K.K. Mikatsih

Acquired: during the Reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwana VII
Type of Gamelan: common practice–modernized
Tuning: pélog

One of the three gendèr barung of the gamelan pair K.K. Medharsih and K.K. Mikatsih as they currently appear. New, matched casings were made for these gamelans in the early 1980s.

K.K. Mikatsih (“tempting love”), according to palace sources, entered palace circles during the reign of the Seventh Sultan (reign 1877-1921), though it is believed he procured this gamelan pélog while still the Crown Prince (therefore prior to 1877, during the reign of the Sixth Sultan).[1] It is not known if this gamelan was newly commissioned or already of some age at the time, but due to a feature of its instruments it would appear K.K. Mikatsih originated in the cultural sphere of the Surakarta Kingdom rather than in Yogyakarta (more on this in the next paragraph). One of the garwa padmi (primary wives) of the Sixth Sultan, G.K.R. Kencono, was a daughter of the Eighth King of Surakarta (Susuhunan Paku Buwana VIII),[2] so perhaps K.K. Mikatsih came to the Yogyakarta court with her and was assigned for use at Kadipatèn, the residence of the Crown Prince. Kadipatèn, at that time, was located outside of the palace proper (just to the west), and it is probably there that it remained, used for the ceremonial and entertainment needs of successive Crown Princes, until sometime in the 20th century. But since the Crown Prince with whom this gamelan was first associated would later become the Seventh Sultan, it is with this sultan that K.K. Mikatsih is most strongly associated. It is not clear to me when K.K. Mikatsih was physically relocated from Kadipatèn to the palace proper, but I first saw it and its associated gamelan sléndro K.K. Medharsih undergoing their modernization process in late 1982. In early 1983 they began being used on a regular basis inside the palace for uyon-uyon Hadiluhung preparation and broadcasts, for the accompaniment of dance and dance drama performances celebrating important dates in the palace calendar, and for performances directed toward the general pubic and to tourists visiting the palace.

When I first encountered this gamelan the finishing touches to its modernization were being made. I did not see it prior to this transformation, but according to a palace inventory dating from the 1940s[3] it had at that time a pre-modern common practice gamelan pélog instrumentation: two gendèr barung, one gambang gangsa, two gambang kayu, one each of all three sizes of bonang, a two saron demung and four saron ricik, one slentho, one kethuk, one kempyang, one kenong jaler, one kenong japan, one kempul, two gong ageng, one kendhang ageng, and one kendhang ketipung. The modernization of this set during the reign of the Ninth Sultan added the following: one saron peking, one clempung, one gendèr panembung, two gendèr penerus, five kenong jaler, five kempul, and three gong siyem.[4] At the time these instrumentation changes were being effected, the two sets also underwent significant re-tunings in order to make them more musically functional as a paired set. Perhaps because these two sets have been used as a unified sléndro-pélog pair since their updating, only two of their combined four gong ageng are needed when they are now used. At least one of the original two gong ageng of K.K. Mikatsih has been reallocated to the gamelan pélog K.K. Panji.

As mentioned above, there is a feature of this set that strongly suggests that it originated from the Surakarta region rather than Yogyakarta. The relative size of the individual gongs of the bonang barung and bonang penerus of K.K. Mikatsih is noticeably smaller than those of all other palace gamelans with the exception of K.K. Marikangen. This relative size difference of bonang kettles is a, albeit very general, distinction that is made between Solonese (from Surakarta) and Yogyanese gamelans. No other Kraton Yogyakarta common practice gamelan pélog shares this feature with K.K. Mikatsih, which suggests to me that this set may have entered the kraton as a royal gift from Surakarta.

Prior to their modernization, the primary color of the casings of K.K. Mikatsih was light red (abrit nem) and that of the gamelan sléndro with which it was being paired, K.K. Medharsih, was dark red (abrit sepuh).[5] They were given the same shade of dark red (abrit sepuh) in 1982. I do not know anything about the pre-modernization carving motifs on these gamelans, but both sets were given new casings with a unified vocabulary of ornamentation (vegetation with facing crows each holding a seed in their beak) that appears to have been derived from the gamelan pélog K.K. Kancilbelik minus its deer, water and the Eighth Sultan’s royal emblem components. The gendèr-type instruments of the Medharsih-Mikatsih pairing, as part of the modernization process, were given mataraman-style casings that were probably not present in their pre-modernization state, although, again, I did not see these gamelans in that state. The choice of mataraman-style gendèr casings seems to be a stylistic detail, probably modeled on the gendèr casings of the archaic gamelan K.K. Guntursari, present in all the gamelans, starting with the Medharsih-Mikatsih pairing, that have been modernized or purchased under the watchful eye of G.B.P.H. Yudhaningrat since the early 1980s.[6] The gong racks (gayor) of the newly updated Medharsih-Mikatsih pairing were capped with a mask figure (kedhok); once again, I do not know if this decorative motif was original to either of the sets prior to their modernization. By 1999 these gamelans had been repainted to roughly their current colors: dark green (ijo sepuh) on smooth surfaces with a light red field behind any surface carving, all of which is highlighted in gold (see image at the top of this page). By 2016 all the gong stands had new tops, now with an entirely vegetation (lunglungan) motif and no kedhok. Also, while the base and background colors remained the same, the highlight had been redone with a more vibrant shade of gold.

Over the thirty-five years that I have had contact with K.K. Mikatsih and its gamelan sléndro counterpart K.K. Medharsih, they have been subjected to several stages of physical, visual, and tuning transformations. These changes have further transformed these gamelans from relatively obscure objects within the cultural geography of the Kraton Yogyakarta into known and familiar entities utilized on significant palace occasions during which they symbolically resonate the ways in which members of the palace community understand themselves and the institution of which they are a part.

gong ageng (2)
gong siyem/suwukan (3)
kempul (6)
kenong jaler (6)
kenong japan (1)
kethuk (1)
kempyang (1)
bonang penembung (1)
bonang barung (1)
bonang penerus (1)
saron demung (2)
saron ricik/barung (4)
saron peking (1)
gendèr penembung/slenthem (1)
gendèr barung (2)
gendèr penerus (2)
gambang kayu (2)
clempung/celempung (1)
kendhang ageng/gendhing (1)
kendhang ketipung (1)
kendhang alit/batangan (1)
suling (1)
bendhé (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
bedhug (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
rebab (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
siter (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
kemanak (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
kecèr (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
keprak (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
tambur (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)

Audio and Video Clips:

Audio 1 [Ladrang Gati Raja, laras pélog pathet nem, performed on K.K. Mikatsih, April 15, 1983. Played in loud style (soran).]

Video 1 [Ladrang Ayun-ayun, laras pélog pathet nem, performed on K.K. Mikatsih while being used to accompany the golek Ayun-Ayun dance, March 15, 2007.]

K.K. Medharsih and K.K. Mikatsih being performed on by a non-palace group at Pagelaran during Pameran Karaton, December 4, 2016.