TITLE: Mangkornkanth Khon Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Bangkok
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Mangkornkanth Demon Khon
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Ramakien Dance Drama
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; gilding; rhinestones; paint; wooden fangs

The Ramakien is the Thai adaptation of the traditional Hindu epic from India, the Ramayana.  Most male characters in the drama wear masks fashioned from paper maché and elaborately gilded, decorated, and painted.

This mask represents the minor demon king Mangkornkanth, the second king of Romkan and a minion of the demon king Totsakan.

For more on Thai khon masks, see Natthapatra Chandavij & Promporn Pramualratana, Thai Puppets and Khon Masks (Bangkok: River Books, 1998).

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TITLE: Pee Ta Khon
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Dan Sai
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost) Mask
MAKER: Teerawat “Aob” Chueaboonmee, Dan Sai
CEREMONY: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: palm spathe
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; wood; sawdust paste; rattan; dyed polyester fabric; polyethylene rope; tin bells

The Pee Ta Khon, also spelled Phi Ta Khon, is an annual ceremony held solely in Dan Sai, Thailand, over a three-day period between March and July. The precise date of the festival is determined by the town’s spiritual mediums. It is part of a larger Buddhist celebration known as Bun Luang or Bun Phawet, intended to earn spiritual merit for its participants.

On wan ruam (assembly day), the ghosts congregate and invite protection from the spirit of the Mun River on which Dan Sai sits. The ghosts then hold a series of games and a procession, symbolizing the festivities that followed the return of the Buddha after a long absence during which he was presumed dead.

In addition to the elaborate masks, which mingle the ferocious with the comedic, the ghosts where patchwork costumes, belts with bells, and carry a palad khik (giant wooden phallus), which they wave at females in the audience in token of fertility.

This specific mask and costume were used for three years in Pee Ta Khon celebrations in Dan Sai, from 2010 to 2013.

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TITLE: Pee Ta Khon
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Dan Sai
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: palm spathe
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; wood; sawdust paste; rattan rice strainer; dyed cotton fabric

The Pee Ta Khon, also spelled Phi Ta Khon, is an annual ceremony held solely in Dan Sai, Thailand, over a three-day period between March and July. The precise date of the festival is determined by the town’s spiritual mediums. It is part of a larger Buddhist celebration known as Bun Luang or Bun Phawet, intended to earn spiritual merit for its participants.

On wan ruam (assembly day), the ghosts congregate and invite protection from the spirit of the Mun River on which Dan Sai sits. The ghosts then hold a series of games and a procession, symbolizing the festivities that followed the return of the Buddha after a long absence during which he was presumed dead.

In addition to the elaborate masks, which mingle the ferocious with the comedic, the ghosts where patchwork costumes, belts with bells, and carry a palad khik (giant wooden phallus), which they wave at females in the audience in token of fertility.

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TITLE: Pra Lersi Tai Fa
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Pra Lersi Tai Fa
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Wai Kru Ceremony; Korb Siam Kru Ceremony
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; gold leaf; paint; ribbons

Lersi, a hermit sage, is an adherent of a minority religion in Thailand derived from the Indian Brahmin and Buddhist traditions. The Lersi path is accessible to the laity who wish to dedicate themselves to benevolent spiritual goals. The Lersi believe themselves to acquire supernatural powers, such as healing, levitation, teleportation, pyrokinesis, transmutation of matter, and telepathy through such practices as self-isolation, meditation, and training.

The mask is used in the Korb Siam Kru ceremony as a blessing and purification, to drive away evil spirits.  It is also used in the Wai Kru ceremony to transmit Buddhist merit from the giver to the receiver.  In all cases, the mask is worn on top of the heard as a crest, rather than over the eyes like a helmet.

Lersi masks take many forms, including Brahmin gods and animal spirits.  This specific mask represents Pra Lersi Tai Fa, an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva, who has a third eye that burns all it gazes upon (although, in the strict Brahmin tradition, Shiva has no incarnations). The ribbons indicate it was used in a Wai Kru ceremony.

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TITLE: Totsakan Khon Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Bangkok
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Totsakan (Green) Khon
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Ramakien Dance Drama
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; gilding; mirrors; paint; mother-of-pearl teeth; wooden fangs

The Ramakien is the Thai adaptation of the traditional Hindu epic from India, the Ramayana.  Most male characters in the drama wear masks fashioned from paper maché and elaborately gilded, decorated, and painted.

This mask represents the demon king Totsakan, also written Tosakanth (or Ravana in Hindi), who is supposed to have 100 faces and 20 hands. His face is green during most of the play, but when he ascends to power his face turns gold.  Totsakan is the villain at the center of the Ramakien, as he abducts Sita, the beautiful wife of the hero, King Rama.  The remainder of the play focuses on Rama’s efforts, with his loyal demigod ally Hanuman, to rescue Sita and punish Totsakan.

For more on Thai khon masks, see Natthapatra Chandavij & Promporn Pramualratana, Thai Puppets and Khon Masks (Bangkok: River Books, 1998).

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TITLE: Pee Ta Khon
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Dan Sai
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)
AGE: 2012
MAIN MATERIAL: palm spathe
OTHER MATERIALS: oil paint; wood; sawdust paste; rattan rice strainer; dyed polyester fabric

The Pee Ta Khon, also spelled Phi Ta Khon, is an annual ceremony held solely in Dan Sai, Thailand, over a three-day period between March and July. The precise date of the festival is determined by the town’s spiritual mediums. It is part of a larger Buddhist celebration known as Bun Luang or Bun Phawet, intended to earn spiritual merit for its participants.

On wan ruam (assembly day), the ghosts congregate and invite protection from the spirit of the Mun River on which Dan Sai sits. The ghosts then hold a series of games and a procession, symbolizing the festivities that followed the return of the Buddha after a long absence during which he was presumed dead.

In addition to the elaborate masks, which mingle the ferocious with the comedic, the ghosts where patchwork costumes, belts with bells, and carry a palad khik (giant wooden phallus), which they wave at females in the audience in token of fertility.

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