During his reign, the foundations of estate agriculture producing coffee and sugar were established. The profits from the system were reinvested in the domains, instead of being sent abroad, as happened in many colonial situations; however, as typical for a less-developed economy, the inhabitants were dependent on the world price of these cash crops. He abolished the appanage system of compensating his retainers and officials and instead paid them salaries. Nevertheless, Mangkunegara IV had to deal with the Dutch East India Company as well as the other rulers in central Java of the period. In 1857 and 1877, he was unable to reclaim land leased to European planters.
Mangkunegara IV's court is especially known for its contributions to the traditional arts. He himself was a prominent poet who collaborated with Raden Ngabei Ranggawarsita (1802–1873), said to be the last of the great court poets. Mangkunegara IV's most famous poem is Wedhatama ("Exalted Wisdom"), which praises morality consistent with the mystical Islam of Java, in contrast to the more self-consciously Orthodox Islamic community.
- M.C. Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300, 2nd ed., Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994, 127
- Ricklefs, 126
- Alec Roth, New Compositions for Javanese Gamelan, Vol. 2, Lebanon, NH: American Gamelan Institute, distributed 1998, 426
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