HULU PEKAKA & BURUNG

PEKAKA
Patani - Thailand
PEKAKA
  Coteng - Thailand
BURUNG
Riau or Palembang? - Indonesia
 

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EVOLUTION OF THE PATANI HULU PEKAKA (1)

   The Patani hilts have evolved over time from a Garuda/Wayang form to a kingfischer (Pekaka) shape. The older types have arms similar to the Jawa Deman, whereas the more recent ones are closer to a bird. The Coteng hilt has kept much of the older attributes of the Patani hilt.

   According to Farish A. Noor (2):   "Apart from the development of the form and figure of the kris blade (mata kris) itself, the evolution of the hulu (hilt) also took a different turn. Hill notes that ‘devout Muslims objected to the actual representation of Hindu divinities in the shadow-play (wayang) and on kris-hilts. But they were willing to compromise by altering the form to a grotesque caricature’. 

   The evolution of more Islamised hilts involved a semantic revision where these pre-Islamic hilts were given more Islamic (or at least acceptable) names instead. Thus the Garuda found himself reduced from the steed of Vishnu to the status of a kingfisher (pekaka) instead. Then the sculpted figures of the Gods and Demons of the past were gradually submerged under a carpet of arabesques, floral tapestries and geometric patterns that anticipated the ‘greening’ of the Malay archipelago under Islam in the centuries to come. Some hilt variations were ultimately reduced to totally abstract geometric affairs, almost modern in their conception and execution. While in others what little remained of the symbolism of the Hindu past was almost entirely covered over by floral or vegetal motifs, to the point where only the vaguest traces of the ancient Gods could be seen. In other areas such as Patani and Kelantan where the cult of Vishnu-Garuda was too strong to be fully erased, the figure of Garuda was modified to the extent that it finally took on the form of a crouching/squatting humanoid figure with its wings effaced altogether."

(1) Picture from "LES POIGNEES DE KRISS, The hilts of the Kriss" in : Parcours des Mondes from Cédric LE DAUPHIN
(2) 
Article "From Majapahit to Putrajaya: The Kris as a symptom of Civilisation Development and Decline" www.kakiseni.com, from Farish A. Noor

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Revised: 2007-05-20