Mak Yong Through the Ages: Kelantan’s Traditional Dance Theatre​

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Mak Yong Through the Ages: Kelantan’s Traditional Dance Theatre

Author : Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof

Publisher: UM Press

ISBN: 9789674880651

Year: 2018

Price: RM38

Mak Yong, the ancient Malay dance theatre form, is associated principally with the southern Thai Patani province and the Malaysian state of Kelantan on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. It is also active in Terengganu and in the Riau islands of Indonesia where it is staged in a significantly variant form. Mak Yong comprises the elements of story, formal and informal spoken text, stylized dance and acting, vocal and instrumental music, as well as ritual. It is performed both for entertainment as well as for healing specific types of emotional and psychological ailments.

Mak Yong is undoubtedly the most important of all traditional Malay theatre forms in terms of its content as well as performance style.Following an effort to revive this near- extinct art from 1969 onwards, it went through considerable changes as it shifted away from its rural base to urban centres, particularly Kuala Lumpur. The changes essentially attempted to “cleanse” Mak y\Yong of some of the objectionable folk elements with a view to transform it into a sophisticated one intended for modern audiences, including tourists. Mak Yong, was designated by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Mankind in 2005.

The listing was based on the Candidature File prepared by the present author, Ghulam–Sarwar Yousof, a leading specialist in traditional Southeast Asian theatre. He was the first person in the world to work on a doctorate on traditional Malay theatre with a dissertation on Mak Yong submitted to the University of Hawaii in 1976. The present volume comprise a selection of his essays on various aspects of Mak Yong presented at local and international seminars as well as published in several journals. The papers provide original and vital insghts into the history, aesthetics and functions of Mak Yong as well as controversies surrounding it. The papers also touch upon issues connected with the survival of Mak Yong and the need for efforts to preserve what the author regards as the most unique of traditional Malay performing arts.

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