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Mak Yong: World Heritage Theatre by Areca Books

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About the book

Mak Yong was designated a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005, and included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008. The ancient dance-theatre is believed to have originated in the province of Patani in southern Thailand and the state of Kelantan in Malaysia. 

The UNESCO listing of Mak Yong was based on the candidature file prepared by the author, Professor Dato’ Dr Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof. A leading specialist in traditional Southeast Asian theatre, he has written and edited more than 30 books, including the authoritative Dictionary of Traditional Southeast Asian Theatre. 

The publication of Mak Yong: World Heritage Theatre, illustrated with 1970s photographs from the author’s fieldwork, is intended to alert the public and authorities to the importance of Mak Yong and its current state of endangerment, and to spur efforts towards its safeguarding.

About the author

Professor Dato’ Dr Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof (b. 1939) graduated in English from the University of Malaya (1964) and completed a Doctorate in Asian Theatre at the University of Hawai’i (1976). He is one of the world’s leading specialists of traditional Southeast Asian theatre. In recognition of his work, he was awarded the Boh Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award (Kakiseni Malaysia) in 2008. 

Dr Ghulam was responsible for setting up Malaysia’s first Performing Arts programme at the Science University of Malaysia (University Sains Malaysia) in Penang in 1970, where he was lecturer and Associate Professor. He joined the Cultural Centre, University of Malaya (UM), as Professor in 2002. He was also Senior Academic Fellow in the English Department of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) from 2009 to 2014. Currently, he is Adjunct Professor at the Cultural Centre, UM.

He has written and edited more than 30 books, including the authoritative Dictionary of Traditional Southeast Asian Theatre (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1994). He was editor for the Performing Arts volume of the Encyclopedia of Malaysia (Singapore: Archipelago Press, Editions Didier Millet, 2004). 

As director of The Asian Cultural Heritage Centre Berhad, Dr Ghulam promotes research in traditional Asian cultures. He was also the Malaysian representative of the Asia–Europe Foundation and a member of the foundation’s Board of Governors. 

Apart from traditional Asian theatre, his major interests include Asian literatures, folklore studies, as well as South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures, mythology, comparative religion, and Sufism. In ethnographic studies, he has explored Malay–Indonesian mythology, epics and folk literature, Malay concepts of the soul (semangat), and angin, as well as their place in healing processes involving traditional theatre. As a creative writer, he has published poetry, drama as well as short stories, and literary translations from Sanskrit and Urdu.


Mak Yong: World Heritage Theatre

by Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof

Areca Books, 2019

Hardcover, 9 in x 10 in, 160 pages


ISBN 9789675719356

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