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Old 3rd November 2014, 01:24 PM   #1
Scott B.
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Default Please help me identify this Keris.

Hi All,
Recently I was given this Keris by my father. He bought it in Bali in 1974. Since then it has sat on a shelf. I am very glad to have it but I would really like to know a little more about it. I figured you folk would be a great source of information on this blade! Apologies for the poor images, if necessary I can take much better ones using a camera instead of a phone!

I would greatly appreciate any help anyone could offer about the origin of this Keris.

Kindly,
Scott

Last edited by Scott B. : 4th November 2014 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 3rd November 2014, 05:35 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome, Scott .
Here's a link on posting photos .
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=13631

Looking forward to seeing it .
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Old 4th November 2014, 03:22 AM   #3
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Sorry! I missed the pop-up window that told me that my files were too big. Please find the images below.
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Old 4th November 2014, 06:40 AM   #4
A. G. Maisey
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Scott, this keris is a nice old Balinese one.

It would be good if you could let us know exactly what sort of information you are seeking, for instance, do you want names of the various components, estimate of age, place in societal hierarchy?

What would you like to know?
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Old 4th November 2014, 07:06 AM   #5
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Thanks for your reply! I have been earnestly reading through the forum here and have picked up a little bit of knowledge. I understand that there's not much concrete information that can be gleaned regarding a Keris from a couple of photo. But as I intend to hold onto this Keris for a long time for sentimental reasons it would be great to find out a couple of things -

Any idea as to antiquity (did it have a life prior to my father buying it)?
Is it of any particular quality (cheap touristy thing or something else)?
What type of person may have previously owned it and what purpose might it have served?

Kindly,
Scott
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Old 4th November 2014, 07:58 AM   #6
A. G. Maisey
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Scott, we have a lot of members here, and it is more fun if everybody contributes a little, so rather than answer these questions, I'm going to step back and let our other members have a go.
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Old 4th November 2014, 09:44 AM   #7
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Scott, I share what Alan said about this kris, and I would like to know the lenght of the blade (excluding the tang).
Regards
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Old 4th November 2014, 11:27 AM   #8
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Hi Jean,
The blade length is 390mm if that helps.
Cheers,
Scott
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Old 4th November 2014, 12:54 PM   #9
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Alan, your remark on this Keris (#1) is

"this keris is a nice old Balinese one".

Your remark on a Keris (#2) from this thread - http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=18653 - was

"Very ordinary sort of keris", without any positive/assertive adjectives in your further comment on it.

I completely agree with you, both Keris are "nice old Balinese ones" and both are "very ordinary sort of keris". Yet without the respectively missing part both remarks are not objective.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lets take a good chance for comparison of these two Keris.

Both are Balinese, both blades are Sempono. Keris #1 has 3, perhaps 4 layers of contrasting bright Pamor material, also Keris #2. On Keris #1 they look homogenous and quite thin, on Keris #2 they are layered in itself, so thicker, and are giving much more pleasant, lush overall Pamor appearance.

In terms of surface finish/polish Keris #2 has clearly has a better and/or better preserved one.

Keris #1 has quite flat Luk, usual for this Dhapur, Luk of #2 are more rounded and perhaps better proportioned.

Keris #1 dont have the markings on Gonjo below the Gandhik, which gives it a simpler appearance.

We don't have a picture of the front face of sheat of #1, so comparison is not possible.

The clear advantage of #1 is the very nice hilt with good Pelet. Either it is quite huge, which is not uncommon with Bebondolan with fancy grain, or the blade is quite small, like #2.

#1 has an Uwer, which seems to have only 4 stones, which is not common for more recently produced Uwer.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

So, it certainly had have a life prior to 1974 and maybe even before 1908.

Certainly not a blade which was made for tourists.

Almost certainly a Sudra, the lowest caste, about 93% of Balinese population around 1920.
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Old 4th November 2014, 01:14 PM   #10
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OK, I will contribute as I am very interested by the subject.
The blade size is 39 cm long i.e a bit shorter than the usual big balinese blades with deep & sharp ricikan (40 cm+).
In Java this dapur with 9 shallow waves would be called Sempana Kalentang but with one exception (no tikel alis). The pamor pattern is a common one and could be identified as Ngulit Semangka (watermelon rind) but alternative names could be given to it also. The thick kembang kacang is typical of this type of balinese (?) blade. One aspect which makes me doubt that it is a balinese blade is that the ganja has pamor contrary to most old balinese krisses which I have seen.
From the pics the surface shows some pits and does not look polished as the typical balinese blades, however it looks shiny but because it is oiled?
There are very few examples of such blades in the reference books "Keris Bali bersejarah" and "Keris di Lombok" but there are many similar specimens shown in the book "Keris Bali" by the late I.B. Dibia which focuses on common quality balinese krisses.
I personally do not know whether these blades are older types of balinese/ Lombok blades or East Javanese ones and solicit other opinions about it.
And the warangka batun poh seems to be made from berora pelet wood but the front side should be shown for confirming it.
Regards

Last edited by Jean : 4th November 2014 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 4th November 2014, 02:11 PM   #11
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Thank you very much for your replies! Yes I have oiled the blade because it had some rust after being stored in a wooden chest by my parents for the past 40 years. When I found it and saw it had rust I instinctively got some oil an wiped it on the blade for protection! I now know that is not always the best option but I would rather have oil than rust on my blade!

However the blade was quite shiny prior to me oiling it, but I cannot compare this to any other Keris due to my inexperience, sorry.
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Old 4th November 2014, 04:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott B.
Thank you very much for your replies! Yes I have oiled the blade because it had some rust after being stored in a wooden chest by my parents for the past 40 years. When I found it and saw it had rust I instinctively got some oil an wiped it on the blade for protection! I now know that is not always the best option but I would rather have oil than rust on my blade

Actually Scott, oiling your blade probably was indeed the "best" option. You really can't go wrong there.
The wood also looks a bit dry and could probably use some wood oil.
Though a bit shorter than the average Bali blade i don't believe that disqualifies a Bali origin. I do agree with Jean that pamor on a gonjo (if you are unfamiliar with the terminology, that is the separate guard-like piece at the base of the blade) is rare, but it is not unprecedented. Mostly i would consider this to be a Bali keris, but i suppose Lombok isn't out of the question, being a vassal state of Bali for so long. I would not personally look as far as East Jawa though.
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Old 4th November 2014, 06:33 PM   #13
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Hi Scott,

I wish I could add something, but considering my own limited experience I really have nothing to add to the above. It seems like a nice, genuine old Balinese blade, definitely not for tourists!
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Old 5th November 2014, 04:32 AM   #14
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Oh dear me Gustav.

Am I being a little too subjective?

Please forgive me. I guess I've spent to much time in Jawa and around people from that place, and sometimes what I say depends on what side of the bed I get out of.

However, maybe you have enough objectivity for the both of us, so yes, of course both these keris are ordinary, and both are old, and both are nice.

But Scott did not ask for a comparison his keris with any other keris, and it is very obvious from his post that he has maybe never seen any keris other than this one, not only that, but it was given to him by his dad.

So what is my preferred response to his question?

What should my evaluation be?

If I were responding to somebody with a reasonable degree of experience my response would be calculated to encourage that person to try to aim just a little bit higher with his next acquisition.

However, in responding to a newcomer to keris, especially one who has asked for some information on a gift from his father, my response will be calculated to encourage him, and to endorse the integrity of the item presented.

It would be very nice if Scott were to become a member of our small community and develop an interest in keris, such a thing would be extremely unlikely to occur were we to denigrate a gift from his father, especially a gift about which many good things can be said.

Gustav, any teacher who is worth his salt will only ever provide information at the level that the student is ready, and able, to assimilate.
The student's level of existing knowledge is indicated by his questions.

So, are both blades dhapur sempana?

Well, maybe, maybe not.

According to the Surakarta Pakem, sempana has lambe gajah and no greneng

Scott's blade has no lambe gajah and it does have greneng; Scott's keris does have a Jalen, but again dhapur sempana does not have a Jalen.

The other keris (#2) does have a lambe gajah --- and a jalen, but the gonjo, which seems to be a replacement, has had some rather crude notches filed into it which I guess are supposed to pass for greneng, so as it stands, #2 can't qualify is sempana either.

But what I've used here are the indicators that apply to sempana according a Javanese pakem.

I know of no Balinese pakem, but Djelenga does list a dhapur (angun-angunan) for a dhapur that he calls "sempana sanga" (sanga = 9), in other words a 9 luk sempana, but there is a bit of a problem in using Djelenga's indicators, because he does not differentiate between what the Javanese refer to "lambe gajah " and "Jalen", he dumps them both into the same basket:- do both need to exist to be a lambe gajah, or is one sufficient? Do both have the same value, or can one exist alone and still be a lambe gajah, if so, which one --- or either one?

There is a further problem. Djelenga seems to consider that ripandan is the same as greneng (jambul, raeng), but in Javanese terminology a ripandan is only a part of the greneng, so in Djelenga's eyes, is it sufficient for only a ripandan to exist for a keris to have greneng, or is the Balinese concept of raeng and jambul different to the Javanese concept of greneng, or ripandan?

Frankly, I don't know, and I've never been able to find anybody in Bali who had old, original keris knowledge from several generations ago, anybody I've spoken with in Bali seems to lift and adapt their keris knowledge from a Javanese base. Even the gentleman who produced the text for Mr. Neka's book was Javanese, and a product of the Surakarta ISI (Institute Seni Indonesia), and if we turn to "Keris Bali Bersejarah" we can form a different opinion again. Personally I prefer Djelenga, as for me the text in Mr. Neka's book is somewhat open to question.

Are flat luk usual for dhapur sempana?

I rather think not, the form of luk depends upon the period during which the blade was made, not upon the dhapur.

So Gustav, when we try to apply dhapur to a Balinese keris, we're up the creek without a paddle. This is the reason I personally prefer not to try to get too specific with names of dhapur, pamor, or ricikan outside of Jawa. In fact, it is perhaps wise not to get too involved in trying to tie dhapurs onto any blade, except those made by Kraton Surakarta mpus after about 1900. One tiny variation in ricikan from a pakem disallows the affixation of any dhapur, and the keris automatically becomes "diluar pakem". Itís a bit like the girl who forgot when to say "STOP":- you can't be a little bit pregnant, you either are or you are not. A keris has a defined dhapur, or it does not.

In any case, setting aside this foray into esoterica which I am sure is of no interest at all to Scott, I believe we are in agreement that this is a nice (subjective judgement), old (objective judgement), ordinary (supportable opinion), Balinese (demonstrable fact) Keris, that Scott can be very pleased to call his own. Most definitely not an item made for a traveller, and probably originally made for a person of restricted means. This does not necessarily imply a caste status, as some Sudra are quite wealthy, and some of the higher caste people can be quite poor.

Jean, you seem to have some doubts as to whether this keris is of Bali origin or not. I have no such doubts.
Big, fine, artistic Balinese keris belong to the fairly recent past, my guess is that most are probably 19th century. Only a couple of keris in the Neka musium are old keris, and those old keris are artistically pretty ordinary, the big, fine kerises that constitute 99% of the display are current era keris. mostly with the name of the maker shown.

Big premium quality Bali keris were expensive to make, and not only that, in times past only somebody of high rank would wear these premium keris, somebody of lower rank, or with less wealth would use what he could afford. My oldest Balinese keris, which is probably 16th century, is in fact quite small. Often we will find blades of fairly small size in great big modern (say, 1920-to present) dress. Why? Hierarchical distinctions have eroded in some areas of Balinese life, and if new dress is made, it is mostly made big enough to allow the formal dress style with the keris at the back. In fact, in everyday situations at the present time, a lot of Balinese men do not own a keris, and when they need one for some official occasion they borrow one from their Banjar, these keris are nearly always Javanese keris, which are worn tucked into the top of the sarung, or into the belt, or sash, if one is worn.

Scott, I'm with Rick on the oil. Your blade is in pretty good condition anyway, and oiling is good fast maintenance, however, I would suggest that you would be ensuring the continued preservation of this keris if you were to work over the surface with a strong light source, a 2X or 3x loupe, and a good pick, maybe a needle or a saddler's awl, and over a period of time pick all the rust out of the pits. I've spent several months on a no more than one hour a night basis doing jobs like this.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 5th November 2014 at 05:15 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 5th November 2014, 08:45 AM   #15
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Alan,
Thank you very much for your valuable input and especially for removing my doubts that this blade is balinese.
I take this opportunity to show an old balinese kris from my collection, would you also believe that this blade is balinese or not? It is only 32 cm long, and was cleaned & stained in Solo but most of the pamor is worn-out.
Regards
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Last edited by Jean : 5th November 2014 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 5th November 2014, 09:41 AM   #16
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Thank you very much everyone for your kindly offered information. I am very happy to read that this is a decent (subjective opinion ) Keris of Balinese origin. Sometimes things can hold an intrinsic value much higher than their objective value and this Keris is such an item for me. I am very happy that it is at least an item of real heritage and worth looking after and perhaps passing through bloodlines in due time, again for intrinsic rather than objective value. Thanks again!
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Old 5th November 2014, 11:53 AM   #17
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No Jean, from what I can see in the picture, that is a Javanese blade, possibly Pajajaran, possibly Madura sepuh, maybe something else but I'd need it in hand to be certain of anything.

It is not at all unusual to find Javanese and Madurese blades in Balinese dress, and for that matter, Balinese blades in Central Jawa dress. The Balinese were often employed as mercenaries and palace guards, as were the Madurese.

And that's only the genuine stuff I'm talking about.

In recent years, say the last 20 or 30 years, dealers have put low quality old Javanese blades into Balinese dress, added a bit of bling with fancy hilts, and marketed as genuine Balinese.

I guess we could consider this as payback, because in the previous 20 or so years Javanese dealers were going to Bali, buying up Balinese good quality blades, taking them back to Jawa, working them over to appear Javanese, dressing in old Jawa dress and selling as genuine Javanese.

Why?

Because at that time Bali blades were worth next to nothing, but there was a good market for quality Jawa keris.

I've seen all this up close and personal.

Then of course we have all the other people, dealers, collectors & etc who mix and match whatever is to hand, and have done so for a very long time.
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Old 5th November 2014, 01:07 PM   #18
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Thank you Alan and it confirms my impression that this is a different case from Scott's blade.
Regards
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Old 5th November 2014, 10:15 PM   #19
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Hello Scott,

Nice old bali keris. (sorry for not being original in my opinion )
Your father made a good choice in 1974.

Can you make a picture of the other side (front side) of the scabbard ?

A bit of wood oil or bees wax would indeed be nice for the wood.

Ps, welcome

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 5th November 2014, 10:29 PM   #20
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Any ideas about the mottled appearance of the blade ?
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Old 5th November 2014, 10:52 PM   #21
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On Jean's keris, Rick?

On a keris like this it is probably the result of the mix of ferric materials that went into it:- some irons (notably high phosphorus irons) come up paler than other irons.

It can also be just simple abrasion, but on an old keris like Jean's my first guess would be the variation in ferric material.
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Old 6th November 2014, 12:15 AM   #22
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Sorry, I meant the OP's keris; instead of a uniform black it appears blotchy .
I should have been more specific .
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Old 6th November 2014, 03:07 AM   #23
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Don't know Rick.

It could be abrasion, maybe from cleaning, or it could be the stain going off --- an old stain will sometimes fade over time, and this has been stored for 40 years.
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Old 6th November 2014, 08:58 AM   #24
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It's from a light clean I did with a scourer prior to oiling. Having only owned blades like Kukris previously I treated the Keris in the same way - wash and a quick scrub followed by oil. I didn't know they were stained.
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Old 6th November 2014, 11:57 AM   #25
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I wouldn't worry about it too much Scott, the pamor is still perfectly clear, the stain is original, the blade is not in bad condition.

There are a number of old blades in my personal collection that have less than a perfect stain, but my principle is that wherever possible I prefer to keep an original stain as long as possible, it prolongs the life of the blade, and when its all said and done, we only have these to look after for a little while.
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Old 6th November 2014, 02:28 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Oh dear me Gustav.

Am I being a little too subjective?

Please forgive me. I guess I've spent to much time in Jawa and around people from that place, and sometimes what I say depends on what side of the bed I get out of.

However, maybe you have enough objectivity for the both of us, so yes, of course both these keris are ordinary, and both are old, and both are nice.

But Scott did not ask for a comparison his keris with any other keris, and it is very obvious from his post that he has maybe never seen any keris other than this one, not only that, but it was given to him by his dad.

So what is my preferred response to his question?

What should my evaluation be?

If I were responding to somebody with a reasonable degree of experience my response would be calculated to encourage that person to try to aim just a little bit higher with his next acquisition.

However, in responding to a newcomer to keris, especially one who has asked for some information on a gift from his father, my response will be calculated to encourage him, and to endorse the integrity of the item presented.

It would be very nice if Scott were to become a member of our small community and develop an interest in keris, such a thing would be extremely unlikely to occur were we to denigrate a gift from his father, especially a gift about which many good things can be said.

Gustav, any teacher who is worth his salt will only ever provide information at the level that the student is ready, and able, to assimilate.
The student's level of existing knowledge is indicated by his questions.



Alan, I understand your points, thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

Scott's blade has no lambe gajah




Maybe yes, maybe not. The Gandhik is not cylindrical, and if you blow up the picture, there seems to be a tiny bulge and indentation at the place they should be.


Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

I know of no Balinese pakem, but Djelenga does list a dhapur (angun-angunan) for a dhapur that he calls "sempana sanga" (sanga = 9), in other words a 9 luk sempana, but there is a bit of a problem in using Djelenga's indicators, because he does not differentiate between what the Javanese refer to "lambe gajah " and "Jalen", he dumps them both into the same basket:- do both need to exist to be a lambe gajah, or is one sufficient? Do both have the same value, or can one exist alone and still be a lambe gajah, if so, which one --- or either one?

There is a further problem. Djelenga seems to consider that ripandan is the same as greneng (jambul, raeng), but in Javanese terminology a ripandan is only a part of the greneng, so in Djelenga's eyes, is it sufficient for only a ripandan to exist for a keris to have greneng, or is the Balinese concept of raeng and jambul different to the Javanese concept of greneng, or ripandan?



Djelenga is using Lomboknese terms for Keris parts in his book; there are also some Javanese ones in his "Lombok" diagram - I don't know, if they are traditionally used in Lombok, or simply have substituted the original Lombok ones. Or there were none at all.

The Balinese terms are different, I can imagine nobody is using them today. A good diagram (of course quite rudimental comparing to Javanese) can be found in Jasper&Mas Pirngadie, p. 224.


Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

Are flat luk usual for dhapur sempana?

I rather think not, the form of luk depends upon the period during which the blade was made, not upon the dhapur.




Do you know of some other Dhapur we could find flat Luk so constantly?

In which time period or periods flat Luk are favored?


Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

So Gustav, when we try to apply dhapur to a Balinese keris, we're up the creek without a paddle. This is the reason I personally prefer not to try to get too specific with names of dhapur, pamor, or ricikan outside of Jawa. In fact, it is perhaps wise not to get too involved in trying to tie dhapurs onto any blade, except those made by Kraton Surakarta mpus after about 1900. One tiny variation in ricikan from a pakem disallows the affixation of any dhapur, and the keris automatically becomes "diluar pakem". Itís a bit like the girl who forgot when to say "STOP":- you can't be a little bit pregnant, you either are or you are not. A keris has a defined dhapur, or it does not.



I completely agree. Maybe I should use something like Balinese "Sempono type" Keris
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Last edited by Gustav : 6th November 2014 at 06:00 PM. Reason: question added
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Old 6th November 2014, 09:41 PM   #27
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Gustav, at this remove we do not know the name of this particular dhapur in Bali, and it is entirely possible that each of the kingdoms may have had different names.

I think you are aware of my hatred of the "name game".

In my opinion pursuit of the elements of the name game is tantamount to stamp collecting.

One can either become a student of the keris and study those things that are of some importance, or one can become a stamp collector and stick names on things, and then graduate to a file clerk, label the things and put them in pigeon holes.

I prefer to use my very limited time in pursuing knowledge of those things which I consider to be of some importance. This is not to say that we should all have the same priorities, different people are attracted to different pursuits, but the name game has almost no attraction for me.

The point I attempted to make in the post that you have so studiously dissected was that we are perhaps best advised not to try to draw conclusions based upon insufficient evidence, and in respect of Bali the available evidence for things related to keris is very lacking. I regret that I failed to make this point.

Regarding the terms used for the various characteristics (ricikan) of a keris. Even within Jawa there is a very wide variation in terminology. Some terms are more frequently used than others, and terms vary from place to place and even person to person. Seen through the distortion of time, these terms become subject to even wider variation. The various terms are not important, what is important in my opinion is the way in which the ricikan are seen, and how the terms are applied. The way in which the ricikan are understood is where the focus should be, not upon the variation in terms.

I am not aware that flat luk occur more frequently in one dhapur than in any other dhapur. If this is the case, I would suggest that it is so because more of any particular dhapur were made at the time when one of the general characteristics of the classification system (tangguh) was a flat luk. As is usual with the keris, this generalisation can become confused by the practice of making early patterns at later periods.

In general terms we can expect to see flattish luk forms in the older classifications of Javanese keris, once we move into the Surakarta period the luk form becomes more pronounced. In the Surakarta Pakem illustration of dhapur sempana the luk form is typical Surakarta, that is, quite deep. In Mataram S.A. the luk became somewhat deeper, but then during Kartosuro the form reverted to the previous flattish one.
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Old 6th November 2014, 10:25 PM   #28
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Alan, I hate the name game perhaps as much as you, and I absolutely didn't wanted to get involved in it here.

My only mistake was to say, both blades are Sempono, I should have said instead, these both Balinese blades are resembling the Javanese Dhapur Sempono, as there is no such Balinese Dhapur, and both have Ricikan, which aren't in accordance with Surakarta Pakem of this Dhapur.

This was my only excursion in the realms of name game, all the rest goes on your account.

Jasper&Mas Pirngadie was brought in by me simply, becouse Djelenga with his terminology, mentioned by you, may be a good source regarding Lombok Keris, but not Bali Keris.

Thank you very much for your response regarding flat Luk.
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Old 6th November 2014, 10:37 PM   #29
Gustav
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

Scott's keris does have a Jalen, but again dhapur sempana does not have a Jalen.



Alan, which Pakem did you use? The 1920 Pakem has Jalen for 9 Luk Sempana.
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Old 7th November 2014, 02:10 AM   #30
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Yes, of course it does.

I was talking nonsense here:-

"--- but again dhapur sempana does not have a Jalen."


I think I was probably looking at Djelenga as I wrote it, and Djelenga dumps LG & jalen into same basket with no differentiation.

My error, and my apologies.
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