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Old 11th October 2006, 08:19 AM   #1
VVV
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Default Tricky Bugis Keris

I have discussed this Keris with some of you but still nobody is really sure of from where it is.
Hopefully the forum members here can shed some more light on its origin?
Please note that it has Ganja Iras.

Some references:

From Adni's site:
http://www.geocities.com/keris4u/ke...s_sul_luk13.htm

Tammens De Kris 3 page 88 pict 71. A very resembling hilt is classified as West Kalimantan.

Hulu Keris page 83 pict 126. A slightly resembling hilt is classified as West Kalimantan (maybe influenced by Tammens?).

Frey's The Kris pict 20 a. The Sampir/Wrangka of a Peninsula Keris slightly resembles this Keris.

The blade resembles a bit the Keris Kapak Cina at The National Museum in KL
http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/module...=view_photo.php

So where does it come from - West Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Sumatra or Malay Peninsula?
Or is it a "traveller" or a "dealer's mix"?

Michael
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Old 13th October 2006, 07:41 AM   #2
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64 views and no clues?

Michael
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Old 13th October 2006, 11:27 AM   #3
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Nice old keris! But a puzzle to guess from where it comes.
Surely the selut is from Sumatra.
The hilt (nice the decoration) 90% would be from kalimantan (...but also, maybe, from Malaysia?) .

Sarong and silver pendok would be from Sulawesi .
About the blade i don't understand where it comes ( Sumatra?). Surely a good smith made nice dapur and nice pamor (tritik or untu walang)
....(sorry for my english)
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Old 13th October 2006, 02:46 PM   #4
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Thanks Marcokeris for your comments (and votes below)!

On the selut it looks a bit like Palembang but it is more compressed. Like a mix of Bugis and Palembang maybe?

On the blade, with your vote, so far there are 4 - 1 in votes for Sumatra (vs Sulawesi).

On the sheath it's 3 - 1 - 1 in votes for Sulawesi (vs Sumatra and Malaysia).

The hilt is 4 - 1 for Kalimantan (vs Sulawesi).

Michael

PS Two of the other 3 "voters" are active members of this forum.
Please share your comments on why.

Last edited by VVV : 13th October 2006 at 03:14 PM. Reason: Added PS
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Old 13th October 2006, 03:40 PM   #5
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Hi Michael. I have been sitting back waiting for more knowledgable members than me to comment on this keris. I would think that Kai Wee or Shahrial would have a word or two on this one. I feel a bit out of my territory with keris outside the Jawa/Bali/Madura circle, but i still want and need to know so much more.
That said i would certainly venture to say this keris is a mixed bag. I am not sure it is always fair to say such combinations are "dealer mixes". Sometimes a blade legitimately moves from one region to another and gets re-dressed appropriately for that region. Sometimes a blade from somewher like Jawa will be imported into another area of Indonesia. Not saying this isn't a "dealer's mix", just can't tell.
On the blade i would vote for Sumatra and the sheath, Sulawesi, so i guess i am with the majority here. I don't know much about this hilt so i couldn't say.
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Old 15th October 2006, 01:57 AM   #6
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Yes, its a mix. How, when, where, why , we can only guess.

The blade is an older Madurese one.

Note the angle of the gandik, as if it wants to fall into the body of the keris.

Note the whispy style of the kembang kacang.

Look carefully at the greneng, especially the ron dha.Note that this blade is comparatively recent and has very little evidence of erosion. Ever seen a Javanese greneng or ron dha like this? Of course not!

Look at the distance from the luk nearest the point to point itself. One of the indicators of a Madurese keris is that it has a long point.

Look at the pamor:- relatively complex, involving both surface manipulation and a forge manipulation. The core will be found to be hard steel, where it has been heat treated. Where else will you find this type of material and workmanship?

This is a Madura blade.

In attempting to identify origin of a blade you should first disregard the dress in which it is found, and then look at each feature of the blade, do not just look at the overall blade. Pay close attention to the way in which the greneng, especially the ron dha , is cut. Look at the detail in the kembang kacang----how long is it? rate of taper? substantial? flimsy?

In the case of this blade, all these details only confirm the immediate impression:- you see a gandik like that, and it is almost certain that you are looking at an older Madura piece.
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Old 15th October 2006, 03:15 AM   #7
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May I present a number of examples of Sumatran Bugis-influenced blades. 2 of them were collected from Sumatra, in wretched condition, dressed in their original fitted sheaths. One was purchased from a US seller, with no sheath, but a Sumatra hilt. The others were purchased from Artzi, and the sheaths were old and fitted perfectly with the blade.

The "gandik falling into the blade" feature is very common amongst Sumatran Bugis blades, and in fact, not unusual in Sulawesi kerises as well, though I don't have examples of those in my collection. Such features can also be found in Peninsular pieces.

http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/module...=view_photo.php

http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/module...=view_photo.php

These blades have a basic triangular shape at the base of the blade, and can have rather long drawn kembang kacang. The greneng and janggut are of the variety that sticks out of the blade's profile, and can run from the blade to the ganja's aring side. The greneng's form is in line with what I have seen on Sumatran blades.

The pamor on the blade is not that uncommon in the realm of Bugis/Malay blades. The name is pamor "gigi yul", or shark's teeth. The central sader saleh pamor line is also common. I have 3 Bugis blades with such pamor:

http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/module...=view_photo.php

http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/module...=view_photo.php

http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/module...=view_photo.php

The long distance of the last luk to the tip is also a common feature in Sumatran Bugis blades, and even in Malay blades influenced by Bugis styles.

A further point to make is that the blade is ganja iras. Though not a smoking-gun argument to make, ganja iras blades are more common on Sumatra than anywhere else.

So it may not be so certain that this is a Madurese blade.

When I first saw this keris, the mixture of features threw me off. I could not immediately (as a matter of fact, still am unable to right now) place the origin of the keris. I thought the hilt could be from Sulawesi, but since Sulawesi is near to Kalimantan, it could have easily jumped from one island to the next. I have seen a similar hilt on a big badek, or shd I say "Kawali" from Sulawesi. The pendoko struck me as S. Sumatran at first, but the deeper than usual bowl seemed to suggest otherwise. The sheath is unusual in form, with a very exaggerated twin daun peaks. I don't know where this style comes from, especially with the proportionately lanky batang.

That's why I suggested to Michael that he should post it on the forum for opinions.
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Old 15th October 2006, 04:29 AM   #8
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Default A mixed origin keris...

I agree with Kai Wee, the blade might not be a Maduran blade. and also about the "gandik falling into the blade" feature is common amongst Sumatran Bugis blades, Sulawesi kerises, as well as Peninsular pieces.

I do agree that, trying to determine the blade origin, we'll have to ignore the dress, (for the time being) and concentrate on the blade's features.

The blade, might be of Sumatra/Kalimantan origin. Looking at the blade's features... the ganja iras, the ricikans, the greneng-works and the pamor. Probably an adaptation of different influences, made for a Bugis.

The blade, does have some resemblance to Keris Kapak Cina.

In West Kalimantan, after the fall of the Majapahit kingdom, there were a few kingdoms which took shape. Examples are the Pontianak and Sambas Sultanate. Not much is known on the West Kalimantan hilt form. In Banjabaru and Banjarmasin, these places are already well-known for manufacturing exceptional hilt works. In general, it uses the same form as the Malays and vice-versa. However, hilts do get inter-changed within other communities in the Malay Archipelago. As we know, the bugis most commonly ply the Southern Borneo areas all the way to Sumatra and Malaysian Peninsular.

For the hilt type, I've seen it before (at Adni's shop) on a kris and a badek (kawali or Badi Guru), as well.

The hilt cup (pendongkok), does looks like a variation from a Palembang style, a variation from Kai Wee's example (in his gallery).

The sheath, a mix between a Sari-Bulan and a Tengah form. I've not seen this form before.

These are just my thoughts, I'm still confused about the overall ensemble, though...

Last edited by Alam Shah : 16th October 2006 at 12:47 AM. Reason: sentence correction.
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Old 15th October 2006, 01:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Hi Michael. I have been sitting back waiting for more knowledgable members than me to comment on this keris. I would think that Kai Wee or Shahrial would have a word or two on this one.


Thanks all for your comments,

Of course I asked Kai Wee and Shahrial about the Keris before posting it here. But I was also waiting for them to comment it on the forum as we decided to continue the discussion here.
Somehow I am attracted to unusual Keris, which of course means that I now and then maybe acquire a Keris that is a mix for different reasons.
But it's also an interesting learning experience discussing it with more experienced collectors.
My knowledge on how to place Keris blades is minimal so I am happy to read the comments of those who do and try to learn more about it

Michael
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Old 15th October 2006, 06:29 PM   #10
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Personally i don't see any Bugis influence in this blade. And the execution of the pamor seems very different from the Bugis/Malay examples shown even if the basic pamor type is the same. I don't think this blade was created by a Bugis smith.
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Old 15th October 2006, 10:50 PM   #11
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Gentlemen, I am not very often giving to making positive statements in respect of the origin of keris blades.

When we say that something is of one classification of blade or another, what we are doing is applying the Javanese tangguh system which relies on a number of indicators , many of which can only be applied with the blade in one`s hand. Because of this I am more often than not very hesitant to be at all positive about the origin of a blade, based upon what I can see in a picture.

Some blades can be very obvious, such as a big , smooth finish Balinese blade. Almost anybody can recognise these with just a passing glance. Similar with the classic straight Bugis blade---a glance as you walk past it, you know instantly what it is. For a person with extensive experience in handling Javanese/Madurese blades, recognition of a classic older Madurese blade is just as simple.

My teacher of the tangguh system was Empu Suparman Supowijaya, who was acknowledged as one of, if not the most knowledgeable man in Surakarta , which essentially means in Jawa, and thus the world, on the subject of tangguh. I studied under his tutelage for more than twelve years, and it took me about ten of those years to begin to understand how to apply the indicators used in making a classification of a blade. During that ten years I would have handled a minimum of at least 20,000 keris blades. In the years prior to this, and following my ten year "apprenticeship" I also handled about 2000 keris blades during each year. At the present time I am reasonably confident that the tangguh that I give a blade will be accepted by the majority of people in Central Jawa who do understand tangguh, as a reasonable classification of a blade. I say " majority of people", because decison on a tangguh is essentially a matter of applying certain standards to the indicators and forming an opinion which can be supported by reasoned argument against the standard of the accepted indicators. There will usually be a few people who do not agree.

In respect of the blade under discussion I have varied from my usual reluctance to give a positive tangguh.

Why have I done this?

The answer is simple:- I am absolutely positive that this blade conforms in all material respects to the indicators which will give it a tangguh of Madura.

However, as I have already pointed out, this is an opinion, and in this case that opinion is based upon what I can see in a photograph.I acknowledge the right of anybody at all to disagree with me, however, my decision in this matter is firm, and I stand by it.
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Old 16th October 2006, 01:02 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
The answer is simple:- I am absolutely positive that this blade conforms in all material respects to the indicators which will give it a tangguh of Madura.

However, as I have already pointed out, this is an opinion, and in this case that opinion is based upon what I can see in a photograph.I acknowledge the right of anybody at all to disagree with me, however, my decision in this matter is firm, and I stand by it.
Hi Alan, thank you for applying your vast experience and knowledge to this piece. Unlike yourself, I'm just an avid collector with very little experience. Pardon me for my apparent lack of knowledge. But could the blade be Kalimantan made?

Could it be made by a Maduran empu/pande who had migrated to elsewhere, say South Kalimantan given the close proximity from Madura to Kalimantan?
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Old 16th October 2006, 01:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Personally i don't see any Bugis influence in this blade. And the execution of the pamor seems very different from the Bugis/Malay examples shown even if the basic pamor type is the same. I don't think this blade was created by a Bugis smith.
Hi David,
I'm not implying that the keris blade is made by a Bugis empu. All I'm saying that it might be made for a Bugis, considering the fittings(?). And the form is not a typical blade, hence the difficulty in placing the origin. Btw, what influence did you see?
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Old 16th October 2006, 01:27 AM   #14
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Default For comparison...

Hi all,

Below is an example of a blade which was acquired in Borneo (Kalimantan) by the previous owner (blade only). Now in the possession of our forumite, John.

http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/albums/albur05/Blade1.jpg
http://www.kampungnet.com.sg/albums/albur05/Blade.jpg

Notice the similarities in the greneng-work.
The pamor is also similar, except that John's piece does have finer worksmanship, imo.

Let's discuss...

To Michael,
Can we have a picture of your keris's pesi, please.

Last edited by Alam Shah : 16th October 2006 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 16th October 2006, 02:32 AM   #15
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Anything is possible.

However, when presented with a Madura keris, the balance of probability indicates that that keris was made in Madura.

Certainly it could have been made in Kalimantan, or anywhere else for that matter, but it is not probable that it was. Possible, yes, probable, no.

Tangguh is about establishing an applicable classification, based on comparison of indicators with certain fairly specific parameters. It is not necessarily about fixing origin of a blade at a certain time and place.It may indicate time and place of origin, but it does not necessarily have to do so.

A number of examples of other blades have been posted, but none of these blades look like a Madura blade.

However, this a matter of opinion. I have given my opinion, anybody else is perfectly entitled to a different opinion.
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Old 16th October 2006, 02:50 AM   #16
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For instance.

Where do you think these blades might have been made?
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Old 16th October 2006, 07:09 AM   #17
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Here you are AlamShah.

Michael
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Old 16th October 2006, 08:19 AM   #18
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Thanks VVV.
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Old 16th October 2006, 12:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
Hi David,
I'm not implying that the keris blade is made by a Bugis empu. All I'm saying that it might be made for a Bugis, considering the fittings(?). And the form is not a typical blade, hence the difficulty in placing the origin. Btw, what influence did you see?


Well, like you Shahrial, i am no more than an avid collector and don't have anywhere near the experience that Alan has with keris. My first impression of this blade was, frankly, somewhat influenced by the dress. Since it doesn't look Bugis inluenced to me i thought that it might be Sumatran made under the influence of Javanese keris style. But i do see many of Alan's points. especially about the slope of the gandik. It is not just a matter of the kembang kecang recessing into the gandik, which is indeed common on many Bugis pieces. It is the actual slope of the entire gandik area. If you compare Michael"s example with John's that you most recently linked to you might be able to see what i mean. While this two keris bear an overall resemblance to each other i think that on a point by point basis there are vast differences and that the different origins come clear. If i were a betting man i think i would put my money on Alan's assessment of Michael's keris.
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Old 16th October 2006, 01:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Well, like you Shahrial, i am no more than an avid collector and don't have anywhere near the experience that Alan has with keris.
Indeed. We are here to learn and share... are we not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David
My first impression of this blade was, frankly, somewhat influenced by the dress. Since it doesn't look Bugis influenced to me i thought that it might be Sumatran made under the influence of Javanese keris style. But i do see many of Alan's points. Especially about the slope of the gandik. It is not just a matter of the kembang kecang recessing into the gandik, which is indeed common on many Bugis pieces. It is the actual slope of the entire gandik area.
Likewise, I think for most of us. Again another learning experience, for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David
If you compare Michael"s example with John's that you most recently linked to you might be able to see what i mean. While this two keris bear an overall resemblance to each other i think that on a point by point basis there are vast differences and that the different origins come clear.
I somewhat agree. How about the similarities to Keris Kapak Cina? Any comments?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David
If i were a betting man i think i would put my money on Alan's assessment of Michael's keris.
Well, luckily I not a betting man. How about comments on the fittings?
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Old 16th October 2006, 01:16 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
For instance.

Where do you think these blades might have been made?

Are the blades your?
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Old 17th October 2006, 02:09 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
I somewhat agree. How about the similarities to Keris Kapak Cina? Any comments?

Well, luckily I not a betting man. How about comments on the fittings?


You know, i am afriad i can't really get a good enough look at the keris kapa cina to make a viable conparison. Again, as with John's keris, it bears an overall similarity, but i think that if we examined it piece by piece we would not think there were of the same origin.
As for the fitting, i'm pretty baffled. Bugis influenced Sumatran , Sulawesi and peninsula dresstends to mend together for me. I miss the subtlties.
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Old 17th October 2006, 02:00 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
For instance.

Where do you think these blades might have been made?


These blades look like they came from the source that you normally get your kerises from.

There is a certain distinct feel to these types of new keris blades. Though they may look like some of the Sumatran (1st keris) or N. Malayan (2nd keris) kerises posted on this forum before, the execution of the keris gives them away immediately. The 'air tangan' is not 'right'. As is pamor execution and material used.

Is it possible to see more pictures of old Madurese keris blades please.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 17th October 2006, 02:05 PM   #24
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Is it possible to tell where these blades came from?
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Old 17th October 2006, 11:04 PM   #25
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Those two blades that I posted images of are my work, as guessed by Marco.

They were forged and carved in Wentworthville, near Sydney, Australia.

The first used a classic Surakarta keris as its pattern, but I did not express the ada-ada distinctly, in order to retain the pamor. The material used was old carriage iron and German nickel.The method used to make the pamor was to fold a single very thin leaf of nickel into the iron; four of these pieces were made, which were welded together and folded five times to give a nominal 128 layers of pamor.The pamor forging was then cut in half, turned miring, and the steel core welded in. This is the usual method employed by most Surakarta makers of the current era---except of course for the turn miring. The thingil is a unique variant. Upon completion the blade was heat treated.

The second keris used a number of different old Javanese keris as patterns. In making this my intention was to produce a keris that would not fit any accepted tangguh.The material used was a tyre from a carriage, which means that it needed to be washed repeatedly, as was old iron, before it could be welded to the core. The contrasting material was Indonesian nickel from Luwu, and it was incorporated into the folding at an early stage, resulting in a distribution similar to that found in older keris.The washing ran to something over 9 welds before the iron was clean, however, the nickel was incorporated on the first weld, so the nickel was folded in at the same time that the iron was being washed. There are a number of variants in the garap which would confuse anybody with a knowledge of tangguh, and as I have already remarked, this was my intention.

The execution of garap in both keris is Surakarta.

Blu Erf has suggested that these are similar to the keris that come from my usual sources. Well, this demonstrates I think that photographs are totally inadequate to allow even somebody as knowledgeable as Blu Erf to distinguish material differences in a blade.

Most of the recent keris that I offer are from the Madura school. I do have the occasional recent keris from Surakarta, but the cost of these blades means that they are normally not offered publicly. The materials used in Madura keris are always modern materials, the pamor is produced by using current era products that has a nickel, or other contrasting material, content.

Madura garap is fairly easily recogniseable, when it is compared to Surakarta style garap. One of the obvious differences is in the gusen. There are others of course,such as the fit of the gonjo, the method used to cut a ron dha, the blade angle, but to see these in a photograph can be quite difficult.

If one were to see the keris I posted images of, and some keris from the Madura school, in the hand, the difference would be immediately apparent, but from photographs published over the internet, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to be too certain about anything. Only very, very occasionally can we be reasonably certain of anything, and then that certainty must be based on what one can see in a single dimension.

This thread has been principally directed at identification of a complete keris with a mixture of features.I gave a firm opinion on origin of the blade of this keris. My opinion was based on my experience, and what I could see in the photograph. I have returned to look at the image of that keris many, many times. Based upon what I can see, I cannot alter my opinion.However, were I to hold that keris my opinion might be qualified. Although stylistically that keris is beyond argument Madurese, a microscopic examination of material could indicate other than Madurese origin, feel of the material could indicate other than Madurese origin, weight and balance could be other than Madurese.

What we are doing here is involving ourselves in tangguh. We may not realise this, but that is what it comes down to:- if you wish to classify a blade in any way at all, you are dabbling in tangguh. In determining any tangguh you need to not only look at the form of the keris, but you need to understand the material, you need to understand how it was made, you need to view the angles and corners of the garap from a number of angles, you need to gauge proportion, you need to look very, very closely, often with magnification, at tiny details. Then to understand what you have seen and felt, you need enormous experience.
Sometimes we can offer an opinion based just on style, for instance in a Javanese keris of tangguh segaluh, or in the classic Balinese straight keris, or in some other tangguh with an over-riding distinctive feature, or features, of form that gives a very high probability that this opinion based on form alone would be confirmed were the blade to be handled.
In most cases, however, an opinion based on blade form alone is not enough.

Ultimately, any determination of tangguh is opinion. This is the meaning of the word. Thus, there may be a number of opinions regarding any one blade, usually when an opinion is offered on anything the opinion that is most likely to be correct is the opinion that can be backed with reasons and experience.But any opinion is only as good as the information provided to base that opinion upon, and as I have already demonstrated, photographic images seen on a computer screen are simply not good enough.

Blu Erf, who is an experienced and knowledgeable student of the keris with, I assume, considerable experience, was unable to discern the differences between current Madura, current Surakarta, and a unique approach deliberately created to confuse somebody knowledgeable in tangguh.However, had he had several current era Madura pieces, and the pieces of which I posted images, in his hand, I have no doubt at all that he would have easily observed the differences in material, garap , and method of manufacture.
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Old 17th October 2006, 11:07 PM   #26
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Sorry, something I forgot to mention:- the correct way to view a keris blade is with point upwards, the gonjo parralel to the ground, and the gandik to the viewer`s left. Looking at a blade in any other way can be very confusing.
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Old 18th October 2006, 06:57 AM   #27
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Sorry for leaving the forum so long. I've been busy from having 'garden parties' with Ki Jayamalelo and roasting some iron sand for lunch

Detemining the origin of the blade, in Javanese's keris world, known as Tangguh. Some people said, tangguh came from 'TA' seNGGUH', literaly means 'I guess'. It is based on 'special characteristic' that are thought, and agreed, traditionally, as belongs to certain origin. To determine the tangguh, 2 conditions MUST be fulfilled :
1. The keris maker must conform to the agreed 'special characteristic' norms.
2. The assesor understand the norm.
Thus, assuming the assesor have full infomations about the keris (e.g. handling it by himself), there are also 2 reason why the tangguh cannot be determined confidently:
1. The makers didn't conform, didn't even understand the norms, or mixed up the norm, intentionally or not, which considering thousands of keris makers, very probably happened. The keris which was made by those keris maker usually called 'Tilar Tangguh' (Tilar=to leave), means not conform to the tangguh norm, and thus, undeterminable. Thus, not ALL keris' Tangguh could be determined. Sad, but true.
2. The assesor didn't understand or confused about the norm, which considering the method on teaching the tangguh, very-very possible to happen, and even the norm through the time could lost or changed here and there.

Considering the keris we discuss, well, frankly, I'm not sure. I only saw mostly straight Maduras. The ones which had sekar kacang and luk were influenced by Mataram, but still leaving Madura's characteristic. I bet most Javanese dealer today would vote for Sumatra on this keris. But I don't know.

Sorry for not adding something more 'clear' here.

Good luck,
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Old 18th October 2006, 11:44 AM   #28
A. G. Maisey
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Well Pak Boedhi, I think you have given a completely correct answer.

You have said that you are not sure.

Probably the answer I should have given if I had not been in a relaxed mood when I wrote my opinion.

I should have realised that sometimes that which is blindingly obvious to one person, may not be so to another.

I am not talking here about my opinion on Michael's blade.

I am talking about the fact that my opinion is based upon what I can see.

I'm going to restate that opinion. Make no mistake about it, my opinion is still exactly the same:- I look at Michael's keris and I see Madura.

However what I failed to do in my initial post was to state the blindingly obvious:- my opinion is based upon what I can see in the image on my computer screen.

So:- in my opinion Michael's keris displays features that indicate a Madura origin; please note that this opinion is based upon what I can see in the image on my computer screen, and this opinion could change were I to actually hold the blade in my hand.

I was wrong in stating my opinion as I did. I assumed that it was obvious that such an opinion was subject to the qualification I have now added, and thus it did not need to be added. I will not make the same mistake again.

Ta sengguh I have never heard. If I did hear it, it would confuse me.
Would I be hearing "ta sengguh", or would I be hearing "tak sengguh" ?
Would sengguh be being used to affirm correctness or to express disagreement?
The word sengguh has a number of meanings, ranging from "I guess" or "I think" to a noun meaning "a wrong idea". Actually, I think that correctly the "I guess" form probably should be "nyengguh".
Anyway, I am not a native speaker of Javanese, and if I did hear this relative to tangguh, I would question exactly what was meant.

Now, what I have heard, many, many, many times, is "tak sungguh"---"not true". Mostly this has been delivered in a more or less joking fashion indicating that what tangguh something may or may not be decided to be, its not true anyway.Its all imagination.

Personally, I don`t go along with this. The system of tangguh is something that developed during the 19th century, and its roots are buried deep in the socio-economic system of colonial Jawa. It once had a very solid purpose, but as time has passed, and that purpose has assumed a much lesser importance than it once had, the system itself has been corrupted, so it no longer functions as it was intended to.Still , it is all we have , so we live with it.

The word "tangguh" exists in Old Javanese, where it carries the meanings of advice, reminder, and guideline. Not all that far from its meanings in Modern Javanese.

Pak Boedhi, what you say about the difficulties with tangguh, I doubt that anybody would disagree with. However, what I have found is that the indicators that are used in determining a tangguh vary from place to place, given an equal (locally) accepted level of expertise of the penangguh. I believe that this was initially a Surakarta system---which makes sense, bearing in mind its original purpose--- but the indicators that are generally accepted in Surakarta can differ from those accepted in Jogjakarta, and once you move outside Central Jawa---well, everything can vary.Go to East Jawa and see what the understanding is.You mention the method of teaching tangguh. Again in my experience, and your own may be different, what I have found is that many, if not most people when questioned why they assign a particular tangguh to a blade will effectively say:- "well, its Mataram SA because it looks like Mataram SA" . Press them, and after they name and explain two or three indicators they revert to "it looks like Mataram SA". Then there is the lack of consistency.There are at least two different types of keris that are accepted by one group of people or another as Pajang. Try to get some consistency with Pengging!!!!! Again, at least two widely varying forms that different people will swear are Pengging.Mataram Senopaten and Pajajaran (bata rubuh)---how many times do you see these mixed up?? How many times have you ever heard anybody give a tangguh of Banten? Look at Jensen and see what Banten looked like and then see what people in Central Jawa would give as a tangguh.Banten blades were very common in the 16-17th century.

There`s another thing too:- the tangguh system was developed for a very specific purpose (which at this time I do not wish to elaborate on), and when it is applied to good quality blades in good condition, there will be a high degree of conformity with set down parameters---at least with the parameters I was taught. However, as the quality or condition of a blade deteriorates the degree of conformity will lessen and this is where we encounter a major problem, because there may be only a couple of indicators apparent that suggest a particular tangguh, so an opinion is given, based on those couple of indicators. This is the major reason why opinion on tangguh varies from person to person, and even with the same person when the same blade is presented to him for an opinion some months apart. If the application of tangguh were restricted to only good quality blades in good condition---which is what it was intended for before it became corrupted--- there would not be near the variation in opinion, nor the seemingly ridiculous opinions, that we encounter at the present time.

But, as we have already said:- tangguh is opinion, and that opinion can be accepted as correct in one place, and declared incorrect in another. In essence, it is a belief system, and the details of that belief system vary from place to place.

However, be all that as it may, one thing is certain:- an older blade will never be confused with a younger blade by anybody with even a little understanding of tangguh. Nobody will ever confuse Majapahit with Surakarta, nor Pajajaran with Kartasura.

Pak Boedhi, I am not challenging your opinion that most Javanese dealers would consider Michael's blade to be Sumatran, however, based upon my own experience, dealers in Central Jawa and East Jawa become totally confused by any blade that does not fall into a Javanese classification. Generally speaking, they just have no idea of point of origin once something moves outside Jawa.Yes, certainly, they will identify Bali, and Bugis,and Madura, but that is just about the limit.Moreover, what they call "Bugis" covers a whole range of styles that should probably be classified separately. Jakarta dealers might be different in this. I do not know about them, as I have not been to Jakarta since 1978.But I have spent a lot---a real lot---of time with dealers in Solo, Jogja, and a number of locations in East Jawa, and although some of them are pretty good with Javanese tangguhs, they nearly all become confused by anything that is not clearly Javanese. I have lost count of the times I have heard "diluar Jawa". Bearing in mind the original purpose of tangguh, there is nothing wrong with this, but it does demonstrate that if we seek to extend the boundaries of tangguh we need to look to sources of knowledge in places other than Jawa to do so.

My observations indicate that some of our members in Singapore and Malaysia do have the knowledge to be able to provide parameters that could be applied to Peninsula, and possibly Sumatran blades that would standardise the classification (tangguh) of these blades.
Do any of you Singapore and Malaysian gentlemen feel inclined to involve yourselves in such a project?
I could provide the framework that I was taught, and each indicator in this framework could be subject to debate and decision as to what is the generally accepted standard that applies to each indicator for each classification of blade.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 18th October 2006 at 09:59 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 19th October 2006, 03:16 PM   #29
DAHenkel
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Greetings to all after my long absence – I confess I have not had much time to participate in the forum what with work and life and all but I have a few things I wanted to add to this discussion which I hope will be of some use to all involved – so thanks to Kai Wee for drawing my attention to it.

First of all – I am more or less convinced that the piece in question is Sumatran (though with a remote possibility of a Sulawesi origin but I doubt it) of the variety which I prefer to call the "Straits keris" – this is an amorphous and broad area that for much of the 16th through 19th centuries was highly unsettled with a very mobile community. It had a highly diverse population of more or less ethnic “Malays” as well as Bugis, Minang, Orang Laut and Javanese not to mention dashes of just about everything else. As such identifying keris from this area and pinning them to any one place is extremely tough to do. That said the Strait region extends more or less from North of Palembang to Deli on the Sumatran side as well as selected areas of the Peninsula – Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Muar (all more or less controlled by Malay/Bugis polities for the period of time when most extant kerises were produced). (Also note the conspicuous absence of the Negeri Sembilan which was a Minangkabau enclave and note further the very confused state of Siak which was hotly contested between Bugis, Malay and Minang forces and is as such even more confused.)

Given this state of affairs it is highly suspect to even begin to think of a classification system for the blades of the region – smiths from all over everywhere appear to have worked there and I have seen blades that look Bugis, Malay, Minang and Javanese (and all/or none of the above) but all dressed in more or less similar styles. Dress forms also comply to the above admixture of forms and styles. Trade blades, immigrant smiths and keris bearers and a lack of a strong “courtly style” to model on mean that this area is a mess for people who hope to identify the accurate provenance of a piece based on art historical analysis alone. Lampung, Palembang, Minangkabau, Aceh-Gayo (where keris are very rare), Pattani (w/Kelantan as a border/buffer with Terengganu) and Johor-Riau (inclusive of Terengganu and Pahang, on again, off again satellites) all have more or less identifiable characteristics. The Straits on the other hand are a fascinatingly bewildering mess.

Anyway, as for tangguhing, anyone who has read my comments in previous posts will recall my inherent mistrust in the methodology outside of Java (well even in Java frankly but I won’t go there – I’m not an expert on that particular subject). It is very difficult to classify kerises according to tangguh in the Malay world because of the confused political economic situation there and because of a seeming lack of “court style” as a model for more common examples. While the archetypical piece is more or less easy to place there are just too many examples of borderline cases where it could be one or the other. Besides really the fuzzy edges is what makes these things so darned interesting to begin with!

p.s. One more note to my good friend Alam Shah regarding the so called “keris kapak China" – never trust anything from the collection of the institution (which I cannot name in good professional conscience) in which the aforementioned keris was photographed. That hilt may be Banjar but God only knows where that blade came from.

Thanks and good night!

Last edited by DAHenkel : 19th October 2006 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 19th October 2006, 03:26 PM   #30
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Welcome to the warung Dave .
Your contributions have have been sorely missed .

Rick
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