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Old 8th August 2020, 02:20 AM   #1
apolaki
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Default Characteristics of Punokawan hilts

Hi, I was curious to know what are some common characteristics found on keris hilts that depict Punokawan like Semar?
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Old 8th August 2020, 02:28 AM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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Old 8th August 2020, 08:40 PM   #3
apolaki
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Thanks! I am familiar with how they look in general in wayang and other drawings, but I was wondering if there are specific ways they are carved on keris hilts. If a hilt has a large belly or certain clothing or necklace, hair style are they considered to be a depiction of the 4 brothers. Some hilts have these but not the exact facial features for instance. Would they still be Punokawanbl or represent something else?
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Old 8th August 2020, 09:24 PM   #4
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Carvers vary in their style & ability, variations characteristic of one carver might not be characteristic of another. This applies with most art work, including carvings.

With the punakawans each one has a specific characteristic, so you look for this characteristic. If you cannot find the characteristic that a punakawan is recognised by, then it is not a punakawan, what it is then supposed to be who knows?
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Old 9th August 2020, 01:25 AM   #5
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I figure the partial handle shown in my avatar is probably Semar.
He is mounted on one of my kerises in storage; I'll see if I can hunt him up and show you.
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Old 9th August 2020, 01:33 PM   #6
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Most of the punakawan hilts which I have seen are from Bali/ Lombok and according to the Lombok expert EAN Van Veenendaal they depict the balinese equivalent of the Javanese heroes: Tualen (Semar), Merdah (Togog), Sangut (Gareng), Jaragan (Petruk), and Delem (Bagong).
The 2 common features on these togogan hilts are the tuft of hair above the head, and the ape-like face which could create confusion with Anoman (but Anoman always wear a tail).
These hilts are not that common and most of them seem rather recent, see one typical specimen from my collection.
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Old 9th August 2020, 02:55 PM   #7
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Hi, Thanks for the insight! I have seen keris hilt with the pony tail and arm positions to the sides and thought perhaps it is a Punokawan, but the facial features looked more like a Garuda or Hanoman. So from what I gather, in general Punokawan can be identified more by the hair on keris hilts whereas Hanoman can be identified with tail and more ornate mahkota. What about Garuda, are there some identifying tell tale signs it will be Garuda on keris hilt?

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Most of the punakawan hilts which I have seen are from Bali/ Lombok and according to the Lombok expert EAN Van Veenendaal they depict the balinese equivalent of the Javanese heroes: Tualen (Semar), Merdah (Togog), Sangut (Gareng), Jaragan (Petruk), and Delem (Bagong).
The 2 common features on these togogan hilts are the tuft of hair above the head, and the ape-like face which could create confusion with Anoman (but Anoman always wear a tail).
These hilts are not that common and most of them seem rather recent, see one typical specimen from my collection.
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Old 9th August 2020, 04:03 PM   #8
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The first hilt clearly depicts Hanuman from the ape feet and the tail protruding from the back of the head.
The second hilt with the pony tail was identified as Jatayu (the nephew of Garuda) by a late Javanese expert because of its beak but it may depict a punakawan.
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Old 9th August 2020, 04:43 PM   #9
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Jean do you have a side view and possibly a back view of the second hilt?
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Old 9th August 2020, 05:52 PM   #10
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two recent Javanese punakawans by wood
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Old 9th August 2020, 07:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Interested Party
Jean do you have a side view and possibly a back view of the second hilt?


Will do when I return home.
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Old 10th August 2020, 08:22 AM   #12
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The identification of the characters shown in keris hilts is very dangerous ground to be too certain on.

The characters shown as hilt figures in Balinese hilts are usually interpretations of either local Balinese folk figures or wayang characters, especially characters from the Ramayana. However, the way in which the craftsmen who carve these representations very often will defy giving any figure a specific identity.

There are a great many characters in the Ramayana & the Mahabharata, and a great many more Balinese folk, legendary & mythical characters. The hilt character is put in place as the guardian of the shrine that is the keris, so this sort of narrows the field a bit --- or does it? Somebody might form the opinion that he wants the baddest bloke in town to guard his keris because that Ravana is going to scare away any evil entity that wants to come along and wants to inhabit his keris.

On the other hand he might figure that it is best to put Ganesha in place as the guard because of his incredibly powerful martial abilities. But Ganesha and just about all the characters used as subjects for Balinese carvings, pura figures, gateway figures, as well as hilt figures, should have very definite attributes that will tell people, as well as the evil entities from the Niskala exactly who they are. Sometimes the formal pura figures will have these attributes, but the less formal hilt figures will not, especially hilt figures that have been carved in recent times.

Sometimes a craftsman will produce something that is pure art and does not display any attribute that can be associated with a genuine character at all. Other times a client might instruct the craftsman to produce a particular figure, for example an elephant headed figure, that is meant to represent an iconic historic figure, say, Gajah Mada, or even the client's own grandfather who held Ganesha as his personal deity.

If we see a hilt that shows a monkey-like figure it is almost invariably identified as Hanuman --- but was it intended as Hanuman by the carver? There is more than one monkey character in the Ramayana, Sugriwa for example.

Then we have the propensity of Balinese carvers to haphazardly mix attributes. The punakawan Petruk for example ---the gentleman with the big, long, nose. Petruk has an attribute that consists of a bell that he wears around his neck, that bell should always have the clapper visible, the reason being that a bell & clapper is a phallic symbol, and Petruk's nose is popularly interpreted as a phallic attribute.

Now Jean has shown us a hilt that it seems a Javanese expert has identified as Jatayu, and that Jatayu figure has Petruk's attribute around his neck, and a punakawan's topknot , but it cannot be Petruk because Petruk is tall, skinny, bony and with a big, long nose. So, is it Jatayu? Well, Jatayu is one of the good guys in the Ramayana, one might call him a role model, he was one of the Garudas but he could speak in a human voice and some say he could assume human form. So --- Jatayu? Or has the carver drunk too much tuak for lunch and forgotten which character should have a bell around his neck?

In the "Bali Bersejarah" book that was produced a few years ago, the man who produced it, and who is an acknowledged authority on Balinese art very often does not identify the hilt figures in the book he produced, these unidentified figures get given generic names, such as "Royal Figure" or similar.

The bottom line is this:-
Balinese totogan hilts are often not accurate representations of any specific figure, and are sometimes not intended to be. If we wish to know exactly what figure a Balinese totogan hilt is supposed to represent, we need to go and ask the carver, or in some cases, the person who commissioned it. Mostly this is not possible.
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Old 16th August 2020, 12:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

The bottom line is this:-
Balinese totogan hilts are often not accurate representations of any specific figure, and are sometimes not intended to be. If we wish to know exactly what figure a Balinese totogan hilt is supposed to represent, we need to go and ask the carver, or in some cases, the person who commissioned it. Mostly this is not possible.


Thank you Alan and I fully agree with you, I knocked my head many times while attempting to identfy the togogan hilts shown in my book and the Neka book did not help me very much....
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