Thai hand puppets

Thai hand puppets

"Thai hand puppets" (Thai: "hun lakhon lek or hun lek for shorter"; หุ่นละครเล็ก, หุ่นเล็ก) are a variety of hand puppets from Thailand.

Introducing Thai theatrical puppetry

Thai theatrical puppetry is unique among the various forms of puppetry in that each puppet represents a character taken from the traditional Thai theater. There are three types of traditional Thai theatrical performances, all of which are stylized, with dancing, singing and music comparable in complexity with the European opers-ballet of the 18th century French royal court at Versailles. The most sophisticated of these is khon, which perform only the Ramakian (the Thai version of the Indian epic, Ramayana); the less sophisticated is lakorn, performs all other classics of Thai drama; and the least sophisticated is likay, which performs common dramas. Thai theatrical puppetry is also unique in that each puppet requires the synchrnised efforts of three puppeteers in its manipulation, all of whom appear on stage with the puppet, and each of whom is a khon, lakorn or likay performer in his or her own right. The puppets, in short, perform khon, lakhon or likay on stage with the puppeteers, whence the name "theatrical puppetry"

The Traditional Thai Puppet Theater Company is the authoritative guardian of this dying art form: the director and senior members of the troupe are direct artistic successors of the founder of Thai theatrical puppetry. Performances are as unique as they are authentic.

Performances at The Traditional Thai Puppet Theater are a showcase for Thailand's cultural heritage and reflect the unstinting efforts of the troupe to preserve and perpetuate this exotic art form. [ [http://www.thaipuppet.com/en/ index ] ]

Sakorn Yangkhiawsod, (more widely known as Joe Louis), the founder of the Hun Lakhon Lek Joe Louis Troupe, was one of Thailand's top puppet masters and the country's last 'Grand Master' of small puppet performers.

The puppet master made his first puppet when he was 20, and over the years, crafted a fine collection of 50 traditional Thai puppets, both large and small. In 1996, in recognition of his efforts to revive traditional Thai puppetry and preserve this ancient art making it an important showcase of Thai cultural heritage, Sakorn Yangkhiawsod was consecrated "National Artist".

The Joe Louis troupe remains Thailand's only troupe that still performs the Hun Lakhon Lek Thai traditional small puppet play and remains the sole guardian of this dying art form.

The Heart of Hun Lakhon Lek

Joe Louis' creation of the ancient Siamese small puppet performance is unique. The soul and spirit of the performance comes directly from the puppeteer.

The Joe Louis puppet play requires the synchronised efforts of three puppeteers who jointly control and manipulate the one puppet creating highly animated, life-like movements. This enables the puppet to move or dance gracefully. Unlike any other Thai traditional puppet play, the Joe Louis puppets are able to mimic a range of human gestures and through these gestures, express emotion. For example, the puppets are able to move their wrists to 'wai' (a greeting gesture in Thai culture), or embrace (to show affection), point their fingers or clap, shake their heads or nod. The elegant movements of the puppet flow entirely from each motion made by the puppeteer.

Hun Lakhon Lek is a collaboration of many art forms:

*Hadtasin -- the crafting of puppets
*Phraneedsin -- the costume of the puppet
*Nadtasin -- the operation of the puppet movements
*Ketatsin -- the music
*Mantanasin -- the stage set and backdrop
*Hadtasin -- "To give life"

As the Hun Lakon Lek is based on Khon – the classical Thai masked dance, a highly sophisticated and stylised form of stage entertainment that features dancing, singing and music that is comparable in complexity with the European opera-ballet of the 18th century court at Versailles. Hence in order to stage the performance,puppeteers need to have an intimate knowledge and training in Khon.

The Hun Lakon Lek is based on Khon – the classical Thai masked dance, puppeteers need to have an intimate knowledge and training in khon.

The puppets and the ornate masks used in the performances are handmade and reflect the ultimate sophistication in Thai craftsmanship. Puppet-making is a painstaking art that requires close attention to many intricate details such as the features of the mask, the painting of the faces, the elaborate design and motifs of the costumes and working with precious gold leaves to achieve a perfect finish. [ [http://www.tatnews.org/tourism_news/2229.asp TOURISM NEWS - THE JOE LOUIS THEATRE - Featuring ‘Hun Lakhon Lek’ traditional Thai small puppets - At Suan-Lum Night Bazaar 1875 ] ]

See also

*Sakorn Yang-keawsot

References


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