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Old 6th August 2021, 01:55 PM   #1
Anthony G.
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Default Meaning in a Balinese keris

Hi fellow members, anyone knows what does this symbolize where the arrow is pointing? Is this consider keris Ligan and who usually owns such keris daphur? Priest?



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Old 6th August 2021, 04:13 PM   #2
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According to the book "Keris Bali bersejarah" page 74, this is supposed to depict a cock comb? However your specimen is much more spiralling than in the book picture.
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Old 7th August 2021, 02:56 PM   #3
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According to the book "Keris Bali bersejarah" page 74, this is supposed to depict a cock comb? However your specimen is much more spiralling than in the book picture.
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what does a cock comb means in Bali culture?
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Old 7th August 2021, 06:51 PM   #4
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I thought i remembered either reading or being told that this form of gonjo was indeed reserved for priests, but i cannot find the reference point at this moment.
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Old 8th August 2021, 12:47 PM   #5
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Keris ligan is also known as "Keris Pedang", it is a form of keris with a warrior association.

The first time I saw a similar treatment of the greneng to this one was in Mario & Vanna Ghiringhelli's Little Red Book --- the original "Invincible Keris". This keris was a cengkrong style and the caption stated that keris with this blade style, ie, cengkrong, was worn by preachers & scholars of religion & theology.

Note:- blade type, not gonjo type

The first time I saw a keris with this extremely exuberant spiral ornamentation to the greneng was in the courtyard of a very well known Balinese m'ranggi and keris dealer, it was a recently made Madura keris, and it was hanging from the exposed framework of a small pavilion. When I asked why it was hanging there, along with a large number of other newly made keris I was told that all these keris were there to permit them to age naturally.

I have not seen this type of gonjo ornamentation in an old keris, only in recently made ones.
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Old 8th August 2021, 12:55 PM   #6
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Keris ligan is also known as "Keris Pedang", it is a form of keris with a warrior association.

The first time I saw a similar treatment of the greneng to this one was in Mario & Vanna Ghiringhelli's Little Red Book --- the original "Invincible Keris". This keris was a cengkrong style and the caption stated that keris with this blade style, ie, cengkrong, was worn by preachers & scholars of religion & theology.

Note:- blade type, not gonjo type

The first time I saw a keris with this extremely exuberant spiral ornamentation to the greneng was in the courtyard of a very well known Balinese m'ranggi and keris dealer, it was a recently made Madura keris, and it was hanging from the exposed framework of a small pavilion. When I asked why it was hanging there, along with a large number of other newly made keris I was told that all these keris were there to permit them to age naturally.

I have not seen this type of gonjo ornamentation in an old keris, only in recently made ones.
Thanks Alan for sharing. I am clear now about my doubts. Cheerios.
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Old 8th August 2021, 01:04 PM   #7
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Thank you Alan, and I attach the pic of the kris in question from Mario & Vanna G.
Ha ha, RIP Wayan Ritug! I agree with you that the kris from Anthony is most probably a recent creation.
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Old 8th August 2021, 01:12 PM   #8
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what does a cock comb means in Bali culture?
Hello Anthony,
I don't know the meaning of the cock comb in Bali culture as described by the Bali kris book author, but imagine that it could be related to the cock spur of fighting cocks? (very popular in Bali)?
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Old 8th August 2021, 09:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
The first time I saw a similar treatment of the greneng to this one was in Mario & Vanna Ghiringhelli's Little Red Book --- the original "Invincible Keris". This keris was a cengkrong style and the caption stated that keris with this blade style, ie, cengkrong, was worn by preachers & scholars of religion & theology....
I have not seen this type of gonjo ornamentation in an old keris, only in recently made ones.
Alan, i suspect you may indeed have seen this greneng treatment before that and forgotten, on page 73 in David van Duuren's book The Kris. I suspect you have this book and i am fairly certain it came out well before the Little Red Book.
While it is difficult to be sure of a single image printed in a text it seem most likely that the keris shown in van Duuren's book is indeed at least 19th century.
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Old 8th August 2021, 09:33 PM   #10
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Here is the example from van Duuren's book The Kris.
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Old 8th August 2021, 10:20 PM   #11
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David, David van Duuren published two editions of the "The Kris", the first was a Dutch edition published in 1996, the second was the English edition published in 1998. The keris on P.73 of the English edition is a cengkrong with the spiral, and yes, I had forgotten it. But it did come after Mario & Vanna's similar one.

Vanna Ghiringhelli published "The Invincible Krises 2" in 2007.

But in 1991 Vanna & Mario published The Little Red Book:- "Kris Gli Invincibili" ('Kris the Invincible'), the similar one I mentioned is on P.41.
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Old 9th August 2021, 02:49 AM   #12
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David, David van Duuren published two editions of the "The Kris", the first was a Dutch edition published in 1996, the second was the English edition published in 1998. The keris on P.73 of the English edition is a cengkrong with the spiral, and yes, I had forgotten it. But it did come after Mario & Vanna's similar one.

Vanna Ghiringhelli published "The Invincible Krises 2" in 2007.

But in 1991 Vanna & Mario published The Little Red Book:- "Kris Gli Invincibili" ('Kris the Invincible'), the similar one I mentioned is on P.41.
Thanks Alan. I have "The Little Red Book", but i never looked at the publishing date and i got van Duuren's book much earlier so i guess i wrongly assumed it was the older book.
But what do you think of the age of the example in van Duuren? It seems very possible to me that it is an antique example, no?
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Old 9th August 2021, 03:00 AM   #13
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Yes David, certainly David van Duuren's example has some age, it has a collection number, and I tried to access it, but it looks as if there is a problem with access at the moment.
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Old 10th August 2021, 12:25 PM   #14
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It was donated to the Tropenmuseum in 1952.

There is a Balinese Keris with the same type of Gonjo depicted on Jasper&Mas Pirngadie, Vol. V, p. 229, Fig. 323. The Volume was published in 1930, but the materials for it were collected already before 1920.

We encounter the idea of such Gonjo also on a Javanese Pedang with Gonjo, which is certainly antique and a heirloom.
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Old 10th August 2021, 01:10 PM   #15
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Thanks for that Gustav.

It would be nice to know when that Troppenmuseum example was collected, and when the Jasper & Pirngadie example was collected. As I said, I have yet to see this gonjo treatment on an old keris, and these two additional examples are also recent.

I wonder if there might be some genuinely old examples somewhere.

Gustav, do you have a picture of the pedang you mention?
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Old 10th August 2021, 01:54 PM   #16
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Alan, I will ask the Tropenmuseum, if there is any additional information, but I think it quite surely is pre-1940.

The example from Jasper&Mas Pirngadie is pre-1930, quite surely pre-1920. It's quite close to the example from Ghiringelli in the treatment of Gonjo.

I have a picture of that Pedang, but cannot post it. You surely have seen that kind of Pedang - there is a Sekar Kacang directly above the scroll on Gonjo, Gandhik is plain.
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Old 10th August 2021, 02:42 PM   #17
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It would be nice to know when that Troppenmuseum example was collected, and when the Jasper & Pirngadie example was collected. As I said, I have yet to see this gonjo treatment on an old keris, and these two additional examples are also recent.

I wonder if there might be some genuinely old examples somewhere.
Alan, i believe i know what your intention here with the word "old" is as you have expressed your usage of the word before, but it might be a bit problematic in general discussion, especially for people who might not be familiar with how you use the word. For most people anything antique (100 years of older) is generally considered "old". I assume your intention here is a bit older than that, yes?
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Old 11th August 2021, 12:16 AM   #18
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Firstly, a clarification:-

in my post #5 I wrote:-

"The first time I saw a keris with this extremely exuberant spiral ornamentation to the greneng was in the courtyard of a very well known Balinese m'ranggi and keris dealer, it was a recently made Madura keris, and it was hanging from the exposed framework of a small pavilion. When I asked why it was hanging there, along with a large number of other newly made keris I was told that all these keris were there to permit them to age naturally.

I have not seen this type of gonjo ornamentation in an old keris, only in recently made ones."


I was not referring to the similar exaggerated style that is shown in The Little Red Book.

It is the spiral treatment that I have only seen in recent keris.

The similar form that we see in the Ghiringhelli book, and again in the Jasper & Pirngadie book, looks like a forerunner of the spiral.

But what do I mean by "recent"?

Pretty spongy sort of expression, isn't it? Maybe I'm doing an imitation of Humpty Dumpty, you know:-

"When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

I need to stop reading Lewis Carroll.

With Javanese keris I probably think of recent as PBX era and later, but I think of post 1980 as kamardikan. Javanese people generally seem to think of keris after Sultan Agung as recent.

With Balinese keris I have come to the belief that after the puputans the rules of the game changed. I think of pre-puputan as still being a part of the old society, & thus an "old keris", and post-puputan as being a part of the new Bali, and thus a recent keris.

These are my own parameters, I'm not using something general here, just my own way of thinking about these things.

I've never given much thought to this spiral treatment in the greneng, but accepting the propensity for Balinese symbolism to be dominated by the number three, I am beginning to wonder just what symbolism might be intended to be conveyed by this substitution of a spiral for the more usual treatments found in the greneng.
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Old 11th August 2021, 03:06 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
Firstly, a clarification:-

in my post #5 I wrote:-

"The first time I saw a keris with this extremely exuberant spiral ornamentation to the greneng was in the courtyard of a very well known Balinese m'ranggi and keris dealer, it was a recently made Madura keris, and it was hanging from the exposed framework of a small pavilion. When I asked why it was hanging there, along with a large number of other newly made keris I was told that all these keris were there to permit them to age naturally.

I have not seen this type of gonjo ornamentation in an old keris, only in recently made ones."


I was not referring to the similar exaggerated style that is shown in The Little Red Book.

It is the spiral treatment that I have only seen in recent keris.

The similar form that we see in the Ghiringhelli book, and again in the Jasper & Pirngadie book, looks like a forerunner of the spiral.

But what do I mean by "recent"?

Pretty spongy sort of expression, isn't it? Maybe I'm doing an imitation of Humpty Dumpty, you know:-

"When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

I need to stop reading Lewis Carroll.

With Javanese keris I probably think of recent as PBX era and later, but I think of post 1980 as kamardikan. Javanese people generally seem to think of keris after Sultan Agung as recent.

With Balinese keris I have come to the belief that after the puputans the rules of the game changed. I think of pre-puputan as still being a part of the old society, & thus an "old keris", and post-puputan as being a part of the new Bali, and thus a recent keris.

These are my own parameters, I'm not using something general here, just my own way of thinking about these things.

I've never given much thought to this spiral treatment in the greneng, but accepting the propensity for Balinese symbolism to be dominated by the number three, I am beginning to wonder just what symbolism might be intended to be conveyed by this substitution of a spiral for the more usual treatments found in the greneng.
But isn't the example in the van Duuren book an example of this extremely exuberant spiral ornamentation. While we certainly can't jump to any conclusions on the age of this example from this one photograph i am willing to entertain the notion that this keris is very possibly pre-puputan. Other's mileage may vary.
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Old 11th August 2021, 04:55 AM   #20
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Klungkung in 1908 was the last of the early 20th century puputans.

Gustav has advised that the van Duuren example was donated in 1952, and his opinion is pre-1940.

J&P published in 1930 and Gustav has offered the possibility of pre-1920.

I cannot disagree with Gustav's estimates.

I've never seen that spiral ornamentation on any keris in Bali apart from the one I have already remarked on, I've never seen one anywhere else either, except for pictures in published works. Over the years there have been a few offered online, and those offerings were not old keris.

I'd like to see an example or two that dates with certainty from pre-1900, even better if we could get pre-1800. I'd like to hear some local Balinese opinions on it too, I did try to dig up an opinion or two some years ago, but the keris literate people I spoke with did not recognise the form.
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Old 11th August 2021, 10:01 AM   #21
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Keris from van Duuren's book was donated by the heirs of Willem Frederik Carel Cornelis Pijnacker Hordijk, who died in 1938. As almost always, it's not known where and when he collected it. I did find a resume of his life, there are no data of him working or traveling in Dutch East Indies.

But - his father was brother of Cornelis Pijnacker Hordijk (1847-1908), Governor-General of Dutch East Indies from 1888 to 1893. Judging from the names, there is a connection, possibly he could have been our guy's godparent.

So there is some chance this Keris is indeed pre-1908, and also some chance Willem Frederik Carel Cornelis just bought it in a curio shop in Amsterdam. Most likely we will never know.

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Old 11th August 2021, 10:15 AM   #22
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Possibly we should ask ourselves about the feature associated with Laler Mengeng, which also can be found on Gonjo.

Last edited by Gustav; 11th August 2021 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 11th August 2021, 05:50 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Keris from van Duuren's book was donated by the heirs of Willem Frederik Carel Cornelis Pijnacker Hordijk, who died in 1938. As almost always, it's not known where and when he collected it. I did find a resume of his life, there are no data of him working or traveling in Dutch East Indies.

But - his father was brother of Cornelis Pijnacker Hordijk (1847-1908), Governor-General of Dutch East Indies from 1888 to 1893. Judging from the names, there is a connection, possibly he could have been our guy's godparent.

So there is some chance this Keris is indeed pre-1908, and also some chance Willem Frederik Carel Cornelis just bought it in a curio shop in Amsterdam. Most likely we will never know.
Like i said, i am willing to "entertain the notion". I agree that we probably will indeed never know. Thank for the additional info Gustav.
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Old 11th August 2021, 06:04 PM   #24
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I don't wish to take the discussion outside the realms of keris, but i have noted that this spiraling feature can be found on the wideng of many old Javanese Wedung.
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Old 11th August 2021, 10:12 PM   #25
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Here are a few random thoughts that might be useful to follow through on:-

the base of a wedung blade sometimes does have the treatment such as David has shown, but at other times it has an engraved spiral, not dissimilar to the spiral on the keris shown by David van Duuren, but engraved, not fabricated. In the courts of Jawa the wedung is court wear specifically for those of the rank of bupati & above.

a spiral such as this is called a "widheng", but that is an oblique reference, because a "widheng" is a fresh water crab, and there is a Javanese motif named "lung widheng", which means "river crab tendrils".

when a widheng appears on a wrongko atasan it is supposedly the prerogative of a person of noble blood.

there is a nice little folk story about a high ranking Brahmin, a crab, a snake & and crow, briefly, the brahmin finds the river crab on top of a mountain & it looks half dead, so he places it inside his robe and carries it back to the river, then he sits down to rest. While he is resting a snake sees him and says that he would like to eat him, a crow hears the snake and says that he will help the snake because he would like to eat the brahmin's eyes, the rescued widheng overhears the snake & the crow talking, convinces them to stretch out their necks , the better to eat the brahmin, then the widheng strangles both of them, and the brahmin is saved.


connecting these things I think we might be able to see the place of the widheng as a protective symbol. Some searching on Javanese art motif symbolism might turn up something. In the story the Javanese word used for river crab is "yuyu", this is generic , the word "widheng" refers to a specific type of river crab, so in further searching both words should be considered

Do not confuse:-

wedung:- literally an axe or a chopper, but in tosan aji, a kind of symbolic jungle knife reserved for court wear by nobles

widheng;- a type of river crab
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Old 12th August 2021, 02:38 AM   #26
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there is a nice little folk story about a high ranking Brahmin, a crab, a snake & and crow, briefly, the brahmin finds the river crab on top of a mountain & it looks half dead, so he places it inside his robe and carries it back to the river, then he sits down to rest. While he is resting a snake sees him and says that he would like to eat him, a crow hears the snake and says that he will help the snake because he would like to eat the brahmin's eyes, the rescued widheng overhears the snake & the crow talking, convinces them to stretch out their necks , the better to eat the brahmin, then the widheng strangles both of them, and the brahmin is saved.
This folk story is described in one of Candi Mendut's relief:
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Old 12th August 2021, 01:41 PM   #27
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I've been to Mendut a few times, actually more than few times, but I've never noticed this. I guess because I was never looking for it. It is a very old story.
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