A set of fantastic Khōn dance masks recently came through my studio.
I was asked to alter the masks so they could be used in the new stage musical Waterfall which is based on the Thai novel Behind the Painting by Sriburapha.
The masks, from Bangkok, Thailand, were quite small and had to be enlarged to fit bigger heads. Vision was also difficult in the originals so I lowered the sight lines to the mouths and added mesh to improve vision. It was quite inspiring to explore these masks up close and learn about how they were created. The four originals I received were likely created for rituals and placement on altars – probably never meant to be worn. Nowadays these masks are manufactured and sold to tourists but I’ll admit that I felt the pang of guilt , Western guilt, as I altered these traditional objects from another culture.