Traditional Anthropological Performance Healing in Malaysia

MOHAMED GHOUSE NASURUDDIN is an Emeritus Profesor of Performing Arts at Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Penerbit UPM (First Print, 2018)
151 pages including Index


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Traditional Anthropological Performance Healing in Malaysia is an effort to document and preserve the memories of traditional healing as cultural and spiritual expressions of the various tribal and ethnic communities. A unique aspect of such therapeutic medicine is that it not only cures or heals but also entertains as it incorporates performance elements of music, dance, chanting and drama in the healing process. In such healing both individual and communal healing, rituals are conducted in the presence of an audience.

Eight chapters in the book are dedicated to specific healing rituals, namely, Main Puteri Rituals, Wayang Kulit Healing, Kuda Kepang Hobby Horse Healing Ceremony, Bobohizan/Babalian: The Healing Priestesses of Sabah, Main Bageh Healing, Menora Vow Fulfilling Healing Ritual, Sewang Aboriginal Healing Ritual, Bebayuh, Bebayuh and Pesilok Ritualistic Performance Healing of the Melanau Community in Sarawak.

The primary data for Traditional Anthropological Performance Healing in Malaysia was collected through field research of actual 7 healing rituals in Kelantan, Kedah, Perak, Johor, Sabah, Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur, between 2011 to 2016. Before the advent of modern clinical medicine anthropological medicine was the main form of health care among traditional societies. It was mainly non-invasive, serving psychosomatic maladies through chanting, music and movements with some herbal applications for physiological ailments.

Traditional healing rituals are now fast disappearing in the face of modern medicine. Remnants of such healing techniques can however still be found in the rural societies of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak, patronized mainly by the older generations who still believe in the animistic spiritual world.

These traditional healing rituals will eventually fade into oblivion as they will become irrelevant in the modern digital robotic age where medical advancements can purportedly address every conceivable form of illness through invasive and non-invasive interventions.

Memories of such rituals will slowly fade and be forgotten, becoming part of the folklore and myths of the rural communities, as they are supplanted by modern expressions of reality.

In Malaysia, the existence and practice of anthropological medicine are prevalent in traditional rural communities that have a strong animistic background. Such societies believe that the Spirits of the nether world govern every facet of their lives and all life aberrations, among which are illnesses and healing. The individual and communal healing ceremonies associated with traditional theatres thus abound in the rural areas.

Weight0.729 kg
Dimensions28.7 × 21.9 × 1.2 cm




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