Lakhon nai

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Lakhon nai (Thai: ละครใน) is a performing art originating in the royal court of Thailand (formerly Siam). It features a slow choreography accompanied by a piphat ensemble enacted with epic poems such as that of Inao (Panji) and Unarut (Aniruddha).[1] A variation of this genre with male performers is called lakhon nai phu chai (ละครในผู้ชาย).


Lakhon nai is believed to be a contraction of lakhon nang nai (ละครนางใน), or 'theatre of the women of the palace.'[2] It was also known as lakhon khang nai (ละครข้างใน, lit., theatre of the inner court) and lakhon nai phra ratchathan (ละครในพระราชฐาน, lit., theatre of [belonging to] the King).[3]


According to James R. Brandon, lakhon nai stems from the court dance tradition of Cambodia of the 15th century; it later adapted dramatic aspects from lakhon nok (a fork of lakhon chatri) during the 1750s.[4] Lakhon nai itself would later become the main influence on the classical court dance (Royal Ballet of Cambodia) in Cambodia during the 19th century.[5] Lakhon nai came to be in its present form during the 18th century when the story of Inao became an important part of the repertoire.[6]



  • Brandon, James R. (1967). Theatre in Southeast Asia. Harvard University Press