19th century, probably originating from Cirebon.
Northern coast of Java
Jaap Polak, Amsterdam
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An old wooden keris hilt, carved in the form of Bhīma. Bhīma was one of the eight forms of Shiva, and celestial the brother of Hanuman. In Sanskrit his name means "fearful, dreadful, terrible, formidable, horrible, horrid, terrific, terrifying, horror, terror."1
The figure is carved in its classic Javanese squatting pralambapada pose. His left hand on his left knee, his right hand around his right shin. He has elongated thumbnails called pancanaka. His pot belly indicates vitality. The face has bulging eyes, a triangular protruding nose and a menacing mouth with fangs. The hair is curly, with long curly locks covering most of the figure's back.
The figure is naked except for the sumping ron, leaf-like ear ornaments worn by high-ranked men, and a necklace.
The hilt can be dated to the 17th century. At the time, these hilts were encountered in Banten and Cirebon, both port cities on the northern coast of Java. Banten was conquered in the mid-16th century by Cirebon and became its Muslim vassal state. It is difficult today to distinguish the two.2
Some age-related cracks are caused by the wood shrinking. It comes with a custom black stand (not depicted).
1. Sir Monier Monier-Williams; A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special Reference to Cognate Indo-European languages. Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1872. Page 711.
2. Karsten Sejr Jensen; Krisdisk. Chapters 3 & 4.
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