The Construction of Sacredness of the Votive Phlaeng Khorat

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Pramote Pakdeenarong

Abstract

     This article analyzes the construction of social memory and local identity through
practices of votive Phlaeng Khorat. It is a folk performance that is adapted from Phlaeng Kom
and ‘traditional’ Phlaeng Khorat to become a performance for the reverence of the spirit of Thao
Suranari in Nakhon Ratchasima province. Historical studies, such as Saipin Kaew-ngarmprasert
(1995) and Chatri Prakitnonthakan (2007), explain that the performance is controlled by the state.
However, anthropological studies, for example, Charles F. Keyes (2002), point out that the
meaning system from locality-based construction depicts a resistance to the state. Here I argue
against those two studies by applying Clifford Geertz’s concept of interpretation of cultures. I also
present a review from documentary research that is related to the development of votive Phlaeng
Khorat. The finding is that votive Phlaeng Khorat has been developed in the context of social
development for it to make its own way into modern society. In the context, the local people
juxtapose the feelings of uncertainty and the multiple signs of modernity. The identity
presentation of votive Phlaeng Khorat is included with nationalism signs constructed by elite and
the localism signs formed with social memory of the local.

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