The Ritual of Mahesa Lawung/Buffalo Lancing
In Puro Mangkunagaran

In the morning of January 22, 1988, Friday, Puro Mangkunagaran made a Mahesa Lawung ritual before the coronation of Prince, G.P.H. Soedjiwo Koesoemo as K.G.P.A.A. Mangkoenagoro IX.

The ritual began at 08.00 a.m. at Krendawahana, about 10 Km North of Solo city. To organize this ritual, the court circle have been very busy several days before. Herebelow were the programme:

January 20, 1988, Wednesday at 08.00 a.m., the buffalo lawung (wild) for the purposed sacrifice was well prepared in the Puro's yard (Puro Palace). It had been bathed with clean water mixed with various flowers and dressed as stipulated by the tradition.

Two men led the buffalo walked to the place of lancing, from behind walked the butchers and 9 soldiers with spears. The gamelan carabalen carried on shoulders by 8 men, being played by 7 gamelan musicians. One man held an opened umbrella and he was also responsible for the gamelan. 9 men was praying during the buffalo slaughtering. Its meat and bones were put on 20 boxes of offering and brought them to the special court kitchen to arrange the offerings.

January 21, 1998, Thursday at 09.00 a.m. some court employees led by a higher ranking official were sent to Krendawahana. He was assigned to:

  1. meet the sub-district chief/Camat of Gendangrejo, asking his service to put some items from Mangkunagaran Palace (horseshoe, whip, and cloth) for one night in Krendawahana. After the ritual ceremony, those items should be brought back to Puro.
  2. plant 6 banyan trees.

January 22, 1988, Friday. At 5.30 early in the morning, 40 baskets of offerings were arranged in front of the Krobongan. The offerings were devided to 2 groups. One group with Javanese Buddhist prayers and the other with Islamic prayers. One group went to Krendawahana and the other stayed in Puro.

At 08.00 a.m. sharp, 9 men in complete Javanese dress of black color accompanied by some youngsters-escorts, with 8 men carrying a Joli (miniature of wooden house) where Prince G.P.H. Soedjiwo Koesoemo’s clothes should be put, with umbrella holder, were ready in East Paretan, in the Puro’s complex.

A pray was said, requesting safety for the Mangkunagaran family and the people and the country of Indonesia. Prince G.P.H. Soedjiwo Koesoemo, appeared in Pringgitan, gave his clothes to an assigned court employee. Saying a Buddhist pray, he put the clothes in the "Joli" protected by an opened umbrella. He asked permission to leave to Krendawahana.

The procession in Pendapa was joined by the bearers of the offering. 4 court-traditional warriors, holding spears and umbrellas escorted the solemn parade, led by the assigned court officials accompanied by other court employees and some guests walked to the buses, which should bring them to Krendawahana. A carabalen gamelan was played until the ritual group has left the Puro.

After its arrival in Krendawahana or Setra Gandamayu, the procession walked very slowly towards the place of offering. The offering, together with the Prince Soedjwo’s clothes for sanggaran (should be taken back after the ritual) were arranged under the big ‘Raos’ tree.

At the same moment, a white goat was slaughtered nearby Sela Gilang (stone for sitting) and the old well. Its blood was for offering, its meet was given to the people. A court official said the wishes of the ritual, continued by a prayer led by another official and then the Wilujengan (ritual meal).

After the ritual, the clothes were taken back. The group returned to Puro, reported to Prince G.P.H. Soedjiwo Koesoema in Pringgitan and gave back his clothes.

Mangkunagaran Tradition

For Puro Mangkunagaran, the ritual of Mahesa Lawung is a tradition since Sri Mangkoenagoro I. As a sign of gratification, returning from a successful 16 years of war where he was recognized as an Adipati with his own Principality, a ritual of Mahesa Lawung was organized in Setra Gandamayu/Krendawahana.


According to books of Pustaka Raja and Wita Radya, since ancient time that kind of ritual was called Rajawedha. Every new year, the Kings of Java made this ritual, wishing for the safety and welfare of the Kingdom and its people.

In the year 387, king Sitawaka of Gilingaya Kingdom performed the royal Slametan (ritual meal) at the beginning of each year. A priest, by the name of Raddi upon King’s instruction asked all population of every hamlet to make also offering at the beginning of the year and that was called Gramawedha (sacrifice for village well-being), a ritual meal for village purification.

The King Sri Prabu Ajipamasa of Pengging Kingdom renamed the Rajawedha to Mahesa Lawung. He could safe his country and his people from his enemies. He was helped by Batari Kalayuwati of Krendawahana, the daughter of Bathari Durga-a very strong goddess. The King had sacrificed a buffalo Lawung. This tradition was also continued in Demak, Kartasura and Surakarta. Since Sri Pakoeboewono II, the time of Mahesa Lawung was changed to Javanese month of Rabingulakir. Bakda Mulud on the last ‘service’ (Pisowanan) day.

(Suryo S. Negoro)

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