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Old 8th June 2017, 10:31 AM   #1
Tatyana Dianova
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Default Two 17th century Keris at the Power and Fashion Exhibition in Dresden

Last weekend I have visited Power and Fashion exhibition in Dresden. It features many weapons and costumes from the Reformation and early Baroque periods. Two 17th century Keris are featured there as well. One of them is well known from the older Rüstkammer exhibition and it is described as Indonesian. I am really not a specialist, but the golden dress probably has a Sumbawa origin.
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Old 8th June 2017, 10:32 AM   #2
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The blade of other one is described as 17th century Javanese, with repainted old sheath and replica handle. I liked them both
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Old 8th June 2017, 01:25 PM   #3
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Thank you for posting these Tatyana.

As you know, in 2012 I was permitted to examine and photograph all of the keris held by the State Museum in Dresden, but I had to swear an oath in blood that I would never reproduce the photos that I took, or even lend those photos to another person.

Publishing something on public exhibition has very nicely circumvented the prohibitions which were placed on me.

Well done.
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Old 8th June 2017, 05:10 PM   #4
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Beautifull. thanks for sharing.
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Old 8th June 2017, 07:03 PM   #5
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I second (or third) everyone thanking you for posting these. Rarely seen authentically old and beautifully executed blades.
I wonder, Alan, if now that we have these blades on view for examination is you might have more to say about them since you had the opportunity to examine them closely and first-hand.
I suspect that the paint sheath has a strong Chinese influence from the choice of motifs.
I see that the gold sheathed keris is similar in dress to other Sumbawa keris, bit wonder if the origin of the blade itself might not be Jawa.
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Old 8th June 2017, 07:12 PM   #6
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Next time I will take a better camera at the exhibition
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Old 8th June 2017, 07:52 PM   #7
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I agree with David. The painting of the sheath looks very Chinese. The same style also exists in Japan, imported from China, but considering the large amount of ethnic Chinese and peranakan in Indonesia, Chinese influence seems more likely.

Both blades are nice, but I love the Sumbawa one. The blade itself strikes me as Javanese also, but perhaps there were Javanese smiths at the royal courts of Sumbawa at one point? Or it could have been a gift to cement the relationship between ruler and vassal. I forget whether Sumbawa was a vassal state to Mojohapit.


Alan, out of curiosity, what are the reasons the Dresden museum does not want these photos made public?
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Old 8th June 2017, 08:55 PM   #8
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Bima and some other kingdoms/regencies on Sumbawa were tightly connected to Gowa; their pusaka blades include several gifts from Gowa rulers.

Actually, the fittings of the keris shown first is distinctly Sulawesi Selantan, possibly a style that predates the arrival of Islam on Sulawesi. The gorgeous blade is a rare example of a quality kinatah blade with complex pamor!

The blade may be a gift from East Jawa.

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Kai
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Old 8th June 2017, 10:20 PM   #9
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Thank you very much Tatyana, having images of pieces like these with good provenance is very useful. I would vote Chinese over Japanese, the peacock is not a common motif in Japan.
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Old 9th June 2017, 12:13 AM   #10
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What I will write here is from memory, I do not have time to check references at the moment.

In respect of the Chinese style ornamentation, I think that was actually done in Europe, possibly Germany, or maybe Vienna?

In any case, it is not original ornamentation out of the East. If Gustav tunes into this thread, he will be able to expand on this.

I do have notes on everything I handled, but those notes are targetted at specific things that I was looking at and for, they are not comprehensive notes. I had one day to examine and photograph a very large number of keris, in fact I had less than a day because I lost time through a mixup with meeting the curator. I used a Canon S95 for the photos, natural light through a window, no bounce boards, no tripods. I did record photos purely for research.

I do not recall handling the Bugis keris. I do recall that I missed handling, I think, two of the Dresden holdings, they were on display in the Rustkammer at the time of my visit, Maybe that gold Bugis keris was there.

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The keris with Oriental ( Chinese in style but probably influenced by Japanese examples used for study by Schnell) ornamentation is to be found on P.13, Chapter 5 of "Keris Disc", it is attributable to the workshop of Martin Schnell, Dresden, circa 1720.

Schnell studied Japanese lacquer work in the possession of Augustus II (1670-1733), the lacquer work on this scabbard has been applied over original Javanese red laquer work. This new lacquer work was probably carried out for Augustus II.

The original hilt on this keris was gold, it was sold by Augustus II, probably after the Seven Years War (I was advised after the Thirty Years War, but that War ended in 1648 and Augustus II was born in 1670).

The hilt now fitted to this keris was carved in Dresden as a replacement and has an integral mendak, it is noted in records from 1757.

The sirah cecak is Mojopahit form, but overall, other characteristics indicate that the keris itself is of Mataram form, but most likely made in East Jawa.

This keris is probably not original to the wrongko.

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Old 9th June 2017, 12:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I do not recall handling the Bugis keris. I do recall that I missed handling, I think, two of the Dresden holdings, they were on display in the Rustkammer at the time of my visit, Maybe that gold Bugis keris was there.

Given what appear to be Gowa influences (or perhaps even from there) would it be correct to refer to this as a Bugis keris. I thought Gowa was Makassarese people.
Also wondering if this is the same keris. Seems so.
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Old 9th June 2017, 01:12 AM   #12
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May I add my thanks also for sharing this interesting 17th century piece.

I recently saw some keris in Paris at the La Musee de L'Armee, which are also described as 17th century pieces. I'll try to post a photo, but I'd be interested in any comments on these keris
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Old 9th June 2017, 02:28 AM   #13
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Thank you very much for posting these pictures, Tatyana. I really appreciate it.
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Old 9th June 2017, 05:31 AM   #14
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Re your post 11 David, yes, you are correct, but I tend to think in terms of Sulawesi = Bugis. Wrong, I know. Ideally I should think in terms of ethnic groups:- Bugis, Makassarese, Toraja, Mandar, but I don't, principally because I have very little interest in keris that come from outside the core areas of Jawa and Bali. Rightly or wrongly I tend to think of keris from outside the core areas as "keris-like objects". I guess I have been corrupted by too much contact with old-time, hardline Javanese and Balinese gentlemen.
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Old 9th June 2017, 07:26 AM   #15
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Hello Alan,

The regalia of Bone also include the keris La Makkawe which is obviously based on the same style (scabbard with possibly later repairs); Gowa still retains keris I Daeng Tammacinna (as does its tributary Bima as mentioned above). Given that poor copies of these royal keris are also known from the Toraja, I believe it stands to reason that this style was once known all over Sulawesi Selantan.

I believe the jury is still out on the question whether this type of scabbard and, especially, hilt (including its selut) really are an indigenous Sulawesi style or how much they owe to Jawa: All the early examples surviving in European collections seem to come with blades that IMVHO could well be royal gifts from Jawa. We know that keris with this style of selut were also awarded by Aceh royalty to tributary Gayo rulers; and also the recent finds from the Malay peninsula look pretty convincing. Given the obvious pre-Islamic iconography on scabbard and hilt, which period would be most likely for developing (and distributing) this style of fittings and from where? Since Islam got kinda added to the already present beliefs rather than superseding them, there is not any clear cut-off date; it is noteworthy though that Aceh and Gowa/Bone belonged to the sultanates with very active proselytizing efforts...

Achim Weihrauch (2001) cites pangeran Hardjonagoro that this hilt may be of South Sumatran origin ("Palembang, Melayu, Jambi") but doesn't reveal the reasons for this hypothesis.

BTW, the keris kindly shown here by Tatyana is indeed from the Ruestkammer Dresden display and you may have not been able to examine it during your visit. Really good pics of the blade as well as its fittings can be found in his thesis (Fig. 41-43 - also have a look at the following Figs!).

Regards,
Kai

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Old 9th June 2017, 07:38 AM   #16
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Thumbs up For those who don't have it yet:

Here is the link for downloading Achim Weihrauch's thesis (2001):
http://ificah.de/wp-content/uploads...ischen-Kris.pdf
(Even if your German language skills are poor or non-existent, the pics alone are certainly worth the effort!)

Some more downloads available here:
http://ificah.de/open-access/

Regards,
Kai
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Old 9th June 2017, 08:53 AM   #17
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Many thanks for your comments Kai.

Regrettably I do not share the enthusiasm of the bulk of collectors for these keris that originate from outside the core keris areas of Jawa and Bali. As I commented in post 14 my interest is not really directed in the same way as the interest of other people.

To my mind there is not the smallest doubt that the overall form of rectangular scabbard upper section is originally Javanese, there is ample monumental evidence for this. However, with that form as a starting point, various interpretations occurred in other places. I'm sure that this is of interest to many people, but it is of virtually no real interest to me. It occurred --- so?

I knew Panembahan Harjonegoro (Alm.) personally over a number of years. I would much prefer not to discuss him, or even raise his name. It is best that he rest in peace.

I am familiar with Achim Weihrauch's thesis, but I cannot read it. All the material in the photos I am very familiar with, and judging by the length of this thesis it should be a very worthwhile contribution to keris literature. Regrettably I have only had rather mixed reports in respect of it, and I can offer no personal opinion nor comment at all. I really hope I do not die before it gets put into English, I would very much like to examine this work closely and form my own opinion, instead of relying on the opinions of other people, which may or may not be objective and justified.

Yes, I did not photograph nor examine this keris, as I said, I believe it may have been on display in the Rüstkammer, rather than in the holdings kept in the warehouse. I used the word "may", because I was told by the curator with whom I dealt that the keris on display do change from time to time. If it was on display I would have seen it there, but I have forgotten seeing it.

I feel I owe an explanation for my disinterest in keris from outside the core areas. At one time in my life I was very interested in keris from everywhere, I made no distinction between Javanese, Balinese, Peninsula or any other keris. Every keris --- even those things from the Philippines -- drew my interest. I was primarily a collector. As I learnt more, and very particularly, as I adopted a Javanese set of standards I realised that all keris are not equal, nor do they enshrine the same essence. As cultural artifacts all keris are probably worthy of the same attention, but one lifetime is insufficient time to give all keris the same degree of attention. I have chosen to focus on only one small aspect of one small area. Its called "specialisation", learning more and more about less and less.
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Old 9th June 2017, 01:07 PM   #18
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
To my mind there is not the smallest doubt that the overall form of rectangular scabbard upper section is originally Javanese, there is ample monumental evidence for this. However, with that form as a starting point, various interpretations occurred in other places.

Yes, this is certainly correct considering the early evidence from stone carvings; the same seems to hold for this type of selut, too. IMHO the same can be reasonably assumed for the hilt type (no extant examples in early stone carving; several examples in early European collections which seem to originate from Jawa rather than Sulawesi though). Thus, I am also considering whether this scabbard might be a Jawa import rather than a genuine Sulawesi development? This might even include iconic parts like the toli toli - just playing devil's advocate here!

OTOH, Achim Weihrauch points to the coarse rattan binding at the scabbard stem of Sulawesi swords which resembles what we see in these keris scabbards which may suggest a local development.


Quote:
I am familiar with Achim Weihrauch's thesis, but I cannot read it. All the material in the photos I am very familiar with, and judging by the length of this thesis it should be a very worthwhile contribution to keris literature.

I'd second that it would be great if a (preferably updated/extended) English version were to be published...


Quote:
I feel I owe an explanation for my disinterest in keris from outside the core areas. At one time in my life I was very interested in keris from everywhere, I made no distinction between Javanese, Balinese, Peninsula or any other keris. Every keris --- even those things from the Philippines -- drew my interest. I was primarily a collector. As I learnt more, and very particularly, as I adopted a Javanese set of standards I realised that all keris are not equal, nor do they enshrine the same essence. As cultural artifacts all keris are probably worthy of the same attention, but one lifetime is insufficient time to give all keris the same degree of attention.

Yes, I do understand your priorities here.

I hoped the blades - which appear to be invariably of Jawa extraction - would pretty much fall within your scope though. Based on the better quality pics in the thesis would you be prepared to comment on the origin of this keris blade?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 9th June 2017, 01:18 PM   #19
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Hello Alan,

Thanks a lot for your added notes on the keris with sunggingan scabbard!


Quote:
The sirah cecak is Mojopahit form, but overall, other characteristics indicate that the keris itself is of Mataram form, but most likely made in East Jawa.

Do you believe this to originate from an area in East Jawa which was under control (or strong influence) of (early?) Mataram rather than a peripheral politi like Blambangan?

Regards,
Kai
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Old 9th June 2017, 02:36 PM   #20
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Thanks Kai. Man, i now wish i had kept up with my high school German, but if you don't use it, you lose it i'm afraid.
But i agree that the detailed photographs of some of these old examples make it worth reviewing for the visual aspects alone.
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Old 9th June 2017, 10:56 PM   #21
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I dislike reading in German, but I know I'll be able to understand a lot of it if I put my mind to it. Considering the subject matter, I'll save the pdf for future study.
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Old 9th June 2017, 11:26 PM   #22
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Kai,

your post #19:- no, not Blambangan

your post #18:-
I know there is a tendency amongst collectors in the Western World to classify keris in accordance with Western patterns of thought, but this does not work if we are trying to apply a classification system that has its roots in Central Javanese aristocratic mores.

To a traditionally orientated Javanese aristocrat, even today, the idea of "Jawa" means the "Land of Jawa", not the "Island of Jawa". All within the Land of Jawa is worthwhile and legitimate, all outside the Land of Jawa is --- oh well, isn't it a pity? In other words, not relevant, doesn't count.

So a Western based collector will look at a blade and think in terms of the Island of Jawa, or maybe he won't even focus on the blade, he'll take broad overall look at the entire keris and form an opinion that gives more or less equal weight to all parts of the entire keris.

However, the Surakarta based ahli keris will look at only the blade, and focus on tiny, seemingly inconsequential details. He will test the "tanting" (percieved weight and balance), he will look at it in all dimensions, he will flick it with his finger-nail, he will stroke it between thumb and index-finger, if possible he will give very close attention to the pesi and the procedure that has been used to fix the gonjo. Possibly he may ask to borrow the keris for a few days, in order to meditate with it, or sleep with it. If he gives an opinion he will be able to substantiate that opinion. Sometimes he will give no opinion, or qualify his opinion.

This is a very serious matter when it is applied at the highest level, because the ahli keris might be asked to provide a certificate over his signature, and his reputation can then rest on that opinion. Opinions from the top people do not come free. It is not a game, it is a profession, and the opinion is paid for. Depending on the value of the appraised keris, that payment can be very substantial.

To the Surakarta ahli keris, it is not a matter of "is it Javanese?", it is a matter of "my opinion in respect of point of origin in terms time and geographic location, expressed in the terms of the Surakarta keris belief system".

In other words:- "tangguh".

Once the tangguh is established, then he will be able to give an opinion as to whether the keris is from the Land of Jawa, or not. The process is the reverse of the way in which a Western based collector will consider the matter.

Now, Kai, I know a little bit about how to classify keris blades. I was taught by perhaps the most respected Surakarta ahli keris in post WWII Jawa. I try to classify in accordance with what I was taught.

I cannot give a proper opinion from an image on a computer screen. The best I can do is to give a very qualified opinion.

In my opinion, and based upon what I believe I can see, the keris shown in post #1 of this thread is stylistically Javanese, where "Javanese" is to be understood as "Island of Jawa". It appears to display characteristics that do not permit an opinion to be given as to a precise geographic point of origin. The pawakan (overall visual impression) tends towards Banten, but other characteristics tend towards East Jawa. I am not able to form an opinion on where it might have been made. To my mind, there is no certainty at all as to geographic point of origin.
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Old 11th June 2017, 11:46 AM   #23
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Hello Alan,

Thanks a lot for your response!


Quote:
To a traditionally orientated Javanese aristocrat, even today, the idea of "Jawa" means the "Land of Jawa", not the "Island of Jawa". All within the Land of Jawa is worthwhile and legitimate, all outside the Land of Jawa is --- oh well, isn't it a pity? In other words, not relevant, doesn't count.

Yes, I am aware of this Mataram lineage bias (and the mutual display of ignorance regarding the other descendant line). I note though that considering Mojo and earlier periods, the restriction on Orang Jawa does not seem to apply to the tangguh system. I'd guess that the early formative years (late Mojo, early Mataram, Blambangan, Banten, early Bali, etc. are probably not the forte of the tangguh system - especially when looking at well-preserved blades from old European collections...


Quote:
I cannot give a proper opinion from an image on a computer screen. The best I can do is to give a very qualified opinion.

In my opinion, and based upon what I believe I can see, the keris shown in post #1 of this thread is stylistically Javanese, where "Javanese" is to be understood as "Island of Jawa". It appears to display characteristics that do not permit an opinion to be given as to a precise geographic point of origin. The pawakan (overall visual impression) tends towards Banten, but other characteristics tend towards East Jawa. I am not able to form an opinion on where it might have been made. To my mind, there is no certainty at all as to geographic point of origin.

Thanks heaps, Alan!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 11th June 2017, 11:03 PM   #24
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I don't think I fully understand your first comment Kai. However, it is important to understand the roots of tangguh.

Why did the system arise? Was it just to keep people with a very low level of keris education amused? Or was it maybe for some solid socially based reason?

When did the system arise?

Was it always intended to be used as it is used today?

What does it actually do as opposed to what many people believe it does?

You have given examples of :- Mojopahit, Mataram, Blambangan, Banten

Mataram is very well recognised and has numerous sub-classifications. There would be somewhere between "very little", and "no" disagreement on a Mataram classification, but the sub-classifications are a totally different matter, difficult, varied, not a lot of mutual agreement.

Mojopahit, the indicators are probably well known, but the population of blades that can reasonable be classified as Mojo is very small, which means that although the indicators may be widely known, almost nobody has seen sufficient blades of this classification to enable them to form a good knowledge base. In my opinion Mojo is the ultimate expression of tangguh belief, because we will sometimes find blades that on the basis of the indicators, are inarguably Mojo, but on the basis of condition cannot possibly be 500+ years old.

Blambangan attracts various opinions.

Banten doesn't count:- it is not from the Land of Jawa.

Bali, in terms of the Solonese tangguh system, is almost totally irrelevant. It is recognised, but its place is to permit recognition of a Bali keris so that we can immediately disregard it and not waste time on appraisal or opinions.

You did not mention Bugis, but it should be mentioned; Bugis blades are recognised as very functional blades, as it was once put to me:- "weapons that look a little bit like a keris but are not really keris". This was Javanese opinion from a very respected Javanese ahli keris, to him, and others like him, all keris from outside Jawa that had a vaguely Bugis form were Bugis, because these blades were primarily weapons that could never really claim to be recognised as "proper keris". The keris has for a very long time been a weapon with a spiritual nature, to the Javanese keris literate person the Bugis keris lacks spirituality.

Kai, I found out more than 30 years ago, that for tangguh to make any sense at all you need to be able to adopt a Javanese mode of thought, you cannot do that just for keris, you have to be able to do it for everything in your world. If you try to understand tangguh from the foundation of a culture or society that is not Javanese, you cannot, and that makes of tangguh a pretty useless tool for any collector who bases his collecting on non-Javanese ideas.

If one is not Javanese and has not received close personal instruction from somebody who understands the system, the best way to think about the tangguh system is that it provides a relatively easy guide that will permit an older blade to be distinguished from a younger blade.

You mentioned a "Mataram bias". I cannot see this. The second kingdom of Mataram had a very dubious foundation that the early rulers spent a lot of time and effort in attempting to legitimise.They claimed descent of legitimacy from Majapahit, but in fact that relationship to Mojo came through the female line and was rather remote. We probably would not have the Modern Javanese language as it is today if it had not been for the efforts of the early rulers of Mataram to demonstrate that they were in fact entitled to be rulers.

If there is an overall cultural, or societal bias amongst Javanese people, it is a bias towards honour and towards Majapahit. Periods and people identified as honourable deserve respect and are of value. People and periods identified as lacking honour are of little or no value and do not deserve respect. But to determine exactly how to identify that which is worthy of respect requires a Javanese take on the world and on that which has occurred in the past.

When we look at old European collections we are looking at keris that have already been corrupted by commonality and the Islamic influence.

When was the peak of Majapahit?

When did Majapahit die?

When was the first keris brought to Europe?

When were the "very early kerises" brought to Europe?

Where did these kerises come from?

European ideas and values have very little place in understanding how a traditional, keris literate Javanese person considers the keris.

I'm not passing any judgements here, I'm not saying that one approach is right and the other approach is wrong. Rather, I'm trying to say that a collector outside of the keris sub-culture as it is in Central Jawa has a different way of looking at and thinking about keris than does a person who is a part of that Central Javanese sub-culture.
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