Kagungan Dalem Gamelan
K. K. SURAK
Acquired during the Reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwana I
Type: common practice
The gamelan pusaka K.K. Surak (Battle Cry) was built in the mid-18th Century for the First Sultan either prior to his ascension or very soon thereafter. Legend has it that the Sultan took this gamelan along to his battlefield encampments--which might explain the name of this set—and it is possible that it might have accompanied the Sultan’s entourage to the signing of the Treaty of Giyanti at which the Yogyakarta dynasty was officially acknowledged. It is a much admired set by members of the palace community not only because of its age and its ties to the First Sultan, but also because of its majestic sound. Unlike the archaic gamelans, there are no pieces (gendhing) that are specific to this set even though it is frequently used to provide music for a variety of private palace ceremonies. In the past K.K. Surak was orchestrated into several public palace events such as two of the yearly garebeg processions and for spectacles staged in the great North Square of the palace (Alun-alun Lor) that pitted a water buffalo against a tiger in mortal combat (the buffalo typically emerged victorious). Today it is used almost exclusively for private, royal family ceremonies involving the Sultan.
Prior to the 1920s this set included a number of instruments that had become obsolete. During the reign of the Eighth Sultan these instruments were replaced with modern counterparts and some newly established instruments were added as well to make this set’s instrumentation fully modern. New cases for this set were made at that time as well.
This regal gamelan is painted ivory with gold highlight that is in places set off by a dark red background. The main carving motif is the sawat, a stylized rendering of the wings and tail feathers of the mythological Garuda bird. On the gendèr front boards the tail feathers are replaced by the letters H and B (for Hamengku Buwana) and the numeral 8, all in Javanese script, which remind us that the modernizing of this set took place during the reign of the Eighth Sultan. There are also to be found vegetation and geometric motifs on some of the surfaces of instruments in this set.