As busy as the studio is at the moment, we had to go and check out one of the hundreds of events going on for London Craft Week this year.
We attended the event titled “The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles: Dressing Gods and Demons, Costume for Khon”. The image of the costumes instantly drew our studio manager to this event, as she fell in love with traditional khon costume from watching the King and I. Khon is a genre of traditional Thai dance drama with heavily embellished costumes and masks. The creation of these costumes became a dying art form, but was revived by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. The display, held at Temple House, was only here for 2 days so this was on the top of our list.
The exhibition displayed traditional and modern khon costumes, as well as demonstrations of embroidery of the sleeves and painting of the masks. There was a demonstration of dressing someone in a khon costume which took just over half an hour, as there were so many elements to the costume. The performer had to be sewn into several of the costume pieces and had 2 men on hand to dress him, evidence of the complex process. However, it was definitely a delight to watch.
Once fully dressed, we were treated to a performance of an excerpt from Ramakien, Thailand’s national epic. The masks are used on most of the characters apart from the lead female, who wears make up. The story is therefore interpreted through hand gestures (in the dance) rather than facial expressions. It was a great piece of theatre to end the visit!