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

Audio Clip, Video Clip 1, Video Clip 2

K.K. Nagawilaga (Serpent of War) was made in 1757 to complement the newly completed gamelan sekati K.K. Gunturmadu. It is nearly identical in all respects to K.K. Gunturmadu, except for the nuances of the pélog scale to which it is tuned. Prior to the reign of the Ninth Sultan (1940-1988) K.K. Nagawilaga, in addition to being used for sekaten, was also performed on while being carried in the garebeg procession that celebrated the birth of Muhammed (this procession takes place on the day following sekaten). K.K. Nagawilaga is one of the palace’s heirlooms (pusaka).

On the final day of sekaten every year an interesting activity takes place involving K.K. Nagawilaga which illustrates the spiritual power of pusaka that many Javanese perceive. Throughout the morning of this final day of sekaten a steady stream of people approach this gamelan to nyuwun berkah (to request beneficial aid) through the intermediary of a palace religious official. They hand the official an offering of incense and flower petals wrapped in a banana leaf. The official listens to the person’s request, then places the incense in a clay pot for burning and the banana leaf and flower petals inside the back of one of the gong ageng of K.K. Nagawilaga. As the official fans the incense, filling the pagongan (gamelan building) with its fragrance, he quietly passes on the request of the person to the spirit of the gamelan via its gong ageng. Each request takes five or ten minutes and the process continues throughout the morning.

In December 1982, we were able to document on audio tape and film the utilization of K.K. Nagawilaga during Sekaten. Excerpts from these documentations are included here. In the audio clip we hear the final few minutes of gendhing Rambu, one of the standard Sekaten-specific gamelan pieces. Mas Lurah Lokasari is seen performing the gong chime bonang at the outset of the first video clip. The gamelan sekati bonang is actually two instruments in one--the higher register is used as the melody-leading bonang, the lower register (the row of gongs to the far right of the screen) as the phrase-marking kenongs. After panning left, the following instruments are visible (from left to right): bedhug, saron demung, saron barung and saron peking. An idea of the forcefulness with which the saron-type instruments are struck can be gleaned from the second video clip, an excerpt from a gendhing titled Tlosor. The natural shape of the beater heads, made of water buffalo horns and weighted with lead, appears to mirror the trajectory of the players' forceful strokes. Given the output of energy by the musicians required to perform these instruments, two players are seated at each saron to spell one another. Although the resolution of these video clips is poor, they nonetheless offer us a rare glimpse into the contextual/ceremonial utilization of palace gamelans.