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Old 16th February 2018, 04:09 AM   #1
Green
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Default should I or shouldn't I change and repair

Recently I acquired several kerises that were originally belonged to Edward Frey and featured in his book The Kris : Mystic Weapon of the Malay World.

One of these was obviously with a wrong dress combination . Tajong hilt with not the usual tajong type scabbard but typical Malay scabbard suited to Jawa demam hilt. There was a little chip on the tip of the 'nose' of the hilt too.

My questions are:

(1) Since these items can be considered 'historical' as they are featured in a well known book should I correct this mistake?

either by finding an old tajong scabbard ( quite possible for me to do as I live in Keris making community in Malaysia) or take off the tajong hilt and replace with more suitable ones (eg Jawa Demam or Patah tiga )?

(2) I can get some keris maker to repair the chipped hilt. Should I do this or leave it alone?

What is the usual acceptable thing to do in this situation. On the one hand I like to preserve the item in it's original state, but on the other I feel it should be restored correctly.

sorry for the very bad pics
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Old 16th February 2018, 07:52 AM   #2
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Hello Green,
This is not a museum piece so if you are sure that the combination is not correct I would not hesitate to do the required hilt or scabbard replacement or repair to the hilt.
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Old 16th February 2018, 07:55 AM   #3
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hmmm...that is indeed a dilemma Green. My first inclination would be to say that if you are concerned about maintaining the best value on this keris for possible future sale you may want to leave the ensemble as is. Frankly it does not appear to be all that extraordinary an example of this keris form so i think the "historical" aspect of this keris (i.e. the Frey association) is perhaps an important aspect of it's commercial value. "Correcting" the ensemble might give you a more culturally acceptable match, but it would only yield a rather ordinary example at best. I might consider repairing the nose if i thought the repair could be done seamlessly. Otherwise i would leave it alone if it were mine.
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Old 16th February 2018, 08:46 AM   #4
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Hello Nik,

Quote:
Recently I acquired several kerises that were originally belonged to Edward Frey and featured in his book The Kris : Mystic Weapon of the Malay World.

I can see why you were anxious to get these - glad things went well finally!

BTW, I don't see this tajong (nor hilt) featured in Frey's book, is it?


Quote:
(1) Since these items can be considered 'historical' as they are featured in a well known book should I correct this mistake?

either by finding an old tajong scabbard ( quite possible for me to do as I live in Keris making community in Malaysia) or take off the tajong hilt and replace with more suitable ones (eg Jawa Demam or Patah tiga )?

(2) I can get some keris maker to repair the chipped hilt. Should I do this or leave it alone?

What is the usual acceptable thing to do in this situation. On the one hand I like to preserve the item in it's original state, but on the other I feel it should be restored correctly.

I don't think there is any universally accepted protocol here...

Thus, just a few personal comments and I hope others will also contribute their POV!

Re #2: I can see very little reason not to repair any small defects, especially since you have access to knowledgeable craftsmen. I'd just try to make sure that the wood quality is perfectly matching (which may mean some waiting until such can be sourced).

Re #1: I'd feel no obligation to keep any "historical" ensemble if it is demonstrably incorrect. OTOH, I'd keep the 2 resulting keris as a pair and also put written documentation about provenance and subsequent changes next to them; this should make sure that the additional value of provenance doesn't get lost.


IMVHO Edward Frey was one of the (many) early keris enthusiasts and took some effort to do a literature survey of available publications, visited some notable museum collections and, after 2 years (and over 30 years of collecting), published a small book. While it would not be fair to judge a publication which is over 30 years old by current knowledge, I do not see any notable ethnographic discoveries disclosed - it's more of a review of already known facts thought to be well established at the time of writing. Thus, I don't see much of a legacy which could stipulate to keep this keris as found.


Incidentally, I'm wondering, how many northern keris Melayu that have reasonably well-established provenance as being early collected exhibit such a mixed combo of tajong hilt with the tanggah scabbard? (Of course, we also need stats for the other 2 combos, too!) It would be great if forumites were to add info on any complete examples (collected during the 19th century or earlier) here! Some from the early 20th c. may also qualify if the collecting context assures an original ensemble.

Please report:
1. tajong hilt + tajong scabbard (ladrang of Kelantan/Pattani style)
2. tajong hilt + tanggah scabbard ( of Kelantan/Pattani style)
3. Kerdas or JD hilt + tanggah scabbard (both of Kelantan/Pattani style)

Regards,
Kai
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Old 16th February 2018, 08:52 AM   #5
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Hello David,

Quote:
Frankly it does not appear to be all that extraordinary an example of this keris form

The tajong hilt certainly sems to be a nice one...


BTW, how well does the blade fit the scabbard, Nik?

If the fit is reasonable, I'd be inclined to find a suitable hilt for the keris and go for a "new" quality blade and scabbard for the tajong hilt...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 16th February 2018, 11:30 AM   #6
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I think if you have means to repair it in traditional manner or at least keep to the spirit of the piece..should. For all u know...the Tajong hilt was put in by original seller to "enhance" it and sell to Frey. Or Frey may have put on a hilt he acquired on the keris. Wonder if Frey would have fixed it if he had the means.

Fittings in keris culture get changed regularly, albeit in the "correct" regional form. They get damaged or decay or upgraded. Somehow not right not to do anything if you have the means too.

For me..I get "gerum" if I have a piece with items that dun match. Will try to match but keep to form/region. But then that is my personal preference and I dun own a celebrity piece.
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Old 16th February 2018, 06:36 PM   #7
A. G. Maisey
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Is the wrongko original to the blade, or are we looking at a collection of mated pieces that could have been put together by anybody?

If all mated, try to get a better fit of blade to wrongko, replace hilt with a more correct one, mount and display hilt separately.

If wrongko original to blade, replace hilt with a more correct one, mount and display hilt separately.

Alternatively, sell as is with provenance, unless you feel some particular connection with the keris itself, that is, the blade.

Personally, I'd move it on as quickly as I could.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 17th February 2018 at 04:34 AM. Reason: repetition
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Old 17th February 2018, 12:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
The tajong hilt certainly sems to be a nice one...

Well Kai, you certain must have better eyes than i do or one really terrific high resolution screen because i really can't determine the quality of the dress from my view. But i was really commenting on the nature of the blade itself.
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Old 17th February 2018, 04:54 PM   #9
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Hello David,

Actually, I was going from memory which can be a bit dangerous...

Here some auction pics for future reference.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th February 2018, 05:53 PM   #10
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Thanks Kai. I don't think i ever viewed the auction page, so all i had to go by was the images posted here by Green. The hilt is a bit nicer than i was able to see in Green's photos. A bit more damage than just the nick on the nose though. That's a nasty crack at the base. The blade is also better than i could see as well, though well worn and in need of a cleaning i would think.

"IMVHO Edward Frey was one of the (many) early keris enthusiasts and took some effort to do a literature survey of available publications, visited some notable museum collections and, after 2 years (and over 30 years of collecting), published a small book. While it would not be fair to judge a publication which is over 30 years old by current knowledge, I do not see any notable ethnographic discoveries disclosed - it's more of a review of already known facts thought to be well established at the time of writing. Thus, I don't see much of a legacy which could stipulate to keep this keris as found."

If it were mine i would still be inclined to leave it in this configuration. Green was not the only collector who seemed excited to receive pieces from the Frey collection. I have been on many other keris sites and pages where other keris collectors were talking excitedly about that auction and vying for pieces. I certainly would not disagree with your over all assessment of the importance, or lack thereof, of Frey regarding any groundbreaking discoveries or revelations on keris culture, but many, if not most avid collectors have his book and it served as an important part of their beginning studies. Regardless of the fact that his writings are less than groundbreaking (and sometimes outright wrong) i still feel that many people still hold him in some form of regard and enjoy owning a keris that had once been his. How that translates to added value is not really clear. I know that the one Frey keris that i own i appreciate first and foremost because it is indeed a beautiful and unique Bali keris. However, i do still enjoy the fact that it graces the cover of an old edition of Arts of Asia and was once apparently one of Frey's favorites.

Last edited by David : 17th February 2018 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 17th February 2018, 07:19 PM   #11
A. G. Maisey
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The comments I made in post #7 were ill considered.

I based those comments on Green's photos, and the opinion I formed from those photos was that I would not give this keris house-room, I'd get rid of it as quickly as possible.

I was wrong.
This is a nice keris.

There was a time when I refused to make a comment or give an opinion unless the photos provided for comment were adequate to allow me to form a supportable opinion. My standards have slipped, it seems I have made comments in the recent past where my opinion was based upon less than adequate photos.

Thank you for the decent images Kai, and the lesson.

I retract my previous opinion, and reserve my present opinion. I would like to see the fit of the blade to the wrongko before commenting again.
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Old 17th February 2018, 08:31 PM   #12
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Hello Alan,

These are the only pics allowing a bit of info on the fit - I'd love to hear what Nik believes from personally handling this keris though?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th February 2018, 11:02 PM   #13
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My current opinion:- leave as is

Some time during the 1970's, or maybe late 1960's, the Australian museum in Sydney accommodated an exhibition of Malay culture that included some keris, one of these keris had a reversed tajong hilt and a wrongko of the same form as Nik's wrongko.

I'm not really all that interested in keris from this part of the world, and do not know much about them but it seems to me that maybe it was/is legitimate to use this type of wrongko and blade together with a tajong hilt. Perhaps some local research has been done on this matter?
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Old 18th February 2018, 04:08 AM   #14
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I think the piece should be kept as it is; a keris from the Edward Frey Collection.

Judging from the pictures provided by Kai, it would seem that the sheath was not made for the blade. The gaps between the blade and sheath at the aring and dagu (kepala cecak) ends, the gap between the blade and the sampir at the neck of the kepala cecak (wurung?) and the way the aring hovers so high above sampir tells me so. I hope I remember the terms correctly.

In addition, the normal blade one would expect with a Tajong would be a pandai saras. Notwithstanding this, it is not uncommon to find a southern /riau "bugis" inspired blade in northern pieces. Just that I would expect a pandai saras with a tajong hilt.

Given the circumstances, best to leave it as it is and celebrate the provenance. Not many can do that with a keris.

I like the gold leaf accent on some parts of the hilt - pity it did not remain intact and it seem to be applied to only one side. An experimentation?
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Old 18th February 2018, 11:50 AM   #15
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Hello Paul,

Quote:
I like the gold leaf accent on some parts of the hilt - pity it did not remain intact and it seem to be applied to only one side.

From the remaining highlights it does seem to have been present on both sides. Possibly it wore off more on one side during active use.

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Kai
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Old 20th February 2018, 01:19 PM   #16
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Kai;

The fit is barely acceptable and the sheath is not the original to the blade I believe as shown in the pic below.

I tend to agree with Alan's latest post in not changing anything and leave the whole assemble as it is except that I will repair the chip to the nose and the nasty gash/crack on the buah pinang . This can be easily done by good keris sheath makers that I can get over here.

This keris is actually NOT featured in the book but the hilt was.( The other two that I won were featured ). It is very possible that Frey knew that it was a wrong assemble and did not put it in .I in fact bid for this one more for the hilt . What is curious to me is why only one side of the hilt has the golden coat 'wiped' clean? whereas the other side is fairly intact?
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Old 20th February 2018, 04:44 PM   #17
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Hello Nik,

Thanks for the additional info!


Quote:
The fit is barely acceptable and the sheath is not the original to the blade I believe as shown in the pic below.

D'accord!


Quote:
I will repair the chip to the nose and the nasty gash/crack on the buah pinang . This can be easily done by good keris sheath makers that I can get over here.

Yes, that certainly wouldn't distract from the provenance and should help preservation for the future.


Quote:
This keris is actually NOT featured in the book but the hilt was.( The other two that I won were featured ). It is very possible that Frey knew that it was a wrong assemble and did not put it in .

I rather doubt the latter. BTW, my copy (which seems to be first printing) does not have this plate with the keris hilts (color plate #13 shows "keris art") nor the one with the keris with (possibly recycled pedang?) metal hilt.


Quote:
I in fact bid for this one more for the hilt . What is curious to me is why only one side of the hilt has the golden coat 'wiped' clean? whereas the other side is fairly intact?

It is quite usual that parts that are in contact with clothes (or touched by the hand) do show considerably more wear, especially gold leaf or paint.

BTW, now that you have the hilt in your hands, what would be your estimate of the hilt's age?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 21st February 2018, 01:29 AM   #18
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Kai;

I posted the pic of the hilt in an fb forum hosted by a Patani keris collector and one Seller mentioned that "it was not very old" and another stated it was made in Kelantan.
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