Performing Arts, Traditional

   Pwe is the Burmese (Myanmar) language term used to denote various types of performing arts, including dance, plays, the Burmese equivalent of vaudeville (anyeint pwe), and marionettes. Especially in rural areas, such performances take place in conjunction with pagoda festivals, shinbyu ceremonies, and other special events. Burmese dance genres are derived from Indian and Thai models but also have been inspired by nat worship. One of the most striking dance forms imitates the movements of marionettes. As in Japan and some other Asian countries, puppet plays (yokthe pwe) became popular because of customary disapproval of men and women performing together on the stage, considered an invitation to public immorality. Dance dramas are inspired by the Buddhist Jataka Tales (zat pwe) or the Indian Ramayana (Yamazat); Thai (Yodaya) models inspired much play writing during the late Konbaung Dynasty period. A more modern form of play, the pya zat, is a kind of musical comedy that is said to have been inspired by silent movies. Some genres, such as pya zat and puppet plays, have suffered a decline in popularity because of competition from motion pictures and the proliferation of "video huts," especially in urban areas.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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