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Old 19th December 2020, 04:07 PM   #1
Gonzoadler
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Default Keris Palembang

Hello,

I want to show my Keris Palembang and I have also some questions:

Often the parts of a Keris are from different times. In the case of my dagger I would think so, too. I suspect the ivory hilt is antique and probably 19th, maybe early 20th century. Is that right?
And has the fine carved hilt a religious or mythological meaning?

The scabbard could be newer, but has some age, too. The mouthpiece is made of more beautiful wood than the remaining part. Was there a silver mounting to cover this part? Or had it been repaired? Or is that normal?

The determination of the age of Keris blades is a wide and complex field.
Because of the high quality and the knowledge the smith had to have (the damascus pattern follows the shape of the blade) it should be an antique blade. Is a precise dating possible?

Sorry for my many questions, I'm not a really experienced Keris colector.

Best,
Robin
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Old 19th December 2020, 04:09 PM   #2
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The hilt:
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Old 19th December 2020, 04:10 PM   #3
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The scabbard:
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Old 19th December 2020, 04:12 PM   #4
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The blade:
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Old 19th December 2020, 04:15 PM   #5
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That's it. I look forward to answers
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Old 19th December 2020, 06:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzoadler
Hello,

I want to show my Keris Palembang and I have also some questions:

Often the parts of a Keris are from different times. In the case of my dagger I would think so, too. I suspect the ivory hilt is antique and probably 19th, maybe early 20th century. Is that right?
And has the fine carved hilt a religious or mythological meaning?

The scabbard could be newer, but has some age, too. The mouthpiece is made of more beautiful wood than the remaining part. Was there a silver mounting to cover this part? Or had it been repaired? Or is that normal?

The determination of the age of Keris blades is a wide and complex field.
Because of the high quality and the knowledge the smith had to have (the damascus pattern follows the shape of the blade) it should be an antique blade. Is a precise dating possible?

Sorry for my many questions, I'm not a really experienced Keris colector.

Best,
Robin


Hello Robin,
This is a typical and excellent specimen of kris from Palembang, congrats!
.The blade has 9 waves and a ganja iras (typical from the area) and pamor Adeg. It probably dates from the 19th century. The top face of the ganja may have been originally covered with gold kinatah.
.The ivory hilt is in in one of the typical Jawa demam (feverish Javanese) styles from Palembang and is perfectly executed. It may be as old as the blade or possibly a bit younger (first half o the 20th century).
. The scabbard is typical and it is normal that the top part (sampir) be made from a different wood species (kemuning) than the stem (angsana). The tip of the stem has an odd shape, it should be partly rounded.
Regards

Last edited by Jean : 19th December 2020 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 19th December 2020, 07:05 PM   #7
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Hello,
I agree with Jean.
I think the lower part of the Selut may be turned upside down. Usually the "crown of small flowers" is not in direct contact with the blade, but is placed higher, near the underside of the handle.
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Old 19th December 2020, 07:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athanase
Hello,
I agree with Jean.
I think the lower part of the Selut may be turned upside down. Usually the "crown of small flowers" is not in direct contact with the blade, but is placed higher, near the underside of the handle.


Yes, Athanase, you are correct and have a sharp eye!
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Old 19th December 2020, 07:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzoadler
... I'm not a really experienced Keris colector.

Best,
Robin


Very nice for a not really experienced collector !

I love the ganja iras blade.

Best regards,
Willem

Last edited by asomotif : 19th December 2020 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 19th December 2020, 08:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
.The blade has 9 waves and a ganja iras (typical from the area) and pamor Adeg. It probably dates from the 19th century. The top face of the ganja may have been originally covered with gold kinatah.

I am pretty much in agreement with Jean. However i am curious why he suggests that the top of the gonjo may have been originally covered in gold kinatah. I do not see any evidence that kinatah was once in place here and certainly not all nice Palembang keris also had kinatah.
I agree that the tip of the sheath stem seems to be missing something. A flat termination is not generally correct for this type of sheath.
To answer a question that seems to have been overlooked...
"The scabbard could be newer, but has some age, too. The mouthpiece is made of more beautiful wood than the remaining part. Was there a silver mounting to cover this part? Or had it been repaired? Or is that normal?"
I see nothing unusual about the top sheath. I doubt there was ever any silver mounting at the mouth of the sheath. You are correct to recognize this is beautiful wood. I can't tell from you still photos, but i get the feeling that the grain of this wood might display a chatoyancy effect. Such wood is highly prized and there would be no traditional desire to cover up such nice wood grain.
Since keris are not your thing i will explain a couple of comments made here, though you may already understand them.
Gonjo Iras (or ganja as it is sometimes spelled) refers to the fact that this keris was made all in one piece. Keris generally has a separate gonjo, the small asymmetrical cross piece/guard at the base of the blade. It is generally made separately and then fitted to the blade over the pesi (tang). In your blade this is all one piece. You may be wondering what the significance of that is, bit i am afraid i have never heard anyone explain that to my satisfaction. There are more than one theory explaining the spiritual/philosophical significance of these parts of the keris. But i have also seen very knowledgable people suggest that gonjo iras is simply a money saving way to forge a keris.
Pamor Adeg refers to the pattern made by non-ferrous material such as nickel that is folded into the forging. "Adeg" means standing, and as you can see the pattern lines all move in one direction in a parallel fashion.There are numerous variations on this pamor pattern.
I would agree with the 19th century dating, but to answer another of your questions there is really no way to precisely date a keris unless you know the maker. Use of similar styles and materials can span over fairly long periods and the condition of such antique blades is dependent upon how well they were cared for and how often they may have received acid washings and re-staining of the blades in the keris' lifetime. I think it is safe to call your blade 19th century. The hilt could be as old i suppose, but i suspect it might be early 20th century.
The hilt cup and ring (i would not call this a "selut") looks like it is probably silver. If this were mine i would polish that silver up. Silver parts are meant to shine and i would not consider that a destruction of any precious patina. It looks like real stones in the ring, but your photos aren't all that clear. In all probability they might be "yakut" which i believe is cut quartz crystal.
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Old 20th December 2020, 08:46 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I am pretty much in agreement with Jean. However i am curious why he suggests that the top of the gonjo may have been originally covered in gold kinatah. I do not see any evidence that kinatah was once in place here and certainly not all nice Palembang keris also had kinatah.


The top part of the ganja seems to have been carved on the front (sirak cecah) side but it may just be a defect, Robin could confirm it or not.
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Old 20th December 2020, 01:30 PM   #12
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First, thanks for all your comments, they are very interesting and instructive.

Because of the Ganja:
I added pictures of both sides. I don't think that it is carved and I can't see any remaining gold on the blade.

Concerning the hilt cup and ring:
The cup could also be a copper alloy, at one point it shines golden through the dark surface. But maybe it is silver, I'm just not sure.
I added two pictures of the ring.
Yes, David, you are right, there are real stones in the ring. It's no glass, because they have a lot inclusions. The ring itself shines golden and had no patina as I got the Keris some years ago. Because of that I suspect the material is this indonesian gold alloy, called suwasa. But maybe it is just brass.

It seems to be right that the Keris is incorrectly mounted. But the hilt stucks and I wouldn't like to damage anything.

And David, of course the wood of the sampir is far too good to cover it with silver. Maybe my question was a little misleading. And yes, the wood has a chatoyancy effect. What I meant was the angsana, but different wood is normal, as the collectors said here. So I don't have to search for a silver mounting

Best
Robin
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Old 21st December 2020, 06:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzoadler
Concerning the hilt cup and ring:
The cup could also be a copper alloy, at one point it shines golden through the dark surface. But maybe it is silver, I'm just not sure.
I added two pictures of the ring.
Yes, David, you are right, there are real stones in the ring. It's no glass, because they have a lot inclusions. The ring itself shines golden and had no patina as I got the Keris some years ago. Because of that I suspect the material is this indonesian gold alloy, called suwasa. But maybe it is just brass.

It seems to be right that the Keris is incorrectly mounted. But the hilt stucks and I wouldn't like to damage anything.

Hi Robin. Thanks for the additional photos. They don't help too much since they aren't really in focus, but i don't think anyone could tell you definitively whether those are yakut (quartz) or inten (low grade diamond) even if the images are sharp. Suassa could well be the material they are mounted in, and your most recent images do hint at that. If this were mine i would take it to your local jeweler and see what they have to say. I bought a keris into a jeweler once to ID some stones and they actually got a real kick out of it. Didn't even charge me for the assessment. They could also tell you if the metal has any gold content. It may not really matter to you now, but you would definitely assign different levels of value to this keris dependent upon which materials are actually used here, so it my be something you would want to know down the line.
There are ways to loosen a fixed hilt, but with a fragile ivory hilt that already shows some age cracks i fully understand why you might simply accept the upside down fitting rather than risk damaging the ivory.
I did note one additional question that was not fully addressed.
"And has the fine carved hilt a religious or mythological meaning?"
As Jean mentioned this hilt form is known as Jawa Demam, which translates to something like "Feverish Javanese". This is due to the bend over posture of the abstract figure with one arm across its belly as if in some pain or distress. I don't know exactly when this name was first applied to this hilt form or even if this idea was the original intent of those who designed it. But from what is known i don't think there is a particular religious element to it. The reasoning for the naming, beyond the obvious body position, seems to have been lost to time. There are many variations on the Jawa Demam hilt. This particular form and motif design is specific to Palembang though and a lovely example of the form.
All-in-all this is a lovely keris. If you were only to have one in your collection this is not too shabby.
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Old 21st December 2020, 08:45 PM   #14
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Thank you David for your detailed answer, I read it with much interest.
Now I know a lot more about my Keris.
Actually the jewelers are closed in Germany. But I will bring my Keris to one in the future. I want to know it, too and I will share the result here, maybe it is also interesting for other members.
Concerning the collecting of Keris: Probably this won't be my last Keris and it is not my first, but I'm really no expert in this theme. And I like the possibility to ask members here. Some informations are hard to get without the right literature. And I just like to talk about ethnographic arms

Best
Robin
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