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Conserving the art of Lanna dance and theater performances

Beer, knuckles and pretzels at To Nobody’s Oktoberfest

Conserving the art of Lanna dance and theater performances

Preeyanoot Jittawong and Jaruwan Panyoyai (Student Trainee CMU)

The performing arts go back to the very dawn of mankind. Archaeological digs throughout the world have revealed bronze shells, ancient drums and other forms of music making, while cave paintings and murals from tombs of the ancient world depict scenes of dance and theatrical performance.

Sompan Chotana, the owner of the precious acting and dancing costumes.

The Lanna era was very distinctive for theater, and the forms that emerged at that time are now considered classical. Later, when there was a stronger relationship with the Royal Siamese court in Bangkok, the two styles began to merge.

Chao Dara Rasamee was of a Northern royal lineage and she had great influence on Lanna dance and theater. In the past Lanna had placed the emphasis on elegance and simplification, but she brought the Bangkok Royal Palace style to merge with the local style and set up a dance team under her training. During this period her team was considered to be the best. The dancers included both high society and the general public. They would be trained until they became totally proficient and then Chao Dara Rasamee would allow them to perform at different important ceremonies.

Sompan Chotana (3rd left), 84, expert Lanna acting and art teacher honored as a national Thai artist.

Sompan Chotana, 84, an authority on Lanna performing arts and who once trained under Chao Bua Thip na Chiang Mai, a daughter of Chao Kaew Nawarat, says that she was once a dancer of the Khoom Chao Kaew Nawarat team. She stayed with Chao Bua Thip when she was nine years old and was trained in the Khoom Chao Luang (Royalty Building) until she became a main character. She even performed all kinds of dance created in Chao Dara Rasamee’s period, such as Krai Thong, Chaiyachet and Sao Kreua Fah.

Thao Usarain’s costume, a character in the Phra Apai Manee story.

Later, she passed her dancing and acting experience on to others by teaching and training at Chiang Mai Dramatic Arts College and Arts Education Office, at the Department of Fine Arts, beginning in 1971. Besides this, she was recognized as a national performance artist in 1999.

Sompan loves these precious arts very much, and therefore she presented the pastraporn (dancing and acting costumes) to the National Museum of Thailand on the occasion of Thai Museum Day this year. Chiang Mai Museum has collected the costumes that consist of Fon costumes such as Fon Man Mui Chiang Dao and Fon Man Mui for a man and woman, and costumes she made for the coming generations to conserve and study.

Dolls present the Ramakian.

Fon Man Mui Chiang Ta dancing dolls.

Fon costumes.

Rachathirat costumes that were imported from China.

Ceremonial kettledrums, played during different ceremonies.

Costumes for main woman (center front) and man (2nd back), characters of Fon dancing.

Fon Kaling Kala dolls.

Beer, knuckles and pretzels at To Nobody’s Oktoberfest

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Photos: Marion Vogt

The annual Oktoberfest in Munich is an international event, and so at ‘To Nobody’ last weekend a cross section of different nationalities met under a suitable white-blue canopy.

The ‘Japanese delegation’ tried it all: food, beer and of course the snuff. Hagen Dirksen was on hand to explain it to Yuksake Izumi and Yutaka Aoyama.

Emceed by Chiangmai Mail MD Michael Vogt, complete with ‘tailor made’ lederhosen, the official opening ceremony was carried out by Hon. German Consul Hagen Dirksen who broached the ceremonial keg and together with chef Joerg Eisenschmidt in his traditional ‘Schuetzenanzug’ they shouted the immortal words “Ozapft is” (the keg is tapped)! Following this, the partygoers indulged in some serious beer drinking, only disrupted by some games which involved more serious (or not so serious) beer drinking, while the crowd cheered and beered.

No Oktoberfest would be complete without a ‘Beer Drinking Contest’, and challenging each other were two Dutchmen and one Bavarian. From left: from Holland Marius Arts and Nico Thiel, and obviously from Munich, Gregor Smolka. It has to be noted that nobody could finish his ‘Moass’ (a glass containing 1 liter of Bavarian beer).

The ‘Schnupfmachine’, another unique Bavarian gimmick, an infernal contraption that shoots snuff up both nostrils simultaneously, was a major attraction especially among the Japanese community, and after a successful tour of the ‘Nobody Beer Hall’, people were seen sniffing, or perhaps ‘snuffing’, for the rest of the evening.

‘Operation Dessert Storm’, just one of the many games which made the Nobody beer tent cheer! Finishing ‘their bottle of beer’ were from left Wipawadee (Ae), Sigrid, and Manuela, third grade teacher from CDSC, was declared the winner.

For the German community it was a most enjoyable reminder of some of Bavaria’s heritage, and for the non-German community it was a reminder that ‘there’s always a reason’ to enjoy yourself. The line up for next years’ Oktoberfest has already begun.

Looking for the strongest man in the house. Who can hold one liter of beer the longest? The contest was won by Marcel Strecker (right) from CDSC.

From Germany came the ‘Schnupfmachine’, an infernal contraption that shoots snuff up both nostrils simultaneously, shown here to the brew master of the German brewery Chiang Mai.

Hon. German Consul Hagen Dirksen broached the ceremonial keg and together with Joerg Eisenschmidt in his traditional ‘Schuetzenanzug’, they shouted out the immortal words “Ozapft is” (the keg is tapped)!

Since eating and drinking is as important as beer at the Oktoberfest, Chef Joerg had prepared two oxen on a spit, countless pork knuckles and sausages, plus huge amounts of sauerkraut.

The ‘Schnappsboard’ came in handy when a whole group of friends (here: Wolfram from the agricultural Department of Chiangmai University) ordered ‘a round’.

Bart receives technical details how to use the ‘Schnupfmachine’, while Milt and everybody just looked on in disbelief.

‘Ein Prosit der Gemuetlichkeit’, one of the songs of authentic Bavarians was sung (or rather, shouted) by everybody.

The capacity of ‘To Nobody’ was doubled and looked more like a beer tent than a normal German restaurant.