Photo Gallery & Impressions 19b


PHOTO SAMPLER - WAT KHANON: Museum & Shadow Play - 5 July 2003

Early in our summer stay in the Ban Pong area of Thailand our pharmacist friend Jing took us on a very special outing to a temple south of Ban Pong to see this Buddhist wat and attend the Saturday Nang Yai performance.  Somehow, with all of the problems of settling in and getting photos uploaded to our web site, photos from this event never got processed.  This outing was mentioned in "Ted & Susan's 2nd Report" along with several photos (pdf file).  Here we present most of our photos of this special place and performance. Thanks, Jing, for some great memories!

Located in Amphoe Photharam district just south of the town of Ban Pong, Wat Khanon is an attractive tree shrouded Buddhist temple complex.

Its ornate buildings and old structures are quite attractive and provide a relaxing atmosphere. 

Here Jing shows Peg & Ted some of the larger pieces in this open-air part of the museum at the temple.

... and here Jing gives Keith a lesson on the days-of-the-week Buddha images. Keith, born on a Thursday, pays particular attention to the "Meditating Buddha" (3rd from left here).

But the most important part of the historical collections at this wat is the renowned collection of shadow puppets. Here Peg inspects some of the dyes used to color these. (Susan & Jing in background)

These beautiful works of ancient art were intricately carved from cow or water buffalo hide & depict characters & parts from the Ramakien legend, which depicts good conquering evil. (Keith likes that!)

With the support of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, 313 of these old pieces are now preserved in this museum. Silpakorn University played an important role in this project.

Many specimens from this old art form are now beautifully displayed in this well-done & state-of-the-art museum. Certain special puppets were made from leopard or bear skin.

Called "Nang Yai" (big hide), these shadow-play figures can be quite large, up to 6 feet tall. They were an important part of traditional Thai theater for centuries.

After viewing the authentic carved hides in the museum, we go to the large open-sided hall where traditional music is being played. (Sorry for the poor photo - our flash didn't quite reach.)

We would soon have the honor to see the weekly "shadow puppet play" that is now rarely seen in Thailand. But first we go back stage to see these young fellows getting dressed for the performance.

Local students are being trained here to perform this part of classical Thai cultural history. They obviously take their work seriously.

With the narration (in Thai) of their instructor, the shadow figures are brought in front of the back-lit screen - the Nang Yai performance begins.

With the musical background & narration, the carved figures come to life & move dramatically across the screen. 

Even though we could not understand the words spoken, we could get the idea of the plot as the young folks moved their "puppets" efficiently & artfully.

Some of the smaller puppeteers had quite a reach to keep up with the older fellows. The "puppets" used here are modern recreations of those now in the museum.

After the performance, Keith tries his hand & finds that these "puppets" are heavy.  Those young fellows had quite a workout!

Going back outside on the temple grounds, we spend some time trying to get close to the many monkeys that live here. They too put on a performance, albeit a shy one.

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