The Flotilla and Barges - The Royal Barge Procession 2012

The "Royal Barge Procession" is a religious and royal significance ceremony which began in 1357.

I described the history of the "Royal Barge Procession" in this earlier posting already. If you like to know more about the history, click here.

The official name for the Procession and the "Royal Kathin Ceremony" in 2012 is:

"The Royal Barge Procession to Present the Royal Kathin Ceremony in a part of The Celebration on the Auspicious Occasion of His Majesty 

the King’s 85th Birthday Anniversary 5th December 2012."

The Royal Barge is a Thai cultural heritage nowadays. They are unique in the world and the Barges are an exquisite and detailed artistic work of artists from several areas and profession, like architects, pattern designer, carver and painter.

King Bhumibol (Rama IX.) is the ninth monarch of the Chakri dynasty, which is founded in 1782. He is the longest reigning monarch in Thai history, and he is since 1989 the world’s longest reigning monarch too.

The Procession involves barges carrying the deeply revered Buddha image (Phra Buddha Sihing) and members of the royal family to present offerings of saffron kathin robes, food and other necessities to the monks at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).

The flotilla consist of 52 barges. 51 are historical barges and one is a new barge, made in era of His Majesty King Bhumbibol in 1994. It is the "Narai Song Suban H. M. King Rama IX".

The Flotilla Formation for the "Royal Barge Procession" is arranged in 5 columns. This is the battle formation of ancient times.

In the middle of the flotilla will be four royal barges: Suphanahong (this one will be used by His Royal Highness Crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on November, 9th to present the Kathin robes to the monks at Wat arun Ratchaworaram ), Narai Song Suban H.M. King Rama IX., Anantanakkarat and Anekkachaphuchong.

Royal Barge Suphannahong
Rama VI

The bow is made like a head of a Royal Swan or Hamsa.

(44,90 meters long, 3,14 meter bride, 0,90 meter depth, 50 oarsmen, 

2 steersmen, 2 officer fore and aft, 1 standard bearer, 1 signalman,
1 chanter and 7 Royal Regalia bearers)

Royal Barge Suphannahong

Eight of the barges having an animal figurehead and 40 are smaller vessels.

Sukrip Khrong Mueang Barge
Figureheads of Monkey Warlords in red color.

(27,45 meters long, 1,95 meter bride, 34 oarsmen, 2 steersmen, 1 officer, 
1 standard bearer, 1 signalman and 2 station markers)

Asura Paksi Barge
Figurehead of an Ogre-faced bird in green color.
Rama I

(30 meters long, 2 meter bride, 40 oarsmen, 2 steersmen, 1 officer, 
1 standard bearer, 1 signalman, 2 station markers and 10 drummers)

Krabi Prap Mueang Man Barge
Monkey Warriors with white body of Hanuman
Rama I

(26,80 meters long, 2,10 meter bride, 36 oarsmen, 2 steersmen, 1 officer, 1 standard bearer, 
1 signalman, 2 station markers and 10 drummer)

Dang Barge

(musicians on board)

Ekachai Hern How Barge
Ekachai Lao Thong Barge
(for leading and towing the Royal Barge Suphannahong)
Figureheads of a cross between a crocodile and Naga known as Hera
(27,50 meters long, 1,99 meter bride, 38 oarsmen, 2 steersmen, 2 officer, 
1 standard bearer and 1 signalman)

The whole flotilla stretches 1200 meters in length an d 90 meters in width. More than 2300 oarsmen from the Royal Thai Navy serving on this barges.

The royal barges of Thailand are the last of their kind in the world. 

The last time that a "Royal Barge Procession" was held was on june, 12th, 2006. Occasion was the diamond jubilee celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of HM King Bhumibol’s accession to the throne.

The procession takes around an hour to make the distance between start point and Wat Arun.

This year, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the Royal Barge Procession and Royal Kathin ceremony at Wat Arun on behalf of His Majesty the King.

This posting is not complete yet. I will add more pictures, barges and descriptions continously in this posting.

Long before you see the first barge, you will already recognize the roaring chants, not to mention when the Procession is passing you.

Take your time and listen to a boat chant. They are an essential and important part of the procession. But live is different and more fascinating, though don't miss it (November, 9th, 2012).

The chanting has 3 verses. The first verse praises His Majestiy the King. The second verse praise the "Royal Barge Procession" and the third verse praise  the magnificence of the Chao Phraya River that is like a river from Heaven and the attractiveness of Bangkok.

Detailed informations about the "Royal Barge Procession", the barges, the oarsmen, the clothes and the chants.

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