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Monday, 27 October 2014

Manora dance at Wat Bo Phuttaram in Bophud

During the recent 'Tod Katin' ceremony at Wat Bo Phuttaram, one of the events taking place was a rather rare and exclusive Southern Thai dance which goes by the name of 'Manora' or มโนราห์.
In 15 years time living on Koh Samui, it was the first time I witnessed a Manora dance.

Manora dance invocation

The Manora dance invocation by the music ensemble

The dance starts with a rather lengthy invocation, accompanied by music. The musical ensemble consists of a pair of hand cymbals, a pair of small knobbed gongs, a pair of wooden sticks, a barrel-shaped gendang, a reed instrument and a vase-shaped single headed drum.

Manora dance

The whole performance, a dance drama, follows a strict pattern, the music, the invocation, the customs and the moves follow a strict pattern, is my understanding. Looking at pictures from other performances, the clothes are looking all the same indeed.

Manora dance

As already mentioned, the dance is exclusive to Southern Thailand and a few Northern Malaysian states and is also known as Nora (โนรา) or Lakon Chatri (ละครชาตรี).

Manora dance

The basic features of the performance include a lengthy invocation, a dance by the main character, and a play or skit. The invocation is enacted by slow rhythmic movements of legs, arms and fingers. The dramatic repertoire of Manora performance is based on Thai legends of Manohara, derived from Buddhist Jataka tales, many of which already accultured into Malay society centuries ago

Manora dance

The costumes are very colorful and beautiful and the performance I witnessed was done by a Bang Po family, apparently the only Samui based troupe that can perform this dance.

Manora dancer

This performance was a complete surprise by me, I had no idea it was scheduled and I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to be able to see another performance.

Manora dance

It's part of a long Southern Thai tradition and rare indeed, I hope to see it again a lot faster than having to wait another 15 years!

Manora dancer

If you have the opportunity to witness this approximate 2000 year old dance drama whilst in Southern Thailand, make sure to make time for such an event to witness it. Well worth in my opinion and a rare insight in old Southern Thai dance drama tradition. I'm glad I could witness this at last!

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