KHON MASK : Thailand Heritage (Soft Cover)
One of Thailand’s great contributions to civilization is the Khōn mask, which is representative of Siamese “high culture.” Its use is perhaps best exemplified in the Thai epic, Rāmakíen, which was derived from the ancient Indic drama, Rāmāyana. The uninitiated observer would find the colorful masks, ornamentation, and intricate facial features, which denote varied characters such as demons, royals, or monkey soldiers, very difficult to decipher without the benefit of expert guidance. This fully-illustrated book does just that by portraying and describing the meaning and significance of the Khōn masks, bringing them to life in all of their glorious detail. While the Kingdom of Thailand is well known on the world stage, much less known is the Siamese high culture that has evolved over centuries. What we find is an intricate blending of narrative poetry, epic drama, complex music, and a highly stylized interlocking system of choreography, costumes and crafted masks unknown elsewhere. This is best seen in the Khōn mask drama in its presentation of the Thai epic, the Rāmakíen. Even though the Rāmakíen ultimately derives from the Rāmāyana of ancient Indic civilization, the Thai version closely reflects Siamese civilization. In the Khōn mask drama, we find a very large cast of characters. Without guidance, the viewer would be overwhelmed. Thus, the characters must be categorized and easily identified. This is done through a coded system of costuming and intricately crafted masks. The colours of faces, the shapes of eyes and mouths, the crowns worn, the ornaments displayed, and the weapons wielded all go to show whether the character is demonic, celestial, royal, or even a monkey soldier or forest hermit. Eventually the observer will learn to associate the names of the characters and the masks they wear. Hence, the ultimate purpose of this fully illustrated book is to provide explanations of the Khōn masks as a rich contribution to world civilization.