The Mak Yong Dance Theatre as Spiritual Heritage: Some Insights

Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof


Mak yong is an ancient dance-theatre form incorporating the elements of ritual, stylized dance and acting, vocal and instrumental music, song, story, and formal as well as improvised spoken text. It is principally performed in the two provinces of Patani in southern Thailand and Kelantan in Malaysia on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, as well as, to some extent, in the Riau Islands of Indonesia. On the peninsula, mak yong was also active in the state of Kedah at one time. Mak yong troupes from the Malay Peninsula are known to have travelled to northern Sumatra in Indonesia, where they received some royal support in the province of Deli, while in the Riau Islands of Indonesia occasional performances are still staged.

This paper was presented as the keynote address at the Mak Yong Spiritual Dance Heritage: Seminar and Performances, organized by SEAMEO SPAFA in collaboration with the Thai Khadi Research Institute, Thammasat University, on 20-21 September 2011 at Thammasat University, Bangkok. It is part of an upcoming collected edition of papers presented at the seminar.


mak yong, mengadap rebab, ritual theatre, oral tradition, intangible heritage

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