Monday, 25 October 2010

Merapi, The one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes

"On the afternoon of 25 October 2010 Mount Merapi erupted lava from its southern and southeastern slopes."

Merapi, Gunung Merapi (literally Mountain of Fire in Indonesian/Javanese), lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. With summit elevation about 3000 m, it is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes in Indonesia. It has erupted regularly since 1548. It is very close to the city of Yogyakarta, and thousands of people live on the flanks of the volcano, with villages as high as 1700 m above sea level.

Merapi is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi volcano beginning during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequently growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent eruptive activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the volcano's western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities during historical time. The volcano is the object of extensive monitoring efforts by the Merapi Volcano Observatory.

Merapi has the unfortunate distinction of producing more nuee ardentes than any other volcano on Earth. The nuee ardentes result from collapse of the lava dome at the summit. Of the 67 historic eruptions 32 have had nuee ardentes associated with them. Eleven of these eruptions resulted in fatalities. Merapi is closely monitored by the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia. Shortly before this photograph was taken Merapi was generating up to 40 nuee ardentes per day.

The name Merapi could loosely translated as 'Mountain of Fire' from the Javanese combined words; Meru means "mountain" and api means "fire". Smoke can be seen emerging from the mountaintop at least 300 days a year, and several eruptions have caused fatalities. Hot gas from a large explosion killed 64 people on November 22 in 1994, mostly in the town of Muntilan, west of the volcano[citation needed]. Another large eruption occurred in 2006, shortly before the Yogyakarta earthquake. In light of the hazards that Merapi poses to populated areas, it has been designated as one of the Decade Volcanoes.

Take virtual trips on Merapi by click this


Merapi continues to hold particular significance for the Javanese: it is one of four places where officials from the royal palaces of Yogyakarta and Solo make annual offerings to placate the ancient Javanese spirits. To keep the volcano quiet, the Javanese regularly bring offerings on the anniversary of the sultan of Yogyakarta's coronation. For Yogyakarta Sultanate, Merapi holds significant cosmological symbolism, because it is forming a sacred north-south axis line between Merapi peak and Southern Ocean (Indian Ocean). The sacred axis is signify by Merapi peak in the north, the Tugu monument near train station, the axis runs along Malioboro street to Northern Alun-alun (square) across Keraton Yogyakarta (sultan palace), Southern Alun-alun, all the way to Bantul and finally reach Southern Ocean.


Merapi is a basaltic to basaltic-andesite stratovolcano with a summit crater containing an unstable lava dome. Merapi is Indonesia's most active volcano and well known for partial collapse of lava domes and the generation of pyroclastic flows. Pyroclastic flows can travel as far as 8 miles (13 km) from the summit and reach speeds of 70 mph (110 km/hr). Pyroclastic flow deposits can be remobilized as lahars. Direct observations of Merapi have been recorded since 1888. Recent study of tephra deposits on the flanks of the volcano found 27 marker beds that reveal Merapi's past history. The volcano has had numerous moderate to large (1 million cubic m) eruptions. These eruptions typically begin with pyroclastic flows and are followed by widespread pyroclastic air fall. Plinian to subplinian eruptions are common. These older deposits indicate that Merapi is capable of eruption styles very different from those currently observed.

Mount Merapi is the site of a very active volcano monitoring program. Seismic monitoring began in 1924, with some of the volcano monitoring stations lasting until the present. The Babadan (northwest location), Selo (in the saddle between Merbabu and Merapi), and Plawangan monitoring stations have been updated with equipment over the decades since establishment. During the 1950s and early 1960s some of the stations were starved of equipment and funds, but after the 1970s considerable improvement occurred with the supply of new equipment. Some of the pre-1930 observation posts were destroyed by the 1930 eruption, and newer posts were re-located.

Similarly after the 1994 eruption, the Plawangan post and equipment were moved into Kaliurang as a response to the threat of danger to the volcanological personnel at the higher point. The eruption of 1930 was found to have been preceded by a large earthquake swarm. The network of 8 seismographs currently around the volcano allow volcanologists to accurately pinpoint the hypocentres of tremors and quakes. A zone in which no quakes originate is found about 1.5 km below the summit, and is thought to be the location of the magma reservoir which feeds the eruptions. Other measurements taken on the volcano include magnetic measurements and tilt measurements.

Small changes in the local magnetic field have been found to coincide with eruptions, and tilt measurements reveal the inflation of the volcano caused when the magma chambers beneath it is filling up. Lahars (a type of mudflow of pyroclastic material and water) are an important hazard on the mountain, and are caused by rain remobilizing pyroclastic flow deposits. Lahars can be detected seismically, as they cause a high-frequency seismic signal. Observations have found that about 50 mm of rain per hour is the threshold above which lahars are often generated.

Geological histories

Merapi is the youngest in a group of volcanoes in southern Java. It is situated at a subduction zone, where the Indo-Australian Plate is sliding beneath the Eurasian Plate. It is one of at least 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire – a section of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and South East Asia. Stratigraphic analysis reveals that eruptions in the Merapi area began about 400,000 years ago, and from then until about 10,073 years ago, eruptions were typically effusive, and the outflowing lava emitted was basaltic.

Since then, eruptions have become more explosive, with viscous andesitic lavas often generating lava domes. Dome collapse has often generated pyroclastic flows, and larger explosions, which have resulted in eruption columns, have also generated pyroclastic flows through column collapse. There has been no late eruption. Typically, small eruptions occur every two to three years, and larger ones every 10–15 years or so. Notable eruptions, often causing many deaths, have occurred in 1006, 1786, 1822, 1872, and 1930—when thirteen villages were destroyed and 1400 people killed by pyroclastic flows. A very large eruption in 1006 is claimed to have covered all of central Java with ash. The volcanic devastation is claimed to have led to the collapse of the Hindu Kingdom of Mataram, however there is insufficient evidence from that era for this to be substantiated.

In April 2006, increased seismicity at more regular intervals and a detected bulge in the volcano's cone indicated that fresh eruptions were imminent. Authorities put the volcano's neighboring villages on high alert and local residents prepared for a likely evacuation. On April 19 smoke from the crater reached a height of 400 meters, compared to 75 metres the previous day. On April 23, after nine surface tremors and some 156 multifaced quakes signalled movements of magma, some 600 elderly and infant residents of the slopes were evacuated.[5]

By early May, active lava flows had begun. On May 11, with lava flow beginning to be constant, some 17,000 people were ordered to be evacuated from the area and on May 13, Indonesian authorities raised the alert status to the highest level, ordering the immediate evacuation of all residents on the mountain. Many villagers defied the dangers posed by the volcano and returned to their villages, fearing that their livestock and crops would be vulnerable to theft. Activity calmed by the middle of May. On May 27, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck roughly 30 miles southwest of Merapi, killing at least 5,000 and leaving at least 200,000 people homeless in the Yogyakarta region, heightening fears that Merapi would "blow". The quake did not appear to be a long-period oscillation, a seismic disturbance class that is increasingly associated with major volcanic eruptions. A further 11,000 villagers were evacuated on June 6 as lava and superheated clouds of gas poured repeatedly down its upper slopes towards Kaliadem, a location that was located southeast of Mt. Merapi. The pyroclastic flows are known locally as "wedhus gembel" (Javanese for "shaggy goat"). There were two fatalities as the result of the eruption.

On 25 October 2010 the Indonesian government raised the alert for Mount Merapi to its highest level and warned villagers in threatened areas to move to safer ground. People living within a 10km (6 mile) zone were told to evacuate. Officials said about 500 volcanic earthquakes had been recorded on the mountain over the weekend of 23-24 October, and that the magma had risen to about a kilometre below the surface due to the seismic activity. On the afternoon of 25 October 2010 Mount Merapi erupted lava from its southern and southeastern slopes.


Monday, 18 October 2010

Rencong, the traditional dagger sharp weapons from Aceh

Rencong (Bahasa Aceh: reuncong) is a traditional Acehnese dagger sharp weapons, the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the shape resembles the letter "L". Rencong including a dagger in a different category with a knife or sword.

The shape and usage
Rencong similar way as with a dagger. Rencong long blade can vary from 10 cm to 50 cm. Matau blade can be curved like a dagger, but in many rencong, can also be straight like a sword. Rencong inserted into the sheath knife made of wood, ivory, horn, or sometimes silver or gold metal. In nature, rencong inserted between the belt in front of the user's abdomen.

In the customary law
Dagger rencong empire, made of gold and ivory sheath with engraved blade holy Quran verses.
Rencong have levels; to the king or sultan sheath usually made of ivory and the blade of gold and berukirkan sekutip verses from the Quran the holy religion of Islam. While other rencong rencong-usually made of buffalo horn or wood as a sheath, and brass or white metal as a dagger.

As confidence in the Javanese kris, traditional Acehnese community connects with the mystical power of weapons Rencong. Rencong still used and worn as a fashion attribute in the traditional ceremonies of Aceh. The Acehnese people believe that the form of rencong basmalah represent the symbol of the religious beliefs of Islam.

Rencong so popular in the people of Aceh so that Aceh is also known as the "Tanah Rencong (Land of Rencong)"


Friday, 15 October 2010

Keris, ethnic weapon from Javanese ancient tradition

The most famous ethnic weapon or heirloom for Javanese people is Keris (dagger). In the ancient time, a man is not considered as a real man if he has no keris. The keris is highly valued, treated and respected with special care. This weapon is usually inherited from fore fathers. According to Javanese ancient tradition, especially in the court families, a father was obliged to give to his adult son at least a keris.

Keris is a stabbing weapon that is known in Nusantara or Indonesia, including Malay Peninsula and the southern Philippines. The use of the keris itself scattered in the area dwellers who have affected the culture of Srivijaya-Majapahit, such as Java, Madura, Nusa Tenggara, Sumatra, Kalimantan coast, part of Sulawesi, the Malay Peninsula, southern Thailand and southern Philippines (Mindanao). Kris form Mindanao do not have much in common with other areas of the keris, although also a stabbing weapon. The keris of Indonesia has been listed in UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Non-human material.

In general, keris is divided to two important parts, the blade (Wilah) and the scabbard (Warangka), to protect the blade.
A keris is considered 'good' if it has perfect physical characteristics and at the same time contains good and strong spiritual power.

Besides being used as a weapon, a dagger is also often considered to have supernatural powers. These weapons are often mentioned in many traditional legends, such as empu Gandring's Keris in legend of Ken Arok and Ken Dedes.

The procedure for the use of different dagger in each region. In areas such as Javanese and Sundanese, a dagger was placed in the rear waist peacetime but is placed in front in wartime. Meanwhile, in Sumatra, Borneo, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, a dagger was placed in front.

The history

Originally Keris that we know today is still not explained very well. Temple reliefs in Java such as Borobudur and Prambanan (9th century) more show knights with Indian-style weapons. Relief that clearly reflected this weapon are in:
- Bahal Temple (11th century AD) the royal heritage Penai/Pane in North Sumatra that are part of the Srivijaya empire

- Penataran Temple (13th century AD), relics of the Majapahit kingdom in Blitar, East Java.

Although we can not be sure when the real dagger was first formed but given the dagger in several temple reliefs on where in the 9th century there has been no relief that clearly indicates the keris, dagger-shaped still India, was in the 11th century was clearly illustrated it can be concluded that the keris has take a unique shape around the 9th century to 11th century AD

Keris of Buddhist and the
influence of Indian-China culture

Early kingdoms of Indonesia strongly influenced by Buddhist and Hindu culture. Temples in Central Java is the main source of cultural era. The surprise was the least use of dagger or something similar to it. Relief at Borobudur did not show a similar dagger.

From the archaeological discovery of many experts who agree that the proto-dagger-shaped knife blade straight with thick and wide. One of these is a kris dagger type Knaud family owned, obtained from Sri Paku Alam V. Keris is relief on the surface that contains the epic Ramayana and there are years of Java, 1264 (1342 AD), although there are doubts about the milestone.

The influence of Chinese culture may enter through the Dong Son culture (Vietnam), which is a link between Chinese culture and the Malay world. There keris sajen which has a shape similar to a dagger hilt human Dong Son.

The "Modern"

Keris which we now know is the result of a long evolutionary process. Modern keris known today is a unique dagger awl. many who believe that the dagger obtain forms at the time of Majapahit (14th century) and new Mataram Sultanate (17th century-18) but the reliefs of the temple bahal Pane royal heritage, part of the Srivijaya empire, in North Sumatra Portibi show on 10-11th century.

The form of keris as we know it today has found its form observer and collector dagger more often classified as ancient and newer keris (Javanese: nem-Neman).
Ancient Keris created before the 19th century, making use of ores and raw materials derived from natural sources and meteorites (because there is no metal ore smelting plants), so that the metal that is used still contain many types of other alloys, such as iron ore containing titanium, cobalt, silver, tin, nickel, copper etc..

Newer Keris (after the 19th century) usually only use materials of iron, steel and nickel from the smelting of iron ore, or scrap metal (per vehicle spare parts, iron bridges, railway iron, etc.) that the average is manufactured, so that purity guaranteed or likely to contain very few metals other types.

Suppose research Haryono Arumbinang, Sudyartomo and Budi Santosa (BATAN Yogyakarta nuclear scholar) in the era of 1990, showed that a keris with tough Tuban, kitchen Tilam Upih and prestige of Rice Wutah turned out to contain iron (Fe), arsenic (arsenic) and Titanium (Ti)
, according to the researchers that the keris is "an ancient dagger," for the element titanium metal, new metal is found as an element of self in about 1940, and metals which exceed the hardness of steel but much lighter than steel, widely used as a means of modern transportation (plane aircraft, spacecraft) or a rocket, so at that time the technology has not been present in Indonesia. Titanium many meteorites found on rock and iron sand usually comes from the South Coast region as well as Sulawesi. Of the 14 kris studied, the average alloy contains many other species such as cromium, Stanum, stibinium, silver, copper and zinc, as much as 13 kris contains titanium and only one dagger that contain nickel.

Newer Keris can be immediately known because of its metal content of the type of empu (kris craftsmen) to buy their raw materials in iron stores, such as iron, nickel, brass etc.. They do not use raw materials from iron ore (eg taken from mining) or stone meteorite, so it does not need to be analyzed with radioactive isotopes. So if there is suspected as a result kris engineering, or new kris kris-looking ancient, the research will be easy to express it.

The process of the making of the blade

The process of the making of the blade in the old days may last one year only for one keris. The keris maker is called an Empu. Only the respectable Empus could make a high quality keris, physically and spiritually. Empu has to do some spiritual deeds to prepare a keris, like fasting, not sleeping for several days and nights, meditation, etc.
In Principle, a keris is a personal sacred weapon, it is made by an Empu, in accordance with the wish of the consumer.

The manufacturing of keris is complicated, for short as the following :
- At workshop with good fire plate to case the row materials such as 5 kg iron plate, measuring; 4 cm wide, 2 cm thick, 15 cm long; 50 gr of nickel and 0,5 kg of steel.
- The iron is heated until it become smaller, it forges again and again.
- The 5 kg iron become 2 kg forged iron.
- The nickel inserted in between the forged iron, smolder them, forged them carefully to produce the desired 'pamor' or surface pattern.
- Afterward the steel sheet, together with above forged iron and nickel, smolder and forge again.

- In this stage the keris should be made Keris Lurus (a straight keris) or Keris Luk (keris with curves). The keris should be formed in accordance to the blue print, using several tools such as; rough fine, triangular files, grindstone and chisels.

- Afterwards the keris should be heated but not smoldered and than plated, to make the keris more durable. After it has been plated, it should be soaked in a mix solution of sulfur, lemon juice and salt. The keris is ready and its weight is about 0,4 kg.

The Physical Characteristic of Keris

There are some characteristic of keris
  1. Keris Lurus (straight Keris) and Keris Luk (curved keris)
  2. Dapur
    Dapur or shape is the keris specific form or type and identified by particular combination of parts and curved (luk). The meaning of dapur is based on certain standard which is called Pakem Dapur Keris. The names of dapur among other :
    • Sangga Buwono
    • Jangkung Mangkurat
    • Pasopati
    • Tilam Upih
    • Sengkelat
    • Jalak Nyucup Madu
    • Etc.
  3. Tangguh
    Tangguh is the estimated era of keris making. It is linked with prominent kingdoms, such as ;
    • Tangguh Kahuripan of XI AD
    • Tangguh Singasari of XII AD
    • Tangguh Pajajaran of XIII AD
    • Tangguh Majapahit of XIV AD
    • Tangguh Mataram of XIV - XVI AD
    • Tangguh Kartosuro
    • Tangguh Surokarto
    • Tangguh Yogyakarta
    • Etc.
  4. Pamor
    Surface pattern of a keris blade, the design has not been carved, it appears as a result of forging technique of different metals.
    Some pamor's name are :
    • Ilining Warih
    • Wos Wutah
    • Lintang Kemukus
    • Udan Mas
    • Mlati Sumebar
The Physical characteristic of Keris, also symbolizing its mission.
  1. Dapur : Jalak Ngucup Madu (jalak is a starling, a kind of bird; ngucup is drink; madu is honey). The wish is clear, the owner of the keris should live in prosperity.
  2. Pamor : Udan Mas (udan is rain; mas is gold). The keris has a mission to help its owner to have an abundant wealth.
  3. A. Keris Lurus or Straight Keris, symbolizing self-confidence, strong mentality.
    B. Keris Luk or Keris with Curved
    Luk 3 : symbolizing a success to achieve some wishes.
    Luk 5 : to be loved by other people
    Luk 7 : dignity.
    Luk 9 : dignity, charismatic and leadership.
    Luk 11 : to achieve high position
    Luk 13 : peaceful and stability of live.
The magical power of Keris

Believe it or not, despite its physical characteristic, keris contain a spiritual mission.The original spiritual power is the wishes of the Empu, the maker. While preparing and making a keris, the Empu, in the holy state, solemnly pray to God , the keris should contain spiritual wishes as requested by the Empu or the consumer.

It depends who is going to use the keris, the mission should be different, for instance, for the kings, begawans (priest), generals, high ranking officials, farmers, traders, fishermen, workers, soldiers, etc. So, it could be easy to understand that a keris which good for king , may be not good for a trader.

The Additional and/or Other Spiritual Power of Keris. The keris could be filled with spiritual beings, unseen by ordinary people, such as a genie, (jin or qodam) in order to protect or to help the keris owner.


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