Ganug Nugroho AdiThe man is a famous empu or master craftsman of gamelan, specializing in gong making. But rather than becoming an overnight maestro, he achieved his expertise after almost 40 years of practice forging gamelan instruments.
Ki Saroyo, the empu, began his career as a worker apprenticed to several gamelan workshops known as besalen in Surakarta and Sukoharjo, Central Java. He spent decades working hard as a forger and tuner of gamelan.
“Poverty brought me to the world of gamelan. I used to be ashamed of being a dropout. But now I often joke that I was really lucky to be a poor man,” Saroyo said, laughing, at his own besalen in Wirun village in Bekonang, Sukoharjo.
Born in Sukoharjo on April 11, 1955, Saroyo only finished junior high. His father, Kromo Prawiro, died when he was in elementary school. His mother, Satinem, was a farm laborer and could no...