All glittering and gold, complete with contemporary anecdotes, modern, and many marvelous special effects, the royal-court-style Khon, or Khon Luang. Which is the high art form of the traditional Thai masked dance by the SUPPORT Foundation under the royal patronage of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother of Thailand – is scheduled to perform once again this year during November 6 – December 5, 2019 at the Thai Cultural Centre in Bangkok.
This episode, entitled ‘Sueb Marga: The Adventures of Hanuman,’ follows the adventures of Hanuman, commander of Phra Ram’s simian troop. The two-act, 10-scene performance includes many highlights such as the vivid battles between Hanuman and Angkat Talai. In the scene, Hanuman is flying into Longka City, with the Longka City’s equivalent of the military air patrol, Angkat Talai, trying to block his entrance, but eventually defeated to death.
For those wishing for modern and top-notch special effects, there will be an awe-inspiring, extravagant ocean backdrop when Hanuman is making a miraculous escape from Sea Ogress’ evil and black magic. She even tries to swallow Hanuman alive, but of course he manages to escape, just in the nick of the time, by cutting open her belly.
Believe it or not, there will also be some ‘love scenes,’ too, a palatial ones, no less, between Tosakanth and Sida. Tosakanth, obsessed over Sida, eventually abducts her and will be trying to woo her in his best dress-to-killed ensemble, amidst the pillow-crushing, romantic and colourful setting of Suan Kwan Garden. All of these are parts of the amped-up scripts and anecdotes in the modern Khon which aims to attract all generations of viewers.
Gentle of Thai traditional dances during Khon performance
The debut of the royal-court Khon by the SUPPORT Foundation beautifully brought back a recurring sensation of Thai arts and cultures. All high forms and elaborate, Khon – a stage performance – consists of a comprehensive array of songs and dances. Thai poetic-style script is cited along with Thai musical instruments, reflecting the ancient arts of Thai storytelling.
The costumes – as you can tell – are the combination of Thai designs, embroideries, and intricate arts of craftsmanship. Meanwhile, the dances of all characters, from smooth, gentle of Thai traditional dances to the acrobatic-style fighting modes, and beautiful ensembles that require neat preparation of choreography, are all the mirror of how Thai people created traditional arts back in the day, when Khon was first introduced since the Ayutthaya Period, and perpetuated, one and off, along the decades and eras that followed.
Khon performance is all about Ramayana, the ancient Sanskrit epic that consists of over 24,000 verses, and some said to be divided into about 500 sections. Ramayana plays a huge role in Thai arts and cultures. The exquisite details of the scenes, the characters, the imaginations, and captivities of everything are excerpted into many major temples throughout Thailand.
Khon performance has become a happy family affair
At the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, for example, parts of the Ramayana saga are painted into 178 galleries of murals. First installed back during the early period of the era, those intricate and wonderful murals have been maintained and restored periodically throughout the following decades until now.
Back when Thailand was being transformed into something of a ‘modern, service-based country, or about perhaps 20 or so years ago, Khon used to be considered something of a passé, but with modern special effects and clever storytelling, Khon has proved to be able to attract viewers of all ages.
Now, according to Thanpuying Charungchit Teekara, Secretary General of the SUPPORT Foundation, and Chairperson of the SUPPORT Foundation Khon Performance Organizing Committee, Khon has become a happy family affair. Something everyone, new-age or not, very much looks forward to each year.
“Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother is truly pleased”
With the remarkable success of the Khon performances,” said Thanpuying Charungchit. “Young people and children are our main supporters. We saw a huge number of them taking their elder family members to the show. This is a happy phenomenon for Thai arts and cultures, and as the producer, we are deeply gratified.
Her Majesty has wished that Khon should be organized annually, for the performance is the best collection of Thai arts of all forms. Khon can create, establish, and instil awareness of national pride across generations. And this is how we can together preserve our national traditions and cultures for the future generations to come.”
In November of 2018, Thai Khon masked dance was announced by the UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Something that creates national pride, while also cherishes one’s soul with art appreciation and joy.
Source: Thai PBS