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Khon (Thai: โขน, pronounced [kʰǒːn]) is a dance drama genre from Thailand. It is traditionally performed solely in the royal court by men in masks accompanied by narrators and a traditional piphat ensemble. A variation of this genre with female performers is called khon phu ying (โขนผู้หญิง).

Khon characters

A khon story has many characters. The most famous characters in the story are the monkey warriors, Hanuman and Phra Ram.

Modern khon contains many elements from the lakhon nai and today, includes female performers playing female characters, formerly performed by men.[1]:67 While the ogre and monkey characters wear masks, most of the human characters do not.[1]:66

Khon practice

Khon is based on the tales of the epic Ramakien. Khon Ramakien originally could be performed by men only. Women performed only as angels and goddesses. Today women perform as monkeys and demons. In the past, khon was performed only by the royal family, with the sons of the king performing as monkeys and demons. Thai Khon stresses the realistic dance moves, especially monkey, which focuses on beauty and fine monkey-like dancing postures. Khon training is begun at a very young age, so that the performer can become flexible enough to do back flips, especially by the monkey character.


Khon is a Thai traditional dance which combines many arts. There was no exact evidence that dates its provenance, but it is mentioned in Thai literature's Lilit Phra Lo (c. 1529) which was written before the era of King Narai Maharaj.[2][3] The origin of khon can be hinted at by the origin of the word "khon". Its origin is not precisely known, but there are four possibilities. First, "khon" in Benguela Kalinin appears in the words "kora" or "khon" which is the name of a musical instrument made of Hindi leather. Its appearance and shape are similar to the drum. It was popular and used for local traditional performances. It was assumed that kora was one of the instruments used in khon performances. In the Tamil language "khon" derives from the word "koll" which is close to "goll" or "golumn" in Tamil. These Tamil words relate to dressing or decorating the body from head to toe as in the use of khon costumes. "Khon" in Iran was derived from the words "zurat khan" which means 'handed-doll' or 'puppet', used in local performances. Its songs were similar to current khon.

Khon performers

Khon roles are dictated by long-standing tradition. The principal characters are the hero, the heroine, the ogre, and the monkey. The monkey is the most important role in khon.[citation needed]


See also


  1. ^ a b Brandon, James R (1967). Theatre in Southeast Asia. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674875877. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  3. ^ Ritthiboon, Pravit. "History of Khone Drama". L3Nr. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
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