Suchart Subsin’s House of Shadow Puppetry

Suchart Subsin’s House of Shadow Puppetry

A highlight of Nakhon

More on Nakhon Si Thammarat

Arguably the most compelling cultural attraction in Nakhon, Suchart Subsin’s House is devoted to the art of nang thalung, or shadow puppetry. A visit here is a highlight of a visit to Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Travelfish says:
Keeping a tradition alive. Photo by: David Luekens.
Keeping a tradition alive. Photo: David Luekens

Born in Tha Sala district in 1938, Suchart learned nang thalung back when it was just beginning to compete with the Hollywood blockbusters and rock music that have since kicked many traditional Thai performing arts into obscurity.

In the 1980s Suchart opened his studio as a tourist attraction, eventually expanding it to include an informative museum and small theatre. He performed for King Bhumibol in 1985, and in 1996 the House received a “best cultural tourist attraction” award. Suchart went on to receive the prestigious title of National Artist of Thailand in 2006.

An old photo of Khun Suchart hard at work. Photo by: David Luekens.
An old photo of Khun Suchart hard at work. Photo: David Luekens

The torch has now been passed to Kung Nang and a couple of other artists who studied under Suchart for several years. Kung Nang greeted us with a smile before leading us upstairs to the Nang Thalung Museum, where she explained the various shadow puppet displays in English.

The room features dozens of puppets from all regions of Thailand and other countries that have their own shadow puppetry traditions, such as Cambodia and Indonesia. Some of the puppets depict Ramayana characters crafted in Ratchaburi, another last bastion of shadow puppetry. Many others depict the dark “jokers” commonly used in Thai Muslim a-yeung gulad shadow puppet shows. You’ll also find a display of the musical instruments that accompany nang thalung ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 400 words.)

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Reviewed by

David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.

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