Kagungan Dalem Gamelan
Prev K. K. GUNTURLAUT Next
Acquired during the Reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwana I
Type: archaic--monggang
Tuning: special 3-tone scale

Several of the instruments in K.K. Gunturlaut (Thundering Sea) were allotted to the first Sultan of Yogyakarta in a political agreement, known as the Treaty of Giyanti (1755), that officially marked the beginning of the Yogyakarta dynasty. Prior to this agreement, the instruments were part of the gamelan monggang of the Surakarta palace (situated about forty miles to the east of Yogyakarta). Oral tradition places the origin of this very special ceremonial heirloom (pusaka) in the 14th Century East Javanese kingdom of Majapahit. When the Surakarta gamelan monggang was divided in 1755, both Central Javanese courts had to fill out their sets with newly manufactured instruments (unfortunately no records survive detailing which instruments of the original set ended up in which palace). In Yogyakarta, these additions were completed in 1757.

K.K. Gunturlaut is painted a rich dark red with gold highlights. It has carved onto most of its casings a horse framed by wings (mirong). One palace official identified the horse as a sembrani, a mythological flying horse.

The instruments in this set are few in number and include several archaic instruments, most significantly four sets of single-row gong chimes (bonang) each with three gongs. Only one musical piece (gendhing) is played on this gamelan, and it consists of a continuously repeated four-note motif regularly punctuated by strokes of the large gongs (gong ageng). This music is not meant to sound beautiful, but archaic and regal.

This gamelan has always been used in very specific, usually ceremonial contexts as a symbol of royal authority. Today it is sounded exclusively for two ceremonies: for the coronation of a new sultan, and for the funeral of a sultan. Thus there can be years, even decades, between the occasions for which this spiritually-charged gamelan is sounded. In part, it is the great infrequency of its use that makes this important set so special.

PrevNext