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Old 1st August 2007, 12:49 AM   #1
Alam Shah
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Default Errors in Keris Literature

For sometime now, we had mentioned many a time, when taking reference from Keris books, take it with a pinch of salt. This is due to the fact that there are errors found in these books.

Our fellow collector ganjawulung had given some interesting points to ponder on:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
What's hanging in my mind everytime I open all pages of "The Keris and Other Malay Weapons" (1998) is, how come? The very small keris -- that the writers called as "keris majapahit" -- took quite a lot of proportions, compared to the whole content of the book. Almost mentioned in every article, and as if it is the center point of comparison with other bigger kerises in that book...
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Originally Posted by ganjawulung
Please regard the GC Woolley article, under title "Origin of the Malay Keris". In the second alinea, it said: ..."The surviving specimens of the oldest Majapahit keris -- the Keris Pichit and Keris Majapahit -- seem of all the many patterns of keris the most unlikely to have been evolved from spear blades and the most likely to have been made as talismans rather than for actual use..."
Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
Did Mr Woolley was aware, that there were many-many-many more real "keris majapahit" in the Java Courts? And what about Singasari keris, in the period before Majapahit? And did he know, the relief in Borobudur temple (around 9th century) showed (budha) keris in the hips of a human carving?

And what about ancient inscriptions (epigraphies, prasasti) such as prasasti Humanding (797 Saka or 875 CE), Jurungan (798 Saka or 876 CE), Haliwangbang (798 Saka or 876 CE), Taji (823 Saka or 901 CE), Poh (827 Saka or 905 CE), Rukam (829 Saka or 907 CE), Sangsang (829 Saka or 907 CE), Wakajana (829 Saka or 907 CE), and Sanggaran (850 Saka or 928 CE) that mentioned about keris? And not mentioned, many kakawin (old poems) like Kidung Harsa Wijaya or old important books on Singasari and Majapahit in 13th century like Pararaton, and Babad Tanah Jawi?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
And Mr Gardner wrote especially on "keris pichit and keris majapahit" under title "Notes on Two Uncommon Varieties of the Malay Keris" which referring to Gardner's experience (only heard many stories) and only seen eight keris majapahit and three Pichit altogether....
Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
Mr Abu Bakar bin Pawanchee, also wrote a special article under title of "An Unusual Keris Majapahit". The ultra big proportion of writing such small "keris for offering" for "stamping the predicate Majapahit" for such big era or keris making in Java -- that was really astonishing...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
And what is the result? The image of "keris majapahit" is only "keris sajen". Yes, the connotation of "majapahit" is only "small sajen", "small offering". As if there were no other kerises during that golden era of keris making...

Let's discuss, please.
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Old 1st August 2007, 05:36 AM   #2
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I only want to comment on this in general terms. I don't want to get into the Mojo/sajen discussion. This one is so overworked that it really has lost all interest for me.

I see the major problem of "error" in keris literature as a matter of perception.

For instance, time and time and time again I see things identified as something in terms of dapur or pamor, or whatever, and the terms used are terms I am not familiar with. Or somebody will float an opinion about something that is not in accordance with my understanding. Mostly I say nothing and just let it ride.

Why?

Because I'm working from one base of knowledge and I am well aware that my base of knowledge is only the reflection of a very limited area of keris study. If I were so inclined I could get into an argument every day on this Forum. I am not so inclined, so I just let things slide.

When we say something is "wrong", then with keris we probably need to define exactly what we mean by "wrong".

It may be better to say that such and such is not so, in accordance with the belief held by people in a particular area, or at a particular time. But does that mean that such and such is indisputably wrong?

Maybe not. Maybe it only means that some people do not agree with it.Which could make it wrong in one time and place, but not in another.

Throughout history the keris has been different things to different people. Different groups of people have had different beliefs, and different names for the keris, and its parts.

Personally, I am much in favour of defining terms and beliefs in accordance with time and place, and even of quoting the source of information, if that is practical and possible. If one uses such a framework, one can never be wrong, per se. One can only be putting forward information with which others do not agree.

Does it really matter if others do not agree with an opinion which one may put forward? I think not.

However, when we do put forward an opinion that something is incorrect, then we really should provide a framework within which we can support our argument for incorrectness.

My attitude is that with the keris, almost anything can be correct, or incorrect, depending upon the time and place used for point of reference.

Maybe there are a number of things that we can find in print that we may disagree with, but maybe also, others do not agree with our point of view.Thus, if we level criticism at some of these writers, let us do so in an analytical way. If we disagree, let us clearly state the frame of reference for our disagreement:- time, place, source of information, or logical argument preferably supported with evidence.
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Old 1st August 2007, 06:35 AM   #3
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Dear kerislovers,

I think maybe there's no hard & fast rules in kerisology . If only the whole keris study is an exact science..........

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Old 1st August 2007, 06:53 AM   #4
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Hmmm... ok, let's proceeding with caution... discuss point by point.

Alan, the main reason for this thread is to analyse... not to criticise the authors, most had spent considerable amount of time, effort and passion to present us with good books, not perfect but worthy of reference. For that, I salute these authors.

However, there are parts that are not correct or in the 'grey' areas. These are the one I feel needs addressing... rather than just ignoring it, others might use it as reference and gets lost along the way... worse still if this distorted piece of information is presented as the truth.

Here, we can look at the matter from many perspective... at least we try to find out why the authors wrote it such, in what context... reason... based of fact, folklore, research findings... etc.

Since ganjawulung had brought these up, from MBRAS "The Keris and Other Malay Weapons" (1998), lets start with these...
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Old 1st August 2007, 07:52 AM   #5
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Alam Shah, without the smallest difficulty I can find things in any book on keris that do not agree with my understandings.

My understandings have in most cases come from people whom have been considered authorities in their own right.

Some of my understandings have come from my own observations or investigations.

Now, if I identify something in some author's work, and I say :- "Such and such is incorrect", then I feel that I really should qualify that statement by providing a framework to support my disagreement.I do not think it is good enough to simply say that something is wrong because we all believe it to be wrong at any particular time.

As far as getting lost along the way, I personally think we are all pretty much wandering like blind men in the wilderness. Occasionally one may stumble across something that is perhaps more or less true in some given context, but for the most part the true essence of the keris is possibly lost beyond recall.

If these instances of incorrectness that we supposedly need to address are simple things such as names, current usages, or beliefs current when something was written, well, that's fairly lightweight stuff, and can probably be handled by listing those things which some author may have presented and presenting alongside it our own belief, which may or may not be as incorrect as that of the author.

Thus, if we are to address these things point by point, how about putting up for discussion a single major "error" of some writer, and let us have a look at it. Please, no minor things:- I wrote a 14 page letter to one author on inaccuracies in his text that could have been avoided if he had only used a competent reviewer prior to publication. Lets look at hardcore misstatements of what we currently believe to be fact.
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Old 2nd August 2007, 02:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alam Shah
For sometime now, we had mentioned many a time, when taking reference from Keris books, take it with a pinch of salt. This is due to the fact that there are errors found in these books.

Our fellow collector ganjawulung had given some interesting points to ponder on:

Let's discuss, please.

Dear Shahrial,
Thanks for posting this thread. Anyway, I prefer not to say it as "error" (right or wrong), but "it could mislead" to the readers. And as you just said, I will provide my arguments of disagreement of that writings, based on my capasity of "collector" as you (Shahrial) mentioned. And not as a scientist. I don't base this comments on certain scientific research...

Majapahit (1294-1478), according to me, is not the oldest era of keris making in Indonesia. Maybe older than Singasari (older than 1222, the foundation of Singasari kingdom by Ken Arok). When? It is not my capacity to prove, when did the keris making first begin.

I just base my simple "belief" to a simple non-scientific fact. What is the common thought of Javanese people everytime he heard about keris? Mostly will say: "keris empu gandring"... And not "keris majapahit". Was the "keris empu gandring" real or not, that is not the point.

This "keris empu gandring" story, is living in the mind of mostly Indonesian until now, if someone mentions the word "keris". Commoners, usually say: "Ah, keris empu Gandring"...If someone shows a keris in front of him or her.

This is a story on Ken Arok (then the first king of Singasari King Rajasa) from ancient book "Pararaton", quoted from "Menuju Puncak Kemegahan, Sejarah Kerajaan Majapahit" (Toward the top of Glory, History of Majapahit) by Prof Dr Slamet Muljana -- a (late) local historian.

Brahmana (Hindu priest) Lohgawe came to Jawa riding three pieces of "kakatang" (I don't know in English) leaves. He was sent by god Brahma to search a person called Ken Arok. The characteristics of Ken Arok was: he has long hands, longer than his knee, and on his right palm hand was a figure or design with mystical properties of "cakra" (Wishnu's arrow), and he had a sign in his left hand, figure of cockle shell... Why Ken Arok? Because, Lohgawe believed that Ken Arok was reincarnation of Wishnu. Brahmana Lohgawe then went to a village called, Taloka. And found a person that had such characteristics in a gambling-den...

Lohgawe then brought Ken Arok to Akuwu (village administrative official in charge of water) Tunggul Ametung in Tumapel (located in East Java now) to ask the akuwu, to employ Ken Arok as his servant. Then, it was happened.

(Interpretation: there were a discontent toward the King of Kediri, Kertajaya. Because the King had asked all brahmana priest to worship Kertajaya as if he was Shiwa. Lohgawe planned a rebellion via a (phisically) strong man, to overthrow the king)

Tunggul Ametung, at that time, had a very beautiful wife named as Ken Dedes. She was pregnant, and wanted to take a walk in Boboji garden. Ken Dedes was very famous of her beauty in the eastern part of Mount Kawi, east Jawa.

When Ken Dedes came down from her carriage in Boboji garden, Ken Arok saw "glittering light" from "the very secret part" of Ken Dedes' body. Ken Arok fell in love with the pregnant wife of Tunggul Ametung. Upon returning from Bobji, Ken Arok told Lohgawe what he had seen in Boboji. Then Lohgawe responsed, "A woman that shines her secret, is a true special woman. Anybody who married her, will become great king...,"

Ken Arok then met his adopted father, Bango Samparan in Karuman, to ask for opinion about the desire of killing Tunggul Ametung, and "snatch" Ken Dedes as his wife. Bango Samparan asked Ken Arok to go to Lulumbang, to meet a keris smith, who was very famous at that time and believed to endowed with magical power -- named as Empu Gandring. Empu Gandring is an old friend of Bango Samparan.

Ken Arok, then commissioned a keris to him, and might be finished in five months. But, Empu Gandring said, not five months, but a year... But Ken Arok was firmed with his wish, might be finished in five months.

After five months, Ken Arok came again to Lulumbang, and saw that the keris blade was not finished yet. Ken Arok was angry, and killed Empu Gandring with the unfinished keris. The dying empu then said: Ken Arok and his seven descents would be killed with this keris...

Ken Arok then showed the keris to his old friend, Kebo Ijo and asked him to keep the keris with handle of "cangkring" wood (probably branch of bamboo, in latin Erythrina subumbrans). And then, everybody knew that the keris with cangkring handle, belonged to Kebo Ijo.

Until one day, Ken Arok stole his keris from Kebo Ijo, and killed Akuwu Tunggul Ametung with the keris. And people then accused Kebo Ijo, believed to killl Tunggul Ametung. Kebo Ijo was killed with "his" own keris from Empu Gandring.

After the killing of Tunggul Ametung, then Ken Arok became new Akuwu of Tumapel, and married to the pregnant and beautiful wife of Tunggul Ametung. (According to other source of old book, Negarakertagama that was quoted by Mr Slamet Muljana, it happened at Saka 1104 year, or 1182 CE). After a couple of time, Ken Arok made rebellion and defeated the king of Kediri. And then, Ken Arok united the two kingdom at that time, Jenggala and Kediri in a new kingdom of Singasari. According to Pararaton, it was dated as Saka 1144 or 1222 CE. Ken Arok then became the first king of Singasari, with formal name of Rajasa.

Ken Arok, was killed then, by the son of Ken Dedes (from Tunggul Ametung), Anusapati. King Anusapati was killed by the son of Ken Dedes (from Ken Arok), Tohjaya... That was just story.

If the story was really happened, then maybe keris making was begun in the earliar time of Singasari. But of course, not begin in Majapahit era... That is just my simple understanding...

Ganjawulung
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Old 2nd August 2007, 03:18 AM   #7
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Pak Ganja, I cant agree more. Keris must have pre-dated Singhasari. What about during Shailendra empire? Was there any records about keris then?

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Old 2nd August 2007, 03:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PenangsangII
Pak Ganja, I cant agree more. Keris must have pre-dated Singhasari. What about during Shailendra empire? Was there any records about keris then?

Penangsang

Dear Penangsang,
It needs archeological research on that. But there are some pictures of "supposed to be the earlieast form" of keris in Candi (temple) Borobudur in Central Jawa (9th century) and also Prambanan temple (in Yogyakarta) and Panataran in east Java. (See pictures).

Some people believed, that the earliest form of keris, was dhapur "jalak budo" (compare the form in the picture, with the form of 'keris' in the relief). Old jalak budo, some of them, believed to come from Singasari era or older...

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Old 2nd August 2007, 03:54 AM   #9
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Let me put it in simpler terms...

My understanding are as follows:

- Majapahit, is not the earliest kingdom with keris... (most of us know this, I presume).

- When one refers to Majapahit keris, first think that comes to mind are standard size kerisses and not 'sajen' types.

- Malay beliefs are different from Javanese beliefs... although in some cases there are similarities. To cover the various belief systems would require a deep understanding of these cultures/races... long ago till current,... which I do not possess... I only know a little on the cultures/races that I'm interested in.

The book "The Keris and Other Malay Weapons" is a compilation of facts, popular beliefs, folklore and other misc items which were not widely researched, at that time. Although the (1996) is reprint 16, it was made if was done without reviewing the data contained in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.G. Maisey
Throughout history the keris has been different things to different people. Different groups of people have had different beliefs, and different names for the keris, and its parts.
This, I'm well-aware of. It had been repeated plenty of times, which I agree.


Quote:
Originally Posted by A.G. Maisey
As far as getting lost along the way, I personally think we are all pretty much wandering like blind men in the wilderness. Occasionally one may stumble across something that is perhaps more or less true in some given context, but for the most part the true essence of the keris is possibly lost beyond recall.
I guess putting up this thread is quite meaning-less, then...
Perhaps I've used the wrong term, 'errors'. I'm no longer interested to discuss about the 'error' or 'misleading' any further. However, Pak Ganja, please continue to input more info...
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Old 2nd August 2007, 08:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
...Ken Arok, was killed then, by the son of Ken Dedes (from Tunggul Ametung), Anusapati. King Anusapati was killed by the son of Ken Dedes (from Ken Arok), Tohjaya...


Correction (this is really an error):
... King Anusapati was killed by the son of Ken Umang (instead of Ken Dedes). Umang was the concubine-wife of Ken Arok...

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Old 2nd August 2007, 11:34 PM   #11
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This is all very interesting, but we are not doing what this thread set out to do.

As I understand it, we set out to identify something with which we currently disagree, that was written by one of these early authors.

To do this I submit that we should provide the quote from the author's work so that there can be no misunderstanding of exactly what was written, and then put forward our reasons for disagreement.

From what has been posted to date to this thread, I think that perhaps a broad ranging general position has been taken that some early authors were incorrect in believing that the implement which they referred to as a "keris Majapahit" was the earliest form of keris.This is not a specific disagreement with the work of a specific author, but rather a disagreement with what was a generally held belief some years ago.

However, so that we can get on with what we set out to do, let's get this Majapahit business out of the way first. Or at least try to.

When we attempt to come to an understanding of early keris, we are involving ourselves in a very complex and difficult field.

Some years ago I wrote an article on keris origins. In writing this I drew on weapon forms in reliefs at Candi Prambanan . In these reliefs we can find representations of weapons which have a blade form that at the present time we would refer to as a "Keris Buda". Prambanan dates from around 856AD.

However, although we can identify in the Prambanan reliefs a blade form that bears recognisable characteristics of the Modern Keris, we cannot with any certainty claim that the so-called "Keris Majapahit" form did not exist at the same time, or prior to the 9th century AD.

It may not have existed, but equally, it may have existed. We simply do not know.

To take issue with the name "Keris Majapahit" is quite pointless. This is just a name, the same as the name "Keris Buda" is just a name. When we call a keris a "Keris Buda", we are not saying it was the keris used by Buddhists, any more than when we call a keris a "Keris Majapahit" we are saying it was the keris used in the Majapahit era. These are simply classifications, similar to the tangguh classifications, some of which really do relate to a kingdom or era, others of which do not.The tangguh system is a system of classification, and the terms "Keris Majapahit", and "Keris Buda" do form an adjunct to this system.

What we think of as a "keris" in the year 2007, that is, the Modern Keris, appeared after the Javanese Early Classical Period, and was in existence when Candi Panataran ( 1197-1354) was built.

It existed during the Majapahit era, and may have existed prior to Majapahit.

The implements with keris-like blades that we can find on Candi Prambanan were very probably one of the contributing influences to the origin of the Modern Keris, but I think it is obvious that these implements were not the only contributing factor to the birth of the Modern Keris.

The old literary sources are not a lot of use in supporting an argument that the Modern Keris was in existence earlier that the 14th Century.

Certainly, the Pararaton tells the Mpu Gandring legend, but the Pararaton was written in the 16th Century, and related a legend that referred to events which took place 300 years earlier.

Then there is the Nagarakertagama by Rakawi Prapanca of Majapahit, and it dates from the 14th Century.

These old literary sources do use words in their texts that have been translated as "keris", but regrettably we do not know that the original words in the original texts referred to implements that we would classify as a Modern Keris.

Based upon the existing evidence, all we can say with reasonable certainty is this:- the Modern Keris appeared some time after the close of the Early Classical Period, and some time before the completion of Candi Panataran. That is, the Modern Keris made its appearance between about 1000AD, and about 1300AD.

However, we do not have any evidence at all to demonstrate that the implement known as a "Keris Majapahit" did not exist at a time prior to the appearance of the Modern Keris.

Incidentally, in spite of claims to the contrary, there is no representation of a blade form bearing keris-like characteristics in the reliefs of Candi Borobudur. Borobudur was a Buddhist structure; Prambanan was a Hindu complex. The implements which appear on Prambanan, and which bear keris-like characteristics are purely Hindu in origin.

Pak Ganja, the picture of the relief from Panataran with a monkey warrior about to stab an enemy with a large, straight keris-like dagger is a falsification.The blade in this image has been retouched to make it appear assymetrical. If you visit Panataran you will find that this blade is symetrical. Below is an image of what this carving really looks like; it is not all that clear, because of the weathering, but I think you will probably be able to see that the blade base is in fact symmetrical.

Alam Shah, no, on the contrary, I do not consider this thread meaningless. It has a definite potential value, however, if that value is to be realised then let us proceed as you suggested:- point by point and in an analytical fashion. If we are to analyse, then we must first have something that has been positively identified, to analyse. To achieve this end I suggest that a statement with which we cannot agree, and made by one of these writers, be identified, and we proceed to put our own case against the correctness of this statement. Let us address this matter with a little discipline. I repeat:- it does have potential value.
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Old 2nd August 2007, 11:54 PM   #12
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Yeah, lousy pic. Not at all clear. Try this one. If its no good you'll have to go to Panataran yourself and have a look at it.
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Old 3rd August 2007, 01:42 AM   #13
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Thanks, Alan, for giving your valuable time to make this discussion developping. I will try to follow the rules you proposed, even though I have limited ability in expressing all what I think, in English.

The main disagrement for me, is the "stand point" view about comparing kerises. As if the small size keris that is called as "keris majapahit" in this book, is the "stand point" of comparison. This quotation below, is the "earliest" sentence that mentioned "keris majapahit" in this book. Let's start discuss with this...

(AH Hill first article, under title "The Keris and Other Malay Weapons". Please see page 4)

2. Types of blade
Keris blades vary considerably in shape and size. Original keris majapahit blades are only six or seven inches long and must have been almost useless for fighting. Yet one would have thought that it they were used only as charms there must have a still earlier keris of proper utilitarian value for their efficacy to be recognized. No such prototype weapon has ever been found. Indeed, as will be shown later, all the evidence there is goes to show that the keris was a new type of weapon in the thirteenth century. The rapier-like keris panjang of Sumatera and the sword-like keris sundang of Celebes, adaptations of the normal keris for special purposes, are sometimes over two feet long from handle to tip. If extreme like these are excluded the length of the normal keris blade may be taken as twelve to sixteen inches...

(Comment -- For mostly Indonesians, the word "keris majapahit" with the connotation of this very small size keris, will be confusing. Keris majapahit -- in the mind of Indonesian -- is keris that came or supposed to be made, or that has style of they believed to be keris from Majapahit kingdom era. The word "keris majapahit" to mention that small keris, is "unknown" in Indonesia. That kind of small keris, in Indonesia known as "keris sajen" or "keris for offering"...)

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Old 3rd August 2007, 03:14 AM   #14
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Sampurasun all kerislovers, and salam hormat!

Thank you Alan for the pictures of the sculptures. If you dont mind telling me the probablity that the sculptures were actually made by artisans imported from India, instead of the locals.

Even after WWII, many countries imported experts from abroad in making kingdom supported sculptures. A good example in Malaysia is the "Tugu Negara", built in memorium of the soldiers sacrifices in combatting the communist terrorists. However, since the artist was imported from the U.S., the sculptures of the Malaysian soldiers look more caucasians than southeastern statures.

In a way, I was thinking, maybe the keris like objects depicted in Borobudur and Prambanan temples were actually the Indian artists' definition of keris daggers existed during that periods, and actually were incorrect representation of how keris blades looked like.

Alan, I really like to hear you comment on this. Thank you in advance.

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Old 3rd August 2007, 04:20 AM   #15
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Don't be so modest Pak Ganja.

Your English is very good indeed. You express yourself clearly on most occasions, and you write fluently. Our problem here is not with your English expression, it is with identifying something written in years past that we do not now accept, and looking at why we do not accept it.

What Hill wrote was based on general belief at the time he wrote it. The early writers in English, on the keris, debated various theories of origin back and forth. Some of the exchanges became pretty heated.I'm not sure exactly how the name "Keris Majapahit" arose. A point of origin for use of the term could probably be identified, but this would involve a lot of time in going back through all the mentions of this form. It might even go all the way back to that Dutch academic who found one in one of the stupas at Borobudur.In any case, it doesn't matter much at this remove who started calling these little keris, "Keris Majapahit" . They are known as that now by many, if not most collectors outside of Indonesia.

Yes, I agree that confusion could arise about the term "Keris Majapahit", but if we simply use "Keris tangguh Majapahit", when that is what we mean, there will be no confusion.It is simply a matter of saying what we mean, instead of taking shortcuts.

Your use of the phrase "stand point" confuses me. I do not know exactly what you mean here. Rather than have me guess, could you please put this thought in another way?

In essence, what Hill said was this :-

keris Majapahit are small and useless as a weapon

if Keris Majapahit are charms then it is logical that they followed rather than preceeded the keris proper

no proto-type keris of the keris proper has been found

the available evidence indicates that the keris proper was a new weapon in the 13th century

the length of a normal keris is about 12" to 16"

In the context of knowledge at the time Hill was writing, I don't think I can disagree with any of this.

We now know about the Keris Buda, we now have identified certain relief carvings, so we can point to fore-runners of the keris proper. This information was not available to Hill.

To me, its a simple thing:- these early writers saw things in light of the information they had available; we have additional information available and we see things differently. A hundred years down the track there could be more additional information available, and a different point of view to our own may prevail.

It is a simple thing:- we've moved on from Gardner, Woolley, Hill. It is no different to a medical doctor moving on from blood letting.Somebody who studies medicine does not turn to 50 or 100 year old books to further his knowledege. A serious student of the keris should study current sources if he wishes to stay abreast of current knowledge.

I would ask you to bear one thing in mind:- I started to study keris in about 1955, Hill published his paper in 1956; Gardiner published in 1936, Woolley published on origin in 1938.
I grew up on this stuff. Way back then, everybody more or less accepted as gospel that the original keris was the Keris Majapahit.
We have now expanded our knowledge, and I don't think many people believe this any longer, however, if the Keris Majapahit did exist prior to the 13th century, then it may have been a contributing factor to the form of the Modern Keris.

Our major problem is this:- we do not know if the Keris Majapahit existed pre 13th century or not.
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Old 3rd August 2007, 04:24 AM   #16
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According to the recognised authorities on Javanese sculpture, all the work on Borobudur, and Prambanan, was completed by local craftsmen, and interpreted the stories shown in a local form, using local objects, buildings and landscape. Craftsmen were not imported from India to carry out this work.
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Old 3rd August 2007, 05:30 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Your use of the phrase "stand point" confuses me. I do not know exactly what you mean here. Rather than have me guess, could you please put this thought in another way?.

Thanks a lot Alan. I've learned quite a lot from your short explanation you just gave me. About time frame. What I want to say was, probably the method of comparing things. Comparing "keris sajen" (I'm sorry, I don't use the "Keris Majapahit" term -- both in capital first letter -- for a very small keris that we know as "keris sajen" or "seking"). Comparing "keris sajen" (non-weapon) from Indonesia with kind of real kerises (weapon) from outside Indonesia? Am I wrong, if I am thinking: it is like comparing toy-guns with real guns? Comparing small kerises which usually for ceremony purpose and not for weapon, with real weapon. Or, say it in sports term: "put in combat between street boxer with professionel boxer"... Was it fair? (See also, comparison pictures of GC Woolley in page 114)

Majapahit -- in the mind of any Indonesian -- is a period of good kerises, good empus. Why, using as such a peiorating term of big empire in the past for expressing name of not a real kind of keris?

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Old 3rd August 2007, 08:56 AM   #18
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Pak Ganja, as to whether you call these little keris "sajen" or "majapahit", or "seking" or anything else, I really don't care. I understand what you mean, and that's really all that matters. I myself call them "sajen", most of the time, but if I'm talking with somebody who wants to call them "majapahit", I don't have any problem with that.

The purpose of language is to transfer a thought, or an idea, from one person's mind to another person's mind. Language is just a tool. If that transfer can be achieved, it really doesn't matter what words are used to achieve it.

If I am correct, your objections are based in the approach of grouping together all types of keris. You do not want to group keris sajen, with other types of keris. Is this correct?

You do not want to compare keris sajen with other types of keris, but rather to hive them off into a separate category. Is this correct?

I can see no objection to this as a methodology, but I can also see no objection to grouping all types of keris together.One methodology is no better and no worse than any other, from my perspective. Why not group all different types of keris separately? Classify according to point of origin , and then according to percieved era, a la tangguh?We could have our Javanese keris all split up according to tangguh and then classify our sajens, and our budas, and our long keris, and our Moro type keris; we could classify everything else according to whether Bali, Madura, Sumatera, or whatever.

We could classify endlessly if we so wished.We could classify according to weapon functionability, artistic worth, tuah, isi, and on and on. Actually, one of my inlaws in Solo classifies according to whether the keris was previously owned by a Kyai, or by a Pangeran; it must be have been owned by either one or the other, or he will not have it in his collection. How does he know who previously owned it? He dreams it.

Yes, I know, Majapahit was the Golden Age.

But much of the belief surrounding the Majapahit era in Jawa is pretty much like a lot of the belief surrounding England's Golden Age of chivalry, King Arthur & etc.

Why did some inconsiderate barbarian decide to call these little keris sajen "Keris Majapahit", and thus taint the glorious Golden Memory of Magnificent Majapahit?

I don't know, but he did, and it stuck.

If you don't like it, you could begin a campaign to change the terminology of the western collecting world. I'll even help you by doing my best to only use the term "keris sajen".

In fact, however you want to group, consider, treat, or talk about keris sajen is just fine with me:- I agree in advance with whatever approach you want to take.

Now, can we move on from the deadly keris sajen:keris majapahit duel, and get on to what this thread is supposedly about:- the identification of specific statements by specific writers, with which we no longer agree.
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Old 3rd August 2007, 02:25 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
If I am correct, your objections are based in the approach of grouping together all types of keris. You do not want to group keris sajen, with other types of keris. Is this correct?

You do not want to compare keris sajen with other types of keris, but rather to hive them off into a separate category. Is this correct? .

Not exactly only the approach of grouping the types of keris. My main objection is the opinion of the writers in the book, that "Keris Majapahit and keris pichit is the surviving specimens of the oldest Majapahit keris" (GC Woolley article, "The Origin of Malay Keris"). This statement is clear, that "keris sajen" according to Mr Woolley is "the surviving specimens of the oldest Majapahit keris".

I am neither scientist, nor archeolog. But I dare to say -- but don't ask me to prove it -- that this statement or opinion is inaccurate. The surviving, and the oldest? Based on what? And what about the old pusakas in kraton Yogya and Surakarta that are even older than Majapahit era? Are they false?

I like very much the special appearance of Keris Sundang in complete dress, for instance. I think it is not worth to compare, with small kerises that mentioned for other purpose, like "keris sajen"... Not comparable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
If you don't like it, you could begin a campaign to change the terminology of the western collecting world. I'll even help you by doing my best to only use the term "keris sajen".

Thanks Alan, for your generosity. But let people know by themselves, what the truth is... I agree with you. The appellation of "keris majapahit" for "keris sajen", or "keris pichit" for "keris pejetan", it won't diminish one of the greatest era of keris making in the past.. Let the river flow...

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Old 3rd August 2007, 04:57 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by PenangsangII
Thank you Alan for the pictures of the sculptures. If you dont mind telling me the probablity that the sculptures were actually made by artisans imported from India, instead of the locals.

Even after WWII, many countries imported experts from abroad in making kingdom supported sculptures. A good example in Malaysia is the "Tugu Negara", built in memorium of the soldiers sacrifices in combatting the communist terrorists. However, since the artist was imported from the U.S., the sculptures of the Malaysian soldiers look more caucasians than southeastern statures.

In a way, I was thinking, maybe the keris like objects depicted in Borobudur and Prambanan temples were actually the Indian artists' definition of keris daggers existed during that periods, and actually were incorrect representation of how keris blades looked like.

Alan, I really like to hear you comment on this. Thank you in advance.

Penangsang

Would you mind if I add some info for you? If you go to Cambodge, don't forget to visit Angkor Watt -- the most famous temple there. Who built Angkor? He was Jayawarman II (Syailendra dynasty) from Java. The pressure of new power at that time, Sriwijaya, had made the great dynasty from Java scattered abroad. The Syailendra dynasty then dominated Malay penninsula (See "L'Art de l'Asie du Sud-Est" or The Art of South-east Asia by Philip Rawson 1995), and lanced attack until Tonkin. And in Cambodge Jayawarman II brought the Indonesian culture (790 CE), and built temple about 30 km from Angkor. Jayawarman reigned until 850 CE, succeded by his son Jayawarman III until 877...

Borobudur near Jogjakarta, was built by this great dynasty of Syailendra in the same century of Angkor...

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Old 3rd August 2007, 07:58 PM   #21
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Dear Pak Ganja,

Quote:
Comparing "keris sajen" (non-weapon) from Indonesia with kind of real kerises (weapon) from outside Indonesia? Am I wrong, if I am thinking: it is like comparing toy-guns with real guns? Comparing small kerises which usually for ceremony purpose and not for weapon, with real weapon.

I believe you misunderstood the purpose of the drawing: keris sajen were not added to belittle Indonesian keris and glorify Malayan keris (nor keris Jawa vs. Malay/Bugis keris since the distribution of these types don't follow current political boundaries...). The aim of the paper was to show the diversity of Malay keris and keris sajen are also found in Malaysia (no idea wether genuine examples were locally forged or if they arrived through trade or migration). Thus, the author needed to include keris sajen, too.

BTW, I don't think that we should place too much emphasis on this collection of rather old papers - just keep the dates when each got originally published in mind and move on...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 3rd August 2007, 09:06 PM   #22
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OK, I think I see where you're coming from, Pak Ganja:- you object very strongly to Woolley, and other writers of seventy years ago, harbouring the belief that keris sajen were representative of keris produced during the Majapahit era. Is this correct?

Yes, I think we can accept this as an outdated opinion, but it was just an opinion, and a generally held one at the time--- seventy years ago.

However, you have mentioned the pusakas held by the karatons in Surakarta and Yogyakarta. Pusakas that pre-date Majapahit.

May I most humbly suggest that prior to endorsing the validity of claims for the age of these pieces, a study of the history of the House of Mataram may be rather enlightening. Most especially , a focus on the early years of Mataram, through to the demise of Sultan Agung, and again on the Kartasura period.

Of great additional value would be an investigation of the social and economic conditions which influenced the Javanese elite during the period from about the middle of the 17th century, through to, probably, the Japanese occupation.

I am well aware that what I have touched on here is an extremely sensitive issue with most Javanese people, most particularly those Javanese people who have great pride in their culture. Because of this, I will not be drawn on this subject, but I do urge all true students of the keris to involve themselves in the lines of investigation that I have indicated.

As to the the movements of the Syailendras after they left Jawa, my feeling is that most authorities are still somewhat undecided about that. I'd have to check references before I would be brave enough to make any definitive statements, but I do not think that their authorship of Angkor Wat is necessarily a done deal.
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Old 4th August 2007, 02:47 AM   #23
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Pak Ganja & other forumites,

I agree that Jayawarman II was responsible in building Angkor Wat, in fact Cambodians also agree to this fact. But let give you another modern parallel so that you can gauge what I mean.

In Malaysia, former PM Mahathir was credited as the person who built one of the tallest building in the word - Petronas Twin Tower. Did you know who the contractors were? The Japanese & Korean .

So, wouldnt it posssible that even Jayawarman II had to hire "contractors" say, from India....because most kingdoms in the archipelago in those days were heavily influenced by Hinduism & Buddhism. In saying this, I wanted to believe that keris could have existed even during Shailendra era, but it was depicted wrongly in the temples sculptures....

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Old 4th August 2007, 04:02 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PenangsangII
So, wouldnt it posssible that even Jayawarman II had to hire "contractors" say, from India....because most kingdoms in the archipelago in those days were heavily influenced by Hinduism & Buddhism. In saying this, I wanted to believe that keris could have existed even during Shailendra era, but it was depicted wrongly in the temples sculptures....

Penangsang

...Or, this is another speculation. (Once again, speculation). Many rulers in Java were not real Javanese, but mixture: local-indian. (I borrow Rand's term in his blogspot: Indinesian. May I?). And the architect, and the building-workers were local people. Just look, the chandis (temples) were not precisely Indian-look, and also the details of hindhu sculpture. Localised hindhu.

Syailendra, (speculation too, correct me if I'm wrong), was a Champa blood. This was based on old fact: why a Javanese was able to become a great ruler in Malay province in Khmer? Look, the sculpture in Khmer Angkor was different with the sculpture's style in Borobudur, although Jayawarman II (or Jayavarman, whatever) came from Syailendra dynasty who had built Borobudur in the 8th century.

Looking back in Java. (More speculation) Keris with ganja separated from the blade, was local hindhu product. Why hindhu? Compare with the "golden lingga and yoni" in the picture, which is now in Jakarta National Museum in Jakarta. From the Majapahit era. (See picture). And please upside down your keris, the handle part up, and the blade-pin down. The paksi -- iron for the handle -- is the lingga, and ganja with hole (feminine part) is the yoni. Compare again to the separated part of this golden lingga-yoni, which is united as lingga-yoni.

Why local? Hindhu in India has no "keris culture". Thus, keris was a local genius product of "alien" hindhu culture in Java... (Many brahmana, believed came from India too. Just see the "keris empu gandring" story in Pararaton as I told you a couple times ago. Pararaton told us: "Brahmana Lohgawe came from India, riding three "kakatang" leaves.... and so on.")

(Following speculation) The earlier form of "keris" in buddha times, was "betok budo" (without ganja separated, but iras). This is the era of Syailendra dynasty. And the hindhu times? From the Sanjaya dynasty (ancient Mataram, not the Islamic Mataram) was "jalak budo" (I have shown you before, the sample of such dhapur in the earlier post). The hindhu spirited keris had "separated ganja" or say it as "lingga yoni kerises"... Now, you may adapt with your own culture, which is suitable for your own... Please, don't believe me. This is only my personal speculation. (Thanks a lot, Rand, for your "enlightment" of the name in your blogspot)

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Old 4th August 2007, 02:08 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by kai
BTW, I don't think that we should place too much emphasis on this collection of rather old papers - just keep the dates when each got originally published in mind and move on...

Regards,
Kai

I agree Kai. That was just my small opinion... Let's move on...

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Old 4th August 2007, 04:43 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
OK, I think I see where you're coming from, Pak Ganja:- you object very strongly to Woolley, and other writers of seventy years ago, harbouring the belief that keris sajen were representative of keris produced during the Majapahit era. Is this correct?

Yes, I think we can accept this as an outdated opinion, but it was just an opinion, and a generally held one at the time--- seventy years ago.

Yes it is. And I wonder, if it is an outdated opinion, why still this opinion reprinted? I got the 17th reprint (1998), maybe with the same opinion as the first print...

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Old 5th August 2007, 10:17 AM   #27
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Compared to the 17th edition of "Keris and Other Malay Weapons" (1998), the Italian Vanna and Mario Ghiringhelli (1991) wrote a more objective opinion in their first book on keris, "Kris Gli Invincibili" (The Invincible Krises). Look at page 127, under title of "A centuries-old tradition". Here is the citation from this book:

A centuries-old tradition
There is much debate as to the provenance of the kris, but without doubt the most feasible theory is that it originated in the Indonesian archipelago, more precisely in the island of Java. This view is base on the most reliable traditions, historic and documentary evidence, and on examples still existing today.

However it is very hard to ascertain the period which the kris appeared. A reasonably satisfactory theory asserts that the weapon appeared in the late 10th century during the cultural rennaissance of eastern Java following the fall of the central kingdoms. Other hypotheses date it around 1200 (reign of Pajajaran). However it is certain that at the start of the reign of Majapahit (1294-1499), the shape of the kris was so highly developed that preceding stages of evolution have to be inferred.

The mysterious group of krises named "kris majapahit" (keris sajen -- page 74) have little in common with the kris as generally understood. The blade and handle are forged in one piece, and the handle consists of a small anthropoid figure with knees bent or in squatting position, or a simple torso and head (ancestor?). These krises were not used as weapons: of small size, they formed an amulet for the protection of crops or for good fortune brought by the powerful magic.
They were included in offerings to gods and ancestors, and they were used especially in the ceremony invoking the gods' protection of farmers and land against ilness, plant diseases and accidents...

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Old 5th August 2007, 12:35 PM   #28
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Goodness, gracious me!
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Old 5th August 2007, 08:56 PM   #29
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Dear Pak Ganja,

Quote:
I wonder, if it is an outdated opinion, why still this opinion reprinted? I got the 17th reprint (1998), maybe with the same opinion as the first print...

I don't have any of the reprints but I'm pretty sure that not a single bit got updated from any of the authors. The decision to reprint something (or to issue a collection of papers on a given topic from a journal) often rests solely with the publishing house/society. As such, it just reflects a (perceived) demand from buyers rather than any scientific merit. These papers have been widey cited since they are among the few studies on keris published in any western language, at least as of 10 years ago. Things are changing slowly due to enhanced international communication, especially via the Internet.

However, there's still a load of keris studies which I eagerly await getting translated into English...

Regards,
Kai
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Old 6th August 2007, 02:01 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai
...These papers have been widey cited since they are among the few studies on keris published in any western language, at least as of 10 years ago. Things are changing slowly due to enhanced international communication, especially via the Internet.

However, there's still a load of keris studies which I eagerly await getting translated into English...

Dear Kai,
Thanks for reminding me about this. Yes, there are not many good books on keris published in any western language. But I am noting too that still there is a very very good book out there, that we must be recalled. Please look at this very good book, "The World of the Javanese Keris" which was written by Garrett and Bronwen Solyom -- published for an exhibition at the East-West Culture Learning Institute East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii on April 10 to May 12 1978. I think, this is one of the best book ever on keris which was published by the western writers -- especially on Javanese keris.

Look at their research to write this beautiful book. They conducted research and to study in some of the most important collections and libraries such as Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (Indonesian Research Institute), Museum Radyapustaka (Solo), Museum Pusat (Jakarta), and from royal source especially GPH Praboewidjojo (Solo Palace), Istana Mangkunegaran (Solo) and Museum Sanabudaya (Jogjakarta) and at least twenty "mranggi" (keris sheath makers), such as some royal empus Yosopangarso, Djeno Harumbrojo and Imandihardjo, and mranggis R Ng Prodjowirongko, RM L Atmotjurigo, Matang Sadaja and a couple of local experts such as Harjono Guritno, Soelaeman Pringgodigdo...

Look at their interesting view in this book, (quote) "Both within Java and beyond, there is a wealth of regional and local variations associated with all aspects of the keris, from the manner of wearing it to the naming of the parts of the blade. It would be impossible to represent them all. Keris were made in several other islands of the Indonesian archipelago, in Malaysia and in the southern Philippines. The fourteenth century expansion on the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit probably brought Javanese blade, sheath and hilt forms to the other islands. Even today, Majapahit or other Javanese blades are found in the regalia of courts outside Java. It may be conjectured that keris made in such places as Madura, Bali, Sumatera and sulawesi were heavily influenced by Majapahit and other Javanese styles which they have retained in varying degrees until the present. In Java the keris reached its technical and aesthetic height. In comparison to the austere form and matchless technique of the Japanese sword and the directness of crystalline damascening in the Damascus saber, the form of the Javanese keris offers vital flowing line and pattern-welding of a uniquely organic character.
Thus it seemed appropriate to select Java as a point of departure for study of the keris. It is deeply embedded there, in a complex world of lore and legend, magical and spiritual symbolism, and formal rituals for making, care and use.....,"

I hope much, that this "exhibition" books will be reprinted, for they who want to study about Javanese keris. Yes, because many of their sources -- such as empu Yosopangarso, empu Djeno and master of keris sheath maker such as Prodjowirongko -- had passed away...

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