March 13, 2017
As the one of the oldest civilizations and the largest ethnic group in Indonesia, it is no surprising if we discover new information around Javanese people and culture every day. From its rather complicated traditional alphabet, wide varieties of arts, to the fascinating story behind its traditional rules (adat), there are many interesting aspects of Javanese culture that we can explore. Each region in Java has their own perspective and twist around their culture. Today, we will dive a little bit deeper into Java’s most unique cultural items – weapons.
According to various sources on the internet, traditional weapon is still remained as one of Java’s most unique cultural items due to the prestige nature around blacksmiths. In Javanese culture, blacksmiths is highly-respected in a community because they will go a great length to prepare themselves before starting their work. For instance, a blacksmith will fast and meditate in order to reach perfection on their art piece like keris or clurit. This is probably one of the reasons of why traditional weapons can last for such a long period.
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Want to see the proof? Here are four Javanese traditional weapons that are still used until today:
In 1817, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles or also known as Raffles, conducted a study at the Candi Sukuh around Mount Lawu. Here, Raffles found that the design of traditional keris we’ve recognized today was came into existence around 15th century, when Majapahit Empire rules Java. This study also revealed that keris was most likely manufactured by Bhima as the blacksmith and used to fight in wars.
These days, keris is mainly used as an art collection or spiritual object. Unlike any other sword, keris has a distinctive wavy shape, pattern, and special carvings which makes it unique. Made from rare types of woods, golds, or ivory, this sword is often considered to have magical powers even presence of the spirit around it! Today, we can find keris in most Javanese traditional weddings as an accessory for ceremonial dress (for men).
Clurit or Celurit is widely known around East Java area, especially Madura. With a crescent moon-shape and a long handle, Celurit is used as an agricultural tool for harvesting or cutting grass. The blade is believed to be popular from a Maduranese legend, Sakerah, who was known to be a fighter against the Colonialism, and always carry his Celurit wherever he goes. Sakerah’s staple weapon was soon to be known as celurit, which is now divided into two types - Celurit Kembang Turi and Celurit Wulu Pitik.
Our next traditional weapon is buding, which originated from the largest regency in Java, Banyuwangi. A well-known tribe named Osing uses buding as a weapon and agricultural tool since their early days until today. The shape of buding itself is rather similar with your regular knives or the traditional Indonesian’s golok. The difference lay on its straight and slightly elongated shape, with 46 cm in length and equipped with handler and protective holster.
Last but not least is another traditional weapon from East Java province, bionet. If you aren’t quite familiar with our last weapon, bionet is basically works the same way as buding or your regular kitchen knives – all weapons have the similarity when it comes to the sizing. What makes buding special is that this weapon has rather dull sides but a very sharp ends – which only makes buding even more deadly. This was probably one of the reasons why buding became a favorite weapon to be used at wars.
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