A Short History of Perkutut


A Short History of Perkutut, the Singing Dove.  By Kian.

By the time of the Hindu Majapahit Kingdom (1292-1468) the Javanese aristocrats were already raising perkutut. When Prabu Brawijaya, the last king, travelled from East Java to Yogyakarta, his perkutut, Joko Manggu escaped from the cage. The bird reappeared in front of him at his destination near Yogyakarta. His descendants, who founded the Muslim kingdom of Mataram, kept raising perkutut in their courts into today. When perkutut sings, the Javanese use the word manggung, “to sing on stage.”  When other birds sing, they merely ngoceh, “chatter.”  Ancient Javanese wisdom prescribes five things a Javanese man should pursue for a complete life: garwo (wife), curigo (Javanese keris dagger, weapon),wismo (house, residence), turonggo (horse, transportation) and kukilo (bird, hobby). The last requirement can only be fulfilled by owning perkutut. Prince Prabukusumo, brother of Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, told us that Sultan Hamengku Buwono VII (1877-1921) started Sanden, a perkutut listening event, in the palace. His son, Sultan Hamengku Buwono VIII (1921-1939) grew it into Lurugan Beksi Perkutut, a perkutut competition, wh ere aristocrats and the upper class would be invited to bring their perkutut. This is the precursor of the modern perkutut competition. The biggest perkutut competition today is the Sultan Cup, held in August in the Yogyakarta palace square. It is in its 21st year. It might seem like yesterday but Indonesia only grabbed their independence from the Dutch in 1945 after 350 years of brutal colonialism.

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One response to “A Short History of Perkutut

  1. Hi Kian,

    Enjoyed your blog piece. Thank you for educating me. Indonesia has a fascinating culture, past and present.

    I have a special place in my heart for the Dutch and their tolerant society (at least what I experienced in the 80’s & 90’s – Jim can tell you this), but there was a dark side to their “Vortrekking” past that I am finally getting “the rest of the story” for. One person’s “pioneer” is another’s cultural imperialist and real estate thief.

    For example, I only learned recently (as a 40-something grown-up) that the Dutch in New York State held Native American slaves, as well as black slaves, and their religious tolerance may not have been practiced as strongly in New Amsterdam as I once thought.

    Looking forward to your next blog piece. Hello to Jim as well.


    – Lawrence

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