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Introduction of Menora

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  • Pages: 9
  • Word count: 2202
  • Category: Dance

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1.1 Traditional Malay theatre in Malaysia
Malaysia has located the earlier culture in Southeast Asia which under Hinduism cultural process. The art of theatre in the east coast of Malay Peninsula was imported through the immigrant between Thailand and Malaya. Beside, large population of Chinese and Indian immigrated to this land for industry benefits when Malaysia was ruled by European countries. The impact of European colonised and adaption between different ethnic groups can be seen through the music, dance, food, and other art works. (Eddin, 2009, pg. 104) Malay theatre in Malaya such as Makyong, Wayang Kulit, and Menora dance was a dying intangible culture heritage which is untouchable. It might contain intense belief system, knowledge, skills, expressions and identity representation (UNESCO).

Through cultural derived and cultural interface, Animism, Shamanism, Hinduism Buddhism and Islam beliefs has merged into the traditional Malay theatre. They believe: 1. Invisible being such as gods, minor deities, demon and ogres, genii, spirits and so on can posses into their body. 2. The invisible being has an important role in the theatre performance. 3. Good and Bad spirits (invisible being) are ever-present in the environment which always have a connection with the human being, the spirit might be the disease causers for human being. 4. The soul of human might be attacked or stolen by spirits with consequent possession, weakness, disease or other negative results. 5. The transactions with the spirits only can be made by certain individual who has the mystical knowledge. 6. A faith in the function of theatrical performances as remedies (Sarwar Yousof, 1992, pg. 169) 1.2 Research places

This research is done in Machang in Kelantan.

1.3 Introduction of Menora
Menora also can be called Nora Chatri/Manohra/manora. Menora is a dance theater that had been performed actively on the both side of the Malaysian-Thai border. It is mainly found in the north Malay Peninsula (Kedah, Pulau Pinang, and Kelantan) and the south part of Thailand (Phattalung, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Songkhla, Trang and Patani) (Sooi Beng, 1997). Menora, the word, have many different definitions. One of the definition was derived from the name of Manohara (half woman, half bird) in the Sudhana-Manohara tale (a heroine Jatakas tale) (Ginsberg,1957). Menora is an adaption genre which absorbs the element of Makyong and Wayang kulit with the combination of Hindu-Buddhism belief, dance, music, storytelling and shamanism element. Menora can be performed for ritual purpose or purely for entertainment and both are distinct. In the ritual performance, Menora stand as a purpose for fulfilling a vow to whom that are celebrated for the attainment of maturity either as a Menora dancer or someone whom is not connected with the Menora. Menora ritual performances can also be arranged for giving thanks to the spirits especially during the Buddhist celebration of Wesak. Non-ritual performances are mainly performed for wedding, public fair (pesta), anniversary celebration of temple and national celebrations (Bee Saik, 2004, pg. 42).

1.4 The origin of Menora
The origin of Menora still remains in a mysterious. In Siamese community, Menora’s origin normally was said from the region of Nakhon Si Thammarat or Ligor. However, the people of Kelantan, Kedah, or south Thailand admitted that they do not know when and how the Menora appeared.

According to Ghurlam Sarwar Yousof “Pangung Semar” (1992), Menora was started from a Siamese’s myth. A King, Thau A Thit has a beautiful daughter named Mesi Mala. Mesi Mala became ill and refused to eat and drink when she was small. However, Mesi Mala was inspired by coconut-shell drum-beating and formed a group with other children to play the drum-beating coconut-shell. Thau A Thit was worried about Mesi Mala’s behavior and looked for shaman for cure. The shamanist advised the king to expelled Mesi Mala and her troupe from the kingdom. Mesi Mala was then expelled from the kingdom come to an island called Pulau Kacang. Mesi Mala and her troupe continued their career and improved the music and dance on the island.

After several years, the kingdom of Thau A Thit was infected by an unknown disease and many people die. Thau A Thit was then advised by the shaman to find “Menora” performance for cure. Mesi Mala’s Menora performing troupe was invited to the kingdom for performance. The disease was cured. The king gave his royal costume, Phra Kan, to Mesi Mala to show honorable appreciation. The Menora performance was then started from that time to appreciate Mesi Mala’s contribution.

1.5 Performance of the Menora
In a Menora performance, music and dance shared an important character in conversation and trance session. The dance movement and the story telling will be accompanied by canang, serunai, geduk, cing, gedumbak, and several pairs of bamboo clappers. The Menora troupes normally will make up by 11 or more people, out of 8 are musicians and the rests are are actor and actress. The three actors or actress will act as the hero, heroin, and comic character troughout the play. The performance normally takes place in a bamboo-made shed so called “panggung”. The musician and dancer will ‘play’ inside the “panggung” and the audience may either sit inside along the edge of “panggung” or stand outside along the “panggung” to watch the performance (Sooi Beng, 1997). 1.5.1 “Buka panggung” and “Tutup panggung” ritual

Across apart the Malay Peninsula, “Buka panggung” ritual is an essential opening ritual in the traditional Malay theatre. Wai Kru is the name of the opening ritual in menora. The function of the ritual is wishing to have a safe performance in the night and salutation to the teachers. The troupe prepares flowers, sweets, rice, pillows, betel leaves, cooked fowl and candles in the Wai Kru offering with the belief that good spirit will be presented throughout the performance with flower and food and bad spirit will be ward off with the turmeric rice and benzoin smoke. The performers will worship the crown (kecopong) and believe that they will incorporate invocations to Mesi Mala, Phran Bun and Phran Thep as well. (Phran Bun and Phran Thep are the comic character in Menora) Once it has an opening ritual, it must have a closing ritual as well. The performance will end up by singing Sip Song Bot (the summaries of twelve stories) which is led by guru as the completion of the performance. The final Wai Kru will be conducted for thanking the spirit that involved in the performance and thanking for a performance without calamity. 1.5.2 Trance session

There will be a trance session started after the Wai Kru. It is important for the performer to get into trance to have vast energy and confidence for the performance. The guru/group leader will lead the chanting with the accompaniment of the music. The music will go on loudly and aggressively as possession nears. The trance can be seen obviously when the volunteer start shaking his/her body rapidly. They believe that Mesi Mala, Phran Bun and Phran Thep will possess their bodies according to the sex medium. Mesi Mala posses into female; Phran Bun and Phran Thep (the comic character) poses into the male body. The actual story telling will be performed right after the trance session (Sarwar Yousof, 1992). 1.5.3 Dance in Menora

The Menora dance was built up by different gestures and movements for different function such as ritual function, structural function and animation function. The dance of entertainment is distinct with the dance of the ritual. The gestures and movements are variable and free-able for entertainment which according to the guru taste but the ritual dance movement is fixed for the function of opening (bert taa), closing and invocation to the teachers (taa wai khruu). The movements and gestures can be classified into four categories: 1. The imitation of animal

2. Lotus imagination movement (taa bua thuum)
3. The animation of flying or swinging
4. The movement and gesture designed by the performers to fit into particular action scene (M.I.N.D.A, 2010)
1.5.4 Repertoire in Menora

The repertoire of Menora was set sequence into:
1. Khab naa man
-Scene opening poetic songs. These songs will be sing by the performers behind the scene with the accompaniment of music. The songs always have a natural phenomena theme. The role playing of word will give imagination of the animal action. Example of the songs will be pleeng Yam kham yam sii, pleeng su ri Long Lap and Pleeng su thing dap ja. 2. Pleeng naa thread/naa trek

-Poetic songs with accompaniment of music without dance. The songs are repeated sang with conversation style by the performer and musician. The “fingers lap” was wear by performers while singing only in this session. There will be about 20 to 30 kinds of songs in Pleeg naa thread. Example of the songs will be pleeng khun khruu, pleeng naa rak, pleeng wii lom, pleeng mua khaa, pleeng yam dik, pleeng sib niw manta, pleeng wai chau baan, pleeng tua khaa, pleeng khrau phuuk, pleeng waa and pleeng phasaa chon. 3. Pleeng rai thread/rai krek

-sing after the Pleeng naa thread with the accompaniment dance and music. The role playing of word become intense compare to Pleeng naa thread. There will be about 50 kinds of songs in Pleeng rai thread. Example of the songs will be pleeng khruu sorn and pleeng khruu yay. 4. Pleeng tab

-the songs are hard to be present. The songs will have a longer phrase and full accompaniment of the instrument compare to rai krek and naa trek. The performers might have a skillful technique and deeper experience to sing the Pleeng tab. Example of the songs will be pleeng sorn ram, pleeng tan torn pathom, pleeng phrai nga, pleeng wii lom and pleeng nang hoong. 5. Pleeng tone

-The songs are played by the musician either in modern or old classic Thai song. The songs are played accompany by the dance. 6. Mud toh kong sod
-The songs were created in an improvisation way by the performers with the theme of recent issue. The performers must have a fast and clever thinking to improvise the songs with the theme of social, natural phenomena, religious, economy and political issue. -When come to the new generation the songs only memorized and practice by the performer before the shows due to lack of creativity.

1.5.5 The “lakon” in Menora
The used of stories, “lakon” were important throughout the performance. The gesture and dance movement was believed derived from the “lakon”. Each of them normally will come out a great value. There are twelve “lakon” in the menora. The “lakon” will be derived and increase time to time through the cultural phenomena influence. These twelve stories are: 1. Raja Phrak Sukthon

2. Sim Mam Meang
3. Anak Raja Cahaya Bulan
4. Khraie Thong
5. See Sak Hain
6. Puteri Dua Belas
7. Raja Sakti
8. Ejhok
9. Shang Thong
10. Phrak Sen Sina
11. Nang Ten On
12. Tuan Puding Mas
(Hanapi Dollah, 2010)

1.6 Objective
Music and dance is the product of a certain culture and it might contain of knowledge, teaching, and cultural setting. So, the objectives to approach in this thesis are: 1. To find out the musical context (music instrument and the way of playing) in the Menora. 2. To find out the dance context (movement of the dance) in the Menora. 3. Transcribe music of the Menora into modern notation for better understanding. 4. To determine the relationship between music and dance in Menora (dance and self-accompaniment method). 5. To find out the context of Menora in the Malay society. 1.7 Chapter outline

This research structured into 5 Chapters:

Chapter 1
In this chapter, the research paper declares the basic introduction of menora, the origin of menora and the function of menora. The objective and method also is discussed on this chapter.

Chapter 2
In this chapter, the research paper will focus on the literature review with the title justification. Chapter 3
In this chapter, the research paper will declares more details on
methodology. The way of the conducting research will be discuss in this chapter. Chapter 4
In this chapter, the research paper will represent the analyzed data and transcription of the menora music. Chapter 5
Conclusion will be made in this chapter. This chapter will prove that how the research approaches the objective. 1.8 Significance of Study
I pick “Menora dance” as my topic because I feel that “Menora dance” is an interesting and a highly intellectual performance art in Malaysia. It contain of ancestor’s teaching and ancestor’s stories to teach the next generation. It also is a challenge for me because “Menora dance” is a dying art that only existed in the northern part of Malaysia and southern part of Thailand. It has ritual of thanking to their teacher before performing, ritual of giving their passion into the art through vow, trance, 12 variety stories to tell and teach, finger stretching dance and provocative music. 1.9 Scope of study

This Thesis will research on one Menora troupe in Kelantan only. The menora in Kedah, Pinang, and Thailand might have a different performance compare to Menora in Kelantan. The function and “lakon” might different due to the local cultural taste. Although the “lakon” and function are different but the music and dance context in the menora still remain the same.

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