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Old 14th December 2007, 04:31 AM   #31
Boedhi Adhitya
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
nyawati > diwangun > ngilap > ngleseh > diwangun > ngleseh > diwangun (and a further 20 more steps:- ndudut kembang kacang, ngisi jalen, ngeluk KK, mekak pidakan, ngleseh, diwangun, ngluroni, natah sogokan, natah tikel alis, natah sraweyan, diwangun, nglempeng ada-ada, diwangun, followed by the gonjo work)
You are correct, we are not seeing the same sources, while both sources claimed for quoting it from the same sources (Empu Djeno).

On my note are :
Nyilak Waja kapisan (1) > Ngilap (1)> Ndudut pesi > Nyawati (Silak Waja 2) > Mapaki+Kewangunan (1) > Ngilap (2) > Nyawati (2) > Kewangunan (2) > Ngluroni (1) > Ngleseh (1) > Kewangunan (3) > Ngluroni (2) > Ngleseh (2) > Kewangunan (4) > Kembang kacang and jalen works > Ngluroni (3) > Ngleseh... and so on..

While the sequence differs, the essential principle are the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.G. Maisey
Keris competitions.
Keris are art.
Art should not be measured subject to artificial time constraints, nor should it be done under public gaze.
By staging competitions open to the public and subject to time constraints the making of a keris has been reduced from art to a manufacturing process and is measured by commercial viability rather than artistic parameters.
Public, timed keris carving exhibitions are garbage that can do nothing but damage the art.
Yes, it is. But sadly to say, most new kerises are made with commercial intention in mind. Specialization and division of labor that we see in Madura today can be seen as 'mass-production'. Keris has become commodity. Very limited keris makers work on behalf of art, not to mention spiritual tradition. Thus, 2005 Keris Competition was only a logical step from this situation. I'm not happy with it.
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Old 14th December 2007, 05:52 AM   #32
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Yeah---well, as already agreed, the sequence can change. I reckon Pak Djeno worked the same as all of us do, he had a goal in mind and shifted things around , dependent on circumstances, to allow him to achieve that goal in the easiest way. Or maybe he did what many of us do when we get asked questions that the asker does not really understand:- he gave an answer that he hoped would satisfy the person who asked.

Pak Boedhi, keris have always been a commodity. Back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries they were being exported from Jawa to the rest of SE Asia. We have pictures showing keris sellers in the markets in Batavia.

Keris at one level have always been a commodity.For many hundreds of years keris have been made to produce a living for somebody. They are an expensive thing to produce, always were, and nobody produces items that require high resource usage unless they intend to make money out of them.

Similarly with production of a single blade by a group of workers. Except in very early days and in the case of small village workers, group production has always been the norm. The extent to which group production was applied, and the role of the master might have varied a bit, but the objective was always the same:- produce the best quality at an affordable price. People tend to get lost in their imagination when it comes to keris production. Old time Jawa was not some primitive society, it was highly organised and highly stratified.Back when they were having a good solid whack at the Dutch, it took them about five minutes to copy the Dutch weapons and perhaps improve on them.

What we see in Madura today is simply a continuation of tradition, and if there were just a touch more realism around, we would recognise that the idea of exclusive authorship of keris, even old ones, is a very limited concept. It probably may be able to be considered as applicable to very low quality keris, and some (but we can never know which) very high quality keris.The vast bulk of keris have always been produced by more than a single person.You cannot call the current Madura production "mass production". It is not. It lacks the essential elements of mass production. But it is group production, where some people will sometimes do one job efficiently, and others do another job efficiently. In this way it is no different to the way in which keris, and many other complex items have always been produced , not only in Jawa, but in other places as well.It pretty much comes down to what the market wants, and what the market can afford to pay.

Look at the number of people that were used to produce a keris, that are listed in the texts , and the work allocated to those workers. Nobody but the boss (the Empu) knew the complete process, or how one piece of work fitted with another, but he was like the conductor, the music was played by other people with various instruments.

So, what we see today is really no different to what it has always been---on one level.

But we also have people who are capable of producing a keris as a work of art from the beginning to the end. These people are the true artists. Sometimes they may produce commercially orientated items, but so do all other artists in all fields:- artists must live too, you know. What I would like to see is this current commercial competition dumped, and the institution of a true competition for those people who are entitled to be called "pandai keris", or "empu". And there are not very many of these people.
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Old 14th December 2007, 01:38 PM   #33
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This raises a question for me ; I hope I can express it correctly .

When judging the work of an empu class artisan where does one draw the line between proper form/dhapur and individual creativity on the part of the maker ?

Is there room for imagination and innovation in the process ?
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Old 14th December 2007, 06:56 PM   #34
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Rick, I cannot answer this question.

It is a matter of experience,knowledge and inate artistic sensibility, as it is with any art work.

What is it that causes the work of one artist, in any field, to be regarded as great, and the work of another artist to be regarded as mundane?

The person with no knowledge or experience, or artistic sensibility could well choose the work of Mr. Mundane as superior to the work of Mr. Great, but the knowledgeable and experienced people will invariably choose the work of the artist recognised as great, even if they do not know it is by that particular artist.

The "proper form" (dhapur) question is a simple one to answer, because various guidebooks or pakems exist which lay down the features and overall form of any particular dhapur. Provided the keris conforms with the laid down design, it is that dhapur.

However, the "creativity" question is very difficult, because the individual artist must interpret the laid down form and features within very narrow parameters, and be able to express the art and the feeling within those parameters.To detect and appraise this you need a lot of experience, very good tuition, and at least some innate artistic feeling.

One of the constant and deeply felt complaints of my own teacher was about people who saw fit to discuss and comment upon the excellence or otherwise of keris, but who could not determine the difference between the work of a talented artist, and the work of a maker without talent.I recall one time when my teacher, I, and a couple of other people attended a keris meeting in a neighbouring city. He and one of his close friends, who was also highly placed in the Surakarta Kraton, fumed all the way home because of what they considered to be a total lack of knowledge displayed by our hosts. The repeated comment was:- "It is easy to invent stories; it is very difficult to learn the keris".

Yes, there is room for creativity, but that creativity must be displayed within a very narrow range. Unless we have an extremely thorough knowledge of what is regarded as excellence we are not in a position to judge what is acceptable, and what is not.

Now, what I am talking about here are the standards as they are applied by an artistic elite centered on the Surakarta Kraton.

For anybody who is not in a position to learn these standards, and who is not committed to be bound by these standards, it becomes a bit easier.

For proper interpretation of a form you simply consult a pakem. Find that exact collection of specific features in a pakem, any pakem, and you've got a legitimate dhapur.

For the way in which those features are expressed, it comes back to whether it pleases your eye, or not.In the final analysis, you are the person who needs to live with the keris:- if it pleases you, it is a good keris --- for you.
If it does not please you, get rid of it.

The alternative to this simple approach is to go to Solo and find a good teacher.
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Old 15th December 2007, 12:36 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boedhi Adhitya

As Pak Alan said, not every body agree to the order given. You may customize your own process, as needed. But the principle may be the same : working the edge/core, the blade, then the details/ricikan. When and where each process would overlap each other, depends 100% on you.

It is worth to note that not everybody, even today's keris maker, would recognize all the name of the process. Nglanji or pidakan are quite common, but ngilap, I think, is not.They just simply don't bother . It is useful if an empu try to communicate some of the process to his assistant, such as "please do some ngilap again here and here.." and so on, but not every keris maker has assistant today.


Dear Gentlemen,

I appreciate very much your valuable dialog on this keris making topic. Even in Indonesian keris forum, or Indonesian keris dialog, I think it never happened talking of keris making -- between "Jogja-school" and "Solo-school" (sorry, if it is not a proper term for you) -- in a friendly manner such this.

Once again, I appreciate very much of you both, Mas Boedhi and Pak Alan. You are both the best waroenger in this Warung Kopi, if I may praise you...
This dialog will not only be valuable for us all, waroengers, but also for the development of Indonesian keris, I think...

Thank you Gentlemen,

Ganjawulung
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Old 16th December 2007, 03:10 AM   #36
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Thank you, Pak Alan, for remind me that keris have always been commodity. Yes, it is, it was and it will. We both know that keris as a product could be divided roughly into two groups: Keris Gramen (made without any specific order=commodity which will be sold readily in open market) and Keris Yasan (Keris which is made under commision). Most of kerises, even the old ones, are gramen. The high-quality keris are not for everyone, as not many peoples could afford it. Even if ones could afford, in the old days, it would be restricted for him, and depended heavily on his social status. And in fact, keris knowledges were not for everyone, makes keris surrounded with many myths and stories.

I don't mind certain keris become commodity nor for keris artisans to develop his special ability and making money from it. It was done before. But it doesn't mean all have to be commodity and commercial. Today's keris 'industry' has gone too far. They're losing grip on the meaning of 'tosan aji'. It is not just about 'beauty'. It has a deep spiritual aspect in it. O'Connor in "Metallurgy and Immortality at Candi Sukuh" simply wrote, "The perfection of spirit is figured in the perfection of metal, and, in a sense, imposes itself in the poetic logic of the metal workers' physical operations." Without some 'spiritual involvement', it is imposible to make a real 'tosan aji'.

I don't mean every keris makers should become hermit or priest, or should conduct 'slametan' or give some offerings when working. What I mean is, they should consciously honor the tradition on keris making, or at least, bear in mind what they're doing. In some extend, I envy the Japanese traditional sword makers, and I wish keris makers could match their devotion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganjawulung
I appreciate very much your valuable dialog on this keris making topic. Even in Indonesian keris forum, or Indonesian keris dialog, I think it never happened talking of keris making -- between "Jogja-school" and "Solo-school" (sorry, if it is not a proper term for you) -- in a friendly manner such this.
Mas Ganjawulung, I don't think that there would be much differences in keris making between Jogja and Solo. Style, perhaps. But even so, I remember Empu Djeno once told me that his father used to sold his keris (gramen) in Pasar Gede, Solo. His father, certainly working under Jogja's school. And at the time he was living, there were much more 'keris literate' people in Solo than today, and the shadow of rivalry between Solo and Jogja should be much more felt than today. But he managed to sell it.

I don't understand the Solo School much. But I get impression, until now, that the Solo school emphasize on learning the technical aspects and details. OTOH, I get impression, until now, that Jogja school emphasize on learning about the 'perfect metal', mainly the iron (tosan) and 'overall appearance'. Under the Jogja school, it is the tosan (iron) which makes an iron object such as keris qualified as 'tosan aji' or not. Other things like dhapur, details/ricikan, pamor motif and tangguh come later. However, after the tosan meets the standart, those factor then come into account. But I must admit, it is practiced under a very limited circle only, mainly kraton-linked. It doesn't mean that Solo neglect tosan, and Jogja neglect the technical and detail. I've found Solo kerises which has good iron, too. It is just a different priority on keris appraisal.
Unaware of this different approach would certainly result in unnecessary endless debate, and possibly harasment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
This raises a question for me ; I hope I can express it correctly .

When judging the work of an empu class artisan where does one draw the line between proper form/dhapur and individual creativity on the part of the maker ?

Is there room for imagination and innovation in the process ?
The proper form/dhapur in 'classical keris school' has already prescribed. It is hard for today empu, or even the old times empu, to make a new dhapur, as 'classic dhapur' aren't just about beauty, but more importantly, it have symbolic meaning. The Javanese empus could not easily alter the shape of greneng, as it was done by Sundang maker for example, as greneng has a prescribed form as 'dha' character. But as your handwriting, it is open for creativity, as long as it could be recognized. For example, you have your own stroke and shape to write 'd' as I have mine, but our 'd' shouldn't go too far from prescribed 'd' universally agreed. So, there are rooms for creativity, such as 'sogokan kandas palemahan/waja' (sogokan was made deep enough until the steel core revealed), square shape pejetan, sogokan 'nyucuk dhandang' ('crow beak' sogokan), tikel alis nerjang/nratas gandhik (tikel alis cut acros gandhik) etc. If some particular details was executed by a particular group of empus attached to a Kraton/Kingdom or certain area, then it might become a Tangguh's marks. But there are so many details in keris, that tangguh would leave some 'unprescribed'. Some of this particular details might be specially prescibed by the court, though, and thus, not an empu's creativity. But it is also possible that some particular style of ricikan/details once belonged to certain empu, then copied by another makers, since it looked beautiful, or was preferred by 'the market'. It's about 'fashion's trend' then.
Alternatively, empu might invented or employed a special technique or 'character' on forging, especially when applying the pamor. He might make the pamor look bolder or tighter or to reflect chatoyancy, etc. Dimension, could be also 'played'. However, as Pak Alan said, ones need an ample artistic talent and experience to appraise/identify whether a particular keris was the work of empu or not.

I understand that under Surakarta's Court, the keris shape was stricly prescribed. I've been told that there are 'master keris models' found in Kraton Surakarta, made of wood/bronze/brass (?). Master models, that every Court's empus had to conform. I know today's respected Solo keris maker who used to bring vernier caliper, and make his keris to exact milimeter and angle.
Kraton Yogyakarta, on the other hand, seemed not so strickly prescribe it's keris measurement as Surakarta did. Until now, no keris model has ever found. Empu Djeno worked without a 'master model' as long as I know, and so did his father. But it didn't throw the Yogyakarta keris to the chaotic order. The style was prescribed and strickly controlled, but the control was based more on 'rasa/feeling' rather than from model. It was important for both court to produce a high quality kerises, as it reflected it's cultural sophistication. Which one is better ? Both are.

The 'gramen keris', from Karsten's Krisdisk
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Last edited by Boedhi Adhitya : 16th December 2007 at 03:27 AM.
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Old 16th December 2007, 05:25 AM   #37
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Many of our most earnestly held beliefs are the result of a point of view.

And many earnestly held beliefs seem to generate an unwarranted degree of heat.

For more than 30 years I have been witness to very learned and very respected authorities on the keris, whose beliefs were centered around the Solo school, become vitriolic when discussing the Jogja point of view, and the level of Jogja knowledge, relating to keris.

I have had less exposure to what goes on behind closed doors in Jogja, but from the limited contact I have had, and the snide, thinly cloaked slurs I have heard from Jogja orientated people, I rather suspect the private discussion in Jogja of the Solo point of view might generate just as much slanderous comment.

I rather feel that within this discussion group we might do well not to become too involved in discussion of differences between Jogjakarta and Surakarta points of view . There is ample to criticise in both points of view, and very little to be gained from discussion of either. These are things that concern people living in Solo and Jogja:- I feel that these things need not concern us here.

As to the "spirituality" of the keris, this is something that is within the heart of the members of the society, it is not something that is dependent upon the keris, but rather something that is dependent upon the culture. Over time, the needs of a culture change:- nothing stays frozen in time, and a living culture is no different. The keris remains a part of Javanese culture, but its role in the culture now is not the same as it was 1000 years ago, nor even 500 years ago.

Yes, O'Connor wrote on the spirituality of iron working, but he was dealing with a 14th century perspective. Any culture that does not move on, and adapt, will die. As will the elements of that culture.

Some time after 1812 Raffles wrote that in Jawa the keris had assumed a position analogous to the position of the short sword in mid 18th century Europe. In other words, in the first quarter of the 19th century the keris in Jawa had become primarily an item of dress. The old literature, and inscriptions tell us that the keris was the symbol of the male. Well, in the Jawa of Raffles' time it still held its position as a male symbol, even if a somewhat diluted one. In Bali, it took another 100 years for the keris to become what it already was in Jawa in 1812.

In today's Jawa the keris is still a living part of the culture, but Javanese culture itself has lost the fundamental understanding of "tosan aji" or "wesi aji", just as it has lost the understanding of the original concept of the pusaka. Comprehensible, because in today's world , where is the necessity for such understanding?We can wring our hands and mourn the loss, or we can try our best, and in our own ways to support for a little bit longer something that we value.The keris is still a part of today's Javanese culture. Yes, its role has changed, it is no longer understood in the same way it might once have been understood.But this is true of the keris throughout its history:- it has changed its nature in accord with the demands of its society.
Rather than cry for the passing of lost values, let us accept the current framework of the society and its culture and work within it.

Several years ago I read the opinion of a professor at one of the universities in Central Jawa. He put forward the proposition that within a generation or two the Javanese language would have to all intents and purpose have disappeared, corrupted beyond recognition by Bahasa Indonesia. He predicted that before long, Javanese would become a language that would only be understood by academics.

If the primary identifier of a culture is to disappear, what hope is there for the continuance of secondary identifiers?

As students of the keris we have a unique opportunity to support the continuance of this blossom of Javanese culture. Let us provide this support, rather than mourn the loss of values that no longer exist. We cannot change a society, but if we value an element of the culture of that society, we can support that element. We can do this by attempting to gain a valid understanding of the keris and its nature, as it has moved through time, and by providing support for today's artists and artisans involved in the continuance of the keris traditions.
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Old 16th December 2007, 06:32 AM   #38
Raden Usman Djogja
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Dik Budhi, Pak Alan & Pal Gonjo,

if there is a collaboration amongst you, there will be a new book of keris.
all of you have opened what somebody said "ilmu sinengker" (secret knowledge).
the world of keris will thank to you and your effort, I am sure.

warm salam,
OeS
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Old 17th December 2007, 03:33 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boedhi Adhitya
Mas Ganjawulung, I don't think that there would be much differences in keris making between Jogja and Solo. Style, perhaps. But even so, I remember Empu Djeno once told me that his father used to sold his keris (gramen) in Pasar Gede, Solo. His father, certainly working under Jogja's school. And at the time he was living, there were much more 'keris literate' people in Solo than today, and the shadow of rivalry between Solo and Jogja should be much more felt than today. But he managed to sell it.

I don't understand the Solo School much. But I get impression, until now, that the Solo school emphasize on learning the technical aspects and details. OTOH, I get impression, until now, that Jogja school emphasize on learning about the 'perfect metal', mainly the iron (tosan) and 'overall appearance'. Under the Jogja school, it is the tosan (iron) which makes an iron object such as keris qualified as 'tosan aji' or not. Other things like dhapur, details/ricikan, pamor motif and tangguh come later. However, after the tosan meets the standart, those factor then come into account. But I must admit, it is practiced under a very limited circle only, mainly kraton-linked. It doesn't mean that Solo neglect tosan, and Jogja neglect the technical and detail. I've found Solo kerises which has good iron, too. It is just a different priority on keris appraisal.
Unaware of this different approach would certainly result in unnecessary endless debate, and possibly harasment.


Dear Mas Boedhi,

I am Solonese, born in Solo, grown up in Solo. But yet, admire much the Jogjanese "nom-noman" (keris with "young" tangguh, Hamengku Buwanan for instance). Sri Manganti keris, (and) "ping piton" (The Seventh, to mention keris with tangguh Hamengku Buwana VII -- 1877-1921) are the ones of my admiration. You may compare with the Solonese "nom-noman" from about the same era, of Solonese Paku Buwana IX (1861-1893) or Paku Buwana X (1893-1939). I cannot describe the details, because it is a matter of "visual and rasa or feeling appreciation".

If I'm not mistaken (please correct me if I'm misled with my understanding), "nom'noman" of Hamengku Buwana style is more "mataram" style, while the Paku Buwanan are "new style" -- in form of ganja, and the whole appearance of the blade.

According to you, which Hamengku Buwanan style is more specific? The seventh? Or the older Hamengku Buwana? What is the most specific characteristic of Sri Manganti, Mas Boedhi?

Ganjawulung
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Old 17th December 2007, 07:10 PM   #40
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Pak Ganja, you have addressed your question to Pak Boedhi, and it will interest me to see his response, however, please permit me to present my opinion as well. I emphasise that this is my opinion. I have never heard anybody else voice a similar opinion.

If we study closely the details of Jogja style blades what we find is a reflection of the Mataram style, most noticeable in the square blumbangan, but also able to be supported in the form of some other ricikan.

But with the Surakarta style, what we have is a reflection of the Majapahit style. In fact, not a "new" style, but a style pre-dating Mataram.

We are used to thinking of blades classified as Majapahit as being rather light ,but much of this fragility is the result of erosion. However, we do have examples of the direct descendants of the Majapahit form in the Banten, and the Bali forms, which are still in close to original condition.These Banten and Bali keris, although displaying ricikan which are broadly of similar style to the ricikan of Majapahit blades , are of much more substantial proportions than the Majapahit blades, primarily because they have not been subjected to ongoing erosive conditions.

The Surakarta form of keris most closely resembles the Banten and the Bali blade form. These two forms are continuations of the Majapahit form, and the Surakarta form similarly reflects a Majapahit style, just as the Jogjakarta blade form reflects a Mataram style.

The single blade feature that anchors the proportion of a blade is the blumbangan:- the form taken by the blumbangan dictates the proportions and placement of the other ricikan; get the form and proportion of the blumbangan wrong, and everything that follows will be wrong.

The blumbangan of the Surakarta blade form is a direct reflection of the Majapahit blumbangan; this same elongated blumbangan can be seen in the Banten blade form, and in the Bali blade form.

An inconsistent variation between Jogjakarta and Surakarta keris will be noted in the form of the ron dha/greneng , however, this is a superficial difference that has no effect on the form of the rest of the blade.

The Surakarta blade form is not a "new" style, rather it is a reflection of an older style of blade, a style that pre-dates Mataram.
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Old 18th December 2007, 05:45 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A.G. Maisey
Many of our most earnestly held beliefs are the result of a point of view.

And many earnestly held beliefs seem to generate an unwarranted degree of heat.

For more than 30 years I have been witness to very learned and very respected authorities on the keris, whose beliefs were centered around the Solo school, become vitriolic when discussing the Jogja point of view, and the level of Jogja knowledge, relating to keris.

I have had less exposure to what goes on behind closed doors in Jogja, but from the limited contact I have had, and the snide, thinly cloaked slurs I have heard from Jogja orientated people, I rather suspect the private discussion in Jogja of the Solo point of view might generate just as much slanderous comment.


Yes, Pak Alan. The division of Java had put deep rivalry between the branches, much until now. The rivalry extended to virtually anything, and there are real differences in art/culture, tradition, languages and personalities/way of thinking. I personally noticed the difference in personalities of Jogja – Solo peoples. But let it be as it may, I really hope we can neglect the difference, and even take benefits from each style.




Raffles, no matter how deep his understanding upon keris culture considering his short stay in Java (which needless to say, much of his times was spent in Batavia), also wrote that keris, among 30 or so Javanese weapons, had the most special value to Javanese. A Javanese soldier usually carried 3 kerises, 1 from his father in-law, 1 from his own father, and 1 which was his own. Why, such a specific origin needed as items of dress?. Why didn’t they just pick up any kerises and tell everything he wishes to everyone whom asked ? Whatever the answer, keris had and always has a special value, other than just an item of dress. And I personally think, it isn’t so ‘fashionable’ to wear 3 kerises at once, but two might do. Needles to say Raffles also pointed Malay peninsula as the birth places of keris, if I’m not mistaken.



It is true that O’Connor was discussing Candi Sukuh, a very peculiar candi/temple from 14 C, at the end of Majapahit. While it used Hindu iconography, it has a very unique structure, almost unknown for ‘original’ Hindu. It’s place, in Mount Lawu, Central Java, also very unexpected, as at the time it was built, Hindu’s center was placed in East Java. Lombard propose that it was built by some Majapahit elites, sawing the fall of Hindu eras, took refuges in deep, inner Java, and tried to practiced a syncretic of ‘Old Javanese Religion’, mainly The Anchestor’s Worship and Yoni-Phallus cult, as an answer to the fall of Hindus. Interestingly, O’Connor referred to ‘Cantang Balang’, a Surakarta Court’s Jester, to explain the meaning of metalworking sculpture in Sukuh. ‘Cantang Balang’ is quite recent, 19-20th C. performance. Thus, we see the continuation of Old Javanese Religion, disguised and mixed with Hindu icon. Under Islam, we see, for example Nyadran tradition, as the syncretism of Islam and Anchestor’s Worship. Not to mention the Garebeg, Labuhan or Kirab Pusaka. In keris, we see it most obvious in Ganja-Pesi “cult”, among other thing. As long as keris has ganja and pesi, it is, ‘a holy object’, and once who made it should act accordingly, I suppose. The ‘religion of Java’, as Koentjaraningrat called it, is still much alive. Whether or not the peoples who actually exercised it conscious that it has some 'old javanese religion' in nature, is another question.



But be as it may, as you’ve suggested, it’s all forgoten. But the ‘real’ court art, should seek what it called ‘kagunan adi luhung’. Prof. Koentjaraningrat in ‘Javanese Culture’ define it as ‘the highly sacred value of the classical court art’. It is ‘The highest form of artistic expresion’. He also wrote, in case of profesional performers of wayang orang, that “Artist from courts indeed despised the ringgit tiyang panggung actors, whom they called degenerate entertainers, who sold they art for money (tiyang mbarang), and thereby violated the so-called highly sacred values of the classical court art (kagunan adi luhung)". Keris, I believe, also fall to the Classical Court Art categories. It was the court’s duty to preserve the art. Until now, the ‘Bedhaya Ketawang’ dance is regarded as a sacred dances. The performers should fast, cleans their bodies, etc before performing it. It is performed only in a very special day. The art and the value, still much alive. Why don’t the keris ?

In fact, Surakarta Court still has plenty of Court Empus, with a very high degree of skill and very vast knowledge in keris culture, and disperesed all over Java (Jakarta, Surabaya, Malang, Madiun, beside Solo). Many of them hold ‘Tumenggung’ title, a very high rank title, lower only to those of ‘Pangeran’ (Prince). This rank is so high that just recently, Jogjakarta Court decree that the highest rank could possibly achieved by ordinary ‘abdi dalem’ (court servant) through ordinary career is Raden Riya, roughly takes 20 years of serving. Raden Riya is one level lower than Tumenggung. A further advance would need special condition. Then, with the high status, comes obligation. But as I’ve written before, I’m not asking for any of them to became a priest-like empus. Instead, I urged them to give honor to “highly sacred value of the classical court art”, just a little bit. Considering their vast knowldege, I think they fully understand what the ‘kagunan adi luhung’ in keris art is. If they don’t, then something really missing, and thus, per se, they cannot reached ‘the highest artistic expresion’ as the late Court Empus has done.

I apologize for sound like ‘mourning’. But believe me, I’m not. And believe me, I’m actually doing something on it. What I wish is, a one step further in keris art. Not just stuck in ‘high art’ but push it one more step : ‘a highly sacred art’. There is much difference between ‘high art’ and ‘highly sacred art’. It involves ’spirit’ : A much different sets of motivation, intention, and involvement. Not some kind of ghost, but the spirit of the artist. Bali has taugh us a lesson. Many dance in Bali actually not performed for tourist attraction. Its are religious ritual, performed before Gods. Other forms of ‘spirit’ I’ve seen is in the old empu of Wayang/leather puppet making. He explained, to make a good Semar figures, one should wake up early in the morning before the sun rise, and start to chisel in the quite, calm dawn. On the contrary, if one would make a Baladewa figures, he must start to chisel just several hours before the dusk, and feel the rush. If one make Rahwana, he must chisel when he actually in anger. Thus, the spirit would be ‘absorbed’ in the figures.



Quote:
Originally Posted by A.G. Maisey
In today's Jawa the keris is still a living part of the culture, but Javanese culture itself has lost the fundamental understanding of "tosan aji" or "wesi aji", just as it has lost the understanding of the original concept of the pusaka. Comprehensible, because in today's world , where is the necessity for such understanding?We can wring our hands and mourn the loss, or we can try our best, and in our own ways to support for a little bit longer something that we value.The keris is still a part of today's Javanese culture. Yes, its role has changed, it is no longer understood in the same way it might once have been understood.But this is true of the keris throughout its history:- it has changed its nature in accord with the demands of its society.


Pak Alan, I don’t know what is your understanding about ‘tosan aji’ and ‘pusaka’. A quite recent traditional such as Serat Wesi Aji and Jitapsara (a kind of primbon) and also famous 19 C. Solonese poet Ronggowarsito explained many kind of iron and it’s character. Thus, ‘tosan aji’ is just a special kind of iron, specially worked, and might be taken shape as keris, tombak or pedang. True, no one know about it now. But the “cult”, if we may called it, was quite alive in early 20 C. There is a story of Empu Prawiradahana, a notable Jogjakarta’s empu, warned his Pangeran about the danger of the iron which the Pangeran’s newly acquired car was made. The empus was certainly confident enough about his ability to ‘detect’ a ‘god’ and ‘bad’ iron, that he suggested the Pangeran to discarded his car. The Prince resisted, and actually, the car involved in accident not long after. Yes, certainly, story could be made and exagerated, as any other things in the world. But those who has experience in marangi/keris staining, can not neglect that the keris were composed of many kind of iron, each blade virtually had it owns. He might also recall, the good-looking one, and the bad-looking one. While it is technically in nature, in Java, it was attached to something more than technical. The fact that today’s keris experts or empus cannot identified simply signified the ‘missing link’ : no one had ever studied under ‘real empu’. Otherwise, the iron identification and character as written in Serat Wesi Aji and other manuscript simply never exist, and such a thing was absolutely forgery. But once again O’Connor reminds me : “The perfection of spirit is figured in the perfection in metal”..



Pusaka is, IMHO, not necessarily inherited. It could be newly made, and actually, it was. Babad Giri described how Sunan Giri acquired his pusaka. He simply went to Empu Supa workshop, and commissioned a keris. He brought a material with him, “a pen”. Empu Supa simply brought it to his forge and worked on it. Just before he forge it, the ‘pen’ suddenly swirl on the anvil, and once it stopped, it already became a keris. Empu Supa told what was happened to Sunan Giri when he presented the keris. Sunan Giri then pronounced a decree “Henceforward, this keris named “Kalam Munyeng” (The Swirling Pen). Anyone who see it should reckon it. It is the Pusaka of Giri”. A fresh, newly made keris, made by ‘ordinary’ people (not gods or jinny), in the forge (with some magical accident, though), has pronounced as “Pusaka”.

Other, more recent story is the making of Kanjeng Kiyai Pakumpulan. It was made during the reign of Pakubuwono VI by empu Singawijaya. It was made of nails, which was collected from Mosque renovation all over Surakarta Kingdom during the reign of Pakubuwono IV, hence it was named “Pakumpulan”, kumpul=to gather/collect. It was a newly made keris, made and intended from the beginning as a Pusaka. And indeed, it is a Pusaka. Other story is Si Ginje.

Pusaka is simply “the highest, sacred form of artistic expresion” in keris world. It was made with all the intention it might takes. The material, preferably, is special. It calls for ‘special process’, a perfect process that technically and ‘spiritually’ possible. It is a masterpieces. Thus, it must ‘stand-out out of the rest’. It loaded with philosophical value. It should inspire those who own it. The owner, on the other hand, should know how to take inspiration from the Pusaka. It could, fortunately, newly made. An ability to fly, to stand on it’s tips, to walk, to produce smoke, water, fire, etc, is not required. But if it do, it certainly would be considered, and a kind, polite, trust-worthy, preferably powerful, guardian spirit would be welcomed



I definitely agree with you, Pak Alan, that we have opportunity to support the continuity of Javanese culture. I’ve made a fierce discussion with some ‘old fashion’ keris lover who insist that Pusaka cannot be made again. But I insist, we can make it again. And WE MUST, for the sake of the keris culture, what ever it takes. We can make a piece of blade which is capable to inspire the owner, which we can watch for hours, again and again and again, with endless admiration, just like the masterpiece works of the late empus. But in the eyes of competition, IMHO, it is too ‘personal’, and thus, cannot be competed.



I do appologize to all forumities for this lenghty post, and I raised my hand and take my oath : I will not talk about it anymore. I think I’ve made my point very clear.

In the end, I would like to quote my friend, who has been studied keris for over 40 years:,” No matter how hard I tried to understand, once and for all, I’m European. I will never be able to understand keris as much as Javanese do”. I admire his stubbornness in studying keris.





Mas Ganjawulung,

I'm afraid I must take some breath before I answer your question. Please be patience

Last edited by Boedhi Adhitya : 18th December 2007 at 05:59 AM.
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Old 18th December 2007, 09:05 PM   #42
A. G. Maisey
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Pak Boedhi, quite honestly, I can see liitle, if any variation in the position that you put forward, and my own.

I agree that the art of the keris is a court art and that ideally it should be preserved as an art that reflects some of the spiritual elements of Javanese culture. How this might be accomplished within the present fabric of Javanese society is beyond my comprehension, but as an ideal, it is a worthy one.

However, even this classification of the keris as a blossom of the arts of the Javanese court, and by extension a sacred object, is a comparatively recent one when considered against the more than 1000 years of the history of the keris. Mistake me not:- I support your stated ideals, however we need to consider other facets of the keris as well, such its place in the culture of the people, as distinct from the culture of the courts, its function as a store of wealth, and so on. The keris is not a one dimensional object, but has many facets, each of which needs consideration.

As to the nature of those things that we refer to as "pusaka".

Pak Boedhi, I agree that your definition of the word "pusaka" would be accepted as a fitting definition by many people within the Javanese keris community. The ready acceptance of such a definition demonstrates conclusively the point I made in my previous post, that understandings have been lost.

From the historico/cultural perspective, a pusaka is a revered object which has been passed down from one's ancestors. There are other meanings, such as inherited family sawah, but in the context of the keris, these other meanings are not directly relevant.

The spiritual relevance of the pusaka keris is that it forms a link between the present custodian of the pusaka, the previous custodians of the pusaka, and all members of the present custodian's kin group.Its possession verifies the approval by the previous custodians of the present custodian to hold the authority symbolised by the possession of that pusaka.

I acknowledge that this understanding of the word and concept has been greatly diluted in Jawa over a period of many years, however, a close investigation of the nature of the pusaka keris throughout history, will demonstrate that this interpretation of the pusaka keris is a more generally applicable one than the late 20th century interpretation of the idea. Moreover, when we consider the concept of "pusaka" from the perspective of a realm, the interpretation can be extended to other less easily recognised pusakas, such as a place of worship, a graveyard, or even a dance.

The core values of the pusaka are its effects of uniting the past with the present in one dimension, with all members of the kin group in another dimension, and of providing a seal of approval for the authority of the current custodian.In essence, we are looking at a cosmic focal point.

I am not saying that one understanding of the nature of the pusaka keris is correct, and another is incorrect. Not at all. Society dictates the acceptable understanding of cultural mores according to the development of the society. Nothing stays frozen in time. My understanding of certain concepts that are integral to my own cultural heritage are in many respects quite different from the understanding of my forebears of those same concepts. Time and its passage mould society and culture in a way that permits the survival of the people who share that culture and society.The survival of the owners of the culture ensures the survival of the culture.This could be likened to the nature of a virus which constantly changes in order to escape elimination.

Thus, when we consider the "meaning" of something, or the "nature" of something, against the background of society and culture, we must consider these matters within the context of time. It is not a valid exercise to try to understand 14th century beliefs, using the perceptions of the 20th century.

Tosan aji?
Again, a point of view. We can take this pair of words in its simplified application, or we can go back to the roots of "aji" and the implications inherrent in the societal position of iron age smiths.
Perhaps we could consider why it is that the Pande caste in Bali will not take holy water from the Brahmans.

Raffles was an interested and hyperactive social observer. He employed informants and recorded. He was not an expert on the keris, he simply recorded what he observed. He observed and reported the importance of the keris to Javanese people, he also observed and reported its function. I have no doubt at all that much of the esoteric nature of the keris was unknown to Raffles. However, there can be no doubt at all that the keris in early 19th century Jawa was a very different thing from the keris in 14th century Jawa.
I do not recall that Raffles proposed an origin for the keris. Gardner attributed origin to Peninsula Malaya, but I don't think Raffles mentioned the question of origin.

Religion of Java?
Clifford Geertz first coined this term I believe, not Koentjaraningrat.

I would prefer not to comment in respect of the empus of the present Court of Surakarta.

Of course a European , or a person from a European cultural background cannot relate to a keris in the same way as do some people who are Javanese.

However, a professional investigator and analyst, most especially one with considerable experience in a particular field, can come to an understanding of the way in which some Javanese people relate to the keris.
Such an analyst would not wish to relate to the keris in the same way, or even in a similar way, to the way in which some people in Jawa relate to the keris. Such subjective involvement in the subject of investigation and analysis could corrupt the objectivity of the exercise.
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Old 19th December 2007, 02:12 AM   #43
Boedhi Adhitya
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Yes, Pak Alan, I understand your point. We are on the same train, and if there are some minor differences, surely because we see through a different angle, as you are sitting on the different seat. You are not sitting on my lap, aren't you ?

Let's moving forward...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganjawulung
Dear Mas Boedhi,

I am Solonese, born in Solo, grown up in Solo. But yet, admire much the Jogjanese "nom-noman" (keris with "young" tangguh, Hamengku Buwanan for instance). Sri Manganti keris, (and) "ping piton" (The Seventh, to mention keris with tangguh Hamengku Buwana VII -- 1877-1921) are the ones of my admiration. You may compare with the Solonese "nom-noman" from about the same era, of Solonese Paku Buwana IX (1861-1893) or Paku Buwana X (1893-1939). I cannot describe the details, because it is a matter of "visual and rasa or feeling appreciation".

If I'm not mistaken (please correct me if I'm misled with my understanding), "nom'noman" of Hamengku Buwana style is more "mataram" style, while the Paku Buwanan are "new style" -- in form of ganja, and the whole appearance of the blade.

According to you, which Hamengku Buwanan style is more specific? The seventh? Or the older Hamengku Buwana? What is the most specific characteristic of Sri Manganti, Mas Boedhi?

Ganjawulung
I agree with Pak Alan, that PB didn't make a 'new from the scratch' style. It was hard, even today, to 'invent' a new style. Keris aesthetical standart has developed as such that it has strict senses on what is acceptable and what isn't. Thus, PB was adopting another standart which already exist. We must also bear in mind, that there was a time when Jogja and Solo shared the same style. Thus, the differences between the two courts follow an evolutionary path. What we see today is the latest development, mainly come from late-19 C - early 20 C, that is, when PB IX-X and HB VII-VIII reigned.

What style PB did adopt, therefore, debatable, as there is no clear documentation about it. But from my limited knowledge on PB blades, I always feel it has some Madura influences. I make my conclusion mainly on the 'global proportion' of the blade, mainly between the high/length of gandhik, the width of sraweyan and wadidang slope compared to the overall length of the blade. I didn't take account of the details/ricikan, as it might come in various way, and most straight Madura's blade has very limited detail. Please don't mix it up with new Madura's blade. The old one is a good blade. Well define and having bold, strong character. Madura has many famous and powerful empus, which has made keris at least since Majapahit eras, and even earlier. Even in some way, the HB I blade also has some Madura influences, among other. HB I also an admirer of Madura's bravery. He composed a dance for it, named Beksan Lawung Trunajaya. (Trunajaya was Maduras Prince, which in fact, attacked and caused the fall of Mataram under Amangkurat I)
Historically, Solo has a tight connection to Madura. Some Madura's princesses were married to Solo royal families, if not the Susuhunan himself. Not to mention, the famous Empu Brajaguna came from Madura, and the family of Brajaguna worked for the court for the long time. Wasn't it possible, that there was another empus who also emigrated to Solo ? Through Bengawan Solo river, Madura was easily reached.

My objection to Pak Alan conclusion is simply because the what-so-called Banten blade was very likely unknown in late 18c. in Java. Serat Centhini, which was composed in early 19c, has already described tangguh Majapahit as we would accept now, as a light and slightly small blade. But if we use only the blumbangan as the indicator, it might be true. But I think Madura's blade also has an elongated blumbangan too.

Yogyakarta, in the other hand, claiming themself as an inheritor of Mataram, and in fact, located in Mataram, surely would adopt the Mataram style. But not without modification, though.
HB I is some kind of the mixture between Mataram, Madura and Tuban/Pajajaran. It's unique features is a very deep and wide blumbangan. It is very rare.
HB V is a mixture of Majapahit and Mataram. It has 'tight' (kenceng), but calm and confidence in appearance. Keris, in HB V eras who reign during and after Dipanegara war, was an important tool to support his legitimacy. He withdrew all pusakas which belong to old Pangerans, to suppress their influence. He made and gave pusakas to those who support him. No room for error. It's also known as Tangguh Srimanganti, as it was forge in Srimanganti hall, inside the court. The most noticeable feature is it's pamor. It is incredibly tight/lembut, without losing it's line. It also shows chatoyancy effect. In some blade, it literally look like peacock feather. It is regarded as the best Jogjakarta's blade ever made, but unfortunately, it is rare. I haven't seen the pictures of the real HB V's blade ever published.
HB VII, on the other hand, made quite a lot of kerises, in some grade of qualities. The high quality blade only bestowed to the Princes, while the lower one to the lower rank servant, accordingly. It has a mixture of Tuban and Mataram style, and slightly bigger than HB V. Pamor comes in vary.
HB VIII's blade was almost the same with HB VII, as the same empus was employed. The most noticeable difference are the blade is very slightly smaller and the pamor is more coarse.

Here, I attached the pictures of K. Tamansari, which was published in Keris Magazine and Haryono Guritno's book.

www.heritageofjava.com/keris

It is a well-published keris, but regarded as Mataram. According to some in Jogja, it is HB VIII. The material, kinatah and pamor style doesn't fit the Mataram Tangguh. It is a good example of HB VIII keris. Tamansari is the Water Castle, built during the reign of HB I. Once a very beautiful garden with under water tunnel, man-made island, etc, but now only ruin. It's beauty depicted in batik's motif, and also in this keris' kinatah.

Other pictures in the comparison between Madura and Surakarta keris. It can not, however, replace the real blades.
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Old 19th December 2007, 03:41 AM   #44
A. G. Maisey
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Pak Boedhi, I am not proposing a linear descent to Surakarta style from Banten style.

What I am proposing is the stylistic proportion of the Majapahit blade transposed to the Surakarta blade. This does not mean that the Surakarta blade is the same in all respects to the Majapahit blade, but rather it uses the style of the Majapahit blade and fits it to the Surakarta blade.

Yes, there was a long and a close relationship between Surakarta and Sumenep, and there may have been some contributing influence to the Surakarta blade, but personally I cannot see it. The old Madura blades had a totally different pawakan to the Surakarta blade, and were usually quite upright with a rotan-like cross section; the blade tip after the last luk was long; the gandik was more often than not rather acutely angled; blumbangan proportion was quite different to that of the Surakarta blade, tending to squarish, and it was typically shallow and poorly defined; the kembang kacang was rather thin and spindly, and the gandik was typically short, low, thin and small; pamor was coarse and with a sand-like texture. However, they were well made blades for the purpose of weaponry. They were not works of art.

It is possible that one could get a similar feeling from an old Madura blade, and a Surakarta blade, but this different to physical appearance.

Blade proportion is anchored in the blumbangan, and the blumbangan in both the Majapahit blade and the Surakarta blade establish a related proportion. I am not using only the blumbangan as an indicator, rather I am saying that by using the same blumbangan, proportion is established which must follow the blumbangan, once that happens, the overall style follows.Actual physical size is not a consideration, as Blambangan, Banten and Bali blades---all inheritors of Majapahit keris tradition--- from the period immediately following Majapahit, are all of similar size to the Surakarta blade. Although we think of the Majapahit blade as a small blade, and although it is mentioned as a light blade in Centhini, let us not forget that Majapahit was already 400 years back in history when Centhini was written.In fact, the typical Majapahit blade is not a small blade, rather it is of medium size, but it is thin and light.

In one sense the Surakarta blade was "new" style, just as the HB blade was a "new" style, but where the HB style was influenced by Mataram, the Surakarta style was influenced by Majapahit.
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Old 20th December 2007, 09:03 AM   #45
Raden Usman Djogja
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dear Kerislovers, especially Pak Budhi et Pak Alan,

I have been following this discussion. Remarkable!!! To make clearer of my understanding, would you please, if any, to upload keris pictures that you believe having tangguh: surakarta, djogjakarta, majapahit or old madura.
It is easier for me, perhaps for other colleagues too, while following some explanation about typical tanggug mentioned above there are opportunities to watch keris pictures which representing those tangguhs.

regrads,
OeS
some people can swim but are unable to dive, and, some others cannot swim then dived
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Old 20th December 2007, 04:29 PM   #46
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I would also like to commend the participants in this thread, especially Alan, Boedhi and Ganja, for a most excellent and informative discussion. I think when we try this up (though there is always more! ) it should be added to our "Classic" thread sticky section.
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Old 13th September 2010, 05:49 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
...should be added to our "Classic" thread sticky section.


Yes?

Thanks,

J.
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Old 14th September 2010, 09:40 AM   #48
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I miss very this level of discussion.
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Old 11th December 2011, 01:27 PM   #49
Karttikeya
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Need to be identified below mendhak, what type of this mendhak?
Thanks..
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Old 13th December 2011, 02:14 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav
I miss very this level of discussion.


Looks like they never visit no more.
I found them on facebook any way.
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Old 13th December 2011, 06:54 AM   #51
A. G. Maisey
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Yeah Ferry --- friends will arise, friends will disappear --- to quote The Bard. No , not Will.

But there's a few of us still hanging around.

Actually the place where I've seen this sort of mendak most is in East Jawa, Surabaya, Malang. Cannot recall having seen it much on Central Jawa keris.
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