"Khon" is taken from the Ramakian, the Thai version of the Ramayana Indian epic. The major portion of the Ramakian deals with the war between Rama, the rightful King of Ayutaya, and Tosakanth, the island of Lanka's evil King who had abducted Rama's beautiful wife, Sita, and taken her to Lanka. Rama is aided by his royal brother, Laksman, and several monkeys chieftains with their troops of monkeys. Tosakanth's allies are various demons, who are also his relatives. While Rama and Laksman were following Tosakanth's trail they were joined by two monkey kings, Sukrip, King of Khitkhin, and Thao MahaChompoo, King of Chompoo who became his staunch allies. When Rama reached the southern most tip of the subcontinent, he ordered the troops of his two monkey allies to build a causeway of stones across the intervening sea of Lanka. After the bridge was completed the monkey army also built a pavilion for the royal brothers and made camp near Lanka. During the siege many battles were fought between the armies of Rama and Tosakanth.
Khon Masks were worn by all performers except those playing the parts of goddesses, female humans, and some female demons. Today, those playing the parts of gods and male human shave discarded the masks but still wear crowns. Demons, monkeys, and animals all still wear masks. Mask-master is an art still being practiced today in much the same manner as it was years ago. It must be a very exact process since many masks appear identical except for a few small details.

 54026 (August 2000)