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Old 16th December 2016, 09:06 AM   #1
Paul de Souza
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Default "Armour Piercing Keris" ???

One way dealers and sellers here ups a price of a keris is by saying that it is "armour piercing" ie the fact that the keris can lift a coin after a single tap on the coin.

I admit, not all my keris can do it. What is your take on it? Is it really "armour piercing" or a just a case of good tempering and manufacture?
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Old 16th December 2016, 10:13 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul de Souza
One way dealers and sellers here ups a price of a keris is by saying that it is "armour piercing" ie the fact that the keris can lift a coin after a single tap on the coin.

I admit, not all my keris can do it. What is your take on it? Is it really "armour piercing" or a just a case of good tempering and manufacture?


To me it is obviously a coin-chipping Keris!

Without being too knowledgeable on the subject, I believe it is pure marketing BS. Something like the trick with the standing Keris.

PS: And I suspect that a guy who is doing this to sell a Keris, is selling nothing but crap...

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Old 16th December 2016, 03:52 PM   #3
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Hello Paul,

I'm pretty much with Marius on this one:

The usual copper-based alloys for coins are quite soft - it doesn't need any sophisticated heat treatment for even very mild steel to become tougher than coins! (BTW, keris are traditionally not tempered which would need controlled re-heating the hardened blade to a fairly low, bluish temp specific for any given iron alloy - not really needed nor practical for laminated blades.)

You show two keris with very pronounced ada-ada: In my experience any of the traditional blade and tip geometries do perfectly well for coins... (Since armour in the Malay/Indo world tended to be pretty basic, I doubt that nicking coins tells us much about fighting function in the old times. )

Any keris blade that does not pass this coin test needs to be retired from "active service" as a sidearm and it usually will be a "ghost" blade that lost much of its body from erosion (rust and washings). Of course, such a worn blade may still be a valuable pusaka and/or retain any intrinsic powers (isi, etc.).

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Old 16th December 2016, 04:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
PS: And I suspect that a guy who is doing this to a Keris, is selling nothing but crap...

That may be a bit too harsh a judgement - at least it doesn't hurt any decent keris in decent condition.

I guess it mainly boils down to the well-known adage: Buy the keris and not the story...

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Kai
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Old 17th December 2016, 05:13 AM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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As with many good stories, this one has a basis in fact.

During the Kartosuro era, one problem faced by Javanese warriors was the fact that their kerises were unable to pierce Dutch breast plates. The Javanese keris was made as a personal weapon, and if carried into battle, it was a weapon of last resort, but that last resort was no resort at all if faced by a Dutchman wearing a breast plate. At that time, normal Javanese dress was naked from the waist up, so you didn't need a particularly robust keris to be able to stick your dhuwung into your brother-in-law's kidneys if he stole your terkuku.

Enter Brojoguno I.

His claim to fame was that he could make keris that were able to pierce Dutch breast plates. The recognised test for a keris that was claimed to be able to do the breast plate thing became the ability to pierce a copper coin:- copper coin on a wooden bench, pierce that and you were accepted as having proved your point.

Brojoguno was not born in Kartosuro, he came from outside, I don't know where, but very probably Madura or the North Coast. His descendants all took the name of Brojoguno.
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Old 17th December 2016, 09:27 PM   #6
Timo Nieminen
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I would be very impressed by a keris penetrating a Dutch breastplate. Not just a keris, but any one-handed stabbing weapon. Not so easy to drive a point through approximately 2mm of iron sheet.
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Old 17th December 2016, 09:35 PM   #7
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Pretty well established that it did happen Timo, I have no idea at all of what Dutch breast plate is like, but the fact that Brojoguno keris did penetrate them is a part of history.
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Old 18th December 2016, 03:20 AM   #8
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Don't know about keris, but European estocs were actually designed for stabbing through solid steel cuirasses. Even in the 19th century French cavalry was trained to stab rather than slash, and their opponents wore cuirasses ( not all, of course, but quite a lot). So yes, it was possible. And sticking 2-3 inches of steel inside any part of torso was almost guaranteed to be fatal.
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Old 18th December 2016, 07:38 AM   #9
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Now you mention it Ariel, yes, the cross section of this type of keris --- the Brojoguno style and his copiers --- is something like an estoc.

There is also a tombak that will pierce breast plates, it is the "sajen ampel" form, and it is a distinctly diamond shape cross section.
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Old 18th December 2016, 01:03 PM   #10
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Very interesting information. Thank you!
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Old 18th December 2016, 01:22 PM   #11
Timo Nieminen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Pretty well established that it did happen Timo, I have no idea at all of what Dutch breast plate is like, but the fact that Brojoguno keris did penetrate them is a part of history.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel
Don't know about keris, but European estocs were actually designed for stabbing through solid steel cuirasses. Even in the 19th century French cavalry was trained to stab rather than slash, and their opponents wore cuirasses ( not all, of course, but quite a lot). So yes, it was possible. And sticking 2-3 inches of steel inside any part of torso was almost guaranteed to be fatal.


Estocs were not designed for stabbing through steel cuirasses. They're designed to stab in the gaps of a plate armour, and to defeat the armour in the gaps (e.g., mail voiders covering the gaps). The problem with breastplates is that they're designed to keep lance points, pike points, arrows, crossbow bolts etc. out, and perhaps bullets.

I suggest an experiment: get some mild steel sheet, 1.5mm thick, and try to stab through it, with whatever one-handed dagger, knife, or sword you wish to try. That mild steel sheet is better quality (but thinner) than the lowest quality iron used to make cheap munition armours, and if the results in Williams, The Knight and the Blast Furnace, section 9, are good, it's about as protective as a cheap and nasty munition breastplate of 2.5mm thickness, or a mediocre breastplate 2mm thick (2-2.5mm thick is typical, for infantry breastplates).

With a close-to-optimal tip for penetration, you can just penetrate (i.e., make a hole all the way through, but only just) that 1.5mm of mild steel with 80J of energy. Make that about 110J if you want to tip to go through far enough to be effective. This isn't easy to achieve, especially if the target is trying to avoid being stabbed. The best possible armour piercing tip doesn't make it easy (or depending on the breastplate, even possible) to pierce thick iron plate.

Given that some armours will be thinner, will have defects, will have thin spots, etc., the best one-handed stabs delivered by humans, hitting square-on, should be able to occasionally go through (not against much-thicker cavalry breastplates, though). But there are some serious problems with trying that and hoping it will work as a fighting strategy. It's much, much easier to go around the breastplate than to go through it. There's plenty that it doesn't cover.

What an "armour-piercing" tip will give you is a tip that will survive hitting a breastplate when you're trying to go around it. It's also a good tip for piercing chainmail (which was used by the VOC), or against armoured-all-over soldiers, piercing the much thinner armour on the limbs.
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Old 18th December 2016, 07:28 PM   #12
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You make a good argument Timo, but the problem is that Brojoguno keris were witnessed and recorded as having pierced Dutch breast plates.

What sort of Dutch breast plates?

I don't know.

How it was done?

I don't know.

Was the author of the babad (court history) lying?

I don't know.

Was it a political ploy to raise Javanese spirit?

I don't know

Perhaps your modern understanding of the mechanical qualities of material do undermine this piece of recorded history. But again, we have a problem, and that problem is Jawa itself.

If something is believed to have happened, it did happen, and all the logic, reason and modern scientific understanding in the world will not alter that.

Modern logical thought has no place at all in Javanese keris belief systems.
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Old 18th December 2016, 08:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
You make a good argument Timo, but the problem is that Brojoguno keris were witnessed and recorded as having pierced Dutch breast plates.


Why is that a problem? As I said,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen
Given that some armours will be thinner, will have defects, will have thin spots, etc., the best one-handed stabs delivered by humans, hitting square-on, should be able to occasionally go through (not against much-thicker cavalry breastplates, though).

In practice, the average breastplate should be able to resist almost all stabs. But that doesn't mean that all breastplates stop all stabs.

It might be worth seeing what the oldest written sources say, whether they say "breastplate" specifically or just a more general "armour" (with "breastplate" being a later gloss).
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Old 18th December 2016, 09:22 PM   #14
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Very well Timo, as you wish, its not a problem.

The point I have attempted to make, and have apparently failed to do so, is that reality has no place at all in this discussion.

It is completely irrelevant whether or not a Brojoguno keris could actually make a hole in any Dutch breastplate.

We are talking here about a system of belief:- think in terms of any major religious system of belief, or any culturally accepted system of belief.

In a few days time Santa will come around, and if you are a True Believer, he will fill your stocking with goodies. But if you do not believe --- no goodies for you. But just to be on the safe side make sure your chimney is clear, or you've left a window open.

Timo, we're talking "Keris", we're talking "Javanese Belief", we are not talking about whether one or more breast plates were actually pierced or not. The piercing is totally irrelevant.

What is relevant is that Javanese people who subscribe to the Javanese Keris Belief System believe that Brojoguno Keris could pierce a Dutch breast plate.

Now don't forget, on the night of 24 December, hang a stocking from the mantle piece, or even the foot of your bed, and leave a window open.

Truly believe and Santa will remember you.
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Old 18th December 2016, 11:33 PM   #15
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Well Alan, i hate to point out that even though i don't believe in Santa ,my stocking will still be filled by his surrogates...

Last edited by David : 19th December 2016 at 04:30 AM.
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Old 19th December 2016, 01:36 AM   #16
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I believe bro.

Truly.
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Old 19th December 2016, 07:21 AM   #17
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barely back to this forum, so many things happened so fast

ahh about Brojoguno, it was popular here, too in Indonesia, and they do show it using coins

is there any distinct characteristics of this type of keris ? from what I see Brojoguno is only straight keris with thick beefy blade
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Old 19th December 2016, 01:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Now you mention it Ariel, yes, the cross section of this type of keris --- the Brojoguno style and his copiers --- is something like an estoc.

There is also a tombak that will pierce breast plates, it is the "sajen ampel" form, and it is a distinctly diamond shape cross section.



Could this be the tombak you mentioned?
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Old 19th December 2016, 09:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
We are talking here about a system of belief:- think in terms of any major religious system of belief, or any culturally accepted system of belief.
[...]
Timo, we're talking "Keris", we're talking "Javanese Belief", we are not talking about whether one or more breast plates were actually pierced or not. The piercing is totally irrelevant.


We were talking about both. Both the belief and the objective reality that is negotiated between keris and breastplate when they meet. (You were talking about belief, and I was talking about keris-meets-breastplate, so together we were talking about both.)

Once upon a time, there was no belief that such a keris could pierce a Dutch breastplate. Now there is. To simply say that "the belief is what the belief is and that is all that matters" impoverishes the discussion. IMO, changes in, and the evolution of, beliefs is interesting and important. Since, in this case, the keris has, from the description, a functional "armour-piercing" geometry, the question arises of what basis the belief has.

There's a lot of interplay between belief and combat. Magic protection against bullets (whether personal magic, such as Roman Nose's bullet-proofness, bullet-proof shirts (e.g., Ghost Dance shirts), conferred by a leader (e.g., Rock Christ fighters), or a learned ritual (e.g., Boxers)) has concrete effects on combat, even if it doesn't work. In hand-to-hand combat, it's very important, and things like protective tattoos, prayer/orasyon and amulets (or even all 3 at once, as some have used) affect fighting, just through belief in them.

So a question: is belief that a particular keris can pierce a Dutch breastplate a variety of practical battle-magic, or is it a belief similar to believing that a katana can cut through a gun barrel (also a commonly-held belief)? It might not be possible to answer this question, but I think it's still an interesting question to ask.
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Old 19th December 2016, 10:43 PM   #20
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Timo, you may be talking about reality, but your reality has very little relevance to the reality of Javanese culture and society, and it is this reality that I have been trying to convey to the people who are following this thread.

Personally I have no interest at all in whether a Brojoguno keris could actually pierce a Dutch breastplate, however, this ability to pierce a Dutch breastplate is not something that evolved as a belief, it is recorded in the court literature of the time.

My approach to this matter is purely cultural, and as such I accept that those Javanese people who are a part of Javanese keris culture believe that a Brojoguno keris could pierce a Dutch breastplate. This belief is based upon court literature.

This cultural approach is perhaps where the study of the Javanese keris varies from the study of other weaponry:- to understand the keris it is necessary to be able to understand at least some part of the Javanese mindset, and this mindset in many respects has very little relevance to logic and reality.

Yes, I agree, your question is an interesting one to ask, from the point of view of a person who studies general weaponry, but from the perspective of a person who studies the Javanese keris, it is perhaps close to irrelevant.
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Old 19th December 2016, 10:44 PM   #21
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Kulino, how many edges does this tombak have, 3, or 4?
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Old 20th December 2016, 06:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Kulino, how many edges does this tombak have, 3, or 4?


3 I think

Donny
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Old 20th December 2016, 10:22 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Kulino, how many edges does this tombak have, 3, or 4?

It is diamond shaped.
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Old 20th December 2016, 10:47 AM   #24
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I think it is probably valid to call this a sajen ampel, but it is much finer than any I have handled.
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Old 20th December 2016, 11:26 AM   #25
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Any idea about age?
What does the kinatah tell? As far as I can tell it is a kind of lotus. Nothing like an anggrek.
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Old 20th December 2016, 07:02 PM   #26
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Please let me have a good, clear close-up of the base of the blade, taken at 90 degrees.

I may or may not be able to give an opinion.
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Old 20th December 2016, 07:38 PM   #27
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thank you for your trouble
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Old 20th December 2016, 07:43 PM   #28
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Based upon what I can see in the photos, this is a North Coast Jawa tombak, probably classifiable as Tuban, quality is not as fine as I had thought from the previous photos, the factor that puts it into a lower class being that it is metuk iras.

I am not prepared to take any guesses at age, nor at the design factors.
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Old 21st December 2016, 03:44 PM   #29
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Dear Alan,
Could you please elaborate on the Mentuk Iras?
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Old 21st December 2016, 05:27 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kulino
Dear Alan,
Could you please elaborate on the Mentuk Iras?

I am sure that Alan will be able to elaborate further, but he is referring to the metuk as being all one piece with the pesi. It was not a piece added on and welded in place.
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