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Old 15th January 2015, 10:38 PM   #1
krissman
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Default Corrosion on gilded keris blade

Several of my keris blades display gilded naga motifs. One of them is showing copper sulfate corrosion between the gilding and the iron. I have been able to remove the corrosion from one side fairly easily with toluene on cotton swabs but thought before doing the other I would ask if there might be some better or safer method. Also, I would appreciate learning how future corrosion might be prevented. Finally, I am wondering if the "gilding" on this blade might in fact be brass, not gold. Two images are attached. One shows the hilt and the other shows a section of the blade where corrosion can be seen. If anyone has any thoughts, I would be grateful to have them.

This is my first post with photos. I cannot tell if they will come through. If they don't I will try again. Thanks for bearing with me.
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Old 16th January 2015, 12:30 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Krissman.
Alas i must say that the reason for what you call copper sulfate corrosion is in all likelihood because the gilding is not gold. This is a fairly low level keris of the type generally sold in markets and shops as souvenirs. They generally do not employ real kinatah (gold decoration). This could be brass or copper. So considering that i don't think you need to worry too much for the safety of the blade or the "gilding".
Once cleaned you may be able to prevent re-occurance of the corrosion by keeping the blades well oiled.
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Old 17th January 2015, 02:16 AM   #3
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The hue of the yellow metal to me looks like brass. David is right, I have seen this on keris made for the market.

Of course this is why you are seeing green patina - the copper oxidation due to the copper that is a component of brass.
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Old 24th January 2015, 09:45 PM   #4
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Thank you for the input. I suspected the piece was not old or "authentic" but paid for it accordingly. Since posting, I have gone ahead and successfully used the toluene to remove the corrosion and coated the blade with Ballistol which is used by gun enthusiasts for protecting steel and brass. We'll see how well that works out long term.

I do have to ask this though. When a blade has real gold on it, how is it applied? When electroplating gold, it is common to first plate the piece with copper and then plate it with gold. How was gold applied traditionally in Indonesia and how is it applied today? Was it fire gilded using mercury?

Thanks.
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Old 25th January 2015, 02:57 AM   #5
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I believe that there are a few methods for gold attachment to a keris (kinatah). I am afraid i am not the best person to accurately describe the processes. Alan???
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Old 25th January 2015, 06:05 AM   #6
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Yes, fire gilding was used, and maybe still is used. There was an old bloke in Solo who was doing it up until a few years ago I don't know if he still is.

Kinatah work has several levels of quality, and I doubt that I know them all.

Probably the very best is the method where the steel is carved to approximate shape, then fairly heavy gold is applied over the carving in a similar fashion to koftgari work, and that gold is then carved with the motif.

Then there is the work that is essentially koftgari, and uses gold of about the same weight as other koftgari.

Then we have the cheapy stuff where thin gold sheet is glued over the steel. I've seen really old work done like this and using a heavy sort of natural resin, but these days they use a modern glue, I don't know exactly what, but my guess would be Alteco, a super-glue.

Oh yes, there's another way of doing it where a hole with undercut sides is cut in the steel, then a gold plug is hammered into the hole, leaving a mass of gold on the blade surface, this external gold is then carved with the motif.

I have seen parts of all these processes, but I do not know any of them in detail.
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Old 25th January 2015, 07:19 AM   #7
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Thanks Alan, that's at least an overview.
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Old 15th February 2015, 12:55 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the good information. Fire gilding is what I imagined was used the most and hadn't thought about the koftgari and "plug" methods. They all make sense.
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Old 15th February 2015, 04:05 PM   #9
Will M
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Renaissance Wax is a micro crystaline wax that is great for protecting blades.
I apply it wth a soft cloth then a heat gun to help it bond. Always better to handle a dry blade than an oily one that attracts dust etc.
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Old 29th May 2024, 08:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
Yes, fire gilding was used, and maybe still is used. There was an old bloke in Solo who was doing it up until a few years ago I don't know if he still is.

Kinatah work has several levels of quality, and I doubt that I know them all.

Probably the very best is the method where the steel is carved to approximate shape, then fairly heavy gold is applied over the carving in a similar fashion to koftgari work, and that gold is then carved with the motif.

Then there is the work that is essentially koftgari, and uses gold of about the same weight as other koftgari.

Then we have the cheapy stuff where thin gold sheet is glued over the steel. I've seen really old work done like this and using a heavy sort of natural resin, but these days they use a modern glue, I don't know exactly what, but my guess would be Alteco, a super-glue.

Oh yes, there's another way of doing it where a hole with undercut sides is cut in the steel, then a gold plug is hammered into the hole, leaving a mass of gold on the blade surface, this external gold is then carved with the motif.

I have seen parts of all these processes, but I do not know any of them in detail.
Hi Alan,

Which method do you think has been applied in this keris?
Has this particular kinatah on both sides have a name?
When gold was first introduced into keris - was it for show of power/wealth or was it more for Tuah? Or both?

Cheers.
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Old 29th May 2024, 10:26 PM   #11
A. G. Maisey
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I think it is probably fire gilded, but this is an opinion based on a photo that has been viewed on a screen. Don't quote me.

I would call it lung-lungan = vines, maybe it has other names also.

I do not know when gold was first used on keris.

My opinion as to the reason for its use is that it would have been used as a hierarchical marker. Certainly not for any talismanic reason.
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Old 30th May 2024, 08:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
I do not know when gold was first used on keris.

My opinion as to the reason for its use is that it would have been used as a hierarchical marker. Certainly not for any talismanic reason.
I also don't have a clue when it first was used.

The blade shown is very old IMHO but I am not sure if we will see a later addition here but I am sure it wasn't done on a selling purpose, I found this blade with a plastic scabbard in a trash box years ago.
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Old 31st May 2024, 11:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sajen View Post
I also don't have a clue when it first was used.

The blade shown is very old IMHO but I am not sure if we will see a later addition here but I am sure it wasn't done on a selling purpose, I found this blade with a plastic scabbard in a trash box years ago.
Thanks Detlef. Was the gold done together when the keris was forged or put on much later? What method for this one? Fire guilded too?

BTW - nice keris. Let me know when you get tired of looking at this one too.

Cheers.
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Old 31st May 2024, 03:42 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oariff View Post
Thanks Detlef. Was the gold done together when the keris was forged or put on much later? What method for this one? Fire guilded too?

BTW - nice keris. Let me know when you get tired of looking at this one too.
You're welcome Oariff! I strongly guess that the gandik figure is a later addition and I don't know which gilding method was used.
Will let you know when I will part with the keris!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 31st May 2024, 05:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
I think it is probably fire gilded, but this is an opinion based on a photo that has been viewed on a screen. Don't quote me.

I would call it lung-lungan = vines, maybe it has other names also.

I do not know when gold was first used on keris.

My opinion as to the reason for its use is that it would have been used as a hierarchical marker. Certainly not for any talismanic reason.
Hi Alan,

Thanks for your reply. I posted this keris here (as we are on the same subject) and would like your thoughts on the following:
1) Possible Origin and Pamor?
2) Can this keris be some sort of hierarchical marker? Does the kinatah in the middle of the blade have and meaning?
3) The kinatah - Is it possible that the steel is carved to approximate shape, then fairly heavy gold is applied over the carving in a similar fashion to koftgari work, and that gold is then carved with the motif. (One possible method you mentioned above)

4) (Last Pic). I posted this keris on another thread earlier and the opinion is that this keris was made say in the 1980s-1990s. What method would have been used for this kinatah taking into consideration more modern tools and methods were available then? Or was this perhaps fire guided too?

Cheers.
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Old 1st June 2024, 02:25 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krissman View Post
Thanks for all the good information. Fire gilding is what I imagined was used the most and hadn't thought about the koftgari and "plug" methods. They all make sense.
Take a look at this video, the smith is based in Madura, Indonesia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1gKhl_CGlU
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Old 1st June 2024, 06:04 AM   #17
A. G. Maisey
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) Possible Origin and Pamor?
Complete keris, including dress:- East Jawa
Pamor name I cannot give from what I can see

2) Can this keris be some sort of hierarchical marker? Does the kinatah in the middle of the blade have and meaning?
Almost anything can become a hierarchical marker, it depends on the hierarchy.
A band across the blade whether gold or pamor is usually understood as a protective device


3) The kinatah - Is it possible that the steel is carved to approximate shape, then fairly heavy gold is applied over the carving in a similar fashion to koftgari work, and that gold is then carved with the motif. (One possible method you mentioned above
Carved, yes, Anthony's video gives a broad approximation.
There are many methods of applying gold to iron and steel, in the video I believe we are seeing the necessary copper foundation being applied. Here is as good a non-technical explanation of the process as any.


https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/fire/hd_fire.htm

4) (Last Pic). I posted this keris on another thread earlier and the opinion is that this keris was made say in the 1980s-1990s. What method would have been used for this kinatah taking into consideration more modern tools and methods were available then? Or was this perhaps fire guided too?

Yes, I think the time frame is about right, but I cannot give a supportable opinion on how it was done by looking at a picture.
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