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Old 13th September 2020, 10:12 PM   #18
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,774

Jean, as we both know, names and everything else about the keris change from place to place, or perhaps more correctly appear to change from place to place.

Gardner's supposed inaccuracies might not be inaccurate at all, they could just reflect the opinions of his informants and perhaps in the places where those informants came from these were the generally accepted ideas. At least Gardner did have considerable contact with the culture & society he wrote about, even if it was from the throne of a colonial officer.

If we think that we can attain some standard of universal "accuracy" in things that are keris related, we are probably trying to study the wrong thing. Keris ideas change all the time, from place to place, from time to time. It is very difficult to be absolutely certain about too much.

Even EK is not all that great. Harsrinuksmo was a journalist who had an interest in keris. Over a period of years he worked together with a gentleman from Jogja named Lumintu, who in Jogja was regarded as an ahli keris. EK was the end result of those years of journalistic information gathering and collaboration with (principally) Lumintu.

Before EK, Harsrinuksmo had produced Ensiklopedi Budaya Nasional (Juli 1988), as well as a number of little booklets that dealt with things like dhapur & pamor.

EBN did not cause much of a stir in Solo, it was accepted as more or less correct --- but if we look hard enough we can find some things that are in general, not acceptable to many people.

However, when EK came out (Jan. 2004) it generated a lot of criticism amongst the highly regarded keris people in Solo. Some of that was possibly just another example of the ongoing antipathy between Solo & Jogja, but other of it was certainly questionable. The two most often heard comments (translated) from authorities in Solo were:-

"where did he get all these names and words from?"


"it is a great pity that people do not learn about the keris before they try to write about the keris"

If I open my own EK I can see question marks, crosses and comments on a very large number of pages.

However, and this is the big plus for EK, it has given a common source of reference to people who do not know much about keris. On the ground, in Solo, & I am certain in many other places in Indonesia & Malaysia, we will find variation between the local terms & ideas in those places, and the terms & ideas in EK. But for people in New York, London, Paris, Rome & etc, who have only spent time in the Keris Heartland through books and TV documentaries, EK provides a lexicon that permits these people to communicate.

It is best to be cautious in forming firm opinions when it comes to keris related matters.
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