Arts and Culture
The Panji story originated in East Java during the 14th and 15th centuries, and further spread to many regions of Southeast Asia. The story has been acknowledged as part of our world heritage by UNESCO since 2017, when the collections of Panji manuscripts were included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. The Panji story was introduced to Thailand around the eighteenth century, at which time the two Thai Panji versions were first composed, titled Inao, or Inao Lek, and Dalang, or Inao Yai. The two Inao stories flourished and have been an important part of Thai arts and culture since then. To this day, the Inao theme remains alive as a part of Thai cultural heritage, and many new productions have appeared, such as novels, TV series, stage plays, pop songs, and comic books. This paper aims at studying the Inao culture in contemporary Thailand – in other words, present day, 21st century Thailand -- by examining how the Inao theme is presented and survives in the modern context as well as discussing why the theme is still popular and significant in contemporary Thai society.