Friday, July 28, 2006

Royal Barge Procession

The Subanahongsa
The name Subanahongsa, or golden hamsa, refers to the swan-like mythical steed of the Hindu god Brahma, which first appeared in Thai lore during the Ayutthaya period. King Rama I ordered the Subanahongsa built soon after his accession to the throne in 1782.
The vessel was in constant use as the principal royal barge until it became too old to be repaired. King Rama VI then commanded the construction of its successor, which was launched on November 13, 1911, and also named Subanahongsa.
In state processions, the vessel carries either a spired throne or a roofed pavilion surrounded by court officials. The Subanahongsa was made from the trunk of a single teak tree. It is said that the master craftsman threw away all his tools after its completion and vowed never to work again. Whether this is true or not, Subanahongsa is the most majestic of all the royal barges.
Its hamsa figurehead is raised in flight with eyes bulging prominently, nostrils flared, and fangs protruding from its grimacing mouth. The hamsa holds a crystal ball and tassel in its mouth and wears a garland and pendant around its neck. Its feathers, represented by gilded and mirrored ornamentation, appear to flow in the wind along the length of its body to its flame-like tail.

The Narai Song Suban King Rama IX
Barge The original, featuring the god Vishnu riding a garuda, was built during the reign of King Rama III (1824-1857).
Construction of the present barge was commissioned by the Royal Thai Navy and the Fine Arts Department to commemorate the 50th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej’s accession to the throne. She was launched on May 9, 1996.
The royal barge is 44.30m long, her beam 3.20m and hull 1.10m deep. Her complement consists of 50 oarsmen, 2 steersmen, 2 officers fore and aft, 1 standard bearer, 1 signalman, 1 chanter, and 7 royal insignia bearers.

The Anekajatibhujonga
In stately procession along the waterways, the Anekajatbhujonga stands out as being majestically plain. She bears no pictorial figurehead, but has a simple yet graceful beam-like prow.
The oldest of the present principal royal barges, she was built at the command of King Rama V (1868-1910). Her length is 45.67m, beam 2.91m and hull 91cm deep.
Her crew consists of 61 oarsmen, 2 steersmen, 2 officers, 1 standard bearer, 1 signalman, 1 chanter and 7 royal insignia bearers.

The Anantanagaraj
Second in rank to the Subanahongsa , the Anantanagaraj has an intricate figurehead in the form of a seven-headed naga, a mythical serpent that is a symbol of water.The first royal barge of this name was built during the reign of King Rama IV (1851-1868).
The present Anantanagaraj was launched on April 15, 1914, in the reign of King Rama VI. She is 44.85m long, her beam 3.17m and hull 94cm deep.
Her crew consists of 54 oarsmen, 2 steersmen, 2 officers, 1 standard bearer, 1signalman, 1 chanter and 7 royal insignia bearers.


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