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

Audio Clip

There exists a wonderful legend about this much revered gamelan pusaka of the Kraton Yogyakarta which explains why K.K. Kancilbelik (Mouse Deer in a Pond) was given its unusual name. When Sultan Hamengku Buwana I (known at that time as Pangeran Mangkubumi) was still waging war with the Dutch prior to the establishment of Yogyakarta, his soldiers reported the presence of a mouse deer (kancil) on the southern slope of Mount Lawu. His Highness took a bow and arrow and shot the deer. The deer was hit above its right rear leg but, even though lame, still managed to run. It plunged into a small pond (belik) below a kapok tree, and when it emerged from the pool it was no longer lame and continued running. Mangkubumi sensed that this pond possessed the power to heal wounds and ordered his followers to broaden it for bathing. His men made the pond much wider, but before long they came across numerous bronze gamelan gongs and keys (without their casings) in the pond. Later, these gongs and keys were repaired and additional new ones were fabricated to make a complete set. Its new casings depicted a mouse deer plunging into a pond below a kapok tree with crows perched in its branches. In this legend, the found instruments are implied to be the source of the pond's curative powers and thus possessed of supernatural energy. As if this association is not sufficient to make it an extraordinary entity, the ensemble's connection to the First Sultan just prior to the founding of the Yogyakarta court certainly contributes to its mystique. Additionally, there exists a whole literature of didactic folktales about the kancil in which this creature plays the role of a trickster, so its presence in the legend surrounding K.K. Kancilbelik could potentially introduce further layers of meaning to a Javanese familiar with the kancil tales.

This common practice gamelan is often paired with the gamelan sléndro K.K. Surak when used to provide music for private royal family ceremonies. Like K.K. Surak, it had instruments added to it in the 1920s, during the reign of the Eighth Sultan, to make its instrumentation fully up to date.

K.K. Kancilbelik is painted green with gold highlight. The main figural carving is that of a deer, usually half submerged in water. Two crows with seeds in their beaks are seen above the deer on many of the instruments of this set. Similar images of birds, possibly symbolizing the fecundity of the Sultan, are found on the walls of the pleasure palace, Taman Sari, built by the First Sultan. On the front board of the gendèr the royal emblem (lambang) of the Eighth Sultan is worked in over a red background. This is because new casings for this set were made during his reign, at the same time the new instruments were added.

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