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.
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 *