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Title: The Rama tree in the Wayang Siam
Author: Sweeney, Patrick
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1970
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The term Wayang Siam designates several Malay shadow-plays of North Malaya and south Thailand, all possessing common features, one of which is that the basic repertoire is the Rama cycle. The largest number of performers reside in Kelantan where the commercial organization of performances is a major factor in their success. The play is generally confined to padi-growing areas and most performers are of peasant stook, without much formal education. Performers are generally professionals: the great majority have a secondary occupation and their economic status is little higher than other villagers. The performer has a dual role: entertainer and spirit medium, which latter results in opposition from orthodox Puslims. The wnyan ritual is a synthesis of local mediumship and Javanese wayang ritual. The art is not hereditary. Wide differences are found between the repertoire of teachers and pupils and the latter seek knowledge from many sources. The repertoire is Presented ae drama but may also be narrated to pupils. Each presentation recreates the story, for the words are not fixed. The language of the wayang differs from daily speech for the performer distorts his language to heighten the effect. Comparison of the basic repertoire of twenty-four performers reveals the existence of a distinct Wayang Siam version, although wide variations are found. The content of this version places it half way between the Thai Ramakien and the Malay Hikayat Seri Rama, although certain motifs are more similar to Javanese, Khmer and Lao versions. Not only is the Wayang Siam similar to the Thai and Malay versions but in its present state is the result of the intermingling of the two versions. Many Panji stories have also been adapted to the Wayang Siam and are performed as Rama stories. Some invention also occurs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral