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In the context of tourism, cultural performances are predominantly a form of entertainment to be traded on the marketplace. A question central to this argument is, what happens to cultural performances when they become tourist attractions? This question concerns the authenticity of cultural performance: Is authenticity really an intrinsic quality which constitutes a genuine local or traditional culture, and can tourists recognize this quality? This paper attempts to investigate how the invention of authenticity in the case of Khon and Sendratari Ramayana illustrates the notion of constructive authenticity. The case study is conducted in the context of cultural heritage tourism. This study suggests that the commodification of Khon and Sendratari Ramayana does not necessarily lead to a loss of “authenticity” and meaning as cultural heritage products. It finds that the cultural producers of Sala Chalermkrung Khon and Sendratari Ramayana Prambanan as the centers of the case study have effectively maintained the specific attributes of authenticity, representing the heritage of the nations. The significant attributes or qualities which are associated with the genuine tradition of local cultures are the sacred rituals and the artistic features of the art forms which include story, dance, music, and costumes. This study argues that authenticity can be manifested by adapting traditional culture in modern context. It demonstrates how authenticity is constructed, reconstructed and negotiated.
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