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Old 19th June 2005, 12:32 AM   #1
kai
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Question Keris from colonial collections - hilt rings missing

Hello Forumites,

I noticed that quite a few Keris from old European collections (museums as well as private collections) are missing their Pendongkok or Mendak+Selut - even if they seem to come with a hilt of corresponding age. I reckon that wooden parts may get damaged/destroyed during shipping of "obtained" Keris to Europe. However, the metal of most hilt rings should hold up better than even the blade.

Is there any explanation for this apparent paradox? Thanks for any shared insights!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 19th June 2005, 07:43 AM   #2
tom hyle
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That is interesting, huh? Small removable parts made of jewels and precious metals that may not be missed at the destination, being foreign and unfamiliar, suggest by their particular absense that they have been stripped off/witheld at some point in the commerce and transport for seperate sale etc.? just a guess; certainly the idea of treating jewels on a dagger as a sort of emergency bank account to be raided and stripped to spend at need is frequently encountered in European tales.
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Old 19th June 2005, 12:45 PM   #3
Battara
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Sometimes a family years later is in bad straights and sells off the jeweled pieces off, even gold and silver pieces off before they would have to sell the keris itself off. When the keris goes, then there is nothing left and the family is really in bad straights. Same thing happens to PI/Moro stuff.
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Old 20th June 2005, 03:46 AM   #4
kai
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Thanks for your ideas - I can see this happening with more elaborate Mendak/Selut of Java or Bali origin.

However, this seems to be as common with Bugis style Keris which most likely had a quite plain bronze Pendongkok. Neither a sailor nor local people would have gained much from reselling this part, I guess. Even if bought locally by an unsuspecting long nose, all what was needed in these days was a mere look at the translator's/local contact's waist to ascertain that such an akward gap was not an exotic design feature...

IIRC, even Keris gathered by the East India Company or its Dutch counterpart (sorry, name escapes me right now) for research/collecting purposes are not always complete.

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Kai
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Old 20th June 2005, 08:02 PM   #5
Henk
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Kai,

You mean the VOC. Verenigde Oostindische Company. That's dutch. Translated in english it is: United East-Indonesian Company.
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Old 21st June 2005, 12:10 PM   #6
kai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henk
Verenigde Oostindische Company

Thanks, Henk!

Actually, I read quite a bit of their gazetteers, etc. but that was before my interest in SEA blades became serious. However, I vaguely recall list of ethnographic items obtained from surveyed places which included Keris and other stuff of interest. I need to check that out again, sometime...

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Kai
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