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Old 9th June 2020, 01:51 AM   #12
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,846

There are several different ways in which to understand the Gana type hilt. The first is one that I believe to be the most common understanding in Central Jawa, it is what I have been told by a number of people over a +50 year period.

The Gana form is a natural form that comes from nature, thus it is gift from God and as such has esoteric qualities that come directly from God. Ideally there should be no alteration or "improvement" to it at all, but if it is necessary to have a human intervention in its form, that intervention should be absolutely minimal because it is not really acceptable to try to improve upon the work of God. Each piece of human intervention lessens the power of the hilt.

Another way to understand the Gana form is that it is a natural talisman that incorporates the idea of new or beginning life. One of the ways in which to understand the word "gana" is "foetus, larva, pupa", so the Gana Hilt incorporates a similar understanding to the understanding attached to the Balinese Kocet-kocetan/Kusia group of hilts.

A third way of understanding is that the vaguely humanoid form of a Gana hilt is representative of one of the followers of Ganesha, who are known as Ganas. In Sanskrit, which then comes into Kawi, a gana can be a friend, a follower, a helper, a member of the group of demi-gods who are attached to a Deity.

A fourth way of understanding the Gana form is that this form is representative of Ganesha himself. Taking account of the prevalence of Ganesha cults in Jawa, and the length of time these cults have existed, this understanding seems to me to be the most relevant.

Other understandings that I have heard, but to me seem to be less believable are that Gana hilt form can represent a cloud, and can be understood symbolically in the same way as a cloud; secondly, that a Gana hilt, yaitu pegangan "Gana" is simply a way of saying "figural hilt".

I would suggest that perhaps only the original owner of any Gana hilt would know what it represented to him.
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