If you have been in Bali for a while, it is most likely that you are now familiar with the sounds of the Balinese gamelan orchestra. You may hear on the road when you stop and wait for the procession of Balinese people on religious ceremonies, or in the comfort of a hotel’s lobby. That being said, gamelan orchestra is one of the island’s uniqueness and more of it, it an integral part of Hindu Balinese religious ceremonies. And, it seems to have a signature style of loud, dynamic, and spirited. You enjoy it, don’t you?
It is Tihingan Village, a humble and quiet area, located approximately 3 kilometres from downtown of Semarapura, the capital city of Klungkung Regency. While Klungkung is well-known for its landmark Hall of Justice (Taman Kerta Gosa), Tihingan Village takes a humble pride as the home of gamelan makers, the source of many gamelan sets played in the island for ceremonies or cultural performance entertainments.
Visiting the village will take you to a short journey of the long process of gamelan making, which in general take half of the year for a complete set. Similar to other artists in Bali, the skills and making process is traditional, which are proudly passed from generation to generation since the era of the Gelgel Kingdom.
In the entrance area of houses, visitors will see the board sign of the maker, which also acts as a welcome sign. You can say ‘Hello’ and see their daily activities. Some are working on bamboos, other carving the woods. Others are doing the hot part on metals and silvers in which it will be heated up till a very high temperature before poured into the plates.
One of the interesting phases of gamelan making and the most difficult one is tuning the tone of each part of gamelan. Only a few people have this special expertise, they are called Pande Gong, the important man who does the quality control and ensure each part produces a correct tone. You may find the conversations with them are engaging, as they will test your musical skill by deciding whether one is already in tune or not yet. In a not busy day, they will be happily sharing stories and even teach some basic of playing Balinese gamelan.
While a visit to Taman Kerta Gosa will be a pleasure for your eyes, Tihingan Village will give visitor deeper knowledge about the island by getting closer to one of important parts of Balinese culture, its music tradition and the people behind it. On your trip, Taman Kerta Gosa and Tihingan Village are an ideal combination for a day cultural trip to Klungkung.