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Old 30th September 2023, 11:21 AM   #1
SidJ
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Default Keris for identification

Dear brethren
Any thoughts on this keris including its pamor, age and quality please? I was told it may be toyo mambeg.
Thanks
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Old 30th September 2023, 10:52 PM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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Sid, I'm sorry, but I cannot read this pamor, it is too heavily eroded, it was a pamor miring, but it no longer exists.
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Old 2nd October 2023, 12:15 PM   #3
SidJ
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Thanks Alan
I am grateful for your comment. If a keris gets to this stage of wear or erosion where the pamor cannot be read, is the blade dead and of no real worth in the native culture and in the western collector market?
Also, if we have a keris that has no visible pamor due to cleaning whereby the etch is lost, does that lessen the spiritual and the financial value of the blade? And is it a disrespect to leave the keris unetched and thus in its 'impoverished' state? Or does it not matter at all?
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Old 2nd October 2023, 01:27 PM   #4
A. G. Maisey
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Sid, your questions cover a pretty wide area, spiritual as well as the market place.

Insofar as spiritual, or maybe esoteric values are concerned, this is a matter of belief, some people might say that if a keris has a powerful force connected with it, the condition of the keris is of no importance. Others will say that somebody who thinks like this has somewhere between very little understanding of keris, and no understanding of anything else at all.

I have my own opinions and I would prefer to leave these opinions unspoken.

Belief in esoterica is a personal matter, something for each person to come to terms with.

Where market place value is concerned there are pretty strict criteria that need to be satisfied, there are a couple of popular systems used in appraisal of market value, perhaps the most simple of these is to appraise perceived age + condition + workmanship, within these broad heads of appraisal there are subdivisions that address the factors in each indicator.

Put it this way:- if an old keris is in such poor condition that it is impossible to read the other factors that should be addressed, that old keris, no matter how old, has very little value.

On the other hand, if we have an old keris --- for the sake of this exercise, let's say Mojopahit --- that looks as if it came off the maker's bench yesterday, and it is in perfect condition and it bears indicators that place it as the work of a master, then the value of such a keris will be extremely high.

Where a tangguh can be reliably affixed to a keris, that in itself is has a high influence on value:- a tangguh that relates to an era that is regarded as honourable dictates a much higher value than a tangguh that is associated with an era that is regarded as having little honour.

When we think of the concept of "respect" as it relates to a keris, we cannot throw all keris into a basket and think of them in the same way. I was taught that the only keris that can hold a force for good are keris that have been made by a master with proper ceremony. A keris made in this way and especially so if made as a pusaka --- ie, to be handed down through a family or kin group --- is able to be identified by the quality of workmanship, and for those who are especially sensitive, by feelings generated by the keris.

The idea that a keris can hold a negative force is subject to many & varied beliefs, but at its core, it seems to me that such a negative keris must first have had the nature of a keris made as pusaka, that is to say, as a shrine to one's ancestors, and through neglect or misfortune this shrine was not correctly maintained & protected and became a vessel for a negative force of nature. Bear in mind:- the keris as shrine has a similar nature to other shrines, it is not inhabited by any ancestor spirit, nor by any other entity, it is held in readiness for a visit from the entity from the Hidden World to visit, which means that most of the time it is empty, and this is the danger:- evil abhors a vacuum, so the custodian of the keris must properly protect it from would be negative forces that might want to take up residence.

It is believed in Jawa & Bali that if one has the custody of a keris, it is one's responsibility to keep that keris in good condition & to ensure it is dressed appropriately and treated with respect.

All this is part of the keris belief systems Sid, it is not knowledge per se, but rather knowledge of the beliefs and the way those beliefs are organised and observed.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 2nd October 2023 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 2nd October 2023, 05:33 PM   #5
SidJ
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Alan
Does your penultimate paragraph refer to all keris regardless of whether Empu made or workmanship or pusaka status or is it more relevant only to these higher level pieces?
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Old 2nd October 2023, 11:42 PM   #6
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Sid, I believe this concept of respect varies from person to person, my own observations tend to indicate that the general populace of both Jawa & Bali, as well as probably most collectors outside of these two places, would apply the respect concept to all keris, this being so because they are not really equipped to differentiate between a keris of the higher level, and keris made as weapons or accoutrements only.

However, in Jawa my experience & observations indicate that people with a higher level of keris knowledge will limit application of the "respect" concept to keris of a higher quality that could have been made by a master, & perhaps with attendant ceremony.

I cannot comment on the Balinese attitude. Much of old Balinese tradition in respect of the keris appears to have been lost following the puputans. Additionally I have not had a sufficient degree of close familial contact as an "insider" in Balinese society.

My personal opinion in this matter is that all keris, no matter of what quality or of what perceived background, should be treated appropriately, by "appropriately" I mean that the keris should be treated in a way that is appropriate for that particular keris. As an example, the keris that you have posted a photo of would benefit greatly by recarving the the damaged ladrangan wrongko into a Kacir form, and either attempting to reset the pendok or replacing it. In short, just tidy it up a bit.
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