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Old 31st May 2023, 01:55 PM   #1
SidJ
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Default Keris for consideration

Heres a Bugis keris for comment. Blade has interesting carvings including the notch under the trunk. The texture is like very rough sandpaper. The pamor I am not sure about. Dress is nice with chatoyant timber. Thoughts on quality age etc welcome.
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Old 31st May 2023, 03:10 PM   #2
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I think this is a very nice kris, I have a similar blade and , to me, this is a Bengo Segodo pamor (mine has pretty much the same). I replaced the hilt and the selut . Can't show it because it is for sale at the moment.
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Old 31st May 2023, 04:17 PM   #3
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Sheath and hilt cup are recent work, hilt could be antique.

Blade could be old or recent. It looks like an older South Sulawesi or more likely Sumbawa blade, but there is at least one detail which isn't right with the Gonjo for Keris with this provenance and age.
If the blade is old, Gonjo looks like a relatively recent replacement.
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Old 1st June 2023, 01:12 AM   #4
A. G. Maisey
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Gustav, your comments on this keris interest me, you are perhaps aware that I do not pretend to have any in depth knowledge of this keris form, but I am always open to knowledge that I do not have.

Could you please explain what about this keris causes you to believe that the gonjo is a replacement, and that the wrongko & "hilt cup", & perhaps the blade itself, are recent ?

Also, could you please put the idea of "recent" into a time frame? Not precise, just approximate, for example, post 1950, pre-WWII, circa 1900, second half 19th century? Just a broad approximation.

Thank you.
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Old 1st June 2023, 11:34 AM   #5
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Alan, I know you don't have any interest in Keris from that region, so your interest in this particular case is likely having another reason, different from the gathering of information. Well, fair enough.

Regarding the "wrongko" - carving of Sampir is not old style, the overall form is of course right, but there are details, which are not done in the way they were done on antique examples.

Buntut is an recent form, such form simply doesn't exist on antique examples. It also looks like having been made from soft wood, which isn't the traditional choice for Buntut.

Batang is the only part of this example, which looks ok (for a pre-WWII sheath).

The "hilt cup" (I know, in that place you wanted read the magic word Kili-Kili) is a recent, simplifyed version of an older form. This version isn't older then 25-30 years.

As I wrote, the blade likely is antique, I have my doubts about Gonjo. I could be wrong with these doubts, to confirm I would need to see the blade in person.

With recent I meen post-Kamardhikan.
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Old 1st June 2023, 01:24 PM   #6
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More images attached. There is a rougher part at the bottom edge of the pointed end of the ganja. Perhaps an impact there caused this roughness? It feels fresh.
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Old 1st June 2023, 01:29 PM   #7
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The buntut got me excited initially as I thought it might be rhino horn. It has a similar look and end grain. But its wood.
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Old 1st June 2023, 02:51 PM   #8
A. G. Maisey
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Thank you for your response Gustav.

You're right I do not have much interest in this form of keris, but I do have an interest in how it is possible to be so definite about wrongko age & replaced gonjos and the age of hilt cups from photos.

I cannot do this sort of thing from photos with keris forms that I know very well, I need to handle the objects in question and sometimes keep them with me for a few days. I'm just not much good with photos.

Your response on the wrongko seems to indicate that you have based your opinion of age on style. Thank you for making this clear. The buntut I agree is not correct, in fact, I believe that the buntut is probably something done out of the originating society, perhaps even in Europe or Britain, a knowledgeable examination of the material used might be useful in helping form an opinion with this. I very much doubt that this buntut was made in any part of SE Asia.

The filling of hilt cracks also looks like out-of-culture work.

As for the "hilt cup", I'm more than OK with this terminology, in fact I have on many occasions been critical of the name game; in this part of the world, ie, SE Asia, and also especially in respect of keris, names of things vary a lot, so it verges on being pretentious to use names that might or might not be correct for area of geographic origin, particularly when we don't even know where that precise area of origin might be.

The Bugis keris is a cultural classification, & what I have been told by people who are knowledgeable in this keris form is that there is much variation in the manner in which basic forms are rendered in the various geographic locations where Bugis style keris are found.

But to return to the age of this hilt cup, I have had quite a lot of Bugis style keris in my possession, I bought most of them during the 1950's & 1960's, when I was still interested in anything that looked like a keris. Some of these keris had hilt cups the same, or similar to, the hilt cup on this keris. I have one keris that has been in Australia since about 1920, and that was already old when it was purchased back then, that has a hilt cup that in its details is quite close to the one on Sid's keris, it is well patinated certainly, but not really very different.

But still, the hilt cup on Sid's keris could well be recent, people do replace damaged, inferior & missing minor parts of a keris when it comes to sale time.

As for the gonjo, I can understand why you feel that it might not be original, but personally I can see no solid reason why I would not accept it as original to the blade, yes, the greneng details are not clear, but I would accept this as natural age erosion, the material a rather porous wrought iron, it could have done with a few more folds & welds thrown into it, but nothing about it tells me that I should doubt that it is original, or at worst, an old replacement.

In respect of my lack of interest in Bugis style keris, I'd like to try to explain why this is so. Over the years my keris interest has moved away from the object itself and has increasingly focused on historical, sociological & anthropological aspects of the keris. When I learnt of the way in which Javanese people who were knowledgeable in the keris regarded the Bugis style keris, I was forced to re-evaluate my own position. Later still, only about 25-30 years ago, I came to know a couple of families living in my area who are from Sulawesi, what I was told by people in both these families was that to all intents & purposes , keris culture is dead in Sulawesi, and most families had transferred responsibility for keeping any family keris from the men, to the women of the family, keris had become like any other inherited or heritage item that had come from past generations, it was now the responsibility of women to look after, not men.

I do understand that the keris renaissance has taken hold in Bugis society, just as it has in Jawa, Bali & other places, but the solid societal & cultural foundation is simply not there when it comes to the Bugis keris. Hence my lack of interest.

Thank you again Gustav for clarifying the way in which you formed your opinions.

EDIT

One other thing that I should have mentioned but failed to do so, is that I believe this hilt & wrongko have been sanded and refinished with varnish.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 1st June 2023 at 10:13 PM. Reason: Oversight
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Old 1st June 2023, 10:38 PM   #9
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Hi Alan
On the finish of hilt and wrangka its not varnish. I just oiled them with good old linseed oil. It has dried to a glossy finish.
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Old 1st June 2023, 10:46 PM   #10
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Hi Alan
On the finish of hilt and wrangka its not varnish. I just oiled them with good old linseed oil. It has dried to a glossy finish.
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Old 2nd June 2023, 12:40 AM   #11
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Thanks for that clarification Sid.

Boiled linseed oil can provide an attractive finish for wood, there is a finish that used to be used on rifle & gun stocks that is known as "London oil finish", but this has to a very large extent now been replaced by more modern finishes.

In my late teens I began making rifle stocks, it was hobby work, I did it for a lot of years, but I think the last one I made was about 30 years ago, & that was free pistol stock for a TOZ, not a rifle stock, anyway, I used London oil finish on a lot of the stocks I made. It is a very lengthy and time consuming process, it requires hand rubbing the oil into the wood over an extended period of time, a little at a time. I spent a lot of time as a kid doing hand rubbed oil finishes on bespoke furniture.

Most people who use linseed oil on wood use too much and do not hand rub it over time. The traditional London oil finish gives a subdued satin glow to wood, it looks great, but in reality it is not such a wonderful finish and requires constant maintenance. When using linseed oil for a finish the surface of the wood must not be left wet, the oil must be hand rubbed into the wood, not once, but many, many times and the surface must always be left dry.

There is an American "London oil finish" that is a better finish, and there are commercially prepared stock finishes that can produce a very good lookalike London finish if done correctly. These days I like Birchwood Casey Truoil.

Anyway, your glossy oil finish is not the way a linseed oil finish should look, there is a heap of info online about how to do a London oil finish, it might be a good idea to access some of this info.

Anyway, that's the finish, but I feel that at some point this wrongko has had some fairly aggressive sanding done on it, I'm looking at the lower face of the long side of the atasan as I'm writing this, and that seems to show variation in levels, as the face approaches the foot of the atasan it rises to meet the foot, resulting in a less than straight line, it can be difficult to maintain a straight line in sanding this area, when I have needed to do this, I've used the garnet paper over the blade of a dinner knife.
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Old 2nd June 2023, 01:09 AM   #12
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What kind of filler was used on the voids of the handle I wonder?
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Old 2nd June 2023, 02:09 AM   #13
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Just a guess Rick, but I think maybe something like some sort of epoxy mixed with sawdust?
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Old 2nd June 2023, 02:52 PM   #14
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I agree, Sampir could have had agressive sanding. I cannot recognise it as antique by details of carving (and/or patina).

Hilt cup is close to an old form, of which I too have seen some examples.

Regarding Gonjo - I also am not particularly interested in Keris from South Sulawesi, or, as it might be with this Keris, perhaps even "Tangguh Kupang", but the examples I have seen so far normally don't have Gonjo made from differently looking material.
One more detail - Jenggot has a comparatively well preserved Dha. It is normal even for this kind of Keris to have similarly carved Dha on Rondha Nunut and Greneng. Dha on Rondha Nunut is quite eroded, we actually see only the very bottom of it (if there is something from original Dha left at all)- so definitely material has been lost at Wadidang.
In that case Greneng on Gonjo is not simply eroded, it is made to match the already eroded Dha of Rondha Nunut - or Dha on RN was recut together with the Dha on Gonjo.
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Last edited by Gustav; 2nd June 2023 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 2nd June 2023, 09:28 PM   #15
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A bit of context may help. This keris was not sold by a keris seller. It was one of a bunch of Asian daggers sold at auction. Its merits or flaws were not stated. It was just a keris among other far more illustrous companions. It came from a dead western collector who was primarily s gun collector. I dont think the scabbard has been sanded or finished any differently to other ones I have. At least I cant tell by looking at it closely. There was nothing riding on this keris. I dont think anyone tarted it up to sell. The blade had old surface rust on it which I removed. I oiled the wood parts to freshen up the dull wood. I think its an honest piece with no shenanigans or scurrillous behaviour designed to boost value. Begs the question why anyone would go to such great lengths as surmised to repair what to me is fairly average keris. Cost vs benefit and all that...
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Old 3rd June 2023, 06:38 AM   #16
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This image attached was bought home in 1938 after the owners travels through Timor, Borneo and the surrounds... comparatively speaking it might place your cup in the same period or decade/s later, I do not know for certain
??
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Old 3rd June 2023, 07:52 AM   #17
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Hello Gavin,

Your selut is a very different type from the one discussed here.

There sure are antique examples pretty close to the one shown by the OP. This one seems to be a modern copy of lower quality though.

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Old 3rd June 2023, 08:08 AM   #18
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Quote:
Regarding the "wrongko" - carving of Sampir is not old style, the overall form is of course right, but there are details, which are not done in the way they were done on antique examples.

Buntut is an recent form, such form simply doesn't exist on antique examples. It also looks like having been made from soft wood, which isn't the traditional choice for Buntut.

Batang is the only part of this example, which looks ok (for a pre-WWII sheath).

<snip>

With recent I meen post-Kamardhikan.
I assume "post-Kamardhikan" should just read "Kamardhikan" instead.

I pretty much agree with Gustav and even would go so far to suggest that the complete scabbard looks to be of a post-WWII origin and, if not of recent production, possibly received an aggressive refurbishment.

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Kai
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Old 3rd June 2023, 08:15 AM   #19
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Hello Sid,

Thanks for the background!

Quote:
A bit of context may help. This keris was not sold by a keris seller. It was one of a bunch of Asian daggers sold at auction. Its merits or flaws were not stated. It was just a keris among other far more illustrous companions. It came from a dead western collector who was primarily s gun collector. I dont think the scabbard has been sanded or finished any differently to other ones I have. At least I cant tell by looking at it closely. There was nothing riding on this keris. I dont think anyone tarted it up to sell. The blade had old surface rust on it which I removed. I oiled the wood parts to freshen up the dull wood. I think its an honest piece with no shenanigans or scurrillous behaviour designed to boost value. Begs the question why anyone would go to such great lengths as surmised to repair what to me is fairly average keris. Cost vs benefit and all that...
I'd guess that the deceased collector acquired these pieces in a similar condition as you received them. Many collectors keep acquiring pieces and the last replacements/refurbishments which we have been pointing out may very well be several decades old.

This is not a bad keris and many collectors have examples with similar repairs/etc. in their collections.

Regards,
Kai
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Old 3rd June 2023, 08:36 AM   #20
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Thank you for your further comment Gustav.
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Old 3rd June 2023, 12:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
Thanks for that clarification Sid.

Boiled linseed oil can provide an attractive finish for wood, there is a finish that used to be used on rifle & gun stocks that is known as "London oil finish", but this has to a very large extent now been replaced by more modern finishes.

In my late teens I began making rifle stocks, it was hobby work, I did it for a lot of years, but I think the last one I made was about 30 years ago, & that was free pistol stock for a TOZ, not a rifle stock, anyway, I used London oil finish on a lot of the stocks I made. It is a very lengthy and time consuming process, it requires hand rubbing the oil into the wood over an extended period of time, a little at a time. I spent a lot of time as a kid doing hand rubbed oil finishes on bespoke furniture.

Most people who use linseed oil on wood use too much and do not hand rub it over time. The traditional London oil finish gives a subdued satin glow to wood, it looks great, but in reality it is not such a wonderful finish and requires constant maintenance. When using linseed oil for a finish the surface of the wood must not be left wet, the oil must be hand rubbed into the wood, not once, but many, many times and the surface must always be left dry.

There is an American "London oil finish" that is a better finish, and there are commercially prepared stock finishes that can produce a very good lookalike London finish if done correctly. These days I like Birchwood Casey Truoil.

Anyway, your glossy oil finish is not the way a linseed oil finish should look, there is a heap of info online about how to do a London oil finish, it might be a good idea to access some of this info.

Anyway, that's the finish, but I feel that at some point this wrongko has had some fairly aggressive sanding done on it, I'm looking at the lower face of the long side of the atasan as I'm writing this, and that seems to show variation in levels, as the face approaches the foot of the atasan it rises to meet the foot, resulting in a less than straight line, it can be difficult to maintain a straight line in sanding this area, when I have needed to do this, I've used the garnet paper over the blade of a dinner knife.
Hi Alan
Great point about my useless oiling job. I removed the excess oil with acetone and elbow grease. Its much better now without that slick tacky look and feel. I did rub in layers but got impatient towards the end and added too much that pooled. Thanks for the advice on this. As aways greatly appreciated. And please everyone I take nothing personally and welcome all opinions good bad and otherwise. All in the interest of learning and sharing knowledge. This forum is the best I have found. Its like home cooking compared to fast food.
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Old 4th June 2023, 05:00 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kai View Post
Hello Gavin,

Your selut is a very different type from the one discussed here.

There sure are antique examples pretty close to the one shown by the OP. This one seems to be a modern copy of lower quality though.

Regards,
Kai
I can appreciate that Kai.

It is presented to portray a level of craftsmanship related to a known time stamp.
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