LONDONERS got to see Tosakanth courting Sita and Hanuman hunting Suphanmatcha this month - episodes from the Ramakien presented in the full glory of elaborately costumed khon |theatre.
The shows staged by Thailand during London Craft Week at the beginning of May were a chance to promote the arts and crafts revived and developed under the guidance of Her Majesty the Queen.
The organisers of London Craft Week, an annual event initiated by Charles, the Prince of Wales, invited the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles to present an exhibition this year.
"Dressing Gods and Demons: Costumes for Khon" was accompanied by performances of the traditional masked dance.
The episode of the epic poem Ramakien known as "Tosakanth Courting Sita" was staged at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and both that segment and "Hanuman Chasing Suphanmatcha" were mounted at the Thai Embassy and Two Temple Place, the former Astor House that's now a public gallery.
Museum deputy director Nadhawan Tanyongmas said the embassy sponsored the exhibition and khon performances in London, along with Thai Airways International and Thai Beverage.
The aim was to show the world how devoted the Queen has been to reviving Thai classical arts, including khon, and to promote Thai embroidery, mask making and other khon crafts.
"Foreigners are always very impressed by the craftsmanship involved because it's so elaborate," said museum consultant Dr Anucha Thirakanont, who curated the exhibition.
"They might have heard about khon, but they might not know about the costuming process. I was able to explain, for example, how it takes more than 30 minutes to dress each performer for a show."
The third London Craft Week had as its theme "Beyond Luxury". More than 230 events gave visitors glimpses of design, fashion, art, cuisine and luxury goods from all corners of the globe, with major artists and retail brands participating.