Khon theater mask portraying Hanuman, the monkey king.
The Khon is a classical, danced and masked Thai theater featuring episodes of Ramakien, the Thai version of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, the story of Rama. It began as a court show but moved out of the palace and became performed in public squares, temples, religious festivals or funerals. The Khon was uniquely represented by men who featured acrobatic choreography with violent movements. It later incorporated the gestural dances of women (lakhon nai) into female roles. The sung, descriptive, and dialogical parts, in rhythmic prose, are taken over by narrators and a choir. With the masks on, the dancers cannot speak. Behind the scenes there is an altar, in front of which the dancers pay tribute to Rusi (or Rici), the master who created the Khon, Yak Phirap, master of the demons, Ngo, who represents the non-Thai population and Ganesh, the elephant-headed Indian god, invoked at the beginning of the depictions for good luck.