Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said that the ASEAN Cultural Year will be launched in January 2019, with many cultural activities to be carried out throughout the year, such as ASEAN Street Food in February and the animation movie Ramayana in March.
Meanwhile, the Department of Cultural Promotion is planning year-long activities in 2019 to celebrate khon, which has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The decision on the inscription of khon was reached at the 13th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mauritius on 29 November 2018.
Among the activities to celebrate khon are events to promote greater awareness of various forms of this performing art, including seminars, printed media publicity, a book about khon, a Ramayana animation, khon exhibitions, and online publicity.
Khon is an important traditional style of dance and art dating from the Ayutthaya period. This form of dramatic art has its own unique identity incorporating different fields of the arts, literature, rituals, and crafts. It is a traditional form of entertainment that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Khon performances – which involve graceful dance movements, instrumental and vocal renditions, and glittering costumes – depict the glory of Rama, the hero and incarnation of the god Vishnu, who brings order and justice to the world. The many episodes depict Rama’s life, including his journey in the forest, his army of monkeys, and his fights with the army of Thosakan, king of the giants.
Tourist can enjoy khon masked dance shows at Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theater in Bangkok. Currently, courses to study the masked dance drama are offered at educational institutions of various levels.