Sustaining Mak Yong – Main Puteri in Raman: A Discussion of its Existence in Cultural Evolutionary Thread
Keywords:cultural evolution, dance theatre, mak yong, pattani, performing arts, traditional
Mak Yong, a traditional Malay dance-theatre recognised by UNESCO as one of the intangible cultural heritage of Malaysia has indeed seen its progress since its revival in the 1970s by some of its prominent artists such as Khatijah Awang of the Sri Temenggung troupe fame. Sadly, although Mak Yong belongs to the region of Kelantan-Pattani of the Malay Peninsula, the art form has seen its greater decline in its southern Thailand counterpart. This could be as a result of the political climate aside from the inclination of the local towards Sunni Islamic values that forbid some of its ritualistic elements. This is apparent especially in the neighbouring state of Kelantan where Mak Yong has already been banned to be performed in public since the early 1990s unless it adheres to the Syariah law. However, in the context of the forms' existence in Pattani, despite its resilience towards the test of time, it has not gained as much attention compared to the Kelantan counterpart. Most extensive case studies in the past were based on the Kelantanese group (Sheppard, 1974; Yousof, 1976 & 1992; Nasuruddin, 1995). To extend our understanding of the study of Mak Yong of the Malay world, this paper aims to discuss the forms existence in Southern Thailand, particularly in the district of Raman, Yala Province. Special focus on its discussion will centre around the question of sustaining the tradition in the region through the relationship with Main Puteri, another ritualistic dance-theatre closely related to Mak Yong. Through the epistemological approach of Cultural Evolution, this paper intends to preliminarily explore the importance of this relationship in the bigger picture of Mak Yong as part of the cultural evolution in the Malay world. By identifying its natural phenomena, it is hoped that more exploration can be done in the future on the realm of Southeast Asian traditional performing arts.
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