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Monday, March 20, 2006

Nat Pwe

Looks like an interesting DVD. (I have the Radio Pyongyang CD on the same label Sublime Frequencies, and it's a doozy.)

"In Burma, many people believe in ghost spirits called NATs. They are said to possess the power to assist or devastate the lives of those who recognize them. A PWE is a ceremony held to appease a Nat.
"Pwes are arranged daily throughout Burma for many purposes including the achievement of success in business, a happy marriage, or improving one's health. A Nat is summoned through a Kadaw; the flamboyant and charismatic master of the Pwe dressed in elegant costume. The Kadaw is a spirit medium, dancer, storyteller, and magician who exposes the crowd to a living incarnation of the Nat brought forth through opening ritual and careful observance of tradition.
Many of the Kadaws are male crossdressers performing the role of female Nats. Audience participants are often ecstatic, spontaneously launching into trance as the Nat spirit possesses their bodies while the melodically ornamental and thundering sound of the Nat Pwe orchestra plays on as perhaps the last, great unknown musical juggernaut existing anywhere.
"Since the 11th century, there have been 37 officially recognized Nats and every August, in the village of Taungbyon, there is a festival dedicated to two of them. This festival is one of the greatest spectacles on earth. At the peak of the Taungbyon celebration, there exists a vibe of mysterious, electric charm. What results is the magnetic, unexplainable concoction of conservative tradition, free expression, music, dance, spirit possession, and anomolous synchronicities of Burma's CARNIVAL OF SPIRIT SOUL."

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