Folk Theaters - Ramayakian
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RAMAYAKIAN

Ramayakian

Thai Ramayakian came from the Indian story of Ramayana but it has been adapted to Thai culture.

It takes an important place in Thai culture. All Thai children study it in school. Thai arts are influenced by this story : painting, theatres representation and so on... Even for souvenirs for tourists : on tee-shirts, on paintings there are often pictures from Ramayakian.

It is the story of Rama who fights against the demon Rava. Sita, Rama's wife, was kidnapped by Rava. Rama with Hanuman's help and his army of monkeys was able to succeed and to defeat the demon. It is the victory of the good against the evil.

Monkey
The aid of Hanuman explain why monkeys are so worshipped in Thailand. Many monkeys can be seen in temples. They are not chased and sometimes fed by Thai people or monks. Each year in the town of Lopburi, there is a banquet with vegetables, fruits for monkeys.

โขน or "KHON" are representations of Thai classical dance.

In some theaters of Bangkok, there are representations of the Ramayakian by actors. It is worth seeing to see and also very difficult to understand because westerner don't know all the meaning and Thai cultural background linked to Ramayakian. All the movements of the body has its meaning and its importance. A finger, a blink of eye, a movement of foot and so on... Actors wear beautiful colourful costumes with impressive masks. All the play is accompanied with Thai classical music. These plays are very long.

Lakhon
These masks are worshipped in Thailand. Only characters representing the demons and monkey personages wear masks. Before playing, actors make a prayer for their respected masters ("WAI KHROO" - ประเพณีไหว้ครู) , who did transmit the knowledge since centuries. Each mask is unique in a play and allows identifying immediately the personage. The masters that transmit the way to dance are highly respected in Thai society.

In the Thai National Museum there are many old masks. All are more than one century old.

All over the inner walls of "WAT PHRA KAEW" (วัดพระแก้ว) in Bangkok, there are many beautiful paintings that relate the story of the Ramayakian. In most Thai temples the inner paintings are always about the life of Buddha, his previous lifes or the Ramayakian.
Painting in Wat phra kaew
Painting in Wat Phra Kaew

The Ramayakian has an influence from the royal persons up to ordinary persons. All the kings from the "CHAKRI" dynasty are called Rama. Actual king is Rama 9. The name of the famous Thai city Ayuthaya came from the name of the mythic city of the character Rama.



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