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Old 7th December 2018, 07:50 PM   #31
A. G. Maisey
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I have been intending to enter this post with images since Gustav made available the image of a part of the Jayasukadgo, but I kept forgetting to do it.

The images I have posted are from Haryoguritno's book "Keris Jawa", probably the most definitive work on the Javanese keris that we have seen.

We believe that the way in which a genuine empu cuts his greneng, and most especially his ron dha is more or less his signature to his work, and that it does not vary. Thus, the ron dha is the indicator of the empu who has made the keris.

Compare the Jayasukadgo ron dha images that I have posted with the ron dha that we find on the keris that is attributed to Jayasukadgo in the image that Gustav has posted.

Are they the same?

The word "same" in this context does not mean "similar", it means "identical".

The variation in spelling of Jayasukadgo's name is due to the observance of differing conventions, neither spelling is correct, neither spelling is incorrect, both are an approximation.
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Old 8th December 2018, 07:37 AM   #32
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I have a preliminary opinion but it would be easier to assess if Gustav could post a pic of the greneng on the ganja tail & wadidang
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Old 8th December 2018, 07:56 AM   #33
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Jean, the ron dha on the jenggot should not vary from the ron dha on the gonjo or wadidang. The ron dha we can see is the ron dha of the maker.

Is this ron dha identical to the ron dha shown by Haryoguritno?

I'm not asking if the keris is truly by Jayasukadgo, it is not possible to do that, I am only asking if Haryoguritno's Jayasukadgo ron dha is the same as Gustav's Jayasukadgo ron dha.
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Old 8th December 2018, 10:00 AM   #34
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Cool

Hello Alan,

I'll play...


Quote:
I'm not asking if the keris is truly by Jayasukadgo, it is not possible to do that, I am only asking if Haryoguritno's Jayasukadgo ron dha is the same as Gustav's Jayasukadgo ron dha.

Setting aside vagaries of relying on drawings (even if fairly accurate), It certainly doesn't look identical. I'll try to post a comparison pic later...

I would expect the ron dha of the jenggot to be the last to yield to any erosion/restoration (followed by any on the gonjo while any on the wadidang are likely to fade into oblivion first).

I can see how one would expect a 100 year old keris (or any well-preserved blade, especially from museum collections) would be expected tolook original. However, any worn blade will have seen several revisions over its life time. I have a hard time to believe that any "signature" would survive unscathed; and, if so, the artisan(s) doing the revision(s) would need to be able to "fake" the signature. Seems like opening Pandora's box to me...

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Kai
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Old 8th December 2018, 10:48 AM   #35
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My reply is: no, they are not identical, see pics.
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Old 8th December 2018, 10:50 AM   #36
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Lightbulb pic added

Often fotos are not taken at the right angle (exactly vertically from the main features) - this one seems to be fairly ok though.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 8th December 2018, 05:51 PM   #37
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Yeah, that's easier to compare, I should have done that myself, didn't think of it.

Thanks Kai.

Yes, a blade can become worn over time, however, the wear on a Jayasukadgo is going to be minimal, if there is any at all. With a Jayasukadgo we are are considering a blade that has been made in modern times, more or less 100 years old. It was a very expensive blade to begin with, and it is reasonable to assume that it has only ever been used as a dress accessory, never as a weapon, and never subjected to rough treatment.

Given that the Haryoguritno drawings show the perfect signature, it seems to me that the extremely wide variation between Haryoguritno's ron dha, and the ron dha on Gustav's keris suggests that either Haryoguritno's representation is incorrect, or the attribution of Jayasukadgo to the detail that Gustav has shown is incorrect.

Let me be clear:- I am not suggesting that Gustav is incorrect, he is only reporting that which somebody else has provided an opinion for.

That which I have attempted to do here is to demonstrate the need for extreme care whenever we attempt to identify origin of a keris blade, be that a geographic origin, an origin in point of time, or an attribution to a particular maker. We need to pay very, very close attention to minute detail.

Certainly, some blades are easier than others to put into a particular classification in geographic terms, but as we move up the register of quality and attempt to place a precise location, time, or maker onto a blade extremely comprehensive knowledge is required, as well as very great attention to detail.

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Old 9th December 2018, 08:32 AM   #38
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Hello Alan,

Could you possibly show a pic of a ron dha that corresponds to any reasonably well established signature (i. e. drawing in HH or similar)? Probably not the Jayasukadgo blade you're taking care of but rather some other piece assuming that posting a limited close-up won't really breach etiquette/adat?

BTW, are there any other reasonably reliable/authorative drawings of "signatures" from other empu? I can't remember having seen any of the earlier famous ones...

Thanks a lot for your consideration!

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Kai
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Old 9th December 2018, 09:31 AM   #39
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Not possible Kai.

This sort of thing is not for public display, when you start to think of genuinely agreed master pieces you are thinking of a very elitist level. To see keris or other tosanaji that is genuinely agreed to be the work of the great masters you need to earn the privilege, it is not simply given to anybody.

I do not know of any reliable source of illustrations or photographs of any ron dha that have been generally agreed to be the work of any of the great masters. I do not even know if Haryoguritno's illustrations are reasonably correct, what I do know is that he had the connections and he spent years of effort on putting his work together. I personally believe that his illustrations would be generally agreed to be correct by those in a position to form an opinion.

I did not draw the comparison between Gustav's Jayasukadgo ron dha to begin any sort of information session on how to identify the work of the various great masters. This is a level that is beyond me.

I drew the comparison to attempt to illustrate just how meticulous we need to be in examination of the indicators that we use to classify a keris, and to attempt to show how very silly it is to play the Tangguh Game with run-of-the-mill Javanese keris.

I have tried to plant a seed that might cause the more perceptive amongst us to engage in some some serious thought.

The Jayasukadgo that I have in my care has no ron dha, it is a wulung tilam upih.
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Old 9th December 2018, 02:17 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
For the last 40 years I have been the custodian of one of these Jayasukadgo keris that has no pamor and possesses deviant characteristics. I do not own this keris, it is a pusaka keris, the previous family custodians are known, the maker is known. I have been entrusted with the care of this keris until the person who should have it is ready to accept it. Regrettably, although this person is already 50 years old he is still not ready to accept responsibility for his family's keris.

Hi Alan. Without getting too deep into this particular situation could you speak more generally on what is usually expected or required of one before they might actually be ready to accept such responsibility for such a keris pusaka?

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Old 9th December 2018, 05:11 PM   #41
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It is difficult for me to speak in general terms David, because that would require knowledge of a number of situations where I knew of a similar situation to my own, and I do not know of any other similar situations to my own.

So, I cannot speak in general terms, only specific terms. In my case I was given this responsibility because of personal relationships, trust, and the people involved did not know of anybody else who had my understanding of keris and the associated traditions.

The family involved is not a noble family, but it was a powerful family prior to Independence.
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Old 16th December 2018, 09:27 AM   #42
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This is a very interesting topic, I have thought about it for a longer time.

At first, about the drawings from Haryoguritno's book - they seem to make the differences between Greneng by different Empu so clear - but he himself seems to have said, to be unable to distinguish the work of one empu from another. So even these quite analytical dravings are merely attributions?

The second point - the only Empu whose output has been photographically recorded and is attributable with some bigger certainty is Karyo di Kromo. If we look at the pictures in Groneman's articles, his Greneng is of course always similar, but there are noticeable differences between Greneng on different blades. Why? There are at least two possible explanations.

As we all know, photographing Keris (and particularly Greneng) is not easy at all. The slightest angle makes it appear different.

And of course, compared to Jayasukadgo, Karyo di Kromo was a lesser Empu.

Or perhaps is there a possibility that the Greneng wasn't 100% identical on all blades made by an Empu during the span of his lifetime?

Attached a picture of Greneng of the same blade I posted earlier. There is a residue of oil/dirt in the Dha of Ron Dha nunut, so it appears to be smaller in picture.

Then there is another discrepancy to the rules - the elements of Greneng nevertheless appear to become bigger towards Kanyut Buntu.

And also a picture of Tombak attributed to Jayasukadgo, posted by Alan a while ago.
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Old 16th December 2018, 12:03 PM   #43
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I have not tried to study the keris terminology in many years. I was not good at learning the physical points, ever. My "study" was in "feeling". I had and have great teachers. I see something, I like and I acquired it.

In many, in ALL, religious studies quickly evolve into another "level" that transcends physicality, because religious studies, by Nature, take us into this other "level" where the rules are very different.

Paradoxes occur in all deep studies of religion. These are only "paradoxes" because we try to reconcile them by using our five senses of the level, Malkuth.

All great teachers, great creations, like well-done keris for example, are rooted in our five senses. Roadmaps that reach us to finer levels.

So, using the best pieces, created by the best craftsmen, are roadmaps -or even not created by the best craftsmen have personal value.

To reach beyond, we study the roadmaps, but to have an inkling of what is beyond, and that beyond is where we are drawn. We are all doing this. It is our nature, whether great spiritual teacher or the average person.

So it takes meditation to study further. Allow our minds to trace the shapes in the keris, and go further. Yes, study the details, the shapes, the materials and how they are arranged, but always a roadmap is not the territory

Parts of the roadmaps teach a part of the territory and each person's truth is only and always personal to each person. Each person has a different perspective. Each perspective has value. Some of these perspectives are not relevant, some are to me.

For me, I try to see, think, feel, but I must always be aware that another person's perspective either moves me forward by integrating my own, if not, I try to walk away and find that something, that personal Beauty that resonates with my inner core.

I am having a very strong desire and am returning to the "study of keris." There are great examples, great teachers, great roadmaps, here.

I am very much attracted to the ron dha. And I am looking for the "man" in the patterns in the keris.

These private words I speak in public, but, these are these words are mostly things I want to hear because I need to study.

Namaste
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Old 17th December 2018, 01:49 AM   #44
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Thank you Gustav.

I was hoping that this might resonate with you, and yes, indeed it has. I was trying to get somebody to think seriously about this idea of the ron dha being the signature of an empu, and you have done just that.

In my post #31, I said:-
"--- We believe that the way in which a genuine empu cuts his greneng, and most especially his ron dha is more or less his signature to his work, and that it does not vary. Thus, the ron dha is the indicator of the empu who has made the keris.---"

The key word in this paragraph is "believe".

How many times have I said that:-

"keris knowledge is not knowledge as we understand the word, it is belief"

When it comes to classifying a keris according to geographic point of origin, or point of origin in time, we are dealing with a belief system, not all that much different to any system of religious belief. The whole thing depends upon circular reasoning. What I have witnessed more than once is that with a keris or other item of extremely high quality, a Javanese ahli keris (keris expert) will first attempt to classify the item according to the ruler during whose reign it was made, then if he is required to name an empu, he will assess the level of quality, if it is of extremely high quality, that item of tosan aji will be attributed to the leading empu of that particular era. The foundation is supposition, and all that follows is supposition, but it becomes generally believed supposition, with one supposition supporting the other.

The tombak that I posted and that Gustav has referenced was given as Jayasukadgo by two different ahli keris, at two different times. Neither was Empu Suparman, who had already left us at the time I acquired this tombak. However, the major identifier of this tombak as Jayasukadgo, was a recognised empu of the highest order --- and clearly his identification is at variance with Haryoguritno's.

Identification of a maker is a very high level of the practice of Tangguh classification, and it can greatly influence values.

The widely held belief amongst truly keris literate people is that a ron dha is the signature of the maker of a piece. Let us accept, for the sake of discussion, that this is so. Very few people sign their name in exactly the same way each and every time, in those circumstances where a signature becomes a proof of identity, we find that the examiner of the signature does not look for perfect repetition, but rather seeks to compare an overall form. So perhaps it might be the same with the ron dha, if it truly is the signature of the maker, we do not look for perfect conformity, but rather for overall consistency.

For me, the point of this whole issue is this:-

when we seek to classify a blade, in other words, to give it a tangguh, we cannot approach this exercise as if it was an exercise that is based in precision, we do have indicators that we can use, but when we identify an indicator in a keris, we must not expect it to be precisely the same as the written, or previously recorded form, all of the object that we seek to classify must be examined with the utmost care, and the indicators balanced one against the other. This is not something that can be learnt from written words of drawings, or photos. It can only be learnt by face to face tuition over a lengthy period and under the guidance of an acknowledged master.

There can never be a substitute for experience, and the field of keris is no different to the other fields of art. The person who is called upon to verify that Rembrandt was the man who painted that dirty, cracked little painting that turned up in Aunt Jessie's attic does not use an engineering approach in order to form his opinion, he uses defined indicators and his experience.

The indicators that we use in classifying a keris are only as good as the person who is using them.

But the bottom line is this:- the opinion of that experienced person will in most cases reflect the opinion of the bulk of other persons who possess a similar level of knowledge and experience, thus it becomes something that most people can believe, in other words, an item of belief.
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Old 17th December 2018, 06:48 PM   #45
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Hello Alan,

I had a difficult time to come up with a response that might help to reconcile the quite divergent takes of Gustav and Bill. Not that these are mutually exclusive - you seem to have offered a bridge here though, Alan!

For better or worse, my comments will dwell more on the technical aspects here.

Quote:
"keris knowledge is not knowledge as we understand the word, it is belief"

When it comes to classifying a keris according to geographic point of origin, or point of origin in time, we are dealing with a belief system, not all that much different to any system of religious belief. The whole thing depends upon circular reasoning.

Seems we need a healthy dose of "Don't take my word for it - check for yourself if the stuff really works!" here! To paraphrase a well-known historical figure...


Quote:
What I have witnessed more than once is that with a keris or other item of extremely high quality, a Javanese ahli keris (keris expert) will first attempt to classify the item according to the ruler during whose reign it was made, then if he is required to name an empu, he will assess the level of quality, if it is of extremely high quality, that item of tosan aji will be attributed to the leading empu of that particular era. The foundation is supposition, and all that follows is supposition, but it becomes generally believed supposition, with one supposition supporting the other.

The tombak that I posted and that Gustav has referenced was given as Jayasukadgo by two different ahli keris, at two different times. Neither was Empu Suparman, who had already left us at the time I acquired this tombak. However, the major identifier of this tombak as Jayasukadgo, was a recognised empu of the highest order --- and clearly his identification is at variance with Haryoguritno's.

Sounds like a lot of "balancing" is going on during these sessions.

Considering the traditional hierarchical transfer of knowledge, we are looking at quite a bottleneck situation, assuming that the very few leading experts will almost by necessity have learned from much of the same limited population of high-end blades (and master teachers). This may result in perceived coherence as well as meme drift!


Quote:
The widely held belief amongst truly keris literate people is that a ron dha is the signature of the maker of a piece. Let us accept, for the sake of discussion, that this is so. Very few people sign their name in exactly the same way each and every time, in those circumstances where a signature becomes a proof of identity, we find that the examiner of the signature does not look for perfect repetition, but rather seeks to compare an overall form. So perhaps it might be the same with the ron dha, if it truly is the signature of the maker, we do not look for perfect conformity, but rather for overall consistency.

This is not a really convincing comparison: A written signature is mainly judged by the flow of lines (done in a single fluid movement) while the greneng are slowly cut. The latter can be approached little by little and perfect "fakes" are way more feasible than with a written signature! (Cp. my earlier comments .)


Quote:
There can never be a substitute for experience, and the field of keris is no different to the other fields of art. The person who is called upon to verify that Rembrandt was the man who painted that dirty, cracked little painting that turned up in Aunt Jessie's attic does not use an engineering approach in order to form his opinion, he uses defined indicators and his experience.

This comparison seems very pertinent: We have to realize that an "established" art expert may only be able to weed out the more or less obvious chaff while high quality work has successfully fooled specialized experts relying only on stylistical analysis and "time-proven" indicators of age/etc. The many recent issues in falsely validated pieces throughout the art market have clearly shown that full-blown scientific examinations are crucial for reliably evaluating high-quality artwork (including exposure of deliberate fakes which may happen to exhibit better quality than the original artwork).

Still, it is only possible to falsify any working hypothesis rather than proving that any piece is "genuine" for sure. Thus, there always needs to stay a little doubt even with the most convincing pieces believed to be genuine (unless eventually proven otherwise). However, this believe is based on (hopefully) well established data rather than conjecture and/or "authorative" verdicts.


Quote:
<snip> the bottom line is this:- the opinion of that experienced person will in most cases reflect the opinion of the bulk of other persons who possess a similar level of knowledge and experience, thus it becomes something that most people can believe, in other words, an item of belief.

Seems we need to foster scientific approaches if we really want to break with circular reasoning! I'm game, seriously.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th December 2018, 07:59 PM   #46
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An interesting series of comments Kai.

I most sincerely suggest that your "scientific approaches" have somewhere between very limited and no usefulness at all in providing assistance in gaining an understanding of the keris, if that is the objective of the exercise.

Each society that has adopted the keris as a part of that society's culture has given the keris an understanding that is somewhat at variance with other understandings of the keris.

However, each society owns its own understanding.

We can study, and with time and dedication learn, the way in which any particular society may understand the keris, and since the keris is an integral part of any society where it exists, this societally based study is really the only valid way in which to approach keris study, if we wish to understand the keris as it is understood in the society where it exists.

If we do not wish to understand the keris as it is understood by the people who bear it, but rather as an item that is divorced from its context, then the "scientific approach" could well have a place --- but then we need to ask ourselves just exactly what it is that we are studying.

The belief system that supports the keris in Jawa and in Bali is only one belief system amongst many others that constitute the fabric of these two societies. I have mentioned Jawa & Bali, because these two societies are the generative societies of the keris. If we are to ever understand the keris , it is here that we must begin, and we must begin with an understanding of these two societies. That understanding must incorporate a thorough understanding of the ways in which the people in these societies see the world around them.

We cannot ever hope to understand the keris as an item taken out of its society, we must recognise that the people of any society own the culture that governs that society, so the people of a society that has the keris as one of their cultural icons own the way in which that keris should be understood.

I see our role as students of the keris to understand the belief systems that are the weft of a keris bearing society, one of the strands of belief is the system or systems that provides the society with a way in which to understand the keris. We do not necessarily need to subscribe to that belief system, but we do need to understand it if we are ever going to understand the way in which the keris is understood by the people who own it.

If we do not adopt this approach we are in danger of becoming no more than "stamp collectors".
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Old 17th December 2018, 09:37 PM   #47
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I completely agree Alan. There is no way to understand the keris through objective scientific approaches. We can perhaps grasp the metallurgy used in this manner or understand techniques of wood and ivory carving or the intricacies of fine silver and gold work. We may learn through this process to recognize the difference between levels of quality and craft, but we will not truly understand the keris as a complete iconic object or the place it serves within the culture with this approach.
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Old 18th December 2018, 12:58 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
An interesting series of comments Kai.

I most sincerely suggest that your "scientific approaches" have somewhere between very limited and no usefulness at all in providing assistance in gaining an understanding of the keris, if that is the objective of the exercise.

Each society that has adopted the keris as a part of that society's culture has given the keris an understanding that is somewhat at variance with other understandings of the keris.

However, each society owns its own understanding.

We can study, and with time and dedication learn, the way in which any particular society may understand the keris, and since the keris is an integral part of any society where it exists, this societally based study is really the only valid way in which to approach keris study, if we wish to understand the keris as it is understood in the society where it exists.

If we do not wish to understand the keris as it is understood by the people who bear it, but rather as an item that is divorced from its context, then the "scientific approach" could well have a place --- but then we need to ask ourselves just exactly what it is that we are studying.

The belief system that supports the keris in Jawa and in Bali is only one belief system amongst many others that constitute the fabric of these two societies. I have mentioned Jawa & Bali, because these two societies are the generative societies of the keris. If we are to ever understand the keris , it is here that we must begin, and we must begin with an understanding of these two societies. That understanding must incorporate a thorough understanding of the ways in which the people in these societies see the world around them.

We cannot ever hope to understand the keris as an item taken out of its society, we must recognise that the people of any society own the culture that governs that society, so the people of a society that has the keris as one of their cultural icons own the way in which that keris should be understood.

I see our role as students of the keris to understand the belief systems that are the weft of a keris bearing society, one of the strands of belief is the system or systems that provides the society with a way in which to understand the keris. We do not necessarily need to subscribe to that belief system, but we do need to understand it if we are ever going to understand the way in which the keris is understood by the people who own it.

If we do not adopt this approach we are in danger of becoming no more than "stamp collectors".



Very well said!
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Old 19th December 2018, 05:45 PM   #49
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
Each society that has adopted the keris as a part of that society's culture has given the keris an understanding that is somewhat at variance with other understandings of the keris.

However, each society owns its own understanding.

Sure, I'm not contesting that.

However, even within a single culture, there seem to be multiple understandings at work:
- keraton-level keris tanguh believes
- "tanguh" assertions for any subpar/average/decent keris (modern)
- ruler/keraton-level pusaka believes
- family-level pusaka believes
- power of pamor types believes
- dukun practises/believes
- folk-level believes
- etc.

Also even neighboring and closely related cultures exhibit differences in such understandings (Solo vs Yogya, etc.).

These understandings within a single culture may influence each other to some extend and get weaved into the fabric of this culture and possibly others as well. For a member of such a culture, any personal understanding (influenced by status, kingroup, social interactions and personal believes/knowledge) may be true and ultimate. However, there is not any singular, monolithic understanding regarding keris, much less any ultimate truth. Even more so for any outsiders.


Quote:
We can study, and with time and dedication learn, the way in which any particular society may understand the keris, and since the keris is an integral part of any society where it exists, this societally based study is really the only valid way in which to approach keris study, if we wish to understand the keris as it is understood in the society where it exists.

Even if were to wish so, this could be next to impossible. Alan, you married into "the" culture and certainly stand a better chance than most of us. Moreover, if one wants to practise any craft/belief/etc., it certainly is paramount to go to the horses mouth and immerse oneself into the originating culture. Been there, done that, too. Still, it often is a thin line between genuinely and truly learning an art from any foreign culture vs mainly nurturing the silk road syndrome as you called it.

In case we happen to be interested in a period that ended more than a very few generations ago, we may only get some glimpse from extant cultures; we also need to accept that a culture from a past period is not directly accessible anymore today and details need to be carefully inferred from secondary/tertiary sources, if at all possible.


Quote:
If we do not wish to understand the keris as it is understood by the people who bear it, but rather as an item that is divorced from its context, then the "scientific approach" could well have a place --- but then we need to ask ourselves just exactly what it is that we are studying.

A perfectly legitimate question, for sure. I'd posit that this isn't a black & white thing though. However, the art analogy we spoke of may be difficult to apply here.

Let's try a religous analogy: If I felt a desire to adopt any religoius faith (e. g. becoming a Roman catholic christian), I'd need to learn the basics and, especially, adopt/develop the corresponding beliefs/faith. Upon proving my sincerity and probably some more formalities, I may get baptized and continue my spiritual journey, especially by immersing myself into the pertinent religous practises/rituals/etc. Spiritual leaders (including an infallible Pope at the top of the hierarchy) will provide continued teaching as well as inspiration, hopefully. Certainly, this doesn't preclude me from discussing topics with lay members, too. I may even have doubts and pressing questions that may not get fully answered by the available clergy.

However, if I were to study the history of the Roman catholic faith or its impact on any societies of interest, I don't need to be of this faith. I'd be heavily dependant on catholic sources including archives and practitioners for sure - I'd also need to locate independent sources though. And I may choose to detach myself from the faith (as well as any detractors) to keep a "neutral" position; I may as well participate as a neutral observer; or I may try to gain additional experience by being a participating observer or even a believer. Obviously, the point of views at the start and even honestly obtained results might be pretty different depending on the approach taken. However, it might prove very valuable to critically discuss any different results/opinions and try to deduce more general "truths" which are not only "owned" by the originating faith/believe/culture but also more or less "valid" for the world at large.


Quote:
The belief system that supports the keris in Jawa and in Bali is only one belief system amongst many others that constitute the fabric of these two societies. I have mentioned Jawa & Bali, because these two societies are the generative societies of the keris. If we are to ever understand the keris , it is here that we must begin, and we must begin with an understanding of these two societies. That understanding must incorporate a thorough understanding of the ways in which the people in these societies see the world around them.

We cannot ever hope to understand the keris as an item taken out of its society, we must recognise that the people of any society own the culture that governs that society, so the people of a society that has the keris as one of their cultural icons own the way in which that keris should be understood.

I'm with you on the level of spiritual believes, etc. However, you have posited that the tangguh system probably developed to assist male members of the nobility in the storage of wealth - a pretty mundane task (even if perfectly reasonable/legitimate). Its interpretation also varies among acknowleged experts - for the more traditional ones a blade with tangguh Majapahit was crafted during the Mojo era according to Mojo pakem while equally qualified proponents also might consider later production. You have shown that the tangguh system is based on circular reasoning; moreover, if only the perceived overall quality of craftsmanship is considered great enough, this belief may even be bent if the observations/features suggest otherwise. And we know that the tangguh system was modified into a caricature by influential circles within this very culture during modern times.

I respect all traditional knowledge and realize that there are many gems to be found if one keeps an open mind. And I also try to understand traditional believes as these have shaped the history of any society. However, trying to get an understanding does not always require one to learn and participate in a belief like the tangguh system. I can see good reasons why one would choose to do so; however, you've made it very clear that this is pretty much impossible for just about anyone participating here.


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I see our role as students of the keris to understand the belief systems that are the weft of a keris bearing society, one of the strands of belief is the system or systems that provides the society with a way in which to understand the keris. We do not necessarily need to subscribe to that belief system, but we do need to understand it if we are ever going to understand the way in which the keris is understood by the people who own it.

Yes, I agree on trying to continually improve my understanding of the cultures/societies involved; and to show honest respect for their believes and achievements.

Rather than trying to strive for something which is realistically impossible for me, I feel that trying to contribute to keris knowledge with an admittedly non-traditional, possibly scientific approach might be more beneficial for interested people globally (and maybe also for members of keris-bearing cultures).

Regards,
Kai
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Old 19th December 2018, 08:26 PM   #50
A. G. Maisey
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Thank you for your quite comprehensive statement of opinion , Kai.

Yes, I agree there is more than one road available to reach most destinations, however those roads do not necessarily enter the destination by way of the same gate, if they in fact do not enter the destination, but merely pass by it, and look in at the destination through a window, that which is seen through the window will alter, and will depend upon what is seen.

Is it possible to follow two roads at once?

Well, no, not unless one can become two people.

But it might be possible to follow one road, reach the destination, return to the beginning, and then follow a different road.

Our own individual choices are dependent upon our own individual orientation.

EDIT

I have just now reread my response to Kai's very thoughtful and thorough statement of his opinions, and I feel that this brief response of mine is a trifle dismissive, it really doesn't contribute much. Accordingly I have taken the time to write something that hopefully might contribute a little towards the thought processes of some of us.


The keris is an artefact that was given birth, developed and is owned by a group of people.

The birth of the keris occurred more than 1000 years ago, and since its birth it has fulfilled a number of functions within the society that gave it birth, within that society it has become a cultural artefact. The way in which this artefact has been understood at various times, and in various places, throughout its history has varied as a reflection of its function at any particular time and in any particular place.

No understanding can be dismissed as incorrect, no understanding can be given precedence as the only correct understanding, all understandings are valid for the people of the society and culture that owns the keris.

However, although there may be variation in the understanding of the external character of the keris, the deeper understandings will be found to be constant, but perhaps expressed in varying ways. As with perhaps all things that embody an esoteric element in their nature, there are varying levels of understanding that can apply to any particular thing:- that which is understood by the lay person is not necessarily the understanding of those people who have higher understandings. At the highest level it is usual for only a very limited number of people to achieve that highest level of understanding.

The confusion that currently exists in the various ways in which the keris can be understood is simply the expected result of the erosion of a belief system. This confusion does not in any way lesson the core nature of the keris, all it does is protect that core nature from corruption by denying understanding to those who are not yet ready to receive it.

The undeniable fact that there have been varying ways throughout history in which to understand the keris might seem to be something that is exceedingly difficult to come to terms with, however, in the case of the culture and society that is the owner of the keris, there is a vast pool of literature that is available to assist in gaining an understanding of the ways in which the people of this society acted and reacted throughout at least the last 700 years.

The task of understanding the world view and the thought processes of any people of a past time is undoubtedly difficult, but it is not impossible. Consider this, as children of Western European Culture there are similarities in our own World View, although that World View extends across a number of differing societies. Using our World View and the methods of thought and perception which this world View generates, together with the records from past times, it is not such an impossible task for a person trained in the applicable discipline of investigation to formulate defensible opinions in respect of the way in which our ancestors thought and acted in past times. The key to the process knowledge and empathy.

Similarly, the transition from one cultural understanding to the way in which a different society, drawing upon a different culture, understands the world around them is no more than an exercise in learning. Children learn relatively easily, as we get older that learning process can become slower and more difficult, but it still comes down to one very simple thing:- acknowledge that you know nothing and be prepared to learn from whoever is kind enough to teach. If you think you know something before you have been taught you will never learn anything.

The analogy of keris belief and religious belief is one that I have used frequently, and I do not want to turn this discussion into another sermon, I will mention just three things that might be considered.

Firstly, at their core virtually all religious belief systems have a single universal core belief.
Secondly, there are levels of understanding in all religions:- that which is understood by the common man is not the same as that which is understood by the high priest.
Thirdly, the external levels are always accessible in any belief system, even to those who do not subscribe to the beliefs, but the closer we come to the core the more difficult it becomes to access the understandings that are the property of the highest level of initiates.

The Solonese Tangguh System is often seen as being something of immense importance in gaining an understanding of the keris, and so it is, if the understanding that we wish to gain is an understanding that revolves around monetary values. However, in truth, the Solonese Tangguh System is relatively recent, no more than a couple of hundred years old at most, and it owes much for its existence at all to Dutch Colonial politics.

The Tangguh System is a useful tool for people who collect for the sake of collecting, it is an even more useful tool for people who sell keris, but it will do very little to assist anybody in gaining a deeper understanding of the keris --- unless of course the objective is to gain a deeper understanding of the monetary value of a keris.

True understanding of the keris can proceed in the total absence of the ability to differentiate between a keris classifiable as Mataram Sultan Agungan, and Mataram Senopaten.

However, I doubt that it is possible for anybody to access the understanding of the keris that is the heritage of the people of Jawa and Bali in the absence of a thorough understanding of these people, their societies and their cultures.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 20th December 2018 at 02:50 AM.
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Old 20th December 2018, 08:09 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
However, in truth, the Solonese Tangguh System is relatively recent, no more than a couple of hundred years old at most, and it owes much for its existence at all to Dutch Colonial politics.


Hello Alan,
Could you please elaborate why the Solo tangguh system owes much for its existence to Dutch Colonial politics?
Regards
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Old 20th December 2018, 11:15 AM   #52
A. G. Maisey
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Jean, sometimes I say something, or write something without thinking through to the results of what I have said or written. In this Forum, if I see something I can comment on I usually jump in and write a comment, mostly I do not think before responding, I just write.

I should have realised that my "Dutch Colonial Politics" comment would generate a request for further explanation, and this explanation is one that I am not prepared to give --- nor for that matter, able to give --- in the form a very abbreviated post in this Forum.

Why?

Because the response should begin with the Javanese cultural revival that began during the Kartosuro period, and Dutch policies that were put in place to crush the resistance of the Central Javanese aristocracy to Dutch overlordship. The effect on the Javanese elites was something that needed to be compensated for. Tangguh played a part in this compensatory process.

I do plan to publish on this subject in the future.
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Old 20th December 2018, 08:36 PM   #53
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... Accordingly I have taken the time to write something that hopefully might contribute a little towards the thought processes of some of us.

Thanks, Alan!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 21st December 2018, 07:46 AM   #54
Bill M
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Thank you all for your kind and insightful comments. I am learning a lot! Will be bringing more pictures.
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