Thursday, April 10, 2008

Saving Face

Small versions of Thai masks, like the one you see in the photo, are collected by those who appreciate traditional Thai culture, and they make an unusual souvenir for travelers, too. The masks are based on characters from classic Thai stories, and range from angels to demons. Popular characters include the part-elephant Hindu god, Ganesha, and the monkey god from the Ramakian stories, Hanuman.

Larger versions of these masks are worn in Khon, a classical form of Thai dance drama. Khon is performed by troupes of non-speaking dancers wearing colorful and sparkly traditional costumes that include a gold headdress or mask that covers the entire head. The dancing is accompanied by music played on traditional instruments with a chorus that tells the story. To read more about Khon, go to