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Old 8th August 2021, 04:01 PM   #1
asomotif
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Default BALI KERIS HULU : ANIMAL FORM, what is it ?

I bought this keris hilt, mainly because I like the carving as an object.
But once in hand the questions arise.

What kind of animal is it ?
Is it a trasitional hilt form our tourist object ?

The seller thought it is an ape. A friend thinks it looks like a bear.
I think it looks more like a dog. Any suggestions ?

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 8th August 2021, 09:15 PM   #2
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Well, i've never seen anything quite like this in a Balinese keris hilt. There are bears in the region, but this depiction looks a bit slim for a bear. I agree it looks more like a dog. But i have never seen either bears or dogs in keris iconology.
You say you like the carving. Is this wood. In you photos it's hard to tell. It looks either like metal or wood that has been painted silver.
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Old 8th August 2021, 09:21 PM   #3
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Hello David,
Despite the rain we have at the moment there was a bit too much light for this picture. But it is wood, painted wood. the yellowish spots is where the paint has worn off.

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 9th August 2021, 02:46 PM   #4
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Looks kocetan to me, but not enough legs, and poor body condition. I hope it was not intended to be a dog.

I once saw a keris hilt for sale... To me it looked like a guy in a baseball cap with the visor flipped upwards, sort of inverted, and with what appeared to be a perforated shower pipe coming up behind him and making a 90 degree angle over his shoulders. I've since learned a few things, and I believe that hilt was intended as some sort of avant garde self-stylization in the form of Hanuman. I did not buy it.

I once bought a keris hilt with a similar "tail", but the face was a lot like the naga we all know and recognize when we see it. I think it was billed as a danganan Hanuman, but I had other ideas when I bought it, although I said nothing to the seller about it. It may be some sort of raksasa, or a bhuta. The hands display a mudra which I have not yet looked up. It may well turn out to be Hanuman after I figure out the meaning of the mudra.

I don't know much, but I'd call it a danganan kocetan, for no reason other than having seen other "horse headed" danganan kocetan in the past, and I am predisposed to view this hilt as having a "horse head", although it may actually be intended as the head of a beetle or pupa. The back does not look like any caterpillar I've ever seen, though. I can only presume that the carver knew what he intended to represent, though perhaps he saw it "as through a glass, darkly". At night when attempting to aim an air pistol at a target, I can only barely make out the front sight post in the U-notch rear, but I'm not missing the 1'x1' plywood piece at about 25'. In the dark I'm not even trying to hit the fox face I drew on the pizza box, or the beer can on top of it.

In Loving Memory of Plum (Plum-Plum)
2010-26 July 2021
Kostan.

M.t.F.
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Old 9th August 2021, 03:19 PM   #5
Anthony G.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asomotif View Post
I bought this keris hilt, mainly because I like the carving as an object.
But once in hand the questions arise.

What kind of animal is it ?
Is it a trasitional hilt form our tourist object ?

The seller thought it is an ape. A friend thinks it looks like a bear.
I think it looks more like a dog. Any suggestions ?

Best regards,
Willem
I saw similar thing before recently which according to the Indonesia dealer, it is a dog and I feel it is a new invention for hulu. I think dogs are important part of the Balinese culture, a symbol of Tyaga, meaning bhakti, or sincere devotion. I have recently made a new Balinese keris with painted warangka. I ask the painter to make decision for me and he painted dogs which is my most favorite animal.
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Old 9th August 2021, 11:35 PM   #6
A. G. Maisey
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The dog situation in Bali has several aspects. In the Hindu faith Siwa has a number of manifestations (8?) that are terrible, these manifestations are the Bhairavas, when Siwa is manifested as a Bhairava his vahana (mount) is often a dog.

Other minor deities can also be associated with dogs, and dogs are permitted as pets, or as working dogs, they are sacred in the context that all life is sacred, and some Hindu people believe that looking after dogs can help in achieving moksa. However, dogs are considered unclean and should not be permitted into the house, & most especially not into a temple or other sacred place.

From time to time there have been outbreaks of rabies in Bali, and when this happens any dogs seen on the street are shot. There was a big cleanup of Bali dogs not all that long ago --- maybe ten years ago --- for a long time after that there were not many dogs to be seen on the streets, but in 2018 the numbers seemed to be getting back to something like normal.

There is a black side to the Bali dog matter, and that black side is the dog meat trade.

Do not read this if you are squeamish:-

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-...urists/8620128

I have been told by several people that the practice of eating dog meat was brought to Bali in the recent past by Christians from the Philippines who came to Bali to work in the tourist industry. The consumption of dog meat is not indigenous to Bali, it is just another contamination brought into Bali by outsiders.
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Old 10th August 2021, 02:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
The dog situation in Bali has several aspects. In the Hindu faith Siwa has a number of manifestations (8?) that are terrible, these manifestations are the Bhairavas, when Siwa is manifested as a Bhairava his vahana (mount) is often a dog.

Other minor deities can also be associated with dogs, and dogs are permitted as pets, or as working dogs, they are sacred in the context that all life is sacred, and some Hindu people believe that looking after dogs can help in achieving moksa. However, dogs are considered unclean and should not be permitted into the house, & most especially not into a temple or other sacred place.

From time to time there have been outbreaks of rabies in Bali, and when this happens any dogs seen on the street are shot. There was a big cleanup of Bali dogs not all that long ago --- maybe ten years ago --- for a long time after that there were not many dogs to be seen on the streets, but in 2018 the numbers seemed to be getting back to something like normal.

There is a black side to the Bali dog matter, and that black side is the dog meat trade.

Do not read this if you are squeamish:-

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-...urists/8620128

I have been told by several people that the practice of eating dog meat was brought to Bali in the recent past by Christians from the Philippines who came to Bali to work in the tourist industry. The consumption of dog meat is not indigenous to Bali, it is just another contamination brought into Bali by outsiders.
Thanks Alan for sharing and it is very disturbing which I must said. I will totally avoid MEAT in Bali when I have the opportunity to travel there in future.
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Old 10th August 2021, 02:58 AM   #8
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I eat very little meat at any time Anthony, I'm not vegan, but 99% of my diet is.

For many, many years I have avoided any sort of food from animals of all kinds whenever I'm in Indonesia.
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Old 17th August 2021, 09:55 AM   #9
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I received some information from a fellow collector.

I already noticed the pronounced claws with 3 nails on my hilt, but considering the overal appearance of the carving I thought these were just crudely carved.

Well these nails might be the key to the question.
Maybe these nails are correct and the rest of the carving is freestyling by the carver.

I received pictures of hilts depicting a pangolin.
According to this fellow collector a sasak motif.

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 17th August 2021, 10:01 AM   #10
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Ps. before the thread goes culinary again. don't eat pangolins. they are an endagered species.
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Old 17th August 2021, 01:25 PM   #11
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Ps. before the thread goes culinary again. don't eat pangolins. they are an endagered species.


Is Pangolin part of Balinese culture? And eating wild animals are bad. Covid is result of what happen i think.
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Old 17th August 2021, 02:03 PM   #12
A. G. Maisey
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This is a very interesting post asomotif. I have not seen a pangolin used as a hilt motif, in fact, I cannot remember seeing a pangolin used as a motif at all in Islamic era representations.

In pre-Islamic Jawa the pangolin was a powerful symbol, he was the guard of Rawana's pleasure garden, through the relationship of the pangolin with ants & flying ants in particular the pangolin was used to symbolise destruction of enemies in warfare and destruction of evil forces/demons in particular --- in Old Javanese literature ants can symbolise rakasas, pangolins eat ants. Probably a pangolin was sacrificed in the construction of one of the minor candis in the Joro Jonggrang complex, Candi Nandi (?), and used in esoteric ritual.

There is a basrelief on Candi Siwa at the Loro Jonggrang --- ie, Prambanan --- complex near Ngayogya that shows a pangolin.

In pre-Islamic Jawa the pangolin was a big deal, but maybe not so much in Islamic Jawa. My guess is that the pangolin symbolism arrived on Lombok with the 14th century immigrants from Jawa.

Really good to see survival of this symbolism, I had thought it was all but gone.

EDIT

This edit is the addition of the Candi Siwa pangolin, you can see him curled up at lower right, just near the mushrooms.
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Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 17th August 2021 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 18th August 2021, 06:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey View Post
This is a very interesting post asomotif. I have not seen a pangolin used as a hilt motif, in fact, I cannot remember seeing a pangolin used as a motif at all in Islamic era representations.

In pre-Islamic Jawa the pangolin was a powerful symbol, he was the guard of Rawana's pleasure garden, through the relationship of the pangolin with ants & flying ants in particular the pangolin was used to symbolise destruction of enemies in warfare and destruction of evil forces/demons in particular --- in Old Javanese literature ants can symbolise rakasas, pangolins eat ants. Probably a pangolin was sacrificed in the construction of one of the minor candis in the Joro Jonggrang complex, Candi Nandi (?), and used in esoteric ritual.

There is a basrelief on Candi Siwa at the Loro Jonggrang --- ie, Prambanan --- complex near Ngayogya that shows a pangolin.

In pre-Islamic Jawa the pangolin was a big deal, but maybe not so much in Islamic Jawa. My guess is that the pangolin symbolism arrived on Lombok with the 14th century immigrants from Jawa.

Really good to see survival of this symbolism, I had thought it was all but gone.

EDIT

This edit is the addition of the Candi Siwa pangolin, you can see him curled up at lower right, just near the mushrooms.
Thank you for sharing this knowledge Alan.

It made me do some research and found the attached article about pangolin for those who are interested.

In Resume:

"In ancient Java, pangolin was a symbolically loaded animal. Its representations in Old Javanese literature and visual art are, however, rare. The pangolin is mentioned four times in the Kakawin Rāmāyaṇa, composed between the middle of the 9th and the first quarter of the 10th century CE. A pangolin is also represented in a narrative relief of Caṇḍi Śiva, in Prambanan, and a very large skeleton of pangolin was found interred under the Caṇḍi Nandi standing in front of the Śiva temple. This article tries to make sense of this sparse evidence, interpreting the pangolin of the Javanese court imaginaire as a military, apotropaic animal and a demon slayer. The natural characteristics of the pangolin, such as its scaly skin, and especially its diet, based almost exclusively on ants and termites – insects standing for adharma and demonic qualities in pre-Islamic Java – made pangolin a powerful “consumer” of demonic śakti – and hence an apotropaic animal."
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Old 18th August 2021, 07:06 AM   #14
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I think I might have this paper in one of my hard drives, its Jiri Jakl's work and I have a lot of his papers that I've downloaded.

Just did a quick skim of this and it echos what we can find in other places.

He mentions that representations of the pangolin are rare in Old Javanese literature and art, and they may be, but despite rarity of mention the pangolin was still one of the more powerful warrior and protective symbols, warrior because he shows the way in which to fight:- protect yourself when under attack --- he does this by curling into a ball -- and wait until the time is right to launch your own attack.

We've just seen this strategy used in Afghanistan.
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