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Gong mallet, part of a gambang kromong orchestra

1870/1930

Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

Gambang kromong instruments
These musical instruments are called gambang kromong, which is also the name of the music genre. The wooden parts of the instruments are painted in red and gold, and are carved with dragon motifs. The oldest repertoire can be traced back to traditional songs from Fujian province of southern China and date presumably from the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries. A later repertoire that developed was much more energetic than the old songs. These melodies were suitable for dancing, and therefore popular at weddings. Female Sundanese singers and dancers, called wayang cokèk, were hired to entertain the wedding guests and dance along with them.
The gambang kromong ensemble is a mixture of Indonesian, Chinese, and nowadays often also European instruments, such as an electronic keyboard. The Indonesian instruments, which gives the ensemble its name, are the gambang, a xylophone with 18 wooden keys, and kromong, ten kettle gongs on a wooden stand. In this ensemble that the museum has in its collection the kromong is either missing or was never part of it. In total this ensemble consists of 14 instruments of which a few are illustrated here.

West Java; approx. 1875

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