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Old 14th March 2006, 01:41 AM   #31
RobT
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Default Thanks for the info

Hi BluErf,
Thanks for taking the time to give such a clear and complete explanation on the morphing of sheaths as keris spread and evolved in different cultures. It's something I had never considered before and it will cause me to view my sheaths in an entirely different light. I had initially thought my keris came from Java because that's what Frey's book shows but when I saw VVV's sheath I figured I either had a married piece or I was totally off base on my hilt identification. Although I am aware of some of the changes hilts have undergone over time and at the hands of different cultures, it never occurred to me that two widely separated locations could have at one time shared a basic sheath shape which subsequently evolved into two different shapes.
Sincerely,
RobT
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Old 14th March 2006, 06:10 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluErf
Well, 'reproduction' does not mean it is mass produced. It could be a custom reproduction. If one looks at the traditional forms and place of origin, this silver hilt would be an 'oddity'. True, it could be be the 'first of a new genre', but until we see this sort of hilt widely adopted, it would continue to be an 'oddity'. Its not to say that this hilt is bad quality or anything, but just to make it clear to everyone what we are looking at, especially if we are talking about the archetypal cotengs and tajongs.


Hi BluErf...

First, I want to be sure that you know that I fully appreciate and value your knowledge and opinion... and I thank you for your help!

You have keep in mind the definition I am accustom to (from collecting military awards)... is that a reproduction is a fake, something designed to look like the real thing but is not the real thing.

I believe you are saying that this is a reproduction because it is based on the shape of a classic or old Coteng or Tajong... it reproduces the style of the older designs.

For me, reproduction may be a strong word… in the sense that it would suggest that the item is an exact copy, or an attempt to make an exact copy of the item (to reproduce it). In this context, I have to agree with nechesh, it would seem that this is just another variety of a (Garuda) bird hilt that has strongly borrowed its design from the Tajong and possibility Coteng types. A custom hilt. However, there are too many differences for it to be a Coteng or a Tajong (for example, the base is all wrong… being sphere shaped and it setting on a silver ring mendak… as well as the other differences you have pointed out). When looking at the market place, usually reproductions tend to show up all over the place (in trying to make a buck, they make more than just one). But please correct me if I am wrong… there may be a “high end” market of fakes for the unsuspecting… and the poor person figured it out, and dumped this as a piece of junk.

VVV’s Hulu is a Coteng and much is known and shared about it. With the one I have, it is a challenge to find any information about it since is seems to be relatively different and unique. But that is the fun of collecting…

One person's junk is another person's treasure.
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Old 15th March 2006, 12:51 PM   #33
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Hi BSMStar,

Ok, I see where you are coming from. We'll call your hilt a "coteng-styled keris hilt" in the future then.

At any rate, it certainly is not junk. The maker had a good measure of ability to make something 3 dimensional like this and cover it in repoussed motifs which are neat and consistent.

The world of keris is always evolving, even now. When we look at the keris hilts from the different regions, sometimes we can see that they obviously came from the same older form. Some hilts look like a distorted form of another (take the central Javanese 7-planar hilts and the variants from east Java). And we have seen how the tajong resembles the coteng, which also resembles the Tegal hilt, which in turn resembles the regular rashaksa (putri satu) hilts. And even amongst the rashaksa hilts, there are variations which have heads which look like bulging-eyed aliens (Adni has a couple of examples which I had wanted to acquire).

So how did all of that variety happen? Through cross-fertilization of ideas, outright (imperfect) copying, and variations due to the sense of aesthetics of people from a region. There are other contributing factors for sure, like trade and war and their knock-on effects on keris styles in affected areas. It is not far fetched to imagine that when traders and migrants moved from island to island in the S.E.A. archipelago, they would have brought their kerises, and when locals saw it, they wanted something similar too. With the 'real McCoy' in short supply, some local craftsmen could have made their own versions of the keris/keris part, and slowly it caught on and started evolving.
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Old 15th March 2006, 05:28 PM   #34
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Hi BluErf,

I am in full agreement with you and thanks again for your help.

Is anyone aware of techniques, materials and so on that may be a guide as to when an where silver items are made? I know that BluErf sees a Sumatran influence in some of the designs or motifs.

Is VVV's Coteng from (what is today) Thailand? There are obviously features that give it away. What should I be looking for in this bird hilt that will "give it away"?

Thank you again for your help.
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Old 16th March 2006, 01:48 PM   #35
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Ok, I hope I'm not hogging this thread...

It is possible to guess where a keris is from by looking at natural materials such as wood, and to some extent the metal. However, this is an inexact science, and we mustn't forget that trade has being ongoing between the islands for centuries, so materials can be exported/imported. The best bet is to look at the style of workmanship, the form and the motifs. There are no easy guidelines that can teach one how to make a judgement call on where an item is made. Instead, one has to look at as many examples as possible, and 'internalize' the style. Once that is internalized, it is a lot easier to see that a particular specimen is "not quite right". I'm sorry I can't answer your question the way you want, but there is really no shortcut.

To help you along, here's a link to Dave Henkel's Tajong/Coteng page.

http://www.kerisarchipelago.150m.co...age/Tajong2.htm

As for motifs, I attach pics of 3 south Sumatran hilts for your reference. You may see why I thought your hilt has Sumatran influences. Though the same motif may exist in Java and even N Malaya, they are not executed in quite the same way.

Michael's coteng is from southern Thailand. The region is politically Thai, ethnographically Malay. The tension between these 2 factors are clearly evident in the reports of daily violence in Southern Thailand.
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Old 16th March 2006, 04:31 PM   #36
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I hope I am being bad (Sorry VVV)

Thanks for the link BluErf... one thing that I noticed, is the mendaks. The Cotengs sit on top... and some of the Tajongs sit "inside" (the mendak goes around its base). The mendak on mine is extremely different from any other that I have ever seen (on any Keris that I have seen). I would not be able to replace it. The base of this hulu sits some what inside the mendak (like a ball and socket). It would seem that this style of mendak would be a telling sign of influence or origin.

I understand that the materials alone do not say much, but the techniques used to weld and create this hulu are important (the difference is in the details). Maybe silver over horn is commonly used too. However, there has to be some detail on this hulu that screams out that it is made in Sumatra, or Java, or even China. Alternatively, maybe should I be asking the opposite question, are there features that screams out where it was not made?

Unfortunately for me, experience is difficult to come by for these pieces. I have only seen 2 Tajongs in person, and no Cotengs. I do not know what to call this thing... other than a Garuda bird hilt. There is just not that many of these things in my "neck of the woods."

Oh, BTW... if those are your hilts... do you want do adopt a family (we are not much of a bother).

The more that I look at the second hilt down, that is hemi-spherical on the bottom and the geometric design on the medak (although it has much more relief)...hmmmm. Sumatran....

Last edited by BSMStar : 16th March 2006 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 18th March 2006, 02:59 AM   #37
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Most cotengs do not have mendaks or pendoko. If they have, its usually a simple 'ball' on which the hilt sits, like Artzi's example (see url below). Recently, Adni sold a coteng which also sits on a 'ball'. Due to a twist of fate, I did not acquire that coteng. That was quite a good one, all original, beautiful sheath, hilt and old blade.

http://www.kerisarchipelago.150m.co...age/Tajong2.htm

Tajongs may have pendokos (see 1st url below), which are 'external' hilt cups. However, it is not a requisite, especially for those with the 'buah pinang' (the spherical base upon which the figure sits) which are wrapped in silver or swasa (see 2nd url below).

http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/module...=view_photo.php

http://www.kerisarchipelago.150m.co...age/Tajong1.htm

Your hilt sits on something which resembles a pendoko, but more towards the Bugis type.

http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/module...=view_photo.php

Not quite many 'screaming' signs, I'm afraid. But not to worry, stick on this forum and learn, and soon you will be able to tell the difference. Ok, maybe not so soon. It's a slow process that may take years, but the keris never favours the impatient.

Yep, the 3 hilts are mine. I don't quite get your meaning in the 'adopting a family' bit though.

When you are looking at the 3 hilts and your own, please keep in mind that the maker of your hilt was trying to make a coteng-styled hilt. He would have references, and possibly picture references. Hence, the motifs would not look identical to the Sumatran motifs that he is used to. But there is this thing called "air-tangan" (pronounced, ai-er tongue-un), which literally translates to "water of the hand", which roughly refers to a craftsman's ability to bring out aesthetic subtleties while carving or making something. "Style", in a super-summarised nutshell. So in looking at the coteng-styled hilt, the "air-tangan" is not quite the same, and looks Sumatran.

For all we know, I could have made a wrong judgement and this hilt could have been made in Java. But at this moment, I really think Sumatra influence.
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Old 18th March 2006, 03:36 AM   #38
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Hey Kai Wee, i just wanted to thank you for providing so much detail and illustration in your responses to Wayne's questions. I tend to agree with your theory of Sumatran influence, but even if that's incorrect the research you have provided has been invaluable. Keep it comin' bro!
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Old 21st March 2006, 01:01 PM   #39
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I fully agree with you nechesh... we depend on you BluErf and are indebt to your insight!!!

To adopt a family (me that is)... a silly way of me saying that I would love to have those awesome pieces!!! Great collection! Keep them close to you.

A major screamer to me (in my lack of understanding), it that the base on mine is a sphere or ball, the Cotengs are really hemi-sphere on top of their base and conical as the base or bottom goes down. To me, that is a major difference. See below.

This one is mine..
Note: the rings at
the bottom are
the Mendak........................A Coteng
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Last edited by BSMStar : 21st March 2006 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 21st March 2006, 01:47 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSMStar

A major screamer to me (in my lack of understanding), it that the base on mine is a sphere or ball, the Cotengs are really hemi-sphere on top of their base and conical as the base or bottom goes down. To me, that is a major difference. See below.

This one is mine..
Note: the rings at
the bottom are
the Mendak........................A Coteng


Well, but the spherical buah pinang doesn't quite say anything about where it came from, though it would be unusual.
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Old 22nd March 2006, 05:33 PM   #41
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Thank you for being patient. I have a lot to learn!

(I will quite hogging now... promise).
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