Mak Yong – A Rich Regional Tradition under Threat

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Mak Yong performances of the old usually last for a week or more. The ancient, ritualistic folk theatre Mak Yong was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco in 2005 – a proud first for “any Malaysian item of cultural heritage”.1 But though it is an art form steep in tradition and heritage, Mak Yong surprisingly has no “real” history. Theories have been advanced to explain its origins, but none can be confirmed, says Prof. Datuk Dr Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof, who was tasked to prepare the Unesco Candidature File and author of the newly released Mak Yong: ...


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