Kagungan Dalem Gamelan
Acquired during the Reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwana I
Type: archaic
Tuning: pélog

Audio Clip

K.K. Guntursari (Thunder Essence) is a set that encapsulates the martial character of the court of Sultan Hamengku Buwana I. Although its instrumentation is that of a pre-modern common practice gamelan, its very low tuning (not conducive to including singers) and its restricted ceremonial use help define it as an archaic form of gamelan. This gamelan pusaka is almost never sounded these days, but prior to the reign of the Ninth Sultan (before 1940) it had a few well-defined contexts of performance. The use of this set that leads us to associate it with the martial side of palace life was its utilization to accompany one particular male warrior dance choreography called Lawung Ageng or Beksan Trunajaya, itself a dance the creation of which is attributed to the First Sultan. Up until 1940, the dancers of this choreography were drawn from a unit of the palace guard (prajuritan). The movement stylization used for this dance is very bold (gagah) and the choreography includes many duels using long poles (lawung) as weapons.

Lawung Ageng would typically be performed as entertainment following the marriage of a royal family member. These entertainments took place not in the palace but at the residence of the sultan’s Prime Minister, which was located about a kilometer North of the palace just off the main commercial street of Yogyakarta, Jalan Malioboro. On wedding days the palace entourage would proceed up Jalan Malioboro with the Lawung dancers performing a stylized march in full costume to the accompaniment of gamelan marches (gendhing mares) performed on K.K. Guntursari as it was carried by coolies. The full (up to five hours in duration) Lawung Ageng would then be performed in the Prime Minister’s elegant pavilion to the accompaniment of K.K. Guntursari.

K.K. Guntursari was also used for the yearly garebeg procession that celebrated the birth of Muhammed. Palace musicians would perform gendhing mares as the instruments were being carried amidst one of the units of the palace guard, the prajurit Langenastra, the members of which marched in a highly stylized fashion from the palace to the Mesjid Ageng (Great Mosque). K.K. Guntursari has not been used in this capacity since the 1930s.

This set has as its base color a light brown, its carving highlighted in gold that on some instruments is seen with a red background. Two very distinct figural motifs are found on its instruments. One is the mythological garuda bird embedded in lush vegetation (this figure appears on the instruments of the gendèr, bonang and kenong types), the other is a mammal--perhaps a jackal (a creature that appears on Javanese temples from the Buddhist period, often wearing a collar)--framed by mirong (on the saron-type instruments).