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Thailand

Hun Lakhon Lek

Drama puppetry


Thailand_A02_HunLakhonLek

Puppeteers are dancing while operating a puppet figure.
(c) ONCC


The Hun Lakhon Lek puppet is about one meter tall, and is made to resemble the human performer. Each puppet is operated by 2-3 puppeteers who dance as the Khon (masked play)while manipulating the puppet figure.


Reasons for selection

The Hun Lakhon Lek is a the most sophisticated form of Thai puppetry. The outstanding quality of the Hun Lakhon Lek is in its ability to imitate the human theater.


Area where performed

Central part of Thailand


Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance, Puppet Theatre


Detailed explanation

The Hun Lakhon Lek is the most sophisticated form of Thai puppetry. Each figure stands about one meter tall and is made to resemble the human performer. The limbs are jointed and lifted with hidden mechanisms to imitate human motion. Lead characters have more moving parts than lesser characters such as moving wrists and pointing fingers. Clowns have speaking mouths and stretching necks.

The outstanding quality of the Hun Lakhon Lek is in its ability to imitate the human theater. Each puppet is operated by 2-3 puppeteers with a skillfully developed sense of synchronization and coordination. In order to achieve this, each team of puppeteers actually dance as they manipulate the puppet figure. The skill can only be acquired after many hours of practice and is a unique feature which cannot be found elsewhere.

This art form is said to have been created in 1901 by Khru (master)Krae. After his death, it was in serious danger of becoming extinct. One of his students, Khru Sakorn Youngkeowsod, took on the task of preserving the tradition and founded his group known as the Sakorn Natasilp Troupe. He has developed the members of this group into full-time professionals. They live as one family in a traditional family compound, training their offspring in the performing arts, and accepting invitations to perform on a regular basis.

Although the Sakorn Natasilp Troupe has a diverse repertoire, it is most well known for its performance of the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana. Their performance is in the Thai classical dance style known as the Khon (masked dance)and the Thai name for the epic is Ramakien.

The main characters are represented by four types of puppet figures: the male, the female, demon and monkey. Each character is identified by body color, dress and headgear, and must therefore be represented by individual puppets. There are also a number of accessory figures such as animals and clowns.

In performance, three puppeteers handle each leading character. They go through synchronized dancing motion as they work, and often demonstrate this art in front of the puppet stage. The audience not only sees the puppet's imitation of the human dance movement, they also see dancing humans. The group always includes some degree of audience participation in the show.


Publication and textual documentation

English text, ONCC

CHANDAVIJ, Natthapatra
Thai Puppets & Khon Masks


Audio documentation

no information at present


Visual documentation

Pictures and video tape, ONCC


Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Ministry of Culture
onccthailand@yahoo.com
http://www.m-culture.go.th

Fine Arts Department
http://www.finearts.go.th

Office of the National Culture Commission
onccthailand@yahoo.com
http://www.culture.go.th


Data provider

Ms. Sudhasinee Vajrabul
Director, External Cultural Relations Division
The Office of the National Culture Commission
Address: 4 Ratchadapisek Road, Huay Kwang, Bangkok 10320, Thailand

(Revised in July 2004)
Ms. Darunee Thamapodol
External Relations Division, Ministry of Culture
4th Floor, ONCC Bldg., Ratchadapisek Road, Huay Kwang, Bangkok 10310, Thailand