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Old 8th May 2013, 03:37 AM   #1
A. G. Maisey
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Default Sunggingan

As somebody who does sell keris I'm a bit handicapped when it comes to posting photos of things, because for a few years now I've been selling items from my personal collection, and I do not wish to infringe the rules by posting pics of things that I might offer for sale at any time in the near future.

Then there is the other thing that I will not show the blade of any keris or other piece of tosan aji that I have no intention of selling.

So put together it means that there are not a whole lot of things that I can post pics of.

However, what I've posted here are pretty safe:- I have no intention of offering any of these items for sale in the near future, and you do not need to see blades to appreciate what I am showing.

Here are a few of my sunggingans.

What you see is a mix of older pieces and more recent ones that were done by Pak Legiman of Pajang in the late 1980's. Pak Legiman at the time was widely regarded as one of the finest sunggingan artists who had ever lived.

Enjoy.
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Old 8th May 2013, 03:52 AM   #2
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Default Sunggingan continued

---- a few more
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Old 8th May 2013, 06:47 AM   #3
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Old 8th May 2013, 08:30 AM   #4
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G'day Alan,

I don't think I really can evaluate the quality of this in the technical aspect, but I'm sure it all looked very nice. I have several questions on these.

1. What is the medium that is being used to produce the sunggingan?
2. How long does it take to produce it (for an average piece)? I would imagine it would take very long if we have to wait for each layer of paint to dry. (Or do we have to?)
3. How do appraise a sunggingan work apart from the complexity of the design (if there is any other aspects)?
4. Are the motives standard? Can you please highlight the purpose of the sunggingan (hierarchy etc)

Sorry if the list is too long, but I don' think the question are hard for you.. Thank you..
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Old 8th May 2013, 08:36 AM   #5
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Absolutely stunning pieces!!! Beautifully drawn. I'm going to enjoy their grace a bit more while finishing my coffee.
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Old 8th May 2013, 01:12 PM   #6
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Far too hard Jussi. I do not know everything about everything, I think I understand a little bit about a little bit.

Q1. Paint. Sunggingan simply means decorative paint work. In Jawa they decorate cupboards and chests in similar fashion. The ones I've shown here have a variety of paints on them, and I have no idea at all what any of them are.

Q2. I do not know. I do know that the intricate ones are not done quickly. When I was ordering from Legiman it was not a matter of waiting a few weeks for one, I got on the end of a queue, placed the order and waited, he'd never take an order of more than 3 from me, and I waited 12 months or more for those. From memory I could get one during one visit, which was maybe 6 to 8 weeks. But actual working time? No idea.

Q3. I've never known an expert authority on sunggingan scabbards, and there is very little in print about them. I do have some notes about the hierarchical use of colours, but I don't remember the rules. The pendoks are coloured coded for kraton ranks --- red for pangeran, green for mentri , black for mourning and for unranked abdi dalem, there's another one there too I think, but I forget it. The paint work is also coloured coded --- white for pangeran I remember, I think it was yellow or gold for mentri. The whole colour thing is coded, but I'd need to look up notes, I can't remember them.
As to appraisal, it is a matter of craftsmanship:- neat, correct execution, correct combination of colours, quality application. Anybody who can appraise any craft work can appraise sunggingan work, after he has learnt the standard.

Q4. Motifs are traditional, I do not have a pattern book of these, but the same few patterns are repeated again and again, especially for kraton wear. Dress not really intended for palace wear enjoys greater freedom, and the wearer can more or less dictate what he wishes, but with kraton motifs, it comes down to the tried and true, such as alas-alasan , modang, lung-lungan, punakawan --- probably a few others too, but they don't come readily to mind. The poleng motif is usually worn by the cantung balung.
A hundred years or so ago the people who would wear this type of keris dress were regarded as "flash jacks". Show-offs, skites. "Hey here I am:- look at me!" These days I have rarely seen anybody wear a sunggingan scabbard except the cantung balungs and an occasional person at some festive occasion.

The men who paint these scabbards are usually the same ones who do wayang puppets.
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Old 8th May 2013, 01:28 PM   #7
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Thanks Alan. One last question. You had mentioned that anybody that know art can appraise sunggingan after they had learnt the standards. I'm not quite clear on what sort of standard that you mean. Thanks..
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Old 8th May 2013, 03:21 PM   #8
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I PERSONALLY PREFER THE EXAMPLES WITH NO PAINT ON THE HANDLE MY FAVORITE BEING YOUR EXAMPLE WITH THE 2 TIGERS.
1. IS THIS PAINTED FORM OF DECORATION ONLY IN JAVA OR DOES IT EXTEND TRADITIONALLY TO OTHER AREAS ?.
2. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFIGANCE OF THE BLACK AND WHITE CHECKERED PATTERN SEEN ON ONE OF YOUR EXAMPLES?. I HAVE SEEN THIS SEVERAL TIMES BUT DON'T KNOW ITS MEANING.
3. SOME SMALL DESIGNS ON A FEW OF YOUR EXAMPLES HAVE WHAT MIGHT BE SORT OF A COAT OF ARMS. THE ONE MOST OFTEN REPRESENTED HERE HAS A STAR, THE SUN, HALF MOON AND PERHAPS THE EARTH IT KIND OF LOOKS LIKE A HANDGRENADE

I HAVE 2 PICTURES OF THESE PAINTED KERIS I CAN POST HERE TO ADD TO THE POST IF YOU WISH BUT WILL NOT UNLESS YOU APPROVE. THANKS FOR POSTING THESE THE ART WORK IS IMPRESSIVE.
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Old 8th May 2013, 04:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Far too hard Jussi. I do not know everything about everything, I think I understand a little bit about a little bit.


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Old 8th May 2013, 05:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jussi M.

Hate to speak for Alan, but i think he connected your posting of the Munch painting with Rasdan's post that followed immediately after.
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Old 8th May 2013, 05:31 PM   #11
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Alan, i merged your two threads because i could see no reason to have two simultaneous threads on the same subject.
Nice examples and a fascinating and under researched topic. I have only one example myself from Bali. Bali examples seem to be rarer and i have not seen the resurgence in recent years to create new examples as we have with the Jawa versions. I am away so these are the only two images i have available to show of mine.
Here is a link to a discussion on some other Bali examples.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...sunggingan+Bali
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Old 8th May 2013, 05:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VANDOO
I PERSONALLY PREFER THE EXAMPLES WITH NO PAINT ON THE HANDLE MY FAVORITE BEING YOUR EXAMPLE WITH THE 2 TIGERS.
1. IS THIS PAINTED FORM OF DECORATION ONLY IN JAVA OR DOES IT EXTEND TRADITIONALLY TO OTHER AREAS ?.
2. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFIGANCE OF THE BLACK AND WHITE CHECKERED PATTERN SEEN ON ONE OF YOUR EXAMPLES?. I HAVE SEEN THIS SEVERAL TIMES BUT DON'T KNOW ITS MEANING.
3. SOME SMALL DESIGNS ON A FEW OF YOUR EXAMPLES HAVE WHAT MIGHT BE SORT OF A COAT OF ARMS. THE ONE MOST OFTEN REPRESENTED HERE HAS A STAR, THE SUN, HALF MOON AND PERHAPS THE EARTH IT KIND OF LOOKS LIKE A HANDGRENADE

I HAVE 2 PICTURES OF THESE PAINTED KERIS I CAN POST HERE TO ADD TO THE POST IF YOU WISH BUT WILL NOT UNLESS YOU APPROVE. THANKS FOR POSTING THESE THE ART WORK IS IMPRESSIVE.


Hi Vandoo,

I'm sure Alan will have some interesting things to say, but let me share with you my limited knowledge as well.


1. I have seen some examples of Balinese painted sheaths. Apart from Java and Bali, I have never seen any.
2. I believe this pattern is known as poleng and expresses the necessity of balance between all opposing forces, such as day and night, good and evil, hot and cold, etc.
3. This is the coat of arms of the Surakarta keraton, specifically of the Pakubuwono line. I'm not sure as to the exact symbolism but I do know the coat of arms also includes a nail in the earth and this is also the meaning of Pakubuwono (Paku=nail, buwono=earth, realm). This signifies the keraton being the centre of the universe and civilization.
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Old 8th May 2013, 05:35 PM   #13
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My favs that you show Alan are the checkerboard one (i'll call him Woody Woodpecker ) and the one that follows.
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Old 8th May 2013, 07:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Hate to speak for Alan, but i think he connected your posting of the Munch painting with Rasdan's post that followed immediately after.


Ah, I got it now! Thanks David
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Old 8th May 2013, 10:50 PM   #15
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Yeah, you're right David, I connected Rasdan and Jussi.

My apologies to you both, gentlemen. I'd just finished watching one of my favorite movies --- Borderline, Jack Nicholson--- and I was somewhere else. If you don't know this movie, its really worth an hour and a half of your time. Don't have an hour and half? Go listen to the Ry Cooder song written for the movie --- same name. Its not all Cooder's work, John Hiatt and some other bloke, Dickenson?, were also involved. Freddy Fender did the sound track version, Harry Dean Stanton did a version with Spanish lyrics, Dylan's done it, Springsteen's done it. Never was a hit, most nobody except musos know it, but it is one of the truly great songs of the last 50 years. I doubt it was written as an anthem for anything, Cooder just got the order for a soundtrack piece and put it together with a bit of help from his friends, but it very eloquently tells two stories, one obvious, one not so obvious. The not so obvious story is the story of every human being.

OK. Keris time.

Rasdan, on the subject of appraisal, what I mean by "learning the standard" is this:- we do not apply the standards of Dutch Old Masters, nor of Italian Renaissance artists to the work of Javanese sunggingan craftsmen. We compare like with like. Thus learning the standards means that we need to understand what is good work, and what is lousy work for a sunggingan craftsman.

Poleng motif. Yuuzan is pretty much on the mark with his response, it is philosophically a representation of the necessity for balance. The original is black & white, there are others I know of, white/black/grey, and white/black/red that are also used in Bali, but essentially any symbolic colours can be used, especially in a non-sacred application. I believe that the white/black motif goes back to Hindu Jawa, as this motif still appears in Javanese applications, and is the dominant one in Bali, where it is still used as the sacred motif. There can be variations in size of the squares and in the borders used, and all these things can be interpreted differently. I really don't know anything worth knowing about this poleng motif, but I'm sure that it is something that could be relatively easily researched for anybody with the interest to do so.

I've seen, and I have , a number of examples of sunggingan work from Bali, and I've seen examples of sunggingan work on scabbards and hilts from Sumatera and generic Bugis.
What a lot of people do not realise is that our present day appreciation of the natural characteristics of materials was not something that necessarily appealed to the tastes of the ancients. The candis of Jawa were carved very skilfully, then covered with a thin layer of plaster, and this plaster was painted, so Prambanan and Borobudur and all the other candis we are so familiar with would have glowed as brilliant gems when they were in use. This taste is reflected in the painted decoration on sunggingan keris dress, and is perhaps more representative of indigenous taste than is the beautifully polished finish that most people now appreciate.

Incidentally, this taste was not exclusive to SE Asia. It applied in Rome and I believe Greece as well.

Sunggingan colour codes. Had a look at me note books. January 1987, sources were Empu Suparman, M'ranggi Agus Irianto (Agus Warangka), and Pak Harjonegoro.
Sunggingan:-
Colour means the base colour:-
White or yellow --- bupati or the royal family
Gold --- pangeran
Sea blue --- penewu
Light green --- mentri

Pendok colours:-
Red --- royal family or a bupati
Green --- penewu or mentri
Dark grey --- lurah
Black --- jajar and may also be used by all ranks, and for wear at a funeral

Court clowns can wear any colour sunggingan or pendok, but must wear it with a rojomolo ukiran
Cantung balung have same rules as clowns, but usually wear poleng motif.

The lambang or crest is as Yuuzan has said, indicative of the Karaton Surakarta Hadiningrat, but it represents Pakubuwana, not the Karaton, it is the ruler, Pakubuwana, who is at the centre of the universe, not the Karaton. The word "Karaton" or "Kraton" means the place of the ruler, it is not regarded as something with any permanence and only has significance if the ruler dwells in it. It is the ruler who is at the centre of the world we know, fulfilling his role on earth just as does the Supreme God in the cosmos. The traditional role of the ruler in Javanese thought is as the entity that intercedes between the natural world and the people of the realm, effectively the ruler ensures protection and prosperity for the realm and the people who are ruled. He does not "own" the realm, nor the people, he is "owned" by the realm and the people, just as the Supreme God is indistinguishable from the cosmos. The kraton itself is unimportant, it is just a heap of bricks and wood, it is the Susuhunan, Sinuhun, The Lord, who is the centre of all, not the pile of bricks. The traditional Javanese ruler had the same rights and obligations on earth as did the Supreme God in the cosmos.

Of course, all that is history now, but it is necessary to understand the place of the Javanese ruler in historic times, to understand the mindset of the grassroots Javanese people now.

David, 'woody woodpecker" is actually a bintulu motif; number of variations, extensive use in Balinese art, connection to kala motif and Bhoma. Pretty easy to research I think.

David, the reason I had two threads was because I needed two for the number of images I posted.

Barry, I can see no reason why we shouldn't all post our sunggingans to this thread.

I think that's covered everything that has been raised, if I missed something please draw my attention to it and I'll try to address it.
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Old 9th May 2013, 12:27 AM   #16
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THESE ARE NOT MINE AND I DON'T REMEMBER WHERE I GOT THE PICTURES BUT IT HAS BEEN A FEW YEARS AGO. WHERE THEY ARE FROM OR THE QUALITY OR AGE I DON'T KNOW. I SUSPECT THE GROUP IN THE STAND ARE NEWER ONES OF LESSER QUALITY BUT AM NOT QUALIFIED TO SAY. THEY WILL ADD TO THE POST AND IF THEY BELONG TO SOMEONE I HOPE MY POSTING THEM DOES NOT OFFEND. IF SO LET ME KNOW AND I WILL HAVE THEM REMOVED.
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Old 10th May 2013, 04:48 AM   #17
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My only example .
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Old 10th May 2013, 04:10 PM   #18
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Thanks for your explanation Alan. I wanted to make some comparisons here with some pictures from the net, but that won't be nice to the owner/seller of the kerises. I think I would just use your examples for the high end examples to compare with others. Thanks again.
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Old 10th May 2013, 06:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
David, 'woody woodpecker" is actually a bintulu motif; number of variations, extensive use in Balinese art, connection to kala motif and Bhoma. Pretty easy to research I think.

David, the reason I had two threads was because I needed two for the number of images I posted.

Thanks for the name ID Alan. Not sure how easy it is to research though. At least i haven't found much on the net about this motif which would be the easiest way to research.
I regards to posting images, it is a little know secret that you can actually upload more than the initial 6 images the attachment section allows. After you upload them you just need to go back in the management section and it allows you to continue to upload more.
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Old 10th May 2013, 07:26 PM   #20
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Alan, thanks for bringing this up.
Here is mine. I would love to know some more about it.
I don't think the pendok is original because I don't see the reason to cover the paintings.

Michael
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Old 11th May 2013, 12:51 AM   #21
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I've shown this keris before, but I just wanted to show some of the detail of the painting.
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Old 11th May 2013, 01:58 AM   #22
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DAVID I WONDERED WHY I ALSO THOUGHT OF THAT DESIGN AS WOODY WOODPECKER. IT MUST HAVE BEEN A MEMORY FROM MY YOUTH OF THE OLD HOT ROD DAYS. HERE IS SOMETHING THAT MAY HAVE BEEN INSPIRED FROM OLD INDONESIAN DESIGNS THAT SURFACED IN CALIFORNIA.
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Old 11th May 2013, 03:01 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montino Bourbon
I've shown this keris before, but I just wanted to show some of the detail of the painting.


That's interesting. I've never seen Batara Kala on a wrongko before.
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Old 16th May 2013, 01:26 AM   #24
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Recently went to Solo and commision sunggingan for my Tombak.

The knife scabard done in Jakarta few years back, he is also from Solo.
I hope the skill is not loss due to the fact now the younger generation do not learn the skill.
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Old 16th May 2013, 02:39 AM   #25
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I feel that the skills will be retained, Rasjid.

Its mostly the artists who do decorate wayang puppets who do the sunggingan scabbards, and I doubt that wayang is going to disappear any time soon. I'd be surprised if it wasn't still a course at the ASKI--- or whatever they call it now.
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Old 28th February 2014, 05:04 PM   #26
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Just came across this thread as I was reading up on sunggingan because of this keris so I thought to add some photo's here.

Regards, Erik
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Old 3rd March 2014, 02:02 PM   #27
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My personal piece, still waiting for the right blade... bought few years back. Very happy with this workmanship compared to my last two pictures.
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Old 3rd March 2014, 03:08 PM   #28
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Very nice Rasjid. I must say, though, that i am surprised the painting would be done before the blade is fitted. Seems it would be too easy to mess up that fine work while trying to do the fitting work.
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Old 3rd March 2014, 03:17 PM   #29
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Understood David but cant resist when this one available for sale
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Old 3rd March 2014, 06:51 PM   #30
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Very nice Rasjid, my question is how you will decide what the right blade is?

Kind regards, Erik



Quote:
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My personal piece, still waiting for the right blade... bought few years back. Very happy with this workmanship compared to my last two pictures.
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