Shadow puppets returned to Thailand

29/03/2012

Grand shadow plays are one of the most popular aspects of Thai culture, and recently one of the oldest puppet sets in existence was returned to its place of origin.

American couple Dr Sarah and Konrad Bekker, who bought the set of 30 intricately carved cow-skin puppets from a German woman who came upon them more than a century ago, contacted the Thai embassy in Washington in 2009 and offered to give the items to the country’s government for public display.

The puppets and sets, previously displayed in a German museum, are thought to have been made in the early 19th century for a series of different grand shadow plays, although a number of characters are those found in the story The Epic of Ramakien.

Foreigners taking holidays to Thailand, widely regarded as a luxury holidays hotspot, have made traditional shadow puppetry one of the most popular cultural attractions in the country.

Thai culture minister Sukumol Kunplome announced that the government has received 30 items from the Bekkers, which are currently housed in the warehouse of national museums in Pathum Thani’s Klong.

Copyright Press Association 2012