Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, The Queen Mother 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 relates the story of the Ramakien, itself being one derivative of the world-renowned Hindu epic Ramayana originating from India. Historically, Khon performance took 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 were accepted to perform in this traditionally all-male play. Unfortunately, like many other 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 art, its graceful movements, and refined costumes would eventually disappear, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, The Queen Mother stepped in to prevent such high art from dying out. Her Majesty, The Queen Mother’s vision was to promote future 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, The Queen Mother personally in an instrumental role in providing guidance. Every year, Her Majesty, The Queen Mother 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.
Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, The Queen Mother 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 funds to the cause. The preservation of Khon is merely one achievement among the Queen Mother’s vast array of works in preserving and promoting Thai arts, craftsmanship and traditions. In recognition of Her Majesty, The Queen Mother’s lifelong role in this noble pursuit, the people of Thailand have proclaimed Her Majesty Sirikit, The Queen Mother as “Patroness of the Thai Crafts.”