Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Development of Costumes for Thai-Muslim Folk Performance Arts in Three Southern Border Provinces of Thailand

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Development of Costumes for Thai-Muslim Folk Performance Arts in Three Southern Border Provinces of Thailand

Article excerpt


The Thai-Muslim folk performance arts of Mak yong, Rong-Ngeng and Dikir Hulu are important and valuable parts of local and national heritage but are struggling to exist in modern society. These performance arts are vital for the continuation of traditions and customs, yet cannot satisfy the entertainment needs of audiences. This research studies the conditions of folk art performances by Thai-Muslims in three southern border provinces of Thailand in order to develop the costumes used in the shows and provide a solution to the battle against modern forms of entertainment. The results identify both changes and stagnation in costume type, character, size, shade, patterns, and materials as causing a decline of traditional performance popularity. A combination of tradition and development, modern costumes should be directly related to the needs of current society and implemented by artists, governments and private institutions to conserve these three performance arts in southern Thailand.

Keywords: development, folk performance art, costumes, Thai-Muslim, Mak yong, Rong-Ngeng, Dikir Hulu

1. Introduction

Performance art is important to human life and dance itself has been a part of national culture since ancestral communities first found their rhythm. There are differences in the styles of performance art from place to place and community to community, which have been adopted and refined according to national popularity. Dancing is the continuous movement of the body that has a precise rhythm in a limited area. It also means emotional expression that releases excessive energy or provides entertainment. Dancing is natural expression from humans to show contentment and emotion and performs roles of communication in each community. Thai national dances have been developed throughout the course of social history. Considered valuable and honest cultural manifestations of human emotion, Thai dances have been accepted in concept and conserved for future generations. Dancing is therefore regarded as a precise aspect of Thai cultural identity (Wirulrak, 2004, pp. 331-332).

Folk performances are shows that occur in provincial communities in Thailand, reflecting the local culture and boasting different elements of beauty and entertainment. The objectives of folk performance art reflect the social conditions in each local area, as does the style of the art, which differs by area. These dancing arts and music do not only have a role in reflecting social values but are also influenced by the four main factors of humanity: food, accommodation, clothing and medicine. People should have a sustained and stable mentality in order to build and express aesthetic emotions. Moreover, dancing could hold education benefits by developing the quality of students. Dancing arts require perfection in their components, such as fine choreography, good music, strong story, beautiful costumes, background, stage, lighting and sound effects. Combined, these elements create the performance atmosphere (Boonyasing & Satavetin, 1979, p. 248).

The role of costume is personal expression of the character and shows the status, culture, period and also position and title of the actors. It also compliments the delicate movement, which is the most important part of dancing. Nowadays, increased emphasis on costumes is not only found in Thai dancing, but also in Thai-Muslim dances of the three southern border provinces of Thailand. In these provinces, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, the dancing arts are different to those in other regions. This is primarily because people in these areas are descended from the Malayu race and adopt Islamic principles with a different culture to the majority of the Thai population.

Folk performance arts of Thai-Muslims in the three southern border provinces are performance arts that have existed since their creation by ancestral communities. Malayu identity indicates their existence within past society and transmission to the present time. …

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