The Gamelan Factory

Our trip today would take us east from Ubud, all the way to the coast at Amed, which we'd heard had a beautiful black sand beach. Justine came with us - Steve was still feeling a bit under the weather and decided to stay home. But before we headed off for Amed, Dewa had a special treat for us! We'd talked to him of our fascination with gamelan, and he told us he would take us to a gamelan factory in Blahbatuh. Heaven!

This guy is carving the side parts of jegogs - the "bass" instruments in the gangsa metallophone section of the gamelan. It's all done by hand, with little or no machining.

Outside, the jegogs were being painted red. They later get a beautiful gold detail painted on them - again, all by hand.

We were fascinated by the large gongs. Back at home we'd been borrowing a large gong from the UCSC Sundanese gamelan, which had a crack in it and didn't sound too great. We really needed a new gong for our gamelan, and we were amazed at how inexpensive gongs were in Bali - around $350-$400 for a large gong like this. Actually within the range of affordability! Hmmm...

Here are a lot of gansga frames stacked up and waiting to be painted. You can also see a small gong (kempur) at right.

They had a fancy showroom for the finished instruments. This is me and Justine asking the guy about the complete set of gamelan gong they had for sale. I think it was around $14,000, but that was in 1997 and the exchange rates and entire economic situation has changed since then. Ah well, some day...

The thought of buying a gong wouldn't leave us throughout the trip, and in the end both Steve and we bought large gongs for our gamelan.

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Photos: Astrid, Martin and Julia Randall
All content copyright (c) 2002, Astrid, Martin and Julia Randall