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Old 25th November 2023, 01:59 PM   #1
mariec
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Default Identification Assistance Requested - New Collector

Hi! I am new to the forum. Thanks go out to the admin for letting me in.

I was lucky enough to find my first keri. But, I do not know anything about it. I am hoping that the group can help me better understand the piece.

It is a 16" blade, 21.5" total length.

Thank you in advance for any assistance.
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Old 26th November 2023, 12:58 AM   #2
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Hello Mariec,

Welcome to the forum. To get a better understanding of the interesting blade I've played a little bit with your pictures. I am sure that you will receive some insights soon.
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Old 26th November 2023, 09:30 AM   #3
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Helllo Mariec,
This looks like an old (19th century?) balinese blade of good standard although it would benefit from being cleaned & treated for improving the pamor contrast. The winged animal at the base (naga?) looks original to the blade from the pics but it could be more recent.
The wooden hilt in togogan "demon child" style is recent and of common quality.
A good catch for a first keris, congrats!
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Old 26th November 2023, 08:32 PM   #4
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I would have loved to have found this as my first keris. I agree with Jean pretty much based upon what i can see, though the winged figure seems more a Singo (lion) then a Naga (serpent). It's hard to be sure from your photos, but i agree that this figure appears to be original to this blade. I would say this could be more likely the earlier part of the 19th C than the latter. I would see how well you can clean this up with a bit of WD-40 and a good brushing with an old tooth brush.
It would be nice to see clearer, closer and better lit photos, especially of the figures at the base. I would like to get a better look at the smaller figure at the foot of the winged singo creature.
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Old 27th November 2023, 12:01 AM   #5
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The totogan child is not a demon, it is the god of children, I cannot remember his name, but he is a protector of children, certainly not a demon.

The lion on the blade might be a later addition, as Jean has noted, I'd need microscopic examination to know this or not. Later additions to blades are not necessarily a bad thing, they sometimes reflect the changes in custodianship of a keris.

The "stones" in the uwer might be plastic.

If you go with David's suggestion of WD40 and a good scrub --- & I endorse this --- it is probably a good idea to start with a good wash down and toothbrush scrub in the kitchen sink, using warm water & dishwash detergent, then soak the blade over a few days in WD40 & scrub with a hard brush --- not a brush with metal bristles, but a hard toothbrush or similar, then the dishwash detergent & warm water again, dry in the sun & a spray with WD40.

This is a very nice keris.

I think the very first thing I'd do would be to attack the spot of red rust at the tip with repeated applications of vinegar, using cotton buds.
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Old 27th November 2023, 04:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
The totogan child is not a demon, it is the god of children, I cannot remember his name, but he is a protector of children, certainly not a demon.

The lion on the blade might be a later addition, as Jean has noted, I'd need microscopic examination to know this or not. Later additions to blades are not necessarily a bad thing, they sometimes reflect the changes in custodianship of a keris.

The "stones" in the uwer might be plastic.

If you go with David's suggestion of WD40 and a good scrub --- & I endorse this --- it is probably a good idea to start with a good wash down and toothbrush scrub in the kitchen sink, using warm water & dishwash detergent, then soak the blade over a few days in WD40 & scrub with a hard brush --- not a brush with metal bristles, but a hard toothbrush or similar, then the dishwash detergent & warm water again, dry in the sun & a spray with WD40.

This is a very nice keris.

I think the very first thing I'd do would be to attack the spot of red rust at the tip with repeated applications of vinegar, using cotton buds.
Thanks Alan. Yes, i would also wash with warm soap and water first. I should have noted that. And i must comment you for spotting that red rust on the tip. I had to turn my screen brightness all the way up and i still could have missed it of i was not looking for it.
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Old 27th November 2023, 09:40 PM   #7
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Agree with the others, a very nice blade! To my eyes the singha looks original to the blade!

Regards,
Detlef
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Old 27th November 2023, 11:32 PM   #8
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Gentlemen,

please compare the crispness of the details of figure and the state of remnants of Greneng.
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Old 28th November 2023, 01:29 AM   #9
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Yes Gustav, that Singa does look a bit less worn than other parts of the keris, but when we understand the how, when, where & why of various symbols to a Balinese keris blade, this is not really something of great importance.

The only way I can form a definite opinion on whether a symbol such as this Singa is a addition to a blade is by examination of the blade under magnification.
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Old 28th November 2023, 09:47 AM   #10
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Alan, a bit less worn in this case is an euphemism.
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Old 28th November 2023, 10:52 AM   #11
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I do try to be gentle Gustav, especially when I'm looking at an image on a computer monitor. The photo that we're trying to see things in is simply not good enough to show the grain of the metal, to see that we need good light & something like about a 5X jeweler's loupe.

But then, even if we did find that the singa was indeed a later addition, we still would not know why it was an addition, & that is really the crux of the matter.
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Old 28th November 2023, 02:47 PM   #12
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Thank you everyone! I popped in this morning to check the responses and was very surprised to see so many comments. I will clean up and post more photos for sure! Thanks again!
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Old 28th November 2023, 03:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
I do try to be gentle Gustav, especially when I'm looking at an image on a computer monitor. The photo that we're trying to see things in is simply not good enough to show the grain of the metal, to see that we need good light & something like about a 5X jeweler's loupe.

But then, even if we did find that the singa was indeed a later addition, we still would not know why it was an addition, & that is really the crux of the matter.
i fully agree with Alan. While i do understand your point Gustav, i must say that even with close examination with the blow-up you provided i do not see any clear indiction that this singo was added at a later date, though i do fully embrace the possibility. Though as Alan states, there are many cultural circumstances where adding such an element to a blade at a later date is completely legitimate within the context of cultural norms. While that may be something we would be unable to determine without clear provenance, we certainly cannot discount it. If indeed this singo was added at a later date it was certainly done with great expertise. So would that make this a lesser keris in your opinion? really depends upon the history of the blade and the circumstances under which it might have been done, if indeed it was. Personally i am still willing to accept this as a desirable collection.
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Old 28th November 2023, 04:27 PM   #14
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What is left of Greneng?
What is left of RonDha Nunut?
How is the condition of Singo compared to Greneng elements?
What do the results of this comparison tell us?
Is Singo adequately carved?
How are the proportions of Singo - is it iconographically correct for Bali?

At the moment I think we see an old blade here. It is possible this old blade originally had a figural Gandhik. It is even possible, that parts of the original carving are integrated in the figure we see now.

But the details of execution, the proportions of the figure, the lack of metal grain on figures thigh don't led me to think the figure, as it is now, is in the original state.

Let's see what additional images will tell us.
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Old 28th November 2023, 07:22 PM   #15
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Insofar as style & execution of this winged lion goes, there can be no doubt that it is Balinese work.

It could have been added to this blade some time after the blade was originally forged, or it could have been added during the forging process. One of the ways in which a figure is added to a blade is to thicken the area of blumbangan & gandhik when the rest of the blade had been forged, but the carving is not yet complete.

I have had several blades, both Balinese & Javanese where this appeared to have been done. When the blade has been thickened during the initial forging there is a discontinuity of metal grain, just as is the case when the carving has been added perhaps 100 years after the initial forge process. In fact, adding material to an old blade is a very, very difficult weld to make.

So even discontinuity of metal grain does not tell the whole story, and where age & continual cleaning in the Balinese way has resulted in a polished surface, rather than a textured surface it becomes even more difficult to form an opinion on whether a figure has been added or not.

We must bear in mind, that in Bali, blades are cleaned by polishing with powdered limestone, they are not acid cleaned as is the case in Jawa, this polishing of the blade results in raised sections of the blade acquiring a smooth finish, rather than a textured surface.

Even with an old Balinese blade in hand, & under magnification, it is extremely difficult to form a supportable opinion on just when a Balinese blade might have been altered or added to, & carved figures are not the only alteration or addition that can be made.
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Old 28th November 2023, 08:17 PM   #16
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I understand that this is a tricky one. Thank you, Alan, for your comment!

Regarding execution of the figure, with my limited experience I can say, that old examples I have seen mostly have been vertically elongated. This is the first time I see a wing executed in this way, perhaps I have seen these bat-like ears before, but I don't recall where - quite unusual. The cuts in metal at forelegs and turtle (?) are not smooth at all and look comparatively fresh. The very long hind legs are very unusual for an old Balinese Singo. Actually it doesn't look like a Singo to me at all.
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Old 29th November 2023, 01:52 AM   #17
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Gustav, what we believe we can see in something depends very much on what we have seen in the past. To me, this singa is 100% Balinese, to you it is not. I don't have any problem with this. Each carver has his own interpretations.
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Old 29th November 2023, 06:43 AM   #18
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Alan, that's absolutely true. My experience is limited to museum collections and old blades.
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Old 29th November 2023, 06:59 AM   #19
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I have not seen a lot of museum collections that feature carvings of the singa, maybe a few in the National Gallery of Australia, a few in Balinese museums, but I have nearly 60 years worth of visits to Bali, and I have seen more carvings of the singa than I could possibly count. All quality levels, all ages, numerous variations.
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Old 29th November 2023, 03:35 PM   #20
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Just to illustrate how big the distance is of this figure from classical Balinese Singo.

Now I remember where I did see such big and erect ears on Balinese carvings - on monkey masks.
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Old 29th November 2023, 04:34 PM   #21
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IMO the carved winged animal on the gandik does not depict a singa but Garuda, see what it is holding in its front legs (snake or turtle?) and compare with the attached image from the Tropenmuseum.
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Old 29th November 2023, 06:48 PM   #22
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A depiction of turtle as a base of another figure is not uncommon at all on Gandhik of Balinese Keris, but I have yet to see an authentic Garuda depiction on an old Balinese Keris.
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Old 29th November 2023, 07:07 PM   #23
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That's a nice pic Gustav.

So the figure on the keris is in your opinion a depiction of Garuda?

Is that correct?

Can you please tell us why you have formed this opinion?
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Old 29th November 2023, 07:09 PM   #24
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Alan, no, that was Jean's opinion.
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Old 29th November 2023, 07:41 PM   #25
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Sorry Gustav.

Please accept my apologies.

Jean, could I redirect my question to you?


That's a nice pic Jean.

So the figure on the keris is in your opinion a depiction of Garuda?

Is that correct?

Can you please tell us why you have formed this opinion?
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Old 29th November 2023, 08:10 PM   #26
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Hello Alan,
This is my opinion only but this carving does not look like a standard singa for the following reasons:
. Head: fangs, bulging eyes, ears, hair
. Wings
. Sitting position, no penis, unclear tail, animal under its front legs.
I don't remember to have ever seen such a carved animal on a balinese blade but would be curious to see a similar one. However I admit that it has no clear beak so that it may not depict Garuda.
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Old 29th November 2023, 08:24 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean View Post
Hello Alan,
This is my opinion only but this carving does not look like a standard singa for the following reasons:
. Head: fangs, bulging eyes, ears, hair
. Wings
. Sitting position, no penis, unclear tail, animal under its front legs.
I don't remember to have ever seen such a carved animal on a balinese blade but would be curious to see a similar one. However I admit that it has no clear beak so that it may not depict Garuda.
Regards
Hum, it may be a singa bersayap after all.
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Old 29th November 2023, 09:25 PM   #28
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Ability to learn new things so quickly is a fantastic gift.

This isn't meant ironically.
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Old 29th November 2023, 09:54 PM   #29
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Jean, there are singa carvings, paintings, statues all over Bali, lots in Jawa too.

There is no standard.

The representation varies from place to place, artist to artist, purpose to purpose, material to material, time to time.

I really don't know how many singa images I've seen, but it would certainly run into the thousands. I don't photograph every singa I see, in fact they are so commonplace that sometimes you don't even notice them until you actually look.

Its sort of a bit like vintage motor vehicles in some other societies:- lots & lots of them around, here in Oz you could walk through just about any parking lot & find a vintage vehicle, but unless you're really, really interested in vintage vehicles, you take note as you walk past, & then forget it until somebody asks you what the logo for a Holden (Australia's Chev) is.

Guess what that Holden logo is?

Yep, its a Singa.

Anyway, here is a line up of a few singas that I've dragged out of my photo files. All these singas are Balinese of various ages.
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Old 29th November 2023, 09:58 PM   #30
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And this happy looking bloke is their great, great grandfather from many generations past, he is on guard duty at Borobudur in Central Jawa, he was born in about the 8th or 9th century.
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