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Queen Sirikit and Khon

      

            Thailand is famous worldwide for its natural beauty and eye-catching attractions. Many visitors have also fallen in love with its rich culture and exotic traditions, including Khon or the masked dance, which is regarded as the highest form of Thai performing art.

            Khon is a traditional dance drama that only plays the story of Ramakien, itself being one derivative of the world-renowned Hindu epic Ramayana originating from India. Historically, Khon performance takes place solely within the walls of the royal court. However, subsequently this classical performance could be enjoyed by the general public, and both men and women are accepted to perform in this traditionally all-male play. Unfortunately, like many art forms in the world, its popularity has sharply declined as the country modernises, and its citizens, as well as their respective tastes become globalised.  

            Fearful that this unique form of arts, its graceful movements and refined costumes would eventually disappear, HM Queen Sirikit stepped in to prevent such high art from dying out. Her Majesty’s vision is to promote next generation performers, popularise Khon among foreigners and the international community, as well as to introduce new features to its antiquated style, while preserving its essence and classical beauty. Under her royal patronage, Khon has been revived and has found its place in the hearts of many new fans and younger enthusiasts. Its growth in popularity has been steadily increasing, with Her Majesty personally in an instrumental role in providing guidance. Every year, the Queen selects an episode from a pool of Ramakien storylines—Prommas,Nangloi,Suek Maiyarap,Hanuman Jong Tanon, to name but a few—and decides which storyline deserves to be played in the annual grand performance at the Thailand Cultural Centre in Bangkok.    

   

            HM Queen Sirikit is also active in preserving the craftsmanship of clothiers and tailors who make traditional Khon costumes, and in supporting Thai dancing schools throughout the country, both by encouraging initiatives from the Government and donating her own fortune to the cause. The preservation of Khon is merely one achievement among the Queen’s vast array of works in preserving and promoting Thai arts, craftsmanship and traditions. In recognition of Her Majesty’s lifelong role in this noble pursuit, the people of Thailand have proclaimed HM Queen Sirikit as “The Patroness of Thai Crafts.”

 

By Thailand Today Editorial Team

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