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Jean 31st October 2020 11:48 AM

Tangguh records
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Dear friends,
I hope that all of you and your families are withstanding well this new confinement period ahead of us....
A close friend of mine from Solo passed me a very interesting booklet (in Javanese language and tranlated into bahasa Indonesia) containing the tangguh records from the late Wirasukagda, who was the Chief empu at the Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace during the reign of Pakubuwana X (1893-1939).
This booklet is unique as for each tangguh, it describes the features of the krisses made by the various empus of the period, so not only the general ones as found in the reference Javanese kris books such as Keris Jawa and the EK. Of course it does not mean that the descriptions of the krisses attributed to the periods before the Mataram kingdoms are accurate (legendary?) but it constitutes the best information source about tangguh which I ever met.
The described tangguh start with Pajajaran and end with Surakarta PBX, with the notable exception of Yogyakarta. ;)
I am starting the translation of the booklet into English but this will be a very difficult task for me because of my basic level in bahasa Indonesia, and the double translation from Javanese to Indonesian.
Has any of you got an English translation of this booklet which he could share with us?
Best regards

A. G. Maisey 31st October 2020 12:15 PM


kai 1st November 2020 08:32 AM

Hello Alan,

I assume you know this work quite well. Is anything known how this information got compiled and published?

I know one can't learn tangguh from a book - how do the given criteria vibe with what you've learnt though?

Thanks a lot in advance!


Mickey the Finn 1st November 2020 10:08 AM

Error or not, I myself would not mind having a complete edition/copy of this booklet to study for myself, if only primarily to help in understanding Bahasa Indonesia.
Even if it's not "hard data", keris lore usually makes for fascinating reading. If you know of anywhere I might access the complete text online, I'd be grateful.
A search of JSTOR yielded absolutely nothing, even with the alternate spellings I tried.
Thank you.

A. G. Maisey 1st November 2020 11:57 AM

Kai, Jean introduced this subject and I think that it might be nice if he expanded a little bit on it before I make any comments.

kai 1st November 2020 12:07 PM

Thanks for your consideration, Alan!

Jean, is it mentioned who did the translation into BI?


Jean 1st November 2020 01:27 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Kai, I don't know who made the translation into BI.
I don't know much more about this booklet than what I wrote before, but it was published by Toko Buku (bookshop) Sadu-Budi in Solo, probably more than 50 years ago (see pic, what I got is a copy only). The address of the publisher is (or was): "Kangaroo", Jalan Let. Jen. Sutoyo 2/II, Cenglik, Solo - Utara.
Mickey, you can view the summary of the book by typing "Empu Wirasukadga" on Google and then selecting "tangguh keris" on Wikipedia in BI. And unless you have a good level in BI, I wish you good luck for translating this booklet, you can test your abilities with the first page which I showed earlier...

A. G. Maisey 1st November 2020 09:16 PM

I tried to find this booklet on line Jean, but I could not, however, if it is an online presentation of the original, that is in Romanised Javanese using Dutch spelling.

The page you presented is in standard Bahasa Indonesia, pretty straightforward, but like all this stuff it is subjective and really only clearly understood by the writer, and probably only then when he feels the same way that he did when he wrote it.

Jean 2nd November 2020 09:18 AM

Thank you Alan. I will start the translation at my very slow pace for filling my free time during the confinement period which will probably last for long... :)
My primary interest is to compare the features of some of my krisses which are attributed to a specific tangguh or even a specific empu with the descriptions in the booklet. I suppose that plenty of forumites would like to do the same with their own krisses, but this may appear disappointing from my previous experiences. ;)

A. G. Maisey 2nd November 2020 11:15 AM

Jean, if you want to try this there is one thing you must do before you even begin to do any comparisons, you must ONLY apply the indicators to keris of HIGH QUALITY.

At the time when this little primer was put together it is believed that the basic requirements that permitted something to be classified into a tangguh had not yet been corrupted.

Identify quality > find a dominant indicator > attempt to align other indicators > decide an overarching tangguh classification.

And never forget that you are dealing with a system that was intended for use by people who process information in a totally different way to the way in which people from a European socio-cultural base process information.

Good luck.

Jean 3rd November 2020 10:20 AM

Dear friends,
After having a very interesting discussion with Alan, it appears that my project to translate the BI version of the booklet into English is even more problematic than I expected (my attempt to translate the first paragraph was already very discouraging).
In fact the translation into BI was made in 3 steps: from old Javanese (honocokro) (1) into romanized Javanese (2) and then into BI (3), and this has caused multiple mistakes and inaccuracies. For instance, the translation into BI owned by Alan is significantly different from mine, so how can I expect to get a decently accurate translation into English? Well, this is disappointing but it seems that I will not be able pursue my project, and this could only be properly done by a kris literate person fluent in Javanese honocokro and English. :shrug:

A. G. Maisey 3rd November 2020 10:52 AM

Maybe not even then Jean.

If Wirasukadgo really was involved he would have made these notes in a way that were intelligible to him, not necessarily to everybody in general. This can be compounded by the fact that the way Javanese is used does not rely on words alone, plus the fact that the language itself is non-standard.

There are more problems in a project like the one you envisaged than there might appear to be.

In my opinion, the only feasible way to make sense of something like this is to sit down with the originator and use recognised audit methodology to reveal the intent of the writer.

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