Few days ago I have paid a visit to Nang Yai Shadow Puppet Drama at Wat Khanon Temple at Photharam District, in Ratchaburi Province. The Nang Yai Shadow Puppet Drama at Wat Khanon was first established during the reign of King Chulalongkorn. It now is the only important location for this form of entertainment in Thailand.
Nang Yai Shadow Puppet Drama:
The art of Nang Yai Shadow Puppet Drama is one of Thailand's finest and most admired treasures, showing off many intrinsic values of Thai art. For example, the beautiful and elaborate fretwork designs of the puppets, meticulously carved by master craftsmen, can be manipulated to portray all kinds of mood and character as required by the storyline, averse and recitation, dialogue chorus and the music of the Phi-Phat gamelan musical ensemble with a solo woodwind accompaniment, The artistic fell created by these moods and movements allows the audience to gain a compkete grasp of the storyline , and show Nang-Yai- Shadow-Puppet Drama to be a high- class art form revealing the extraordinary ingenuity of our Thai forefathers.
This longstanding form of Royal Thai entertainment is said to have existed since the Sukhothai Era (13th-15h), but the earliest conclusive evidence dates Nang Yai from the Autthaya Era (15th-18th century), during the reign of King U-Thong, Ramatibodi 1. when it grew into the most popular form of entertainment of its time.
During the present Rattanakosin Era, it is manifest that Nang-Yai-shadow plays were performed in the reign of King Chakri, King Rama 1. and from the literary works of his Majesty emerged story of Inao, which could be performed as an alternative play to the epic Ramakien.
From the reign of King Lertla Rama 2, there is testimony to the puppet figures and literature from the episode of ”Chut Phra Nakhon Wai” or ”The city Quakes” from the Ramakien. These props were later taken and preserved at the old National Theatre, but sadly were almost all destroyed in a fire.
During the reign of King Chulalongkorn , King Rama 5, it was discovered that Nang Yai shadow puppetry was still being performed at two site, namely Wat Sawang Arom Temple in Singburi Province, and at Wat Khanon Temple in Ratchaburi Province.
Reported by Khun Tuck Dechapanya
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