Hand made Thai Khon doll. His mask is removable. He is approx. 10.5" tall. He is one of the main characters in the Ramakien (Thai version of Indian epic Ramayana). Khon or masked drama is regarded as the most representative of Thai classical theatrical form. Khon was originated from the rituals and dancing in Indian Temple and spread through Southeast Asia.
Doll sold on Ebay September 2001
My name is Suwit Suthamtha. I was born in 1957, in the district of Sankampaeng. I come from a poor farming family, an when I was young, my brothers and I had to work in the fields everyday, which is why I left school in fourth grade. I never returned to school and wanted to become a salesman, but not the kind of salesman you can imagine. A big merchant from the city market offered me the opportunity to sell something - I had to sell it up high in the mountains. I had to walk up hills, through forests and brave wild animals and disease - all of this just to sell mosquito netting! "But I had to do it at the time. It was my job and it offered me opportunities. When I went to the hill tribe villages I observed their clothes differed amongst tribes. These colorful clothes were always hand-woven, I love them because I have loved to weave ever since I was a child. My mother taught me how to sew and how to chose fibers and colors. The hill tribes clothes were not of good quality but have good style. When I saw tourists come and take pictures of themselves next to the traditional attires used for ceremonies or when entertaining guests, it made me think why don't I try making them myself and sell a lot?
"So, when returned to my home town, I quickly began to think how I could do this, but sadly, the hill tribes' clothes have been sold for a long time in Chiangmai city, at the Night Bazaar market. I began to think about the dolls, as if they were the real thing - it might work. The doll would be a scaled down version of the real thing as I had seen it, so I started making them and learning from them too. I used different materials and kept trying until I got the right materials, ceramic, cotton, and kapok seeds for filling. The main structure is done with wire so that it may move freely. I wanted hard set arms and legs and found the answer in ceramics. I learned a lot from books and from a person working at a ceramic factory. I experimented on how much time a piece would need and the right kiln temperature. And I invested all my money and my future in this works.
"This way, I can sell my dolls and provide some information about them based on my experience. I love this job very much. And I'm the first man to make these traditional dolls in Thailand. Now I have my own small workshop with five or six workers who are skilful and I always teach them. I have been married for 15 years and have 3 daughters. I want in the future that my handcraft will stay to preserve my idea. Surely, I'll teach all I know to my daughters too. This is my inheritance to them and I would like them to continue with it."