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Old 9th June 2020, 11:28 PM   #22
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,887

Yes David, I do have a pure Gana, but it is not humanoid. I cannot put my hand on it at the moment, but when I find it I'll post a photo.

Re the backbone. I've never heard anything about this, and actually I've never noticed it in any other Gana hilts that I've seen, but then again, I've never handled South Sumatera hilts of this form, and I'm pretty ignorant on things Sumateran.

But I'm going to offer this as a hypothetical.

The courts of the Archipelago kept deformed people & dwarfs as court attendants, they were regarded in two ways, as jesters and an amusement, but also as esoterically powerful beings. They were a deviation from the norm, as such they had a direct connection with the Hidden World, and thus with powers associated with the Hidden World.

In dealing with Jawa and other societies in SE Asia, but most especially with Jawa, we need to understand that "what we see is not what we get". Analogy and metaphor is the way in which things need to be understood, and everything has two natures (at least). For example Durga has a fierce nature, but Durga for many Hindu people is also the protective, nurturing household Deity.

Directly associated with the keris, we are looking at a whole bundle of symbolism. For example, the sogokan. A sogokan is a poker, the sort of thing you use to push a blockage out of a drain pipe, but it is the name used for the twin or singular grooves at the base of a keris blade, and those grooves are in fact a lingga, which in turn represents Siwa.

We cannot understand even the beginning of anything about a keris until we can understand how to think in a way that relates to the culture from which it comes.

So, we are constantly dealing with the problem of how to understand the true meaning of what we think we can see (or hear). This is a characteristic of Javanese society and it is pretty much the single major reason for all the failures in business and inter-personal relationships with Indonesia & Indonesians, as Javanese culture has been, and still is, the dominant culture in that part of the world.

To return to our prominent backbone.

The primary purpose of a keris hilt is the function of protection, initially for the shrine that is the blade, but later, after Islam, as a general protective device for the custodian of the keris. If the hilt of these Sumateran Ganas can be understood as a representation of a court dwarf or other deformed attendant, then that intended understanding can be signalled by the twisted backbone, in a similar manner to the way in which fangs in a statue, statuette or hilt indicate that the figure has a demonic nature and is one or another of the various Raksasas.

What better protective device than a being with a direct line to the Hidden World?

As I have said, a hypo only.
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