Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Royal Barges Museum, March 5, 2007

We visited around 9 a.m. Monday, March 5, which is a Thai national holiday. It was cooler than later in the day, and we mostly had the place to ourselves. The royal barges are gorgeous and with a fascinating history. Only eight can be viewed in their dry dock today because of space constraints, but there are 52 in all.

At one time they were used frequently, for war and for religious and ceremonial occasions. With ornate, colorful decorations, especially the figureheads, they are powered by many oarsmen. The number is dictated by the size and purpose of the barge.

Today, they are used for ceremonies from time-to-time, such as once a year in October or November when the king delivers new saffron robes to Buddhist monks at Wat Arun (the Katin ceremony), and when there is a royal cremation/funeral. I hope we can arrange to be in Bangkok some day when one of the royal river processions is scheduled. The photos from years past are stupendous.


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