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Old 29th January 2021, 11:13 PM   #26
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,774

I apologise Jean, I thought it was your opinion also, because of what you wrote in Post #23, however, if you do not share this opinion with KJ & EK, but are only citing those books as references, then I understand what you mean.

Still, this is only playing with words, I really don't care what EK & KJ say, these books were written by men, men who drew their opinions from other men, and some of those other men were my teachers also. In fact, I seldom draw upon published books for my own opinions, nor for what I write.

I do use terminology from published books when I write for what is principally a readership that is not literate in Bahasa Indonesia or Basa Jawa, and I do that because it makes communication easy, but often my vocabulary and my understandings that I use in this writing vary somewhat from my vocabulary and understandings that I use in communication with people I know in Solo. I try not to take issue with minor variations in understanding and vocabulary, because these little things are really of no consequence to anybody except hardcore collectors, and they do not impact upon the core of keris understanding.

Jean, I really did not want to get into this quoting of books area:- I do not draw upon books for my own opinions, and I feel it is not particularly useful to rely upon a book when I have over 50 years experience of involvement in the world of the keris in Jawa:- I prefer to rely upon my own teachers and my own observations.

The reason for this is that my teachers all had a high degree of contempt for books written about keris. I lost count of the number of times I heard:-

"Sayang sekali orang-orang yang mau menulis buku-buku tentang keris tidak belajar keris dulu"

or similar equally derogatory comments.

My teachers were what we might think of as "old school", and they had little time for anything that did not agree with their own opinions, which they had formed over a lifetime of involvement in the world of the keris in Jawa Tengah. All of my teachers were based in Surakarta, and my principal teacher was totally committed to the Surakarta school and was inclined to dismiss the beliefs held by the Ngayogyakarta school as more than a little erroneous. In fact, I found it to be wise not to even mention Jogja in his presence.

I like to think of myself as somewhat more tolerant than my teachers. In many keris related matters I am prepared to accept that there is room for opinion. Nothing --- or at least almost nothing --- is graven in stone.

Because of this rather flexible attitude, and I guess also because I am not Javanese, nor am I a permanent member of any Javanese community, I am not prepared to get into debates about what is "right", and what is "wrong" when it comes to the keris.

Any culture is owned by the people who are a part of that culture, people who do not belong to the culture can only comment upon it, not arbitrate upon the beliefs held by those within the culture. However, my teachers were a part of keris culture as it was in Solo during their lifetimes, and my opinions in respect of the keris do in many respects reflect the opinions of my teachers.

If I respect the opinions of my teachers, would it be respectful of me to ignore their opinions and adopt the opinions of journalists and people who publish books for their own reasons?

I think not.

Equally, would it be respectful of me to be critical of the writings of people who are no longer with us?

Again, I think not.

Even though the opinions of these writers often are at variance with that which I have been taught.

So, even though you have not stated your opinion in this matter Jean, but have merely cited references that put forward an understanding that differs from my own, I feel it might be useful to consider a few things that contributed to what can be read in EK & KJ.

EK published in 2004, and was compiled by Bambang Harsrinuksmo, he was a journalist, he tended towards the Jogja school, in fact, I think it would be fair to say that he was heavily influenced by the Jogja school. Although he, himself was not recognised as any sort of authority on the keris, the man he worked with in keris writing was recognised in Jogja as an Ahli Keris. This man was Suwarsono Lumintu. I believe Lumintu is still with us. He was very influential in the Jogja school, and contributed heavily to current beliefs held by the Jogja keris community and other keris communities that align themselves with the Jogja school.

It is important to note that Harsrinuksmo uses the word "compiled" (disusun) for his work, he is clear that he did not actually express his own opinions, he gathered the opinions of others (principally the opinions of Lumintu in respect of Jawa) and assembled those opinions into book form.

EK was preceded by another book by Harsrinuksmo, again it was a compilation, not his own opinions, and again he worked with Lumintu in the production of this book. This book was "Ensiklopedi Budaya Nasional -- (Keris dan senjata tradisional Indonesia lainnya)" , and was published in 1988.

Apart from these two books a number of other little booklets and pamphlets that dealt with various aspects of the keris were published by Harsrinuksmo.

Everything produced by Harsrinuksmo and Lumintu was targeted at the collector market. All these books and booklets and pamphlets were books for collectors, and in all cases they reflected the beliefs of some keris collectors in Indonesia, during the period when they were produced. Although Harsrinuksmo acknowledges that he has drawn upon publications in various languages he does not include a bibliography nor does he use citations.

KJ was written by Haryono Haryoguritno, that is, it is original work by Haryoguritno, it is not a compilation. As original work the contents of this book must be understood as the opinions of the author, but we know that Haryoguritno gathered together the material for this book over many years, he drew upon previously published works, and his acknowledgements contained in the book reads like a list of prominent people. He provides a bibliography but not citations.

Again, this is a book for collectors and if considered from this perspective, probably the most useful book for a keris collector that has ever been published. But that does not mean that everything in this book agrees with the opinions of the people who taught me, nor with my own opinions.

KJ was copyrighted in 2005 and it draws heavily on EK.

Within the world of the keris there is plenty of room for variation in opinion, and if we look at the works that deal with keris, and that go back into the colonial era and progress to the present day, we find that opinions constantly vary. Not only do we find that opinion varies over time, we find that opinion varies from locality to locality within Indonesia, it varies from one keris study group to another, and it varies from one person to another within the same group.

In the case of the keris it is a mistake to believe that just because one person holds a particular opinion, that opinion is without question correct. Just because the opinion has been published in a book does not make it correct. The opinion may be accepted as correct by a greater or lesser number of people, but even that acceptance does not guarantee its correctness.

My own opinions in respect of the keris were formed to a large degree by my teachers, and in many instances these opinions have been re-enforced by my own observation of common practice and opinion within Surakarta during the period from 1974 to 2015.

However, I have no problem at all in accepting the opinions of others as perfectly valid opinions from their own perspective.

So Jean, even though you have now stated that these opinions put forward in EK and KJ are not your opinions, if you feel inclined to embrace these opinions and make them your own, I would never argue against your freedom to do so.
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