Image of Asia: Before a Khon theater performance in Bangkok
In this photo by Sakchai Lalit, student actresses put on makeup to prepare for a performance of Thailand’s traditional “Khon” theater in Bangkok. Students at the Bunditpatanasilpa Institute are trained in traditional forms of drama, music and other arts in order to promote Thai culture. Khon classical masked dance performance is taught at several institutions of higher learning in Thailand, but there are fears that the traditional art is declining because younger Thais lack interest. It began as a form of royal entertainment but was made accessible to general audiences early in the last century. The stories are almost all drawn from the Ramayana epic — known as the Ramakien in Thailand — and comprise four character types: heroes, heroines, demons and monkeys.