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Old 30th May 2021, 10:19 AM   #1
Jean
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Default Kris naga

Dear friends,
I won this peculiar kris blade at a French auction, any opinion about its origin and age? I have my own guess but am not sure, look at the hilt and greneng especially.
Sorry for the poor pic from the seller, I will send better ones when I receive it.
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Old 30th May 2021, 04:43 PM   #2
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Well the hilt confuses me. It looks to be metal. Brass? I don't think the hilt can be particularly helpful identifying the origin of the blade however.
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Old 30th May 2021, 08:19 PM   #3
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Hello David,
Yes, the hilt looks to be made from (cast?) brass or gilt brass and is not standard for a kris hilt but it may be an indicator of the origin... I will see and comment upon receipt.
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Old 30th May 2021, 09:44 PM   #4
A. G. Maisey
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Jean, I cannot see sufficient in these photos to take a guess at origin, but I do find the trifolate greneng features interesting. This type of greneng has been noted in some very old blades. My feeling is East Jawa, this is not a guess, not an opinion, it is a feeling.
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Old 31st May 2021, 08:59 AM   #5
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Thank you Alan, I will send better pic as soon as I can.
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Old 31st May 2021, 11:21 AM   #6
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Hello,

I have already seen this style of handle 2 or 3 times sometimes with more basic Kriss blades. The patina and finish of the handles reminded me of something from the second half of the 20th century and at least one of the associated kriss blades was from the same period with certainty.
It is because of these doubts about the age of the handle (and also a little bit of the blade, the photos in the sale are not good) that I did not bid.
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Old 31st May 2021, 02:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Athanase View Post
Hello,

I have already seen this style of handle 2 or 3 times sometimes with more basic Kriss blades. The patina and finish of the handles reminded me of something from the second half of the 20th century and at least one of the associated kriss blades was from the same period with certainty.
It is because of these doubts about the age of the handle (and also a little bit of the blade, the photos in the sale are not good) that I did not bid.
Well, to me this blade does not look like the recent naga blades from Madura but I will confirm upon receipt. Your opinion is the third one which I received (plus my own), and all are different! Regarding the hilt, my concern is more whether it is suitable for a kris than its age, but again I will confirm.
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Old 31st May 2021, 04:36 PM   #8
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Regarding the hilt, my concern is more whether it is suitable for a kris than its age, but again I will confirm.
Well, i couldn't say for sure that this hilt isn't suitable for any keris. My early response in regards to this was only to say that a hilt can never really be used as an indication of the origin of the blade, unless we can be sure that it has been with that blade since the very beginning. And even then the origin of the hilt cannot be guaranteed to identify the origin of the blade.
I will wait for better images of this blade before making any comments on age, though i'm not sure that the trifolate greneng Alan remarked upon guarantees this to be a blade of any particular age since keris makers often copy older styles in later works. The seller's photos are certainly not clear enough to make any definitive remarks on the age, though unless this keris was in some European collection for a very long time i wouldn't suspect it to be of any great age.
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Old 31st May 2021, 05:17 PM   #9
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Thank you gentlemen. My Solonese friend who is experienced in the kris trade seems to have a quite definite opinion about the blade origin but I prefer to receive the piece and post pics before sharing it with you. Regarding the hilt, he says that this type of cast brass hilt is normally used for walking or commando sticks, although he saw few fitted on krisses or daggers.
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Old 31st May 2021, 10:33 PM   #10
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Jean, it would be very easy to form a firm opinion about this blade & hilt, the overall condition is pristine, the hilt is not a keris hilt and could not possibly be used as the hilt of a keris for either wear or in past times as a weapon, the overall style of workmanship is Madura, Sumenep, but having said that we must be aware that there are some craftsmen in East Jawa now, particularly around Malang, who have their roots buried deep in Madura.

I do not feel that this is an old keris, there are too many tells that place it into the second half of the 20th century. However, from the early 20th century through to at least the 1990's there were a few not particularly prolific craftsmen in Jogja and across to the east who were doing similar work to this. As far as I know the last of these men passed away about 20 to 25 years ago.

If this hilt is brass, either cast or fabricated, yes, it certainly does belong on a stok komando, probably not a walking stick, it is for display only, not for any kind of practical use.

As I said, it would be easy to form a firm opinion based upon these photos, but in the absence the item itself, in the hand, it could be very difficult indeed to provide a supportable opinion.

This is the reason that I used the word "feeling".
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Old 12th June 2021, 01:48 PM   #11
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Dear friends,
I have received the kris blade & hilt and I attach some pics, my observations are as follows:
The bade is 33 cm long excluding the pesi and has an elegant shape.
The hilt was strongly attached to the blade by means of a very old cotton cloth and natural resin (not epoxy), and it is my impression that the 2 pieces have been fitted together for at least 50 years, which seems to exclude that the blase is recent. The blade was slightly polished on the edges and a bit corroded in some areas, especially around the naga head. I can see traces of a longitudinal pamor pattern, the blade looks nicely forged and the naga figure & body are very neatly carved.
I cleaned it in a vinegar plus citric acid bath and could remove most of the corrosion and dirt in less than 24 hours. As advised earlier, the greneng has an unusual shape as well as the cirah cecak of the ganja, which could be an indicator of the origin of the blade.
As expected the hilt is made from cast brass or bronze (heavy) and I could remove most of the blue stains with a copper cleaning paste (it looks better than on the pics).
Your comments and opinion about the blade origin will be welcome!
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Last edited by Jean; 13th June 2021 at 07:31 AM.
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Old 13th June 2021, 10:28 PM   #12
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Jean, there are too many contradictions in this keris for me to give a supportable opinion.

The hilt definitely has nothing at all to do with keris. It just does not belong.

The cloth & resin to attach to the tang sounds to me as if the hilt is full of jabung, which would be expected & normal, and the cloth was used to give the pressure fit.

Stylistically I cannot place it. The trifolate inclusions in the greneng are not something that is at all usual in any recognised classification. The traces of working method that can be seen in the blade are not indicative of any great age. The overall impression for me is East Jawa, but I'm not going to give this as any sort of classification opinion. If I were able to handle it and feel the surface and the perceived weight (tanting), I might be able to give a supportable opinion, from a photograph I cannot.

Here is my unsupportable guess:- less than 100 years old, East Jawa.

Oh yeah, one other thing, from the side view, the sirah cecak looks short and rounded, if that is so it I'd like to move my guess either onto the North Coast or even back to Jogja.

All guesses.
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Old 23rd June 2021, 04:54 PM   #13
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Thank you Alan and sorry for the late reply, we were travelling in France after this so looooong interruption due to the Covid pandemic...
Having the kris in my hands and in spite of the odd hilt, I tend to believe that it has some age, definitely not a kamardikan kris and I would estimate at least 100 years old. As to the provenance, I have no clue except that it does not look to be from Central Java. I had Banjarmasin in mind originally because of the cast brass hilt but this is not a sufficient indicator.
My Solonese friend seems to be convinced that it originates from (South?) Sumatra and is contemporary with the Javanese Mataram period?
I find it a very interesting naga kris anyway.
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Old 24th June 2021, 12:34 AM   #14
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Travel?

During the Time of Covid?

I admire your bravery Jean.

South Sumatera?

1600 to 1700?

Well, we all have our own beliefs, I regret I am completely unable to share your friend's beliefs.

At least you & I seem to be in some agreement, I say less than 100 years old, you say at least 100 years old. I'll settle for "recent", and in keris terms that gives a very spongy period of about 1875 through to yesterday.

My thinking is after about 1900, but even then I have problems, simply because I have not seen a whole lot of truly old keris with this type of sculpting. I do not think it is 1980's, I saw the sort of thing that was being produced in 1980 and shortly thereafter, as it was being produced, and nothing like this comes to mind.

Madura did start to do stuff like this probably during the 1990's , but the surface presentation of this blade seems to indicate something a bit earlier than that, which sort of puts me back to maybe 1920's give or take a few years. However, all this guess work is ignoring the complication of expedited aging which can be either unintentional through neglect, or intentional.

Then there is style. I know exactly what Pak Parman would have said:- the keris would be held point upright in the right hand, it would be being moved gently back & forth with the point going further back over the right shoulder with every movement, and the verdict would be:- "Di luar Jawa", meaning "outside Jawa" and "Jawa" being understood in Central Javanese terms, which is Land of Jawa, not Island of Jawa. After the delivery of the verdict the keris would be put off to one side somewhere, having been judged as wanting and not worthy of further comment.

The Central Javanese keris school is not tolerant of things that are not truly Javanese.

As for place of origin it is definitely not anywhere in Central Jawa, and in that matter I tend to think a bit like my teachers, except that I love Bali origins, and I have great respect for East Javanese origins. Other origins to me seem to be a bit "on the verge" so to speak.

But with all that extraneous stuff out of the way, yes, not a bad keris, probably worth putting into not-too-expensive Solo gayaman.
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Old 24th June 2021, 09:02 AM   #15
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Thank you Alan. We have taken advantage of the respite in the pandemic for visiting some nice spots and replenishing the wine stocks before the holiday period starts...
And I concur with your assesment of my kris (about 100 years old and possibly from East Java) but I am slightly more positive about it as the good naga blades are scarce.
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Old 24th June 2021, 10:42 PM   #16
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Jean, I've spent a lot of time looking at your photos, I am still not prepared to get too positive about origin, but one thing does really stick out like a sore thumb. The greneng. This is a really old style of greneng. I cannot accept that the keris itself is old, so the greneng is a recent copy --- recent in keris terms, not in terms of yesterday's dinner. Do we know anywhere that has used this greneng style at any time during the last couple of hundred years?

I cannot think of anywhere, I've only ever seen this greneng on really old keris.

How about you?

The other thing that must be considered, & that has not yet been addressed, is the form of the sirah cecak.

The carving of the gandhik is clumsy, to say the least, it does not reflect even a similar degree of skill to the carving of the naga itself. I've seen this clumsy gandhik work on keris from the period immediately before & after WWII that were made in Jogja, I knew the son of the man who had made them before WWII and the son also made a few in the 1950's. The son died around 20 years ago.

This keris is an open question, I suggest that we should keep the details in mind until we find a signpost.
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Old 25th June 2021, 06:21 PM   #17
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The carving of the gandhik is clumsy, to say the least, it does not reflect even a similar degree of skill to the carving of the naga itself.
Even enlarging the images on my computer screen i am afraid that these photos don't have a high enough resolution to really see the work well enough to draw solid conclusions, if any are even possible. But given the difference in the quality if carving skills between the gandik and the naga, is it possible that this naga was added to an older keris at a later period?
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Old 25th June 2021, 09:25 PM   #18
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Anything is always possible David, but I do not believe that this is an old blade, on my monitor I can clearly see chisel marks & file marks in the body of the blade. Everything is too crisp and too robust.

But forgetting the old blade idea, why could the blade not be the work of several people? This is common now and it was also the case in times past. Very often the man who is credited with production of a keris is the guide & quality control, different workers will have skill in one area or another of production, and then there are trainees.

We're talking here about the sculpting of a blade, but this also applies in smithing work, it does & did in Jawa, and also in Western societies. In England in the days when the smith was Mister Fixit, not all smiths were equal, there was often only a single smith in a village who was recognised as the man to go for any welding work, not all smiths could complete large or difficult welds, the work was sub-contracted to the specialist.

It is no different with keris production and weapons production in general. We see the object, we talk to the man who claims authorship, but there could be half a dozen other craftsmen behind that "author".

When I was doing a lot of damascus work I made a lot of knife blades that I sold to other makers, and not just local Australian makers. I never put a maker's mark on my work. During all the time I was making & selling to other makers only one other maker credited me with production of the blade. This did not annoy me in the slightest, I was just doing common work and getting paid for it. Why should I complain about not getting free advertising?
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Old 26th June 2021, 08:59 AM   #19
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The naga does not seem to have been added but carved from the blade itself, the chiselling is not perfect indeed, and the filing marks on the edges were made for removing the superficial rust. I plan to ship the blade to Solo for cleaning and warangan so we may better see the carving and pamor details.
BTW I checked my reference books but could not find any similar blade (style of naga, greneng, ganja), but I vaguely remember a discussion by Gustav about this style of greneng?
The blade is only 33 cm long.
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Old 26th June 2021, 03:15 PM   #20
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BTW I checked my reference books but could not find any similar blade (style of naga, greneng, ganja), but I vaguely remember a discussion by Gustav about this style of greneng?
Jean, is this the thread you were thinking about?
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...ght=gustav%27s
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Old 26th June 2021, 07:52 PM   #21
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Yes David, thank you!
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