TITLE: Pee Ta Khon
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
SUBREGION: Dan Sai
DESCRIPTION: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost) Mask
CEREMONY: Pee Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)
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.