Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

Home | Performing Arts
Performing Arts
 
Indonesia

Sasando


Indonesia_A09_Sasando

(from left)
- Sasando player from Rote.
- Sasando and the small drum.
From Sri Hastanto's Collection


Sasando music is used within the Timorese community for all kinds of social events, such as celebrating the birth of a baby, a wedding or death. On these occasions, the sasando is played to add the atmosphere, the music performed being chosen in accordance with the nature of the celebration.


Reasons for selection

Sasando is a traditional musical instrument from West Timor and the surrounding areas (Eastern Indonesia). It is a unique kind of plucked instrument, its uniqueness being in the fact that its strings, its sound source, are fastened around its main resonator. In addition the sasando also has a second resonator, made from leaves of palmyra palm, which also functions as decoration.


Area where performed

West Timor Island, part of East Nusa Tenggara province


Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance


Detailed explanation

On the island of Timor and its surrounding areas, a large number of palmyra palm trees are found growing naturally in the wild, although other trees do not grow very easily in this area. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Timorese people depend largely upon the palmyra palm for their livelihood, as well as on the sea. Almost every part of the palmyra palm tree is used in some way to support their daily lives. Its young fruit is eaten; its sap is used to make palm/brown sugar, fresh drinks and alcoholic drinks; its roots are used for medicine; its trunk and branches are used as building materials; and its leaves are used to make many kinds of handicrafts: water buckets, water scoops, hats, sandals, roof of houses, and the most unusual, for making resonator of the traditional musical instrument, the sasando.

There are two types of sasando ensemble. The first is used by the people of Rote Island, the second by the Sabu Island community. Rote Island is situated near to Southeast Timor. In the Rote community, playing of the sasando is accompanied by singing and a small drum. In the Sabu community, however, two sasando are played together with a vocal part but without a drum.

The sasando consists of a body made from a hollow piece of bamboo, with a wooden head and foot. The old version of the sasando has 10 strings, stretched from the head to foot, and fastened at both ends with nails. The nails at the head can also be turned to adjust the tuning by altering the tension of the strings. This sound source sits inside a semi-spherical resonator made from leaves of the palmyra palm tree. A small sasando can be 30 cm wide, while a large one can be 50 cm long and 30 cm wide.

There are two tuning systems used in sasando music, both of which are pentatonic. The first, used by the people of Rote Island consists of notes which are similar to: c---e---f---g---b---c of western scale. The second (the sasando of Sabu Island)consists of notes which are similar to: c---d---e---g---a---c of western scale.

Sasando music is used within the Timorese community for all kinds of social events, such as to celebrate the birth of baby, a wedding or death. On these occasions, the sasando is played to add the atmosphere, the music performed being chosen in accordance with the nature of the celebration. For celebrations to mark the birth of a baby or marriage, happy, lively music is performed, while for celebrations held in connection with a funeral, sad music and music of comforting nature is played to console the family who have suffered the loss of a loved one.


Publication and textual documentation

already available


Audio documentation

very limited (for example purposes only)


Visual documentation

very limited (for example purposes only)


Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Directorate for the Arts, Directorate General for Culture, Department of National Education


Data provider

Dr. Sri Hastanto
Director for the Arts
Directorate for the Arts, Directorate General for Culture, Department of National Education
Address: Gedung E Lantai-9 Komplek Depdikbud, Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, Senayan, Jakarta, Indonesia