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Old 13th July 2017, 08:26 PM   #1
A. G. Maisey
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Default By a collector, for collectors

Our valued friend and regular contributor to this Forum, Jean Greffioz has written another book about the keris. I have just completed a reading of this new book and I must say that I am very impressed.

This could well be the book that many collectors have been waiting for:- it is a book that has been written by a collector, for collectors.

In my experience, most keris collectors have the same two primary questions whenever they see or handle a keris:-

where is it from?

how old is it?

As a collector's knowledge increases and along with that knowledge, his curiosity also increases, he begins to focus on the individual parts that comprise the complete keris:-

what type of scabbard is this?

what is this pamor called?

what is the name of this type of hilt?

In recent years a number of books written by Indonesian authors, and published in Bahasa Indonesia, the national language of Indonesia, have been published that do address these questions, but for collectors in the western world that information is very often somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible to access.

Jean is able to read and understand Bahasa Indonesia, and he has used these books published in Bahasa Indonesia as his principal source of information for his new book, thus he has opened the door to a lot of information that was formerly not available to many collectors.

But he has not confined his efforts to a simple translation of text.

Physically this book is coffee table size (A4 format) and it is printed on good quality art paper. It contains more than 330 large, clear photographs of keris taken from Jean's personal collection. These photographs are arranged in sections, or perhaps chapters, that cover the types of keris originating from several regions of Java, and from Madura, Bali, Lombok, Sulawesi, Sumbawa, and Sumatera.

This presentation of classificatory information in the form of actual keris of a style and quality that is achievable by any serious collector is invaluable, and to my knowledge has never before been attempted.

Each section dealing with a region has a short introductory text that provides an over-view of both the region and the kerises originating from that region.

Jean has included a bibliography, a glossary of keris terms, an index of keris features, and to top it off, a photographic reference of Javanese pamor patterns, again, he has used actual keris to demonstrate these pamor patterns.

This book would be a valuable addition to the library of all collectors, but for a beginning collector, I consider that it is essential. In fact, for the pure collector there is perhaps no better book currently available.
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Old 13th July 2017, 09:14 PM   #2
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Thank you Alan for the notification!

What is the title of the book?

Do you also know where can we buy the book?

Regards,

Marius
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Old 13th July 2017, 09:37 PM   #3
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Thanks Alan. I was so hoping that this book would be well received. Jean has been an valuable resource and contributor to this forum for some time and i look forward to getting a copy of my own as soon as i can afford it.
Marius, you will find more information about this book, including examples of some of the pages and how to purchase it in the Keris Swap Forum.
Just a reminder that all are welcome to discuss the merits of this (or any) book openly here, but any commercial information must be found in Swap. Thanks!
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Old 14th July 2017, 01:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Marius, you will find more information about this book, including examples of some of the pages and how to purchase it in the Keris Swap Forum.
Just a reminder that all are welcome to discuss the merits of this (or any) book openly here, but any commercial information must be found in Swap. Thanks!


Thank you for the info!

Regards,

Marius
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Old 14th July 2017, 02:10 PM   #5
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it's a very good book indeed and i'm happy to have #76 of 100 printed.
I highly recommend it and only 100 copies were printed in this first edition so you better hurry!
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Old 14th July 2017, 07:15 PM   #6
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A really good book, very detailed and full of information
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Old 14th July 2017, 07:31 PM   #7
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Thank you very much to Alan, Nik, and Marco for their very positive comments! It is very rewarding to hear for concluding this 7 years project
Regards
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Old 15th July 2017, 07:36 PM   #8
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Good to hear that the book is a valuable contribution, well done, Jean!

I already purchased a copy upon release but haven't read through it yet owing to other commitments.
Once I have some time, I look forward to reading it thoroughly!
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Old 16th July 2017, 02:42 AM   #9
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Even though ( or maybe because of) I am a complete ignoramus about kris, I decided to get this book.
It was just what the doctor ordered: informative, concise, with just enough information to give a novice a decent idea about physical aspects of kris.

I have read enough here about the spiritual importance of this unique weapon.
That I shall leave to the next book. Or the next life. But Jean's book is giving me enough background to begin the journey. This is something I was unable to find in other books and gives me an opportunity to learn. The rest is up to me.

Jean, many thanks for sharing your knowledge, experience and wisdom. It is said that one should be in eternal debt to a person who taught him even a single letter. You have done much, much more than that, and not only for this newbie, but for a lot of people.
Congratulations with a job well done!
And, again, thank you !
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Old 21st July 2017, 03:54 PM   #10
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Thumbs up Jean

Your book has arrived safely.
I would PM you this news but your inbox is full.
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Old 21st July 2017, 06:05 PM   #11
mariusgmioc
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Thumbs up major flaw of this book

I got my copy today... signed & numbered.

But as soon as I opened it, I noticed it has a major flaw: it comes in only 100 copies!

I had high expectations from this book... and they all were exceeded!

From my perspective, Jean's book is the best book on the Keris I have seen so far and definitely the best one I have (and I have quite a few).

It is precise, clearly explained, richly illustrated and very practically structured. Because of its clear and well defined structure, the information in it is very easily accessible, turnig the book into a very useful and practical tool for any collector. In other words, it is exactly the book that many collectors were waiting for, as Alan mentioned in his posting.

Thank you Jean!


PS: I however believe that this book should be made available to many more than 100 lucky collectors.
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Old 25th July 2017, 11:23 AM   #12
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Has anyone seen both this new volume and Mr Greffioz' other book The Kris, A Passion from Indonesia? Anything duplicated, or is the new volume all new entries? I am trying to determine if I ought to buy both.
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Old 25th July 2017, 04:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S.Workman
Has anyone seen both this new volume and Mr Greffioz' other book The Kris, A Passion from Indonesia? Anything duplicated, or is the new volume all new entries? I am trying to determine if I ought to buy both.
The new book is much more detailed about an impressive collection and it is full of informations about blades's age, dapur, pamor, sarong, pendok ... ... All with accurate precision
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Old 25th July 2017, 06:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcokeris
The new book is much more detailed about an impressive collection and it is full of informations about blades's age, dapur, pamor, sarong, pendok ... ... All with accurate precision

OK, thanks very much. For money reasons, it's good to know. I ordered a copy, and it may be the last one available so I guess I scooted on under the wire!
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Old 8th August 2017, 08:21 AM   #15
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I fully endorse the good things that others have written here about this book. One of the most valuable features, the section of about 80 full-page photographs of blades (showing both sides), showing and describing pamor patterns of Javanese blades, is modestly under the heading 'Appendix 4'.
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Old 30th March 2018, 05:23 AM   #16
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This book sure comes highly recommended and with high praise. I'm very new to studying the keris so I'm sure this would be as valuable to me as it seems to be to more learned and expert folk.

I'm particularly interested in descriptions of the keris forging process. Does this book contain that?
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Old 30th March 2018, 06:51 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagabuwana

I'm particularly interested in descriptions of the keris forging process. Does this book contain that?


Hello,
No, the book is not focusing on the forging process which is already described in several other books and I could not contribute more about the subject.
BTW all my copies have been sold-out but you may get one from Ethnographic Art Books (Leiden museum library).
Regards
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Old 30th March 2018, 07:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagabuwana
This book sure comes highly recommended and with high praise. I'm very new to studying the keris so I'm sure this would be as valuable to me as it seems to be to more learned and expert folk.

I'm particularly interested in descriptions of the keris forging process. Does this book contain that?


You might like to have a look at THE WORLD OF THE JAVANESE KERIS by Garrett and Bronwen Solyom.
There are many pictures of the steps in the forging process in this book.
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Old 31st March 2018, 01:00 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Hello,
No, the book is not focusing on the forging process which is already described in several other books and I could not contribute more about the subject.
BTW all my copies have been sold-out but you may get one from Ethnographic Art Books (Leiden museum library).
Regards


Thank you, Jean. Leiden Museum are selling a copy on AbeBooks, and hopefully I can snatch it up before too long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
You might like to have a look at THE WORLD OF THE JAVANESE KERIS by Garrett and Bronwen Solyom.
There are many pictures of the steps in the forging process in this book.


Thank you, Rick. This sounds like the one for me. I'm learning very quickly that these books aren't so easy to come by

What about "The Javanese Kris" by Groneman? I see that it has some 20 pages dedicated to the process of forging Javanese weapons. Between the two books, which has the most comprehensive detail on forging?
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Old 31st March 2018, 11:26 PM   #20
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I don't have a copy of Groneman, nor have I looked into it. I believe other members who have both books might be more qualified to make a comparison.
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Old 1st April 2018, 09:55 PM   #21
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Well, i have both books, but i'm not sure that makes be any more qualified since i don't actually have any real life experience forging keris. All i can say is that Groneman has perhaps dedicated more page space to the topic, but i am not convinced that he is necessary 100% accurate on the subject. The Solyoms, on the other hand, are known for having very good accuracy in their accounts. I do like the Groneman book and find much of it useful if not always completely correct.
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Old 2nd April 2018, 12:40 PM   #22
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Quote:
What about "The Javanese Kris" by Groneman? I see that it has some 20 pages dedicated to the process of forging Javanese weapons. Between the two books, which has the most comprehensive detail on forging?

What you're looking for regarding the keris forging process? There are also a bunch of videos online which may help to piecing together the puzzle...

Solyom & Solyom is a must-have for keris aficionados and you should be able to obtain it via an interlibrary loan. However, their section on forging is only 31 pics squeezed on 2 pages and less than 2 pages of text; valuable to get a basic idea of the process but little more I'm afraid.

Groneman set out to document the whole keris-making process and did so in quite some detail. There is apparently one step missing in the forging process which the empu managed to hide from Groneman. Maybe Alan could point that out if not sworn to secrecy? The English translation of Groneman is quite expensive (with lots of additional keris shown though); the original in German (Der Kris der Javaner; published as a series in 1910 to 1913) should also be readily available via libraries.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 2nd April 2018, 01:12 PM   #23
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Also "De inlandsche kunstnijverheid in Nederlandsch IndiŽ vol 5" by Jasper and Pirngadie write about keris forging.... but the last new book edition was still in German language (?) and this is a real pity.
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Old 5th April 2018, 03:13 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Thank you very much to Alan, Nik, and Marco for their very positive comments! It is very rewarding to hear for concluding this 7 years project
Regards


Hi

How I can buy the book and is it still available for sale? Thank you.
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Old 5th April 2018, 03:32 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony G.
Hi

How I can buy the book and is it still available for sale? Thank you.

Hi Anthony. We keep the commercial off the regular forums as a rule, but you can find a posting of this book in the Keris Swap Forum where you can find such information. Thanks!
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Old 5th April 2018, 05:49 PM   #26
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jagabuwana,

I know both books mentioned in this thread.
The Javanese kris (Der Kris der Javaner), i should recommend.

Dr. Groneman was a physician, not an empu and even not a blacksmith.
Some parts of the work performed by Karja di Krama were even not described by Dr. Groneman, so most likely, they were not shown to him.

When you want to learn to forge a keris, you will have to find the answers to a lot of remaining questions.

But..... that is a good training and wil give you a lot of satisfaction each time you approach closer to the results you want to reach.

You will find out that the empu's were real masters, but also these days i see very good forging work and beautiful results.

I am practizing the forging of the keris, made by karja di Krama, since 2014 and get the feeling that i am coming close (i am a blacksmith by profession).

Wenever yo might have a specific question i can help you with, you may always contact me. If i know the answer i will tell you.
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Old 5th April 2018, 10:36 PM   #27
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thank you everyone, this has all been very helpful.

Seerp, thank you for offering your knowledge and I'm sure there's a lot I can learn.
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Old 6th April 2018, 01:37 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Hi Anthony. We keep the commercial off the regular forums as a rule, but you can find a posting of this book in the Keris Swap Forum where you can find such information. Thanks!


Many thanks, David.
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Old 7th April 2018, 12:32 PM   #29
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Kai, I regret I am not free to detail the major missing step in the forging process presented by Dr. Gronemann. There are a number of steps that have been omitted in Dr. Gronemann's account, and I am not at all certain as to why.

The craftsman may have concealed parts of the process, or Dr. Gronemann may not have understood what he was looking at. Or perhaps he felt that it was not necessary to give a blow by blow account, perhaps in his judgement, an overview was all that was required.

I think I can probably say this much:- certain steps are required to preserve any intentional pamor pattern. Examine Dr. Gronemann's description and see if you can identify these steps.

I do not have access to this book at the present time, so I am unable to pursue any detailed discussion, I am running on memory.

I know that Seerp has been working on keris production for a very extended period of time, and I fully accept that he is an experienced tradesman, however, in spite of this, my own experience in keris production demonstrated to me that once basic forge technology and technique is understood, the production of a forging from which a keris is carved is neither a lengthy, nor a difficult process, when simple mlumah pamor patterns are involved.

When pamor miring is involved the levels of difficulty rise and only truly talented craftsmen can successfully accomplish the required pattern welds.

The time and difficulty involved in forge work, whether pamor mlumah or pamor miring is involved shrink into insignificance when compared with the time and difficulty involved in the layout and carving of a keris blade.

Everybody talks about beautifully forged blades, but the real challenge comes with carving, most especially so when only traditional tools are used.

In fact, both old-time empus, and many, if not most current era keris makers regarded and regard the hands on forging of a blade below their status. They use smiths and their assistants for the forge work, which they may or may not supervise, depending upon the level of difficulty involved.

Probably the best sources to assist in gaining an understanding of the forge work involved in keris production are re-prints of old blacksmithing text books, and the books that have been published in recent years by people like Jim Hrisoulis.

I repeat:- the forge work is not difficult: I forged and finished my first keris blade after about 3 eight hour days of instruction in forge work. This a very poor effort at a keris, but it did qualify as one, and it does bear simple wos wutah pamor.

By profession I am an auditor.

My introduction to forge work was with the use of a coal fired forge, which means that when it came to welding, I needed to produce my own coke from the coal. I later used coke that was ready to use, I used charcoal, and I used gas, but I never used gas on keris work. Welding in gas is about as difficult as making a chocolate cake.
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Old 9th April 2018, 03:38 AM   #30
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Thank you, Alan. I'll get my hands on Dr Groneman's book eventually, and will see if I can identify the steps involved in intentional pamor creation.

It's also heartening to hear that the forging itself is not all too difficult. I plan to do some blacksmithing courses, after which I hope I can begin to make a keris.
When you say "carving" do you refer to when elements such as the sogokan, ada-ada, greneng etc. are fashioned? If I thought the forging was going to be difficult, then these seem far more tedious and surgical.
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