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Old 20th August 2020, 02:37 AM   #31
A. G. Maisey
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Yes David, but much, much more than that.

The point of the sogokan (poyuhan) must be exactly, precisely the same distance from the blade base (ie wilah base, excludes gonjo) on each blade face, placement of each single feature must be precisely the same on each blade face.

The rondha and the greneng overall must be exactly the same on each side.

The work on a top level Surakarta blade is expected to be extremely precise, what we can see in these pics would indicate that if we had this blade in hand and examined it under magnification and measured it accurately we might find unacceptable variation. What I mean by "unacceptable" is unacceptable to permit this blade to be regarded as top level. Good, yes, but not good enough.
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Old 21st August 2020, 04:17 AM   #32
Gavin Nugent
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Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Well Gavin, you're not bad.

Got no kewpie dolls to hand out, but for a non-keris sort of bloke that's a real good ten cents worth.

Yes, Surakarta.

If we were to work through the indicators one by one we would see that it agrees very heavily with Surakarta. The only questionable indicator is the blumbangan. Kai tells us it is square, but on my monitor it is just marginally elongated. Camera angles and monitors can distort the exact proportions, and it is not the classic long narrow blumbangan that is typically Surakarta.

But putting that blumbangan to one side, everything else is there, however, it is there in what I would call a "comic book" rendition, as if the maker has heard all about what the Surakarta blade looks like, but maybe is not very familiar with them in his hand.

For a Surakarta blade, I could not consider this blade to be high quality work, there is too much variation in the ron dha sections of the greneng. These ron dha are definitely Surakarta and are primary indicators, once we see this ron dha form we then begin to look for something that will tell us that the keris cannot be Surakarta, something that will without argument eliminate Surakarta. In this keris there is no negative indicator that will positively eliminate Surakarta.

The variation that is very obvious in the ron dha sections possibly indicates that there will be considerable variation in placement and execution of the features on opposite faces of the blade. High quality workmanship demands that the features perfectly echo each other on each blade face. Perfect means exactly that:- perfect. Almost perfect is not good enough in this case.

I believe this keris was made in Sumatera, but that does not make it Tangguh Palembang or Tangguh Jambi. However, the entire ensemble is a very nice example of a Palembang keris.

If it were mine I would not change a thing on it, everything hangs together nicely exactly as it is.

There are solid cultural reasons, apart from personal preferences, why men choose to wear humble clothing and non-ostentatious accoutrements, and when such a nice example as this comes our way it is perhaps a little arrogant of somebody who is not a part of the originating culture to take it upon himself to override the taste of the previous owner.

This thread might be of interest:-

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=GINJEI

Gavin, your comments on the overall form of the blade are quite perceptive, a Surakarta blade should ideally have a defined "chest" on the front edge, and on the back edge and placed a little lower, more towards the gonjo, there should be a defined swelling that is the "back". It is not so much a narrowing in the centre but a swelling that protrudes beyond the line of the edge, front higher, back lower.


Thanks Alan,

Your posts are very educational. The last paragraph above again helped me understand more on the subtleties, thank you for the perspective.

A lot of it all eludes me but every now and then I grasp a little. I can't claim any real credit or knowledge though. You proposed a question, I hit the books. I really wish I could read many other languages as it was Haryono Haryoguritno's work Keris Jawa that eventually got me on point, but not until I thumbed through every page a few times did things slot in to place... my kingdom for an English translation!

Gavin
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Old 21st August 2020, 01:19 PM   #33
A. G. Maisey
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Gavin, when I asked that question I had in my mind that all anybody who could see needed to do was open up "Keris Jawa" and have a bit of a browse.

It is very seldom that we can give a halfway decent opinion of a keris classification from a photo. Segaluh is about the only one I can think of where just about anybody should get it. But with this Surakarta keris, probably made in Palembang, it was just so obvious that I was certain somebody would get it, and it is a really interesting blade. Worth the time to consider the nature of keris coming out of Sumatra.

Actually the very best book for any beginner in keris is not Haryoguritno, you need a pretty decent level of knowledge to sort the wheat from the chaff. The best beginner's book on Javanese keris is Garrett & Bronwen Solyom's "World of the Javanese Keris". If you want to understand keris, that's where you start.

When considering keris books written by Indonesians it is always worth remembering that the motivation for writing these books should not ever be considered to be the same as the motivation for somebody who is not Indonesian to write such a book.

Garrett & Bronwen's book was written purely to provide solid knowledge to people who lacked that knowledge. It has no error.
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Old 23rd August 2020, 06:20 PM   #34
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Hello all,

Apologies for not responding in a timely manner - Iíve been too busy to catch up earlier.

Looking at the pics again, itís well possible that I was far out in the left field, especially with bringing Madura into the discussion: The overview pic seems to be taken at an angle (blade tilted to the right) which results in some distortion; wide-eye lenses (mobile phones) tend to distort images even further. When looking at pics, I try to mentally correct for such distortions - this time I got stuck though.

However, if I go from the pics (especially the close-up of the base of the blade and this photographic representation is all we can go by on this forum), this blumbangan still seems to be very close to square. Whenever I measure from the enlarged close-up, I obtain a ratio of height/width very close to 1 (i.e. square shape), about 1.02 (range 1.075-0.966). [A standing brick would be expected to have a ratio well above 1, a lying brick well below 1.]

Alan, Iím sure, when assessing a keris blade, you go by a mental image (i.e. general impression) of the proportions rather than actual measurements; however, could you narrow down which measurements may be most suited though, please? (E.g. length of the left edge of the blumbangan and possibly shortest connection between upper left corner of blumbangan to centerline of the blade? Or does this connection need to be perpendicular to the ada-ada/janur or even perpendicular to the left edge of the blumbangan?)

Itís my understanding that the proportion of the blumbangan is of quite some importance; at least it is one of the least likely features to change after manufacture.

Greneng resembling this style are seen in keris from early European Kunstkammer collections, too. These may well hark back to Majapahit styles (if not originating from this era which seems less likely for most of these blades). Thus, this ron dha style is not restricted to Surakarta either.

I have absolutely no problems to accept your line of reasoning for the small keris Palembang shown by John in the thread referenced earlier (post #7) - you already mentioned the close relationship to Surakarta style back then (post #23 in the older thread).

With the current example, there seems to be too much conflicting evidence (ron dha, blumbangan, blade shape) to reach a safe conclusion in my very humble opinion. Perhaps you can tell us more about weighting possibly incongruous features, Alan? Thanks in advance!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 23rd August 2020, 07:46 PM   #35
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Hello Alan,

Quote:
If it were mine I would not change a thing on it, everything hangs together nicely exactly as it is.

There are solid cultural reasons, apart from personal preferences, why men choose to wear humble clothing and non-ostentatious accoutrements, and when such a nice example as this comes our way it is perhaps a little arrogant of somebody who is not a part of the originating culture to take it upon himself to override the taste of the previous owner.

This thread might be of interest:-
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...ighlight=GINJEI

If there was any evidence suggesting that this keris is an ensemble that was traditionally worn by a former owner as-is (or even a decent likelihood only), Iíd fully agree not to change anything. However, very few keris have enough provenance to suggest them likely being genuine ensembles.

Usually we have to go by indicators when trying to estimate whether any given keris may survive as an original ensemble.

For keris Palembang, we have a pretty good number of extant examples to reconstruct how original status ensembles looked like; this one doesnít feel right to me at allÖ

As already mentioned (post #12), it is wise to keep any replaced parts. And to pass them on to any future owners so that any changes are fully reversible.

I believe the majority of keris in collections worldwide got sold/traded (usually via several middlemen) and many ensembles got altered during this process. While there are certainly genuine examples with fittings that are of thoroughly mixed origins and also reflect the genuine choice of the last traditional owner within his(/her) cultural environment, this seems to be a bit farfetched as a default assumption for most extant ensembles with strong discrepancies in style and/or quality, I believe.

(I'm not sure what you refer to regarding to Si Ginjei or Palembang vs Jambi - feel free to expand, please!)

Regards,
Kai
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Old 23rd August 2020, 11:41 PM   #36
A. G. Maisey
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Yes Kai, you're right, if I look at a blade it is measured against a mental template, initial appraisal is always based on overall impression that takes into account the dominant feeling of the pawakan, and any particular characteristic that is only attributable to a particular classification.

Once you have that you then examine more closely to try to disprove the initial evaluation. If you cannot disprove that initial evaluation, it stands.

Blumbangan is of relative importance but it cannot over-rule everything else.

Blade classification in my terms is "tangguh" in the terms of just about everybody else, I use "classification" because I have yet to meet anybody from a western culture who truly understands all the things that "keris tangguh" expresses to a Javanese ahli keris. Use of the word "classification" simplifies things and brings the whole concept back to something that people who are outside Javanese culture can more or less understand.

Never forget this:- the Solonese tangguh system was initiated for very specific reasons, reasons that I will not go into here, it was not initiated so that keris collectors would have something to talk about. This tangguh system should only be applied to very high quality blades of investment quality. Yes everybody now wants to stick a tangguh onto everything, but that is not really the way things are supposed to work.

When we look very closely at a high quality blade we base our judgement on the impression , some things are measurable, I mean able to measured precisely with verniers, things like the width of a kruwingan, other things are close to impossible to measure accurately, or perhaps can be part measured and then we gauge placement and impression.

The greneng is the maker's signature. Look at the illustrations in KJ.

It is not only the signature of the maker, but also a major indicator of classification. The ron dha used in a Surakarta keris is similar to the ron dha used in a keris that is classifiable as Mojo, but it is not the same.

We need to be pay extremely close attention to detail when we look at quality keris.

Surakarta echoes Mojo, but it is very far from being the same, and within the Surakarta classification there is variation between periods and makers, and vast variation in quality.

To even begin to understand this we need a very great deal of experience. There is no easy way, there is no formula, there is nothing that can be written down as a set of rules. We need to handle one hell of a lot of keris in the presence of and under the guidance of somebody who really does understand.

The judgement of a blade classification is an opinion. Sometimes that opinion will be based on a 99% agreement with indicators, sometimes it will be based on a 51% agreement with indicators, sometimes it will be 50/50.

Whether the opinion is accepted or not is usually based upon the generally agreed position of the person giving the opinion. This is exactly the same as applies in the world of art in general where an appraiser is generally agreed as being the greatest living authority on the work of a particular period, or artist within a period.
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Old 24th August 2020, 12:12 AM   #37
A. G. Maisey
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I understand "genuine ensemble" as meaning a keris that is in the dress that it had when it left the culture of origin. If that keris was with a custodian who actually wore it, or whether it was with a dealer or agent within the culture of origin, I accept that ensemble as genuine.

Why do I include dealers and agents?

Because in the societies with which I am familiar, many people buy a keris fully dressed from a dealer or agent and never touch it as long as they have it.

This can vary of course, sometimes a keris will be redressed to suit an occasion, often a single blade can have half a dozen different forms of dress, for example dress to attend an evening function, dress to inspect ricefields, dress to go to an afternoon of dance practice, dress to appear less than one really is, dress to appear more than one really is.

To form an opinion on the "genuiness" of keris dress based upon a keris seen out of context is unwise and cannot be substantiated. It is an opinion formed without knowledge. We need to see the keris within its context in order to form an opinion that can be substantiated.

The idea of keeping replaced parts on a keris may be something that would appeal to a collector who is based in a society outside the area of origin, but it is something that within society of origin would be regarded as being at best something to smile at. Something like keeping a worn out suit of clothes, or the suit that you wore when you were a junior clerk, as opposed to the suit that you wear when you attend a board meeting.

Frankly, I do not see this keris as a "status" keris. It is made in a particular style, but it is almost a caricature of that style, as if the style has been described and noted, but the maker has perhaps never seen more than one or two of that style in his life.

It is a nice keris, but to paint it as "status" is more than a bit extreme.

Kai, in respect of this:-

" (I'm not sure what you refer to regarding to Si Ginjei or Palembang vs Jambi - feel free to expand, please!)"

I don't have time to go looking for what I wrote, and since I wrote what has piquied your interest I have probably written something like 25,000 words about a number of subjects and for different purposes.

Could you please direct me to the passage concerned and frame your question as precisely as possible? I'll do my best to respond.
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Old 24th August 2020, 09:21 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

Blade classification in my terms is "tangguh" in the terms of just about everybody else, I use "classification" because I have yet to meet anybody from a western culture who truly understands all the things that "keris tangguh" expresses to a Javanese ahli keris. Use of the word "classification" simplifies things and brings the whole concept back to something that people who are outside Javanese culture can more or less understand.


Yes Alan, I fully agree and I would propose that from now on we should use "classification" instead of "tangguh" in this forum to avoid confusion and misunderstanding such as using the tangguh concept for blades from outside Java/ Madura.
In my book and after having failed to properly understand and describe the tangguh concept, I have used the word "style" which may not be fully appropriate but is easily understandable by Western collectors.
BTW I just checked the book "The World of the Javanese Keris" and noticed that unless I miss a few mentions the authors did not use the word "tangguh" at all but referred the age of the blades to the historical periods such as Majapahit, Pajajaran, and Mataram. I feel that the age estimate of some blades is overestimated but this is only my personal opinion.
Regards

Last edited by Jean : 24th August 2020 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 24th August 2020, 09:34 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai

Greneng resembling this style are seen in keris from early European Kunstkammer collections, too. These may well hark back to Majapahit styles (if not originating from this era which seems less likely for most of these blades). Thus, this ron dha style is not restricted to Surakarta either.


Just for reference, pics of the sorsoran of a blade possibly originating from Banten and dating from the 17th century, before and after the warangan treatment.
Regards
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Old 24th August 2020, 11:32 AM   #40
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Hello Alan,

Thanks for your responses - I'll try to tackle other topics later.


Quote:
Kai, in respect of this:-

" (I'm not sure what you refer to regarding to Si Ginjei or Palembang vs Jambi - feel free to expand, please!)"

I don't have time to go looking for what I wrote, and since I wrote what has piquied your interest I have probably written something like 25,000 words about a number of subjects and for different purposes.

Could you please direct me to the passage concerned and frame your question as precisely as possible? I'll do my best to respond.

Rather to the contrary, your original statement at the end of post #26 in this thread was too terse for me, I'm afraid. I suppose that you refer to your last post (#15 in the referenced thread) but I fail to see the connection to the current discussion. (If a discussion Palembang style vs Jambi style is deemed relevant, I guess my first question would be who attributed those old keris to Palembang and on what reason?)

Regards,
Kai
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Old 24th August 2020, 01:14 PM   #41
A. G. Maisey
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Jean, how good is the provenance on that keris?

How certain are we of the dating?

How certain are we that it is from Banten?

At this point I am not arguing against Banten, but I will say that it appears to tick all the boxes for a Surakarta keris, and it lacks characteristics that we would normally be looking for in a Banten keris.

Would it be possible to do a close-up as near to 90 degrees as possible of the wadidang side greneng, and also straight down onto the top of the gonjo?

Also a full length shot so we can see the pawakan.



Kai, I apologise if you consider that my use of words was too sparing Kai, Frankly I just don't understand what you're getting at or what your question is. But if I was sparing in my use of words, perhaps it was because I had nothing of any great importance to say, so I most gently suggest that you ignore that which you find confusing or objectionable. Just leave my terse comments to sit wherever they might be and languish in loneliness.
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Old 24th August 2020, 02:13 PM   #42
Jean
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Jean, how good is the provenance on that keris?

How certain are we of the dating?

How certain are we that it is from Banten?

At this point I am not arguing against Banten, but I will say that it appears to tick all the boxes for a Surakarta keris, and it lacks characteristics that we would normally be looking for in a Banten keris.

Would it be possible to do a close-up as near to 90 degrees as possible of the wadidang side greneng, and also straight down onto the top of the gonjo?

Also a full length shot so we can see the pawakan.



Hello Alan,
I said "possibly originating from Banten and dating from the 17th century" because of the large similarities between this blade and the specimens shown in the Krisdik from Jensen and in the Dresden and Copenhagen collections, especially the dapur/ ricikan and the size of the blade.
I will shot more pics but am not sure that they will give more accurate evidence.

My supporting arguments for the Banten or Blambangan origin and estimated age are as follows:
. Unfortunately the blade was shortened and only has 9 or 11 luks against probably 13 originally and measures only 31.5 cm instead of 38-40 cm estimated as the typical blades from Banten. (see pics)
. The dapur and ricikan are extremely similar to the reference blades from Banten/ Blambangan.
. The blade is significantly heavier (thicker and wider) than the standard Surakarta blades including the PB ones.
. The attached hilt is typical of the 17th century pieces from Banten or Blambangan.
. The blade was sheathless as you would expect from a very old piece from an uncommon origin (a Surakarta blade would more probably have a scabbard).
Regards
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Last edited by Jean : 24th August 2020 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 24th August 2020, 09:22 PM   #43
A. G. Maisey
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Thanks Jean, but I still need those other shots.

This looks more Banten than your first pics.
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Old 25th August 2020, 03:46 PM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Thanks Jean, but I still need those other shots.

This looks more Banten than your first pics.


Hello Alan,
I attach the pics as requested and hope that they are adequate.
I would like to add the following indicators which point to a 17th century blade rather than a Surakarta one IMO:
. The blade remains wide to almost the point, the width is still 2.2 cm at the last luk (29 cm from the base of the blade).
. The kembang kacang is very strong.
. The short kruwingan depan & belakang (or long tikel alis & sraweyan) are very typical of these 17th century blades.
. If the blade had originally 13 luks as I would expect, there is no Surakarta dhapur matching with this one (Parungsari and Sengkelat being the closest).
. Last but not least, the thin twin lines on the sirak cecak of the ganja are very typical of these 17th century blades and not (or very rarely) seen on Surakarta blades to my best knowledge.
Regards
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Old 26th August 2020, 12:04 AM   #45
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Thanks Jean, yes, I agree with you, this can be classified as Banten. I think this demonstrates just how difficult it can be to classify from photos. There is so much that cannot be adequately appraised from photos, that it is silly to even try in most cases. I'd still like this in my hand to be absolutely certain, but I can now see sufficient to be reasonably confident that we're not looking at Surakarta.
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Old 26th August 2020, 09:23 AM   #46
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Thank you Alan and I am glad that you could confirm my opinion with some certainty. It is a pity that the blade was damaged, it mat be younger than the 17th Century although it has kept the original features of these blades brought to Europe at that time. I am personally amazed by the quality of the pamor pattern and carving of the ricikan considering the presumed age of this piece.
Regards
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