The emancipation of mystical Mak Yong: The unfold tale of the adventurous journey of Anak Raja Gondang
Mak Yong is considered the most authentic and representative of Malay performing arts because it is mostly untouched by external sources. The Mak Yong may have been in existence in the Malay Kingdom of Patani for many centuries. Patani, which was known as Langkasuka in ancient chronicles (it was referred to as ‘Liang Ya Hus in the History of the Liang Dynasty 505 – 556 AD and subsequently), was in existence at least 1,400 years ago. Although most traditional Malay dances were influenced by India, Java and other parts of Southeast Asia, Mak Yong’s singing and musical repertoire are unique. There is a considerable amount of Javanese and non-Javanese influence evident in the traditional theatre of Kelantan. The invocations addressed in Mak Yong performances refer constantly to “Semar” and “Turas,” both purely non-Hindu Javanese deities. It is clear that all elements which are animism, Hindu-Buddhism and Javanese influence – made their contributions to Malay Kelantan theatrical activity. With the coming of Islam, another dimension was added. In 2005, Malaysia’s Mak Yong theatre was awarded with “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity,” a prestige recognition by UNESCO body. Mak Yong is performed mainly as entertainment or for ritual purposes related to healing practices.
“Anak Raja Gondang” – a story which is very much related to Mak Yong atmosphere, is a story originally from the Jataka tales but now almost unknown in India. The tale unfolds when Raja Gondang voices his intention to explore other lands for experience and adventure. It is the most spiritual, emotional and physical journey he has ever been through.
Inspired by Mak Yong, this National Costume portrays the journey of “Anak Raja Gondang” through the twists and turns of his life. Accessories and headgear symbolize various ethnic in Malaysia. Malaysia is a multi-racial country consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indians and numerous indigenous people. With this, comes a myriad of religion, festivals, food and customs. The use of Wau (intricately designed Malaysian moon-kite normally with floral motifs) is one of Malaysia’s national symbols, some others being the ‘keris’ and ‘hibiscus.’ The main fabric is Songket. The term ‘Songket’ comes from the Malay word sungkit, which means “to hook.” The combination of gold thread, intricate and vibrant designs form exquisite motifs which defined the uniqueness and beauty of Songket. The lustrous and shimmery glow of the Songket never fail to cast its spell on both weaver and admirer.