Name recognition Rare gamelan at museum no longer anonymous Tri Sutrisno, a traditional dancer born and trained in Java, performs the mask dance. A rare Javanese gamelan at the National Music Museum on the campus of The University of South Dakota was given its official name, "Kyai Rengga Manis Everist," at a recent naming ceremony held at the museum in Vermillion.
A gamelan is an orchestra of more than 70 bronze gongs, mounted on ornately carved teakwood stands highlighted with gold leaf.
The word Kayi refers in Javanese culture to an object deserving great respect and honor and reflects the gamelan's placement in a great museum, where it will be enjoyed for many generations.
Rengga means to create or to exhibit, Manis means sweetness and beauty, and Everist honors Margaret Ann Everist, whose generosity and appreciation of beauty are an important legacy of this set of instruments.
Everist, who lives in Sioux City and is an honorary trustee at the National Music Museum, provided the funds with which to commission the ensemble, which was built by the fifth-generation gamelan master, Ud
Soepoyo, in Surakarta, Java, an island in the Indonesian archipelago, in the fall of 1999.
The gamelan arrived in Vermillion on July 15, 2000, after a long trip by ship and railroad from Surakarta, at which time an official welcoming ceremony and Slametan (a Javanese ritual meal) was held.
The recent naming ceremony was led by Richard A. Cutler of Sioux Falls, chairman of the museum's board of trustees.
Members of The Schubert Club Gamelan Ensemble from Minneapolis/St. Paul played the Kyai Rengga Manis Everist gamelan to reveal the official name, which had to be given by a master within the Javanese
This "naming" is not an intellectual process or even a decision; rather, it is a process of putting out a request for a name that reflects the spirit of the instruments and then receiving the name and revealing it.
In this instance, that responsibility was assigned by the museum months ago to Joko Sutrisno, a native of Java and a master gamelan player who has been teaching for several years for The Schubert Club in St. Paul.
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The Schubert Club Gamelan Ensemble played a traditional Javanese composition, Slamet, followed by a mask dance, Gunung Sari, performed by Tri Sutrisno, a traditional dancer born and trained in Java.
Following the traditional Ujub, a statement of intent and blessing read both in high Javanese and in Arabic, the ceremony concluded with the serving of the Slametan, a Javanese ritual meal designed to mark many special occasions, including rites of passage, such as birth, marriage, and death, as well as other traditions, such as harvest, recovery from illness, and embarking on a journey.
Food that differs from everyday fare and has symbolic meanings was served. A yellow rice mountain symbolized success, high aspirations, and hope. At the peak were garlic, red onion, and hot chili, all meant to ward off evil. Yellow rice stood for love and white for purity.
At the base of the rice mountain, a whole chicken represented unity, while whole eggs meant new life. Long green beans signified long life and mixed vegetables, diversity. The foods all rested on platters of folded banana leaves, representing strength.
A Slametan was first held at the museum, when the gamelan arrived at the museum in 2000. It was performed again as the ensemble was named.
This marking of events in the passage of the life of the gamelan may be likened to the naming ceremony for a child or any other ceremony that recognizes an important point in a person's life.
Logistical arrangements and underwriting for the event were provided by Claire Givens, a trustee at the National Music Museum and a member of The Schubert Club Gamelan in St. Paul.
A portion of the Margaret Ann Gamelan is currently on exhibit in the Beede Gallery on the museum's second floor. The museum is open daily, except New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 2 to 4:30 p.m.
Call 605-677-5306 or visit www.usd.edu/smm for additional information.