Southern Thailand’s traditional, and ultra-elaborate, folk dance “nora” was recognised by UNESCO as a piece of Thailand’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage.” The Nora performance, which can last up to three days and three nights, will join the elite ranks of Thailand’s other two recognised on the heritage list, the Thai massage and masked Khon dance
The announcement was made during the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage’s 16th session and is due to be officially announced by Thailand’s Cultural Promotion Department Today.
The dance is believed to date back as far as 1305 with roots in India. Accompanied by a fast paced rhythmic orchestra of drums, gongs, and cymbals, the Nora dancers, with their ultra long fingernails known as the lep- perhaps the most recognisable feature of the outfit, wear vibrant patterned shirts, a pik neng or pair of wings, along with various bangles and bracelets.
The Nora dance plays out the retelling of the Manohra, a bird princess, being rescued by a local prince, and is composed of 17 specific movements in 12 different positions.
The dance comes in two forms, one for ritual, and one for entertainment. The most formal form of the dance, the Nora Rong Khru Yai, can last for up to three days and three nights, the Nora Rong Khru Lek, is a much more manageable one day and one night long.