Khon - Jim Wageman

The classical Thai performance art known as khon seems to have originated as a dramatic entertainment for the royal court. It features stylized dance movements, music performed on traditional Thai instruments, and masked dancers who mime to a narrated script that is taken from the Ramakien, the Thai version of the classic Hindu epic Ramayana.  I had previously been frustrated in trying to find a way to photograph this visually rich art form, originally performed out-of-doors, as the few indoor venues where it is performed today generally do not allow photography; so we were fortunate to happen upon an outdoor performance at the 11th/12th-century Khmer sanctuary of Prasat Hin Phimai, near Nakhon Ratchasima in southwest Isaan, where I'd gone to photograph the temple itself. As with most such occasions today, this was an abridged version of a drama originally performed over a period of several hours.