Join Date: May 2006
You're right Jean, "janggelan" does mean "like a corn cob", but it also means "like the bones in a horse's tail bone" , yes, I know that a horse's tail is all long hair, but that hair grows from flesh supported by a tail bone, not unlike a human tail bone.
The reason that in East Jawa these rather tubular hilts are called janggelan is because of the texture of the hilt, both a corn cob and the bones from a horse's tail bone display grooves and channels, sometimes quite close in appearance to a corn cob after it has been stripped of seeds, sometimes with deep relief that we can see reflected in some of the carving found on these tubular janggelans.
In fact, there is not just a single type of janggelan, for example, those roughly triangular shaped Madura bird hilts are also janggelan hilts, they call them "Janggelan Bangau" in East Jawa, "bangau" is a kind of egret. All these variations have names, but I don't know them all.
I did not get this name "janggelan" from any book, it is the name that a m'ranggi in Solo whom I knew very well gave them, and also a Solo tukang jejeran used the same name for them, and people in Malang & Surabaya whom I have bought from also used this name.
I do not know any other name for this hilt style.
There is a very good book on hilts that was written by a gentleman whose name I have forgotten, his second name is Wiryadi I think. This man is from East Jawa and my memory is that he was introduced to keris collecting by his father in law, a Mr. Gondomono, who was very famous keris collector. This Mr. Gondomono, I believe, is the same Mr. Gondomono whom I met in Malang many years ago, I think he was a tailor(?) and I believe he had a special interest in Madura keris.
Anyway, this book written by Mr. Wiryadi might be worth looking at, because I'm pretty sure it extends the name "janggelan" to hilts other than the well known corn cob style. I've lent my copy to friend and cannot check it myself at the moment.
I actually do not have a carved-in-stone opinion on the correct name for this type of hilt, but until I do develop such an opinion, I think I'll follow the lead of the numerous people whom I have met who know more than I do on this particular subject.