Thai puppets, hunkrabog

Thursday, March 10, 2011
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Thai Puppets


คุณกิตติพันธ์ มาลีวิลาศ หรือครูแต้ม ผู้สรรค์สร้างริ้วทองหุ่นกระบอกไทย

 Puppets are known in almost every part of the world. There is also evidence of Thai puppets or known in Thai as “hunkrabog” since early Ayutthaya period. It is a form of entertainment which always plays at religious or traditional celebration. The more concrete evidence of hun performance was seen in the mid-Ayutthaya period. Puppet shows have been passed on from Ayutthaya period through Rattanakosin period (Bangkok period). The hun shows are mainly concentrated on the Ramakien, the story adapted from the great Indian epic (Ramayana). Later the shows expand to other Thai well known epics such as Pra Apaimanee.


The hun krabog puppets work including wood crafted heads, face painting, as well as costumes, shows a great skilled hand work of the makers.  A great collection is always done by those who really fall in love of the beautiful puppet dolls. Now there are not so many skilled makers and it is needed to train more skilled makers in order to pass on this beautiful national heritage to the next generation.

In the old day, the hun krabog puppets were made for the purpose of the shows. However, to-day the puppet makers make them for business with at least four purposes, for the stage show, for spiritual respects, for collection or decoration and for gifts or souvenirs or personal decorated pins.

Among the puppet makers, one well known doll maker named Riew-Tong hun krabog, who beside making only the head part, he also makes the beautiful costumes to cover the lower part making it look like the whole body. The costumes are weaved by hand with gold looked thread with Thai style design arts. The works are very delicate and also need skillful makers. Mr. Taem makes very successful one tambol one product (OTOP) and is one of the leaders in this field.


There are also other makers who make only the head parts which make them from Sa paper. However they also need skilled labor workers to make the crown or head cover part.


It is very worthwhile to say that the puppets, khon, hun krabog, are regarded as important national cultural heritage which should be passed on from generation to generation of the Thai people.


1. Thai puppets & Khon Masks by Natthapatra Chandavij & Promporn Pramualratana, Reprinted 2004 by River Books limited.

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