Walailak University's Center of Excellence on Women and Social Security (CEWSS) and the School of Languages and General Education (SOLGEN), in collaboration with the Faculty of Creative Technology and Heritage at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Malaysia, organized an international conference on Nora and Intangible Cultural Heritage in Southeast Asia on 28 March 2023 to celebrate the recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that Nora, a dance drama in southern Thailand, is an intangible cultural heritage.
The conference featured a keynote speech by Professor Dr. Cholthira Satyawadhna on Moving towards the "Intermediality" of Manohra Innovative Visual Art: Deconstruction of the Long-play Encoded Archetype in the Nora Complex, and a Conversational Talk: Cross-Field Studies of Nora, by special speakers: Mr. Anant Narkkong, a lecturer from the Faculty of Music, Silpakorn University, Thailand; Dr. Patricia Hardwick from the Department of Music and Performing Arts, Sultan Idris Education University, Malaysia; Dr. Kanit Sripaoraya from the Faculty of Creative Technology and Heritage, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Malaysia; and Mr. Kriangdej Khamnarong, Head of Nora Kriangdej Naon Rahong Group.
Lecturer Anant spoke about the use of Nora music in the performance of the legendary Khun Oupbhathamnarakorn or Nora Pum Dheva, a renowned Nora teacher from Phatthalung province. Dr. Patricia highlighted the shared roots of Nora, Mak Yong, and Wayang Kulit, which are performing arts in Southeast Asia. She mentioned that research on this topic is still lacking and insufficient, and her research relies on a variety of methods, including historical accounts, studies of the performing arts, and cross-cultural artistic transmissions that transcend national boundaries, language, ethnicity, and cultural barriers.
Dr. Kanit discussed the ceremonies and performances of Nora that are still practiced in the southern regions of Thailand and among the Siamese people in Malaysia, reflecting the vibrant art that indicates beliefs and strong family ties. Finally, Nora Kriangdej emphasized the importance of Nora and being a Nora performer who must uphold morality.
There were also presentations of academic work that covered research on Nora, teaching and learning through multimedia, cultural dimensions, gender dimensions, and the transmission of culture using modern technology, and a Nora performance by Nora Kriangdej Naon Rahong Group.
The international conference received partial financial support from Walailak University’s Center for International Affairs and had over 100 participants from Thailand and abroad attending both online and onsite at the University’s Academic Building 5. The event was broadcasted on the Facebook page of the Center of Excellence in Women and Social Security. Interested individuals can watch the recording at https://www.facebook.com/100032740065420/videos/737453004532985
Photos by Arif Chesoh
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