status and how a keris is worn?

Discussion in 'Silat' started by Narrue, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. Kiai Carita

    Kiai Carita Banned Banned

    Warm Salaams to all,

    Your story doesn't make any sense Narrue! Breaking open a keris to find paper / parchment there? With sanskrit letters? ... Hmmmmm... Paper entered Jawa culture with Islam, probably through China. Before Islam, all books and letters were written on the leaf of the tal palm (rontal) like they are still made in Bali. So if there was paper, the alphabet should have not been Sanskrit. And no 'sensitive' person would ever imagine breaking open a keris blade.

    A jimat is a talisman, it is a composite word from the Jawa words siji dirumat meaning: one and looked after. Anything can be a jimat, even a peice of goat ****. There is a popular saying, apa boleh buat tai kambing bulat-bulat, dimakan jadi obat, disimpan jadi jimat... which means, what can one do? Goats **** in round peices. Eat one and it will be medicine. Keep one and it wil be a jimat. ...What you describe is more specific than a jimat, being a rajah.

    The ceremony to cleanse the keris (and other tosan aji) in Jawa is done every Sura (Jawa New Year) but the tradition probably has the same roots as in the Tumpak Landhep ceremony in Bali.

    According to Jawa kerisology, the power in a keris is not because of charms insereted but because of the choice of metals (iron, steel, and pamor material). Traditionally the Jawa Mpu categorized iron into dozens of different types depending on the appearance, the sound when hit, the smell and other aspects of feeling. Very unscientific. It is believed that the different types of iron have different esoteric powers, and the skill and the spiritual power of the Mpu is to enhance and control that power.

    I believe that in the whole island of Jawa and Madura and Bali, the keris was never meant to be primarily a stabbing (physical) weapon.

    That is why there is no REAL Jawa silat that studies keris as a weapon and you need to go to California to meet a Pendekar who claims to teach keris - a claim which to most Indonesian silat lovers shows that the Pendekar in questions's talks more that he actually knows (for whatever reason). In Malaysia, it appears that the keris was always both, a phisical and spiritual weapon. The way the Malays attach the ukiran to the keris is different to the Jawa way and to my eye seems to have stabbing in between ribs in mind.

    There are of course many written refferences where the keris in Jawa was used as a physical weapon, and when Raffles wrote the History of Java during the Napoleonic era, most noblemen would carry three keris and often also a wedung.

    In the wayang kulit, the only character who is always ready to draw his keris is Buta Cakil, a villian who always gets killed by his own blade. The real heros only use their keris for the last resort.

    Warm Salaams to all,

  2. nechesh

    nechesh Valued Member

    I am glad you appreciate my humor and i certainly take no offense from your words. I guess i am only a part-progressive in your thinking. As you say, Myths about the keris abound and must mostly be taken with a very large grain of salt (heh! i think i have been over using that analogy lately :D ), but still, myths exist for a reason and should not be equated with "lies". They are there to teach us something. Personally, i live in a magickal paradigm, so for me just about anything can be magickal. :) Any object can be used as a focal point for magick, that is, the changing of one's environment according to one's will. An object like a keris (a good one at least) is already predisposed to this purpose due to the amount of energy and focus that went into it's making and the care and respect given it throughout it's existence. I do continue to treat my all my keris with that same respect and care. I have washed and re-stained keris that needed it for restoration purpose, though i don't do this yearly as is the tradition. However i don't necessarily believe that any of my keris have magickal powers per se. The power is the creator's and it flows through me (or anyone who choses to work such paths) and can be directed through a keris (or other objects) if one chooses. What is Silat, if not the understanding and redirection of this energy flow? It can be done with or without tools.
    The keris is also as you say, a family symbol of sorts, but it is not like a family crest. It is a container, so to speak, of the bloodline that it has been passed down. As such it is very magickal indeed. It hold the magick that is your family line. I guess it all depends on how you define magick. It is not the stuff you see on the TV show "Charmed" :)
    I agree with Kiai to a certain extent. The keris in Jawa today and yesterday is far more a talismanic object than an actual weapon. Still, i am unconvinced it has always been that way, but certainly for a very long time. Probably at least since the coming of Islam to the island (though not necessarily because of it). I do not believe that there is any tradition of a Silat form of keris fighting to be found in Jawa, Bali or Madura.
  3. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    I am aware that the story presents factors which are not explainable e.g. How can you place a piece of paper in a blade without burning it in the forging process and why in Sanskrit. As for breaking the blade open as I explained the blade was pretty much useless anyway so it was no master piece. The story is probably not to be taken literally but perhaps has inner meanings or teachings i.e. out of all the blades it was the rubbish looking blade which was special. Perhaps it tells us not to judge a book by its cover etc

    It is true that a portion of the power in a keris is generated by combining various metals in pacific arrangements to produce magnetism of sorts. When it is said that a keris was made using several types of metals or water collected from several rivers it is not to be taken literally in my opinion although I would not be surprised if some actually did try it. The result after this process is just a piece of magnetised steel. My interest in that story was simply that it connected the jimat and the keris. I think the gist of the story is simply that a true keris blade is a jimat of sorts i.e. it has been given a purpose, character or mission in addition to the combination of various metals i.e. it has both breath and mind. You could say its an artificially created being of sorts.
  4. Orang Jawa

    Orang Jawa The Padi Tribe-Guardian

    I agree that Myths is not equal to lies...But why we have so many stories, legend, myth, and ritual for Keris?
    Japanese and Chinese people did some ritual with their weapons but not as much as silat people in Indonesia and Malaysia. To this day, this people believe in Keris magical power.

    I'm the proud owner of a Shinto Sword, I respected this sword very much so as I do with my family Keris. But I never thought that my sword can fly? I never thought that my sword have magical power even though the sword it self survived many battles? The making of the sword is very interesting indeed. My question is this, is anyone ever saw the keris magical power through their own eyes?
  5. nechesh

    nechesh Valued Member

    In spite of the esteem in which the Shinto sword is held in Japan it still appears to me that the place of the keris in Indonesian cultures is far greater. One must look beyond the common family keris which holds importance for that family alone to the hierarchy of the kratons and the place of various royal keris to sustain and transfer the power of entire kingdoms. It is from this level that such mythology flows. It is also in that atmosphere of belief, that magickal paradigm of sekala and niskala, the seen and unseen worlds, that such myths are grown. But you rarely will hear myths about some peasant farmer who had a magick keris. The culture of the keris in Indonesia is a reflection of the higher kraton culture from which these stories flow. I think it is harder to see the importance of magick in these cultures in this modern age of computers and high technology (a sort of magick in and of itself though).
    Did keris ever fly? I dunno....did Jesus ever walk on water? Or any of the other miracles we read about in any holy book? Some people believe thes myths ardently to this day. Some see them as more as parables that teach us a spiritual lesson.
    If you are looking for proof of a "magickal keris" i doubt you will ever find it. If people claim that they can show you one that flies or that they can make to rise or that sheds water i would personally be very skeptical. These tricks can easily be done with slight of hand. And i don't believe keris should be made to do tricks like trained dog. Nor does this kind of display reveal the "true" magick and power to be found in a keris. But if you ask me if i have ever experienced a keris that i can "feel" energy from i would tell you absolutely. Will you "feel" the same energy from that keris? I couldn't tell you.That doesn't mean that it doesn't exist for me however. If you want to know have i ever ritually used a keris to achieve an end through application of will alone and was it successful i would answer absolutely. But it matters not if you believe me, my ritual was still successful for me and i have benefited from the fruits of my efforts. I can only "prove" magick to myself, not to others. Magick is not a thing that can be disected and analyzed so easily. Just as it is said that the true mystical experience cannot be put into words, nor can the magickal experience be proven. It is all a matter of perspective....and of faith and belief. If you live a magickal life you will find magick everywhere. If you don't you probably won't see it if it hits you over the head. Nothing wrong with that, just a different way of coping with the universe. :)
  6. Orang Jawa

    Orang Jawa The Padi Tribe-Guardian

    I got it Nesche, thanks :)
    I'm not critizing nor that my purpose is to offended anyone either :) My appology in advance!
    Just my curiosity Nesche, when you are talking about your experience holding your keris, you felt the energy from that keris "before" you know the history of that keris or "after"?
    I went home to Indonesia many moons ago, I knows some empu in Depok, Pak Lek's friend, I came to see him and asked him to clean the keris, the sword and one of my military's knife that I've been carried it in Vietnam. When he touch my keris, he dilligently paid respect and continue to examine and say nothing. When he touch my Shinto sword, his face changes and I saw his hand trimble..He continue and said nothing. By the time he got to my knife, I can see his face starting to sweats, I don't know maybe from the hotclimate weather or he senses something from that knife. He looked at me and said: " something is really bad about this knife, I felt a bad vibes from it." To cut the story short, from that on, I placed that knife on my trunk with my old military souvenirs, locked and in the safe place.
    Some people still believe in tailsman too :)
    I always pay my highest respect to my keris but I do not felt the energy coming from that, may be because I did not use it for anything but placing the keris in the respected place. However, I felt the energy coming from my sword. As a matter of fact, he sang so loudly when I swang that thing :) Not ssssh noice but sweet sound mind you :) Been swang that sword since I was a teen. My dad said: "They sword have been through many battles, therefore lets pretend that many of victims soul is still stay in that sword. Respected as you want to be respected."
    In that regards, I believe him somewhat, but I highly respected my sword. One day I was careless and disrespect the sword, I have a deep cut in my palm, and 12 sticthes later :) So I had learn my lesson!

    I think because I don't do anything with my keris, that's why I have a hard times to understand the important of cultural/ritual tradition is. Thank you for giving me the historical/cultural background of the keris.
  7. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    My view on this subject is that I do not honour keris no more then I would honour a piece of magnetised steel. I recognise that there may be an energy present but I do not feel that a keris is a spiritual object or that it has spirit dwelling in the blade. You do not venerate your electrical outlet socket because it has electrical power so neither should you venerate a blade just because it has a type of magnetism in it. On the other hand that magnetism has a purpose and it will leave if the blade is not cared for in the correct manner in the same way your car battery will go dead if it is not cared for correctly.
    I think most of us have come to the conclusion that the keris was not designed just for physical battle but other factors seem more important in its development.

    With respect to the keris I think a stone carving on mount Lawu in central Java is very interesting. The character seen forging the keris Indonesian name is Bima/ Arya werkudara but he is a character of the Vedic Indian Mahabharata epic, the original of which is in Sanskrit. If any of you are familiar with the original Indian version I would like to know his Indian name i.e. what name is he known by in India?
    In this depiction he is seen forging a keris under guidance from an elephant headed god who could be ganesha or Indera.
    In the Javanese story Bima receives knowledge on mount reksa muka when a small god climbs in his left ear and instructs him. In this depiction I feel that the small being in the elephant gods hand is a representative of that god. He acts as a messenger for the elephant god.
    If we remember that Bima is actually Indian then essentially what we have here depicted in rock is an Indian man constructing a keris under the guidance of an Vedic Indian elephant god. What is the depiction telling us, Bima is Indian, Mount reksa muka is in India and the keris origins are in ?

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    Last edited: May 13, 2006
  8. nechesh

    nechesh Valued Member

    Well Narrue, i think that with this statement you are showing more than just disrespect for the keris itself, but for the entire culture that has brought you the Silat you also claim to study. Frankly i think you will never understand the keris or Silat if you continue to refuse to understand the cultures from which they come. The significance of the keris in Indonesian culture cannot be compared to the utilitarian purpose of an electrical outlet. How can you claim that the keris is not a spiritual object when it is accepted as such by so many? What you can say is that you don't personally get the spiritual connection, which at this point i rather expect, but to say "neither should you venerate a blade just because it has a type of magnetism in it" only displays you vast ignorance on the subject. It isn't even a matter of what YOU believe, my friend, but what others do. A person who has recieved a pusaka blade past down through generations is not venerating some kind of "magnetism" in that blade. It is a symbol of his family, his bloodline and carries with it the power and wisdom of his ancestors. I don't think you need to be Indonesian to understand this. Nor do you need to believe in the mysticism of the keris culture to respect it.

    Sorry, you are stretching points of logic and making all kinds of assumptions to try to prove you idea that the keris as a weapon originated in India. Certainly there were Hindu influences in early Jawa that entered through the court, and Jawa adopted Hindu as it's religion (keeping hold of many of it more pre-Hindu animistic beliefs as well) So yes, you will see statues and reliefs that may or may not retell classic Vedic stories, but these retellings will undoubtedly have a very strong local bend. Why do you assume that it is Bima forging the keris? The elephant is facing away from him, so why do you assume he is guiding the smith? Whatever creature is in the elephants hand seems a bit large to climb in anyones ear and is, once again, with the elephant, not the smith, facing in the opposite direction. So A)The depiction is not telling us the smith is Bima. The dress they wear is not Indian, but Javanese. B)Nor is it telling us this is Mount Reksa Muka ....and C) It certainly isn't telling us that the origins of the keris are in India. There is NO evidence anywhere found to date that would support this theory. NOWHERE, India included, do we have any remnant of an ancient weapon which has the very unique features that we associate with the keris. Why is that? There is NO reason at all why the Javanese where not capable of developing this weapon all by themselves. This reminds me of the theories that space aliens must have built the pyramids because we can't figure out how they did it. But there is a long history of ironworking in Jawa that even pre-dates any Hindu influence so we do know how they did it. So why do you think the keris needed to be originated somewhere else? Was there possiblly a Hindu influence is certain aspects of evolving design? Probably. The same can probably be said of the post-Mojopahit Islamic influence. But until someone digs up an 8th century keris blade on Mount Reksa Muka (or anywhere else outside of Jawa) i will continue to believe that the origins of the keris are firmly in Jawa.
    Here is some further comentary recently posted by Alan Maisey on the EEWF about this very same relief:
    The Candi Sukuh stele is possibly the most famous single piece of Javanese sculpture.
    Some years ago --possibly ten or fifteen years--- it was transported to the USA for exhibition.
    The figures shown in the Sukuh stele have been subjected to varying interpretations; the central figure has been intrepreted as a representation of Ganesha, but it could also be a sangkala ( a figural date able to be translated in accordance with the Javanese numerical system), if it is a sangkala it could be given as "gajah wiku anahut buntut :elephant monk hold animal=1378jav., 1456AD). The two other figures in the stele are noblemen, and could be representations of descendants of gods. The man on the left side is at an anvil, and on this anvil is a keris (this of course cannot be seen in the photo); the man on the right side is working bellows (ububan).
    Over the years I have visited Candi Sukuh perhaps more than 100 times, as it is quite close to my residence when I am in Jawa.
  9. nechesh

    nechesh Valued Member

    Actually i know very little about the history of my keris from any present source. Some keris have stronger energy than others. Some seem dead, with none at all. This is all based on my personal contact with the keris. It must be nice to recieve a keris as you have in the context of pusaka and to get a bit of the family history along with the keris. :) Consider yourself fortunate. As a Westerner trying to study and understand these things can be quite difficult at times. I am fortunate to be already somewhat predisposed to a Magickal way of thinking which most Westerners are not. It has been a great help in my process of understanding.
    BTW, i am one of those people who make and believe in the power of talismans. :) Why, you might ask? Because they work, of course! ;)
  10. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    Personally I think the knowledge of my ancestors is in me and perhaps the land they came from.
    I still can’t see how all the knowledge of your ancestors can be in a blade. I do believe that it may contain "power" set up by your ancestors which still may be retained by the blade but I don’t agree that there are spirits in the blade but that is just MY understanding and im not trying to sell that to you.

    I have read descriptions which identify the figure as Bima and if you know the stories of Bima they match the depiction. He was an Empu and in the stories he hammered keris out with his fist as in the depiction. Also Bima is usually depicted with a long thumb nail as in this depiction so personally I agree with those descriptions I have read. The two men either side of the elephant are actually the same person depicted at different stages of making the blade but then again that is MY belief and you don’t need to swallow it if you don’t like the taste of the theory.
  11. nechesh

    nechesh Valued Member

    Narrue, i am not really arguing that this stele doesn't depict Bima. I am just pointing out that it is still an assumption. No one really knows. Anyway, i would like to point out that Bima is a part of Javanese mythology. He is one of the 5 brothers. Why would he be Indian?
    The website you link to is a very good one. i will point out that this site makes no positive IDs either and is clearly says that the figure on the left is either an assistant, Bima's wife or possibly Bima himself. Yet you translate this to read "The two men either side of the elephant are actually the same person depicted at different stages of making the blade..." Well ACTUALLY nothing. This same description also IDs the creature in Ganesha's hands as a dog who helps him overcome difficulties. Yet for you this is the small god who whispers in Bima's ear. hhhmmmm Also, while this may indeed be Bima he is not beating out keris with his fists in this depiction, but obviously using tools. Once again, none of this points to an Indian origin for the keris. Nor is their any indication that Reksamuka is in India.
    Frankly, while i am glad that the knowledge of YOUR ancestors is within YOU, this isn't about YOU. This is about the cultures of Indonesia and what they do and believe. You don't need to believe the customs to respect them. But you do need to understand them and the culture to properly understand the keris or Silat....if that is your aim.
    Last edited: May 14, 2006
  12. Narrue

    Narrue Valued Member

    What I say wont change the world and tomorrow things will be the same as today so don’t worry too much about my opinion or get upset by it, just one man amongst millions, just a grain of sand :D

    About Bima being Indian, I thought I already said that he was a character in the Mahabharata epic which is Indian so does that not make him Indian?
    Just wondering why this Indian man is making keris.
  13. nechesh

    nechesh Valued Member

    Yes Narrue, the Mahabharata does indeed have it's origins in India and Bima is Bhima in the original Indian classic. But the Javanese have taken this classic and made it their own. They were not teaching the mythology of a far off land in their wayang theater presentions to their own people. To become heros within their own culture the characters would need to be presented as a part of that culture. So i don't think Bima would be considered an Indian by a Javanese audience. I could be wrong on this, of course. Perhaps Kiai could comment from a Javanese persective.
  14. Kiai Carita

    Kiai Carita Banned Banned

    peace to all,

    It would seem that at the end of the Majapahit era, around the time when Islam began to take foot in the north coast of Jawa, some power came to the slopes of Mount Lawu (my childhood mountain) and built several structurs of stone as places of worship and ritual. Candi Sukuh, with the famous relief of a besalen with an elephant and an Mpu and a Panjak, and Candi Cetha, with the huge phalus and vagina. It appears that in Majapahit there was a strong Bima sect, for at that time Bima Suci, a story about Bima entering a tiny God's ear and finding within the whole universe (lelakon Bima Suci) was scrached on to lontar. This story does not appear in any Indian texts.

    Warm salaams to all,

    PS I think the elephant is a candrasengkala rather than Ganesha, Ganesha has proper atributes that are normally depicted. It is an elephant, not a God elephant.

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