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Old 3rd August 2021, 08:28 PM   #1
Bjorn
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Default Pawakan

The forum has been a bit quiet lately, so I thought we might do a small experiment on pawakan - the feeling evoked by a blade. To provide some more background:

Tangguh is evaluated according to a a blade's features, most of which - according to my understanding - cannot be appraised from a photo.

Pamor and pawakan, I feel, are most easily identified from photos, and it is pawakan in particular that this thread seeks to explore.

The descriptions on the definition and categories here are taken from Jean's book "The Keris - Legendary Weapon from Indonesia". The section on pawakan refers to the Ensiklopedi Keris as the main source. (Please correct me if I inadvertently got this wrong, Jean.)

Pawakan is defined as "the evaluation of the style and rhythm of the blade shape and the impression about its characterization". The following categories are listed:
  • kaku: clumsy, not harmonious
  • wingit: eerie, giving a terrifying impression
  • prigel: giving a deft and skilled impression
  • sedeng: average
  • demes: giving a neat impression and nice-looking
  • wagu: not harmonious
  • odol: coarse, sloppy
  • kemba: tasteless
  • tampa semu: not giving any impression
  • sereng: strong, fierce
  • bagus/ayu: handsome, pleasing

Now this is quite a list already and I get the impression there is some overlap between some of these terms.

How to play
Once someone has posted a photo (from profile, tip of the blade pointing up, kembang kacang pointing to the left) we can weigh in on how each of us perceives the pawakan and why it evokes such a feeling in us.

It'll be interesting to see if there are large differences in our perceptions of whether we will all end up at or near the same one.

Hopefully this will provide some entertainment and education!
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Old 3rd August 2021, 08:59 PM   #2
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To start with a blade from Jean's book.

My impression is kaku (clumsy, not harmonious).
The weak undulations make the blade appear wonky and somewhat unbalanced. Other features are more difficult to evaluate due to erosion, but for the gandhik I find it unharmonious that the angle seems to change quite abruptly (viewing it going up from the gonjo), though this might be due to lighting.
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Old 4th August 2021, 08:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bjorn View Post

The descriptions on the definition and categories here are taken from Jean's book "The Keris - Legendary Weapon from Indonesia". The section on pawakan refers to the Ensiklopedi Keris as the main source. (Please correct me if I inadvertently got this wrong, Jean.)
Hello Bjorn,
You are correct about my source and your impression about the overlapping categories and my ex-blade, I will let others comment on the subject...
Regards
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Old 4th August 2021, 09:50 AM   #4
A. G. Maisey
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Bjorn, you have opened a subject that I had hoped would never be opened.

If I write what really should be written it would make me very unpopular and put me in conflict with (I believe) every modern writer, & perhaps a few writers from previous times. So I'm not going to get too deeply into this discussion, at least, that is my intention right now. I intend to try to skirt around any direct contradictions and just do my best to explain the meanings of the concepts involved.

I'll start with the word "pawakan". The root of this word is "awak":- this is a Ngoko word & it means "body", as in the human body; this word has come into BI and in this language it also means "body" as well as being able to be used without the suffix "ku" to refer to oneself.

When "awak" gains a prefix & suffix :- " pa-wak-an" , ie "pawakan", it means the shape of the human body.

This word "pawakan" can only be used for humans and other living beings, it cannot be used to refer to inanimate objects.

This tells us something about the keris:- in the Javanese mind the keris is not an inanimate object, it is a living object.

So, when we look at a keris and attempt to classify the pawakan of that keris, we must apply similar standards to classification as we would apply to a human being. The most common use of "pawakan" by a native speaker of Javanese is to refer to the overall physical appearance of a man or woman. When we refer to the pawakan of a keris, we are again referring to the overall physical appearance of the keris, the entire keris, from the tip of the pesi to the point of the blade.

The feeling that is generated in somebody by a keris is not pawakan, this feeling is "wanda". The dictionary meaning of "wanda" is "body"; "wanda" is literary usage, which means it is Kawi, the direct translation from Kawi to Ngoko is "awak", which, as above, is the root of "pawakan", so if we use "wanda" to refer to a feeling, this usage of the word draws upon the Wayang usage of "wanda" where it means the outwards appearance of the wayang puppets that is used to express emotion. Different people can interpret a man's outward appearance as expressing different moods or emotions. It is the same with a keris, different people can have a different feeling generated by the wanda (the outward appearance of the keris).

But that feeling is not the same as the feeling that can be generated by a keris when it is held. For somebody with an advanced level of keris understanding, the spirit, or personality of the keris, its "batin" can be felt and assessed without the necessity of seeing the keris.

It is not uncommon for some people to confuse these aspects of "pawakan", "wanda" & "batin".

With "batin" we are referring to the inner feeling of the keris, that which is hidden, but might be able to be felt, with "pawakan" we are referring only to what we can see, with "wanda" we are referring to the impression formed from what we can see.

I have not heard the word "pasikutan" used in Solo as a substitute for "pawakan", in fact, I do not believe I have ever heard it used at all. I have run this word past several native speakers --- ordinary people, well educated, but not academics who study literature --- and none of these people recognise the word, however, I have seen this word in print, and Harsrinuksmo uses it repeatedly to refer to both physically observed characteristics (pawakan) and to the impression that these physically observed characteristics might generate (wanda).

Although I do not know the word "pasikutan", there is a Kawi word "pasikepan", which translated to Javanese has the meaning of "awak", once again the root for "pawakan". Since I cannot find a native speaker of Javanese who knows this word, and since I needed to search some rather obscure sources to find any word even remotely like "pasikutan", I rather feel that this word "pasikupan" might be a recent corruption of the Kawi "pasikepan" that has been adopted by the current community of keris enthusiasts. I could be totally wrong about this, and I would welcome correction.

So, to recap:-

pawakan:- overall physical appearance

wanda (pron. "wondo"):- the impression generated by what we can see

batin:- the inner feeling generated by what we cannot see.

pasikutan:- perhaps this word is a corruption of the Kawi pasikupan and is used to refer to both physical appearance & impression created by that physical appearance.
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Old 4th August 2021, 10:00 AM   #5
A. G. Maisey
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In order to assess the blade angle the line between gonjo & blade base should be horizontal.
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Old 5th August 2021, 02:02 AM   #6
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Thank you Alan, for what you are willing to say.
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Old 5th August 2021, 06:37 PM   #7
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Thanks for the informative post, Alan.
I love languages so I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it.
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Old 5th August 2021, 11:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
In order to assess the blade angle the line between gonjo & blade base should be horizontal.
This considerably changes my visual perception of the keris
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