In Indonesia, the word “pusaka” means “heirloom”; a pusaka object serves its owner as a concrete symbol of authority, legitimacy, lineage, and succession. “Sunda” is the historical placename for the highlands of the western part of the island of Java in Indonesia, the homeland of the Sundanese people. The Sundanese are patriotic Indonesians, but also look back to the medieval kingdom of Sunda and the Pajajaran Empire to define their identity.
When Sundanese musician and composer Burhan Sukarma formed a gamelan degung group, he named it “Pusaka Sunda” (heirloom of Sunda). Burhan wanted to stress the connection of the group and the music it plays to his Sundanese homeland and to emphasize his belief that the group represents the inevitable flowering of Sundanese art which, despite the American heritage of many of its members, is nevertheless “khas Sunda” (truly Sundanese).
Pusaka Sunda is based in San Jose, California and draws gamelan musicians from throughout the San Fransisco Bay Area. The group was formed in 1988 and has toured extensively in California as well as in other states.
Pusaka Sunda performs on a ten-instrument West Javanese gamelan degung built by Tentrem Sarwanto in 1993. Learn more.