Keris Bima Buntala Luk 19 from the Tangguh Pajajaran Era (12th Century)

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The keris Bima Butala luk 19 Senopaten is an exclusive pusaka heirloom keris that was made in the twelfth century in the time of the tangguh Pajajaran era. The dapur of this ancient keris, Bima Butala, has an unusual high number of waves (‘luk’). As to the ricikan, the blade of this nineteen-waved keris features a lambe gajah, a kembang kacang, sraweyan and ri pandan.

On the surface of the blade, we can see it displays the pamor Ngulit Semongko pattern. In Indonesian, however, this pamor motif is called ‘Kulit Semangka’, which refers to the visual similarities it has in common with the skin of a watermelon (kulit: skin; semangka: watermelon). This type of pamor is created spontaneously during the forging process. Also, the pamor Ngulit Semongko is considered to be ‘non-chosen’ (‘pamor mlumah’), meaning that a keris which has this kind of pamor can be owned by any kind of person, without having to worry about the potential side effects of a ‘pamor rekan’ that is intended only for a selected person. Hence, this implies that the mystical powers of the pamor Ngulit Semongko are applicable to a broader range of (often worldly) purposes, such as the wish for popularity among one’s peers, i.e. a general improvement of one’s social life.

The luxurious sheath of this keris sepuh (‘old keris’) is hand carved from sacred Timåhå wood (Lat. Kleinhovia Hospita). On the island of Java, the local population regard this type of forest tree as something very sacred. The reason for its holy status, finds it origin in a local belief that tells that there resides a powerful spirit in the Timåhå tree. And so, when a holy tree of this kind has been cut with permission of the inhabiting tree spirit, then one can always count on its protection and assistance in times of danger.

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