The Art of Khon Lakhon Costumes

By Jongda, Surat; Virulrak, Surapone et al. | Asian Culture and History, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Art of Khon Lakhon Costumes


Jongda, Surat, Virulrak, Surapone, Roadkasamsri, Vuthipong, Asian Culture and History


Abstract

This qualitative research aims to explain the steps for putting on traditional Khon Lakhon performance costumes and to make suggestions that will minimise the negative effect of these steps on costume fabric. Data was collected by document study, photographic analysis, interview and focus group discussion with national artists, designers and experts in traditional Thai theatrical costumes. The results show that there are four multi-step procedures for donning Khon Lakhon costume depending on the role of the performer, hero, heroine, ogre and monkey. The traditional methods used to apply the costumes have an effect on the durability of the fabric, particularly temporary stitching, which causes the fabric to deteriorate through excessive wear. If the embroidery methods are slightly altered and traditional storage practices are followed, the costumes will last longer.

Keywords: traditional embroidery, storage, traditional dress, theatrical costumes, performance art

1. Introduction

Khon Lakhon costumes are used in the traditional performances of Thailand and have been developed from the morals, beliefs and values of Thai people as part of the Thai identity (The National Identity Office, 2000). The costumes are created to be suitable for the performance and according to the imagination of the designer (Jantawit, 1978). The costumes are designed to be beautiful in the eyes of the Thai people. The Khon Lakhon costumes are one form of traditional creative art (Yupo, 1951). There are three types of Khon costume, which are Siraporn (head accessories), Pattraporn (clothing) and Tanimpimpaporn (worn accessories).

After World War Two, the materials used to create Khon Lakhon costumes became increasingly difficult to find and more expensive because they were imported from abroad (Kurowat, 1997). The number of traditional skilled costume artists and budgets also decreased, so new, large patterns had to be created for ease and speed of creation (Bagnam, 2007). At this time, the costumes used during the reign of Rama VI (1910-1925) became the standard for costumes created at educational institutes. The resources came from Europe and India, including the characteristics of embroidery and the dress used in the real lives of the royalty (Chaengchaya, 1990). The largest modern producer of raw materials for the Khon Lakhon costumes is Surat in India. However, there is a similar relationship between the costumes from Europe, India and Thailand in terms of materials, styles and embroidery.

One thing that made the costumes suffer in the past was the popularity of hiring contractors for their creation. The contractors that offered work at the cheapest prices were hired but this meant that they were unskilled and had little knowledge in the creation of costumes. The costume designers would also only create in styles that they had previously seen and had little or no understanding in the styles of the ancient past. These factors caused the diminishing beauty of the Khon Lakhon costumes. Now, there remain only two or three traditional embroidery techniques used in the creation of costumes and it is extremely disappointing that in 2007 maintenance of the National Theatre led to the disposal of many deteriorated costumes, including some that dated back to the start of the Rattanakosin period in 1782. These precious costumes have been sold or thrown away, causing the traditional art culture of Thailand to be thrown away with them.

The creation of Khon Lakhon clothing is a work of art but so is putting the costumes on. Costume artists and performers must dedicate their intelligence, time, effort and money to the creation process. The traditional methods are still used for putting the Khon Lakhon costumes on but these have an effect on the durability of the fabrics used (Thepsiri, 1996). For this reason, the researchers saw the need to study traditional knowledge in wearing and storing Khon Lakhon costumes as a way to maintain fine art, handicraft and Khon Lakhon performance. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Art of Khon Lakhon Costumes
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.