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Ginggala: The Tai-Yai's Divine Gift Through Music and Dance

Maria Christine Muyco, Khanitep Pitupumnak


In this article, the authors look at the present-day Tai Yai who live within the city of Chiang Mai but whose roots could be traced back to the Mae Hong Son Province. They practice a music and dance form called the ginggala inside the compound of the wat (temple), and in the streets during the end of the Buddhist lent. By looking at each element of the ginggala, from the people involved, the instruments used, the costumes, religious ceremonies and parades of present-day street performances, the article traces the ginggala back to a mythic creature, half-bird and half-human, who welcomed Buddha in the forest with a dance. The article discusses how Buddhist cultural practices with music-making and dancing are perceived as living gifts to Buddha. Through the ginggala, the displaced Tai Yai— priests, monks, nuns, musicians, dancers, teachers and laypersons—renew and ground their identities through fellowship with each other and with the audience who belong to the larger Chiang Mai society.


Bird dance; Ginggala; gong and drum music; merit; Tai Yai

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