
Jean
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Old 6th December 2010, 07:11 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
Hi Jean,
For the Torajan, perhaps the influence comes from the south, probably Makassar.


Hello Shahrial,
Yes for sure the Toraja krisses are strongly influenced by those from Makassar and the Bugis as there were strong ties between them. By the way I remember to have seen one or two Toraja krisses (not fantastic pieces) in a local museum, may be in Rantepao.
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