From a long time ago, keris (kris; a wavy double-bladed dagger) often connected to mystical things. However, for Sumarso, the traditional daggers are more to a cultural heritage that need to be sustained.
“Keris can only be found in Indonesia and was a weapon that had existed since the colonial era. As an addition, there isn’t any weapon similar to keris in other countries and it made keris need to be sustained,” Sumarso said. For him, keris doesn’t have to be connected with mystical things because many keris maker explored the art side of keris. “If people said that this keris has isi (contains mystical beings), I will appreciate their premise. However, I, myself, prefer to be appreciated from the art of the making process,” he added.
Sumarso’s concern about culture, especially keris, forced him to established Bengkel Seni Sumarso (Sumarso’s Art Workshop) at 1996. He didn’t establish the workshop straight off but for two years he had study about how to make keris from his workplace and his friends. “My skill is actually more to keris warangka (keris’s scabbard), there are special workers for making the metal blade,” the father of three sons said.
Sumarso explained further about keris made in his workshop. There are three types of keris he made; ladrang, gayaman and sendhang walekat. Sendhang walekat is a keris made for women, gayaman made for men to be used daily, while ladrang would be used only for big events.
For the wood, Sumarso have many varieties of wood to pick, such as sandalwood, timoho, trembalo, gambol teak and others. The price he sets for his keris are varied between IDR 350,000 to hundred million of rupiahs depends on the material used for the keris and the keris’ eye. “Long ago, there was an order to make keris with diamond for the eye. At that time, I gave it up for IDR 25,000,000 and it counted to be cheap,” he admitted.
Sumarso’s customers not only come from Solo, but from other cities and even from abroad. “At this time, many of my customers come from other cities. Previously there were people that took their orders abroad,” he said. However, Sumarso regretted society’s awareness to sustain keris art and culture nowadays. “Before, many people, usually officials, bought keris to sustain the culture. Nowadays, only some collectors and resellers remained,” he added.
In a difficult time for his keris business like this time, Sumarso admitted that he can’t measure his income per month. “Sometimes we don’t produce anything for two months; sometimes when there were an order we can make hundreds of keris. However, as long as I can make it, I will try to hold out to sustain our cultural assets,” he closed.
Original Article: Bengkel Seni Sumarso, Utamakan Nilai Seni Daripada Magis