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Old 15th April 2011, 10:39 PM   #1
asomotif
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Default reversed hilt on palembang keris

I just bought this palembang keris from an old pre ww2 collection.

The hilt has the best fit to the peksi when it is backwards.
Is this normal ? Any other examples ?

Thanks an best regards,
Willem
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Old 16th April 2011, 01:28 AM   #2
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The angle at which the batang joins with the sampir is very odd. Can we see a picture of the front of the sheath please? How does the hilt look when it is fixed facing the front? Thanks.
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Old 16th April 2011, 12:00 PM   #3
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Hello Willem,

I think that the odd look of the join with sampir and batang depend of the perspective you take the picture. Please take a picture from the other side and when the batang is straight vertical. The handle is certain backwards and wrong like this. The pendokok is missing.

My first picture shows how to look your keris with correct attached handle, the two others show how irritating can look a keris when you photograph it with a other perspective.

BTW, can we see the blade? Is it a straight blade?

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 16th April 2011, 02:20 PM   #4
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Hi Detlef,

The angle of the joint for the 2nd Palembang keris is a bit odd even from the front.
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Old 16th April 2011, 02:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluErf
Hi Detlef,

The angle of the joint for the 2nd Palembang keris is a bit odd even from the front.


Hi Kai Wee,

yes, for sure but like this I received the keris some years ago in Indonesia. The sampir is most proable the original one since the blade fits perfect inside. The cutting point was covered by time with a band from silver which is lost same as the other one at the batang. My guess is that the batang is a later replacement because the original one was broken and maybe was also a part of the sampir broken. It seems to be an old repair. I have a second Palembang keris with a similar joint from batang and sampir also received like this from Indonesia.

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 16th April 2011, 11:24 PM   #6
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Sorry for the bad pictures.
I took them in the evening and the strange angle was to avoid frontal flaslight

Here some daylight pictures with the hilt fitted in a 'normal' position.

In this position the hilt is not fitting smoothly on the peksi, and it tends to turn either right or left to another position.
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Old 16th April 2011, 11:30 PM   #7
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Here is the hilt fitted in a reversed position.

The hilt fits smoothly on the peksi and lowers about 5 mm's.
In that position the hilt fits very snug and does not want to turn left nor right.
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Old 16th April 2011, 11:37 PM   #8
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here some details of the blade.
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Old 17th April 2011, 07:38 AM   #9
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Hi Willem,


Nice keris !

The grain of the wood is lovely , try go give it a polish ..
The blade has a nice original stain
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Old 18th April 2011, 03:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asomotif
Here is the hilt fitted in a reversed position.

The hilt fits smoothly on the peksi and lowers about 5 mm's.
In that position the hilt fits very snug and does not want to turn left nor right.
It is an acceptable position for a left-hander. I do this sometimes, switching to left-hand configuration, orientate the hilt accordingly for left-handed use.. I can use both hands, so I'll switch as and when I feel like, before dressing.. A picture of me on the 1st Asian Pencak Silat Competition held in Singapore recently, as an example.
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Old 18th April 2011, 07:28 AM   #11
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You've opened my eyes here Alam Shah.

I am most familiar with Javanese society, and in Javanese society it is probably true to say that there are no left-handers.

The left hand is unclean, and we do not use it to give or receive anything, it is unthinkable that a keris could be orientated to a left hand position.

My understanding of what you have written is that in Malaysia and South Sumatera, this non-use of the left hand does not apply.

Is this so?
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Old 18th April 2011, 03:36 PM   #12
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Looking at the Palembang examples in my collection, which were mostly collected by a runner in Riau from the ground in Sumatra, it is common for the hilt of Palembang kerises to tilt to the left, due to the angle of the peksi to the blade. I think maybe it takes a little using to. Of course, we don't know if the hilt is original to this keris, and if the blade is original to the sheath.
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Old 18th April 2011, 03:38 PM   #13
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Check this little guy out I bought it in Riau.
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Old 19th April 2011, 10:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
It is an acceptable position for a left-hander. I do this sometimes, switching to left-hand configuration, orientate the hilt accordingly for left-handed use.. I can use both hands, so I'll switch as and when I feel like, before dressing.. A picture of me on the 1st Asian Pencak Silat Competition held in Singapore recently, as an example.

Thanks Alam Shah,
This indeed answers my basic question.
is it possible that this keris was left hand orientated.
It comes from a small old pre ww2 collection.
the blade looks very much orignal to the scabbard and the handle fits very well on the peksi. but in fact in a left hand position it fits best.
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Old 19th April 2011, 10:50 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
You've opened my eyes here Alam Shah.

I am most familiar with Javanese society, and in Javanese society it is probably true to say that there are no left-handers.

The left hand is unclean, and we do not use it to give or receive anything, it is unthinkable that a keris could be orientated to a left hand position.

My understanding of what you have written is that in Malaysia and South Sumatera, this non-use of the left hand does not apply.

Is this so?

Interesting comment.
I know that one would not shake with the left hand or give something with the left hand in certain countries / societies.
So, not handling a keris with your left hand seems logical.
But indeed how wide spread is this ? does it apply to sumatra and/or malaysia ?

thanks and best regards,
Willem
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Old 19th April 2011, 02:32 PM   #16
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The right hand rule generally applies to Malay society as well, but I think attitudes towards the use of the left hand is relaxing. I still see people eating with their right hands almost all the time.
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Old 19th April 2011, 02:36 PM   #17
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Not in Solo.

It is an acquired skill to pay for something with only your right hand, whilst at the same time receiving what you have bought, and the change.

That left hand just does not exist.
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Old 19th April 2011, 05:21 PM   #18
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Well since this subject came up I will throw mine on to the heap
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Old 19th April 2011, 09:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluErf
The right hand rule generally applies to Malay society as well, but I think attitudes towards the use of the left hand is relaxing...

Considering that this keris is collected pre ww 2. Is it thinkable that in those days a keris would be left handed.

I still can't figure out what is the most natural position.
The hilt fits like a glove when in left handed position...
But still this is so unnatural to me that I consider to either enlarge the hole in the ukiran or slightly straiten the peksi to give a good fit in right hand position.
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Old 19th April 2011, 10:27 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asomotif
Considering that this keris is collected pre ww 2. Is it thinkable that in those days a keris would be left handed.

I still can't figure out what is the most natural position.
The hilt fits like a glove when in left handed position...
But still this is so unnatural to me that I consider to either enlarge the hole in the ukiran or slightly straiten the peksi to give a good fit in right hand position.


Hello Willem,

when you do it, do it very carefully, it will be not the first broken pesi!

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 20th April 2011, 01:40 AM   #21
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Arrow First ... Etc.

When you change a keris; especially one that is oriented in a specific direction and is old as this one is; do you rob it of its unique history?

What do we think ?
This happened by accident ??

It won't be the same keris .
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Old 20th April 2011, 03:14 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
When you change a keris; especially one that is oriented in a specific direction and is old as this one is; do you rob it of its unique history?

What do we think ?
This happened by accident ??

It won't be the same keris .

Well, pre-war collection or not, i don't think it's possible to really speculate when or under what circumstances this hilt met this keris. Perhaps the pesi did become bent somehow, though the photos don't show it as being much out of line. It is possible though that this hilt was never properly fitted to this blade.
It does seem to me that the odds are against this hilt being fitted for left hand use based on what would seem to be a strong cultural avoidance of left-handed use. I am more willing to go with a mis-fitted hilt or an accident to the pesi than a complete dismissal of a cultural taboo.
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Old 20th April 2011, 07:02 AM   #23
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@ Lew - Nice keris!! Love how the batang sarung curves..

@ Willem - Very nice blade. It is hard to get a keris like this with 16 pamor layers (from what I can see) and still have good control between the layers. Most of keris like this that I had seen will only have 8 layers and even that the control is often not very good. Also, to me, the extra condong of the blade gives it an extra aggressive look.

I think the way some keris hilts are previously fixed (for lefty or right) probably can be seen at the bend of the tang. Some Malay keris will have a slight bend of the tang towards either side of the blade (if you see it from the front of the gandik). Probably to suit a lefty or a right handed person.

I noticed Javanese keris also have this feature. This is probably because that particular keris used to have a different style Javanese hilt (deity, demon etc) previously where the hilt is facing to one side as opposed to the standardised Javanese hilts where the hilt faces the gandik as we normally see. Of course not all keris with deity or demon hilts will have a bend tang. It is a matter of preference probably; the same goes for Malay keris.

The cool part about the standardised Javanese hilt is that it is ambidextrous. To me this is very convenient. Not that I had seen many keris, but I had never seen a Javanese keris with a tang bend for a lefty. (Probaby due to the ambidextrous hilt, preference and reasons that Mr Maisey had explained)

I had seen several Peninsula keris tang that are bend as if it is suited for a left handed person. Probably in the Peninsula, keris is still primarily regarded as a weapon and maybe to the Malays it does not matter which hand you use to give somebody a stab
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Old 20th April 2011, 07:10 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I am most familiar with Javanese society, and in Javanese society it is probably true to say that there are no left-handers.

The left hand is unclean, and we do not use it to give or receive anything, it is unthinkable that a keris could be orientated to a left hand position.

My understanding of what you have written is that in Malaysia and South Sumatera, this non-use of the left hand does not apply.

Is this so?
Hi Alan, sorry for the late response. According to court (istana) protocols, the keris is to be worn on the left side of the body at the waist level. This is true for many states in Malaysia for official, ceremonial functions. In some cases, the hilt are required to turn inwards. Whether you're a right-hander or otherwise, it is still on the left-side for right-handed use. In most cases outside court, for ceremonies, it is still observed.

When used as a weapon or by a martial arts practitioner. The non-use of the left hand does not really apply.. basically anything goes..
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Old 20th April 2011, 08:13 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asomotif
Thanks Alam Shah,
This indeed answers my basic question.
is it possible that this keris was left hand orientated.
the blade looks very much orignal to the scabbard and the handle fits very well on the peksi. but in fact in a left hand position it fits best.
You're welcome.. This form of Palembang keris, is a favorite amongst martial arts practitioners. I was told that the angle of the bend assisted the flow of the blade when used as a weapon. Upon impact on the target, it's able to deliver a more powerful thrust, thus increasing the damage to the opponent. Even with a short keris. Btw, lovely blade.
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Old 20th April 2011, 08:58 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Well, pre-war collection or not, i don't think it's possible to really speculate when or under what circumstances this hilt met this keris. Perhaps the pesi did become bent somehow, though the photos don't show it as being much out of line. It is possible though that this hilt was never properly fitted to this blade.
It does seem to me that the odds are against this hilt being fitted for left hand use based on what would seem to be a strong cultural avoidance of left-handed use. I am more willing to go with a mis-fitted hilt or an accident to the pesi than a complete dismissal of a cultural taboo.
Well David, law of the land is different from place to place. In some places, it's the survival of the fittest. In those scenarios, one tends to custom-fit the ergonomics of one's weapon and fighting techniques/style. This specific Palembang form, we tend to see it a lot in 'no-frill' configurations, mean simple blades. I've seen hundreds of this keris form from time to time. There's lots of tilting (condong), some when the blade is less tilted or curved, I've seen it modified by adjusting the bent at the tang, there are those like Willem's piece, some are set in fixed position (with damar, I presume).. I'm not good at explaining.. but if you've seen it, you'll know what I mean..
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Old 20th April 2011, 09:10 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rasdan
I think the way some keris hilts are previously fixed (for lefty or right) probably can be seen at the bend of the tang. Some Malay keris will have a slight bend of the tang towards either side of the blade (if you see it from the front of the gandik). Probably to suit a lefty or a right handed person. I had seen several Peninsula keris tang that are bend as if it is suited for a left handed person.
Yup, I seen quite a fair bit..

Quote:
Originally Posted by rasdan
Probably in the Peninsula, keris is still primarily regarded as a weapon and maybe to the Malays it does not matter which hand you use to give somebody a stab
Those that comes from Riau and Palembang, the short variation also seems to have quite a number of them tilted at the tang..
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Old 20th April 2011, 01:41 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asomotif
Considering that this keris is collected pre ww 2. Is it thinkable that in those days a keris would be left handed.

I still can't figure out what is the most natural position.
The hilt fits like a glove when in left handed position...
But still this is so unnatural to me that I consider to either enlarge the hole in the ukiran or slightly straiten the peksi to give a good fit in right hand position.


I think the hilt facing the front is not odd for your keris. the angle of the hilt is not abnormal for a Palembang keris. As I mentioned, most of my Palembang kerises have a pretty strong angulation. Some are straighter of course.

The issue you have is that the hilt seems to be sitting a bit too tall. The keris coming from a pre-WW2 collection may not preclude the hilt being switched at some point before it went into the collection. If I may may make an observation, the hilt's finishing is not the same as the sheath's. We could argue that it is because the hilt is handled a lot, and the finishing's all rubbed off.

Ultimately, we don't know what's the "correct answer". It could be a left-hander keris; the hilt could have been swapped. I guess the most important thing is if you like it.
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Old 20th April 2011, 06:41 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asomotif
Considering that this keris is collected pre ww 2. Is it thinkable that in those days a keris would be left handed.

I still can't figure out what is the most natural position.
The hilt fits like a glove when in left handed position...
But still this is so unnatural to me that I consider to either enlarge the hole in the ukiran or slightly straiten the peksi to give a good fit in right hand position.


Hello Willem,

do you have proved if there is still some rotten fabric or rust or other material inside the hole of the handle? Try to drill carefully with a hand brace. Like Kai Wee said isn't the position too odd.

BTW, it is the complete time the labeling Palembang used for all shown keris but I have read and listen that keris or better the shown hilts are from the neighbouring area Pasemah. Is this correct?
Here a fine example with a ivory hilt.

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 21st April 2011, 12:21 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
Those that comes from Riau and Palembang, the short variation also seems to have quite a number of them tilted at the tang..


Yes, I agree with you.
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