Manohra: The Mythical Bird Dance of Southern Thailand

While known for its brilliant tourist spots and exotic cuisine, Thailand’s vibrant history and culture make it a Southeast Asian gem. Phoenix Voyages offers you to delve into the world of the Manohra dance, providing a glimpse of the country’s diverse heritage through graceful choreographies and elegant costumes.

Manohra combines devotion, drama, music, colorful costumes, and make-up into a remarkable show. Like other Asian classical dances, it consists of various gestures that retell stories rooted in myths and folklores.

The mythical bird dance performance, based on the Thai tale of “Manohra,” is the most popular in southern Thailand.


The Legend of Manohra


It tells the story of Prince Suthon and his lover, Manohra, a half-woman, half-bird. According to legend, Manohra was captured and presented to the prince as a wife. With her beauty and intelligence, she quickly became highly favored in the kingdom.

Later, when the prince was away at war, Manohra was accused by a jealous court counselor of bringing bad luck to the kingdom. He also threatened her with death. She then puts on her wings and tails back and performs a farewell dance, fleeing back to her home.

Manohra left behind a ring and the directions to reach her home in the deep jungle so that Prince Sudhana can follow her. After a seven-year journey, the prince finally meets Manohra’s father, asking the prince to prove his sincerity with various tests. After the prince succeeded, her father consented to their marriage, and the couple returned to the prince’s kingdom.


Dance Composition

A Manohra dance troupe comprises of about 15 people, including a dance master, known as “Nairong,” a magician, and other performers. Several musicians also play various instruments, such as the reed flute, drums, and hand cymbals.

All artists wear different costumes and props, including golden crowns, bird’s wings, breastplates, swan tails, amulets, bracelets, and long fingernails crafted from beaten silver spoons. The main features of the performance include an invocation, a dance by the main character, and a play or skit. 

The dance is a complex and dramatic choreography that uses whole-body movement and facial gestures to retell the ancient tale. Although performed mainly in the southern provinces, travelers can also watch this dance at hotels and theatre halls.

The classical Manohra dance is a must-watch while exploring Thailand. Visitors will certainly fall under the spell of this urban tale performance.