Gending Sriwijaya: A Musical Tribute to a Glorious Empire
Gending Sriwijaya is a traditional performance that consists of a song, music and dance that originated from Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia. It was created to describe the splendor, cultural refinement, glory and grandeur of Srivijaya empire that once unified the western parts of Indonesian archipelago and Malay world generally[^2^].
The song is sung in Palembang Malay language, with lyrics that praise the beauty and prosperity of Srivijaya. The music is played by a gamelan ensemble, which is a set of tuned percussion instruments such as metallophones, gongs, drums and flutes. The dance is performed by female dancers wearing colorful costumes and accessories that resemble the royal attire of Srivijayan nobility.
Gending Sriwijaya is considered as one of the cultural icons of Palembang and South Sumatra. It is often performed in various occasions such as festivals, ceremonies, weddings and official events. It is also a popular tourist attraction that showcases the rich heritage and history of the region.The history of Gending Sriwijaya dates back to 1942, when the Japanese occupation government requested a song and dance to welcome guests who came to visit the Palembang Residency (now South Sumatra Province). The song was composed by A. Dahlan Muhabat, a violist in the Berlian Bintang aristocratic group in Palembang, from October to December 1943. The song was a combination of Sriwijaya Jaya's song, which was created by A. Dahlan M with the concept of Japanese songs, and Gending Sriwijaya's song, which was created by Nuntjik A.R., a journalist and writer[^1^].
The dance was choreographed by M. Suyud Margono, a dancer and teacher from Solo, Central Java, who was assigned by the Japanese government to teach dance in Palembang. He was assisted by his wife, Siti Hartinah, and several local dancers. The dance was completed in 1944 and performed for the first time at the Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Museum in Palembang[^3^].
The dance reflects the influence of Javanese and Malay cultures, as well as the historical legacy of Srivijaya empire that ruled over the region from the 7th to the 13th centuries. The dance depicts the elegance, grace and dignity of Srivijayan nobility, as well as their maritime prowess and cultural achievements[^2^].The music of Gending Sriwijaya is played by a gamelan ensemble, which is a set of tuned percussion instruments such as metallophones, gongs, drums and flutes. The gamelan used for Gending Sriwijaya is similar to the Javanese gamelan, but with some differences in tuning, style and repertoire. The music is based on a pentatonic scale and follows a cyclic structure called gendhing. The music is divided into several sections, each with a different tempo and mood. The music also accompanies the song, which is sung in Palembang Malay language[^4^].
The song of Gending Sriwijaya has lyrics that praise the beauty and prosperity of Srivijaya empire. The song was written by Nuntjik A.R., a journalist and writer who was inspired by the historical legacy of Srivijaya. The song consists of four stanzas, each with eight lines. The first stanza describes the longing for the glory of Srivijaya. The second stanza mentions the Asrama Agung, the monastery of the Buddhist masters Dharmapala and Dharmakirti who taught at Srivijaya. The third stanza refers to Borobudur, the Buddhist monument that was built during the Srivijayan era. The fourth stanza depicts the Taman Sari, the royal garden of Srivijaya with marble pools and pavilions[^1^]. ec8f644aee