This book contains a selection of non-academic materials on a wide range of topics related to Malaysian culture. Several of them deal with traditional Malay theatre genres, particularly mak yong, recognised by UNESCO as an item of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005, the shadow play and bangsawan. Others record the contributions of prominent personalities as practitioners, preservers, teachers and transmitters of oral traditions. The author touches upon issues related to the precarious situation in the arts in a rapidly changing Malay society which has in general neglected traditional performing arts forms under pressures exerted by modenisation and the simultaneous wave of Islamicisation. His own involvement in teaching, research, documentation as well as preservation of many of these arts provides unique personal insights into some of the problems and pertinent issues. Other essays of a more general nature, touch upon the continuing and at times controversial relationships between Malay cultural manifestations and those in neighbouring countries, contributions of the minority Indian-Muslim community in Malaysia, and upon the role of the administration in the preservation of heritage. The brief accounts contained in this volume are presented in a direct and readable manner for the non-expert enthusiast of culture and the arts from the perspective of someone deeply and passionately involved.
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April 30, 2013
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