Wat Ban Don Shadow Play Museum - Shadow Puppets Museum at Wat Bandon - Rayong
. An investigation on the Shadow Puppet from former abbot Prakru Panyawutikorn, and
other descendants ended that: The shadow puppets are about 200 years old. Phya Sri-Samut
(Kate Yomchinda), former Rayong governor bought them from Pattalung, 200 puppets,
while they were very popular and still on the show. He hired the puppet master to
teach his people. While travelling from Pattalung to Rayong, the ship faced severe
storm across the gulf of Siam. Some puppets slipped and fell into the sea and they
survived except “Sita” the main character. Finally, they found she struck to the
rudder of the ship after storm. No record for the craftsmanship and period of construction.
They used to be on show at Wat Chanta-udom (Wat Keng). Now the site of Rayong Hospital
(only one Chedi existing on the east side nowadays and was registered a historic
building by Department of Fine Arts) All the puppets are kept there after the shows.
In B.E.2430, Wat Bandon was built, all performers were trained by Kru Pradit from
Ban Sag Yai, close to the temple. The orchestra is from Toong Po. They can access
easily, both for rehearse and perform. They felt more convenience to keep all the
puppets at Wat Bandon, Amphor Muang, Rayong. Nai Ruang and Nang Cham Ruenreng both
are puppet masters have trained children and neighbours to perform the puppets show.
The orchestra is by Nai Tua Dontree. Voice impersonate are by Nai Suam Pentham, Nai
Cham Kumwon, Apornrat, Suksa Keo Sopon. When Nai Ruang Ruenreng became very old,
Nai See Ruenreng took responsible as performer and voice impersonate together with
Nai Cherm Kobaran. When Nai Chalerm Maneesang died, Nai Toi Wanrudee became puppet
master. On the orchestra side, Nai Tua Dontri, Nai sai,and Nai Foong Chaodon passed
away, Nai Chalom Putmee took their place and brought in students to join the group.
These puppets are long descending heritage. Their beautiful patterns are considered
classic craftsmanship, sacred and be respected.They must be stored in high place
and safe. They are rotting due to materials themselves and lack of care after long
period of no performing to public. Restoration and preservation needed immediately
to keep them alive. People of Ban Sag-yai brought back the performing arts to live
again in B.E.2523. It was led by Nai Si Ruenreng, Nai Chalerm Maneesang and Nai Jerm
Kobkwan. The shows to public were on the 200th anniversary of Rattanakosin (Rattanakosin
Bicentennial), Songkran festival, TV 5 show. In B.E.2524, Wat Bandon established
a project to build a storage and restore the puppets.
On 16 November 2534, the inauguration of the storage building headed by Prakru Panya
and accompanied by the Petro-Chemical Industrial Thai Company brought a Katin to
Bandon. It was very much admired for the conservation of the shadow puppets. Restoration
and duplicate works are proceeding under the commissioning of Nai Chalerm Maneesang,
puppet master. New puppets were crafted according to the text and original pattern
Nai Amnaj Maneesang and partners, Nai Pratuang Ketsamut, Lt Col. Payub Pentum,