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Old 29th September 2007, 02:43 PM   #1
Lew
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Default Shortening the pesi?

Question would it be proper to shorten the pesi in order to have the hilt fit properly?


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Old 29th September 2007, 03:29 PM   #2
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Just personal opinions here Lew; I'd try to avoid doing that if only for the sake of preserving the integrity of the keris .

When I unmounted my anak alang blade I found that someone had started to try this; fortunately for me and the keris the hacksaw cuts were very shallow .

On the esoteric side I believe this would be detrimental to the powers of the blade; I've often heard that the base of power in a keris resides in the pesi .

Can the jejeran be drilled deeper instead ?

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Old 29th September 2007, 03:55 PM   #3
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I tend to agree with Rick. I would certainly try to deepen the hilt hole before cutting the pesi. If there is no room on the hilt to do this i would probably consider finding a new hilt for the keris as the one on it would obviously not be right for the keris.
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Old 29th September 2007, 06:34 PM   #4
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Thanks! It was just a passing thought


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Old 29th September 2007, 10:26 PM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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Lew, in a general sense I agree with both Rick and David, but the there are other considerations.

The fact of the matter is this:- on a normal mid to low quality blade , I do not know one person in the keris world in Jawa who would hestitate for more time than it took to pick up a hacksaw, to shorten a pesi if a long pesi compromised the fitting of a hilt that he wanted to fit.

However, the first line of approach should always be to drill the hilt deeper. If the hilt is the correct type for the blade, there should not be an issue of the pesi being too long.But when you try to fit ,say, a Jawa or Bali keris to a Bugis hilt, then you have a problem. To a degree this problem can sometimes be reduced by bending the pesi to allow it to follow the curve of a Bugis hilt.

When you drill, it is very important to make sure that the hole does not go out through the back of the handle. I've seen literally hundreds of handles where this has happened, and I've done it myself. It helps to avoid this problem if you hold the hilt in your hand when you drill, rather than put it in a vice. With the handle in your hand, you can feel when the drill bit is getting close to the wood.

If a blade is of superior quality, then the preservation of the blade is prioritised, rather than the desire to achieve a visual effect. There is a solid commercial reason for this:- a prime quality blade with a shortened pesi is worth less than a prime quality blade with a complete pesi. The same parameter does not apply to ordinary blades.

There is an esoteric aspect also, however by the people I know who can be considered to really understand the keris, this is regarded pretty much as a matter of "what you don't know won't hurt you". In other words, if you have some sort of belief in the power of a particular keris and you don't know that the pesi has been shortened, for you, that keris has not got any decreased power.
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Old 30th September 2007, 08:58 AM   #6
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Lew,

If you have more of such passing thoughts, just sit in a corner and wait till they're gone

You had the comments of Rick, David and Alan. They said enough.

I know some Dutch fellow collectors who always start to look at the pesi. When the pesi is damaged or broken or even restored because the blade is so old and the pesi is gone, due the centuries of etching, they consider the whole piece as worthless. Reason for that is the esoteric side of keris Rick mentioned.
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Old 30th September 2007, 09:20 AM   #7
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Tell me Henk, do you think that these collectors can differentiate between a keris that truly has an essence, and a keris that does not?

Do you think they can differentiate between a keris that has been made by an empowered empu, and a keris that was made purely as an item of trade?

Or do they believe that all keris are sancrosanct ?

Some years ago a man who is very close to the top of the keris world in Jawa, and who is considered by some people to be a living national treasure made the remark to me that in his opinion most of the "mystical-magical" beliefs associated with the keris could be traced back to either a direct or an indirect influence of the Dutch.

This is most definitely not to say that there is no esoteric nature to the keris, but it is to say that the way in which that esoteric nature is understood can vary greatly between the understanding of a Javanese or Balinese person, and the understanding of somebody from outside the culture.
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Old 30th September 2007, 02:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Tell me Henk, do you think that these collectors can differentiate between a keris that truly has an essence, and a keris that does not?


Alan, I don't think, if you don't mind. I was introduced by a famous Dutch collector and met some other collectors. The owner of the collection told us that he did feel anything of the presences of essences in his keris. He just collected keris, sorted to geographic origin, pamortype and also on beauty of the dress. Last was not most important, but still.
Another collector told us he could feel the pressence of an essence in the keris. Strong, weak or abscent. What is the truth? I don't know. If somebody tells me he can feel the presence of a spirit, who am I to deny it? I only can make my own conclusions just like we all do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Do you think they can differentiate between a keris that has been made by an empowered empu, and a keris that was made purely as an item of trade?

Or do they believe that all keris are sancrosanct ?


For this question, Alan, I only can give you my opinion that I think when a person who says he is able to feel the presence of an essence, and he confirms the presence of an essence, he will tell you that such a keris is certainly made by an empowered empu. If not, I think the discussion is how the keris is judged as an object. Is the keris old and antique or is it new and made in the traditional way? And if it is a new made keris, for what purpose was it made?
But they don't believe all keris are sancrosanct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Some years ago a man who is very close to the top of the keris world in Jawa, and who is considered by some people to be a living national treasure made the remark to me that in his opinion most of the "mystical-magical" beliefs associated with the keris could be traced back to either a direct or an indirect influence of the Dutch.

This is most definitely not to say that there is no esoteric nature to the keris, but it is to say that the way in which that esoteric nature is understood can vary greatly between the understanding of a Javanese or Balinese person, and the understanding of somebody from outside the culture.


In this last part Alan, I think we can find the answer. The presence of the Dutch had a strong influence in the Indonesian culture. The things the Dutch saw or didn't see, and what they couldn't understand. But we Dutch want to understand everything. Make a story of it with some spooky ingredients and blow live in it....... Isn't that human nature?

Personally I try to avoid these discussions. Discussions about belief or religion are endless and never result in right or wrong, good or bad.
I only gave my experience with other Dutch keris collectors and in my answers above, the opinion of the collectors who experienced the presence of essence.
If someone tells me he feels the presence of an essence I will respect his belief. What I think or believe is not important, or like a member on this forum once said "buy the keris, not the story".
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Old 30th September 2007, 06:10 PM   #9
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Alan, i understand the seperation you are trying to make, but personally i would still rather solve the problem of fitting a hilt by adjusting the hilt, not the pesi, even on a mid or low quality blade. This is not because i believe all keris to be sancrosanct, but because in the end i do value the overall integrity of the blade over the dress regardless of the quality or esorteric nature of that blade. If a hilt cannot be adjusted to fit a particular pesi it would seem to me that it is not the correct hilt for that blade. I would then find another more accomadating one. I don't think i would personally be likely to be trying to force a bugis Jawa demam onto a Balinese or Jawanese blade so i would imagine that there usually should be some room for drilling in the hilt itself.
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Old 30th September 2007, 11:24 PM   #10
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Thanks for your response Henk.

In colloquial English, the phrase "---do you think---" is a way of seeking the opinion of the person to whom that phrase is addressed.

It could as easily have been expressed as :- "---in your opinion---".

In response to my question, you have provided, as I understand it, your comment that you personally have no opinion in these matters, but that you are prepared to accept without challenge the beliefs of others. I can understand this, and quite frankly, in some situations I often adopt exactly the same approach myself:- somebody believes something, let them; it costs me nothing and maintains harmony to let them have their opinions, and I'll have mine.

Maybe, in Holland it is a commercially sound practice never to shorten the pesi on any keris, simply because so many people use the length of the pesi as an infallible guide to the value, integrity and spiritual completeness of the keris. Nobody has ever accused the Dutch of being other than very canny businessmen, so clearly, in Holland, it would be best to assume that all keris become valueless in the presence a pesi that has been altered in some way.

Regretably, I did not learn keris in Holland. I say "regretably", because had I had the opportunity to learn in Holland, I have the feeling that I would be a much more spiritual, and a much less pragmatic person. A pity. No, I served my apprenticeship in Australia, a country with religious beliefs that are no less strong than those of any other country. It is an observable fact that some religions seem to produce fanatics amongst certain demographic groups. This is the case in my country:- most people are religiously fanatical, however, our national religion in Australia is sport, a faith not particularly well known for its ability to foster spiritualism.

Then my misfortune was compounded:- I became a journeyman in Jawa, and each of the masters who contributed to my knowledge and experience were very, very pragmatic people. In fact, I have often thought that my Javanese teachers were Javanese versions of myself, as our value systems always seemed to be totally in synch.I did not learn a lot of spiritualism there, either. What these most honorable men taught me was that only a blade made by an empu could be considered to possess an essence, and that blades made by empus were relatively easy to recognise, as there were comparatively few of them, and they were invariably of superior workmanship, or possessed certain defined characteristics which made them easily recogniseable.

Now, something else is well known in the keris trade in Jawa:- dukuns and small salesmen are constantly searching for keris that can be sold as having "isi", or "tuah". The number of stories that follow from this could fill not one book, but several.Strangely enough, the type of keris that are purchased by these people for resale as "spiritual" keris, and that I have seen, invariably fail the tests that my teachers taught me to apply.

It is a remarkable phenomenon, but the higher up the tree of keris knowledge one climbs, the less one finds people who profess belief in the power and the spiritual aspects of the keris, that are taken as articles of faith by farmers and housewives who have never learnt to read.

It is without doubt that the Dutch, and the Portugese before them, had considerable influence in Jawa, and the whole of Maritime SE Asia, but one could perhaps question if the presence of these external influences could, in fact, influence the belief systems present in the Javanese community.

I know I questioned the validity of my friend's statement that the Dutch were responsible for the beliefs in the supernatural power of the keris. I thought---hey, this is a bit far fetched:- logical Europeans being responsible for the way in which the ordinary Javanese person thinks about keris?----naw, mate, I don't think so. This time you're wrong old buddy---of course I didn't say this---I just nodded my head, tried to look wise, and agreed with him:- yep, those evil Dutch are to blame for everything ---(especially if you're a good Muslim who prays five times a day and observes all religious requirements).

This conversation with my friend took place perhaps 20 or so years ago. In the intervening period I have learnt things that I did not know at that time, or if I did "know", I did not understand the implications which these things generated.

What I did not understand was the level of superstitious belief held by the Dutch and other Europeans during the 16th to 19th centuries.
I did not understand the social class and background of the people who made up the bulk of the early Dutch colonists in Jawa.
I did not understand the social practices and value systems of these dutch colonists.
I did not understand the position of the keris in Javanese society prior to the coming of Islam.
There were many things that I did not know nor understand 20-25 years ago, of which I now have some limited understanding.

In light of my present limited understanding, I am now very inclined to agree with my Javanese friend that the Dutch did contribute significantly to the Javanese system of belief surrounding the keris. Where I disagree with him still is that I do not think we can hang the entire blame on the Dutch. I believe that the influence of Sufic Islam on indigenous Javanese spiritual belief contributed at least as much, if not more to the Javanese system of keris belief.

We must also bear this in mind:- the beliefs which surround the keris in Jawa, are not the same as the beliefs which surround the keris in Bali.
In Jawa the keris has occupied the place in society of being an icon and an item of dress for something like 250 years.
In Bali, up until only 100 years ago, or perhaps less, the keris in one incarnation was a direct line of contact with one's ancestors and with the spiritual power of all within one's kin group.In a different incarnation it was a weapon.

That "buy the keris, not the story" if tracked back to point of origin will be found to have originated with me, and I got it from the same man who told me that the Dutch were responsible for the keris beliefs.

Henk, just like you, I try to avoid debates centering around religion (and politics).I have a good Australian friend, who went completely overboard and has infact become an ersatz Javanese, living in a village, going barefoot, and being more rural Javanese than the rice farmers themselves. A couple of years back he showed me the keris that he had acquired at a very high price from a local mystic. He had slept with it under his pillow, had all sorts wonderful dreams, and was totally convinced that this keris had once belonged to a famous historic figure, who now provided him with help and protection.This was by all accounts an incredibly powerful and historic keris, and he believed in its power 100%. If he touched the blade he could even feel an electric shock going through his body.One hell of a keris! I might have believed in the power of this keris too, except for the fact that this keris had been made in Sumenep Madura within the last ten years, and was of the very lowest quality available from that source. But I said nothing, and my friend still has his firmly held beliefs. He's happy, and it has cost me nothing.

David, as I have already said:- first line of attack should be to drill the hilt, and if the correct hilt is used, there should be no issue of the pesi being too long.

However--- the reality of the situation is that blades from one point of origin moved to other geographic locations, both as personal possessions and as items of trade. I have very often come across blades from Sulawesi, Sumatra, Peninsula Malaya, Bali, and other places, in old Javanese dress. I have encountered blades from Jawa in Balinese and Bugis dress. And of course, old blades of Madura origin can be found everywhere. When these old keris in old dress are taken apart, it is often perfectly obvious that the previous owner(s) had had no qualms about altering the pesi so the blade would fit the required dress.Invariably these keris have been very ordinary keris.

However, nobody but a fool will take a grinder or a hacksaw to a Kinom, or a Brojoguno.Each stroke of that hacksaw cuts off dollars.

Even with an old, but somewhat middle quality keris, we always look to see if the pesi is intact, we cannot know if it has ever been shortened during the last couple of hundred years, but we can make sure that it is complete and original. We do this for one simple reason:- if the pesi is missing, or has been repaired, the keris is worth less, not much less, but marginally less.

When its all said and done, its a matter of personal preference. One does what makes one comfortable.
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Old 1st October 2007, 08:03 AM   #11
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I think cutting off some portion of the pesi would be alright though I've heard that the isi is actually staying at the base of the pesi. An old wiseman once told me that if tha khadam can stay in the keris (with the sheath on) for 5 minutes, it is already very good, for it normally comes to the keris when the keris is unsheath (some sort of calling the khadam to come).

I have an old raja gundala pamored keris, that recently was used successfully to exorcised my late former mother in law old house. The thing with that keris is, the pesi was accidently broken about 1 inch when I tried to take off the hulu. Initially I thought my action had rendered the keris useless - but my quick thinking to restore it (without soldering the pesi) by permanently gluing the shortened pesi to the handle, the keris DID NOT lose its power nor its aesthetic outlook
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Old 25th October 2007, 06:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LOUIEBLADES
Question would it be proper to shorten the pesi in order to have the hilt fit properly?


Lew


If you asked me? In my sincerest opinion it is certainly "NOT" proper. Allow me to put it in a simpler note in hope that it would be easier for the common mind to understand and accept?

"Question would it be proper to shorten your size ten feet in order to have a pair of a size 5 shoe to fit properly?"

Definitely A BIG NO! NO! if you asked me

I hope this would help to answer your question/doubt nicely?
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Old 25th October 2007, 06:10 AM   #13
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Thumbs up The Wise One Has Spoken

Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Alan, i understand the seperation you are trying to make, but personally i would still rather solve the problem of fitting a hilt by adjusting the hilt, not the pesi, even on a mid or low quality blade. This is not because i believe all keris to be sancrosanct, but because in the end i do value the overall integrity of the blade over the dress regardless of the quality or esorteric nature of that blade. If a hilt cannot be adjusted to fit a particular pesi it would seem to me that it is not the correct hilt for that blade. I would then find another more accomadating one. I don't think i would personally be likely to be trying to force a bugis Jawa demam onto a Balinese or Jawanese blade so i would imagine that there usually should be some room for drilling in the hilt itself.


Thank you David
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