Title: Pi Ta Khon: a liminal celebration in a bureaucratic framework

Authors: Erik Cohen

Addresses: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 91905, Israel

Abstract: The Pi Ta Khon are masked dancers in the Pha Wet (Vessantara) festival in Dan Sai town, Northeastern Thailand, who in recent decades became a major tourist attraction. This is a case study of the transformation of the appearance and conduct of the Pi Ta Khon, as they were adapted by the national and local tourist authorities for the growing domestic and foreign tourist audience. Taking a Turnerian perspective, the Pi Ta Khon are interpreted as liminal beings, whose liminality, however, is attenuated by the interference of those outside organisational forces. Two modifications of Turner's approach to liminality and pilgrimage are suggested on the basis of this case study.

Keywords: Vesantara Jataka; Phra Wet festival; masks; liminality; pilgrimage; tourism; commercialisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2019.107319

International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2019 Vol.7 No.3/4, pp.241 - 255

Received: 22 Aug 2019
Accepted: 01 Sep 2019

Published online: 13 May 2020 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article