Suphanna hong Royal Barge beautifully carved figurehead in
the form of celestial swan in the Thai style.

 

Royal Barge Procession
 

 
     Suphanna hong Royal Barge  
 The Krabi Prab Muang Mara Royal Barge Procession in the reign of King Narai the Great. 
 
 
The Garuda figurehead of Rua Khrut Hoen Het.                
       Narai Song Suban Rama IX.      [Vishnu riding on Garuda] 
The earliest historical evidence of royal barges dates from the Sukhothai period (1238-1438) where the royal vessels were used in certain waterborne state ceremonies around the ancient city of Sukhothai. 

From later historical evidence, we learn that during the subsequent Ayutthaya period (1351-1776) magnificent processions included a large fleet of royal barges assembled on the rivers and canals around the island capital of Ayutthaya.  During this period, most important royal barge processions were organized for the annual Royal Kathin Ceremony when the Ayutthaya kings traveled to royal monasteries to offer robes and monastic paraphemalia to the monks.  Processions during this period were usually composed of 33 types of vessels.  The king sat on a throne placed in the center of the principal royal barge surrounded by items of the royal regalia which included the state umbrella, fan, flag and four swords held by bearers situated at corners of the canopied throne.  Two high ranking officers sat in front of the throne guarding the king and the royal regalia. 

Rua Liang Pha Yai and Rua Angma of the late Ayutthaya period.

 During the Rattanakosin (Bangkok) period (1782 to present) the king's royal barge was selected among three barges: Sri Suphannahong, Ananatanakharaj, or Sri Sommeatchai.  In 1996, a new royal barge "Narai Song Suban Rama IX" was commissioned. 

No matter how often a Royal Barge Procession on witnessed, one is always eager for the next one.  Otherwise, how can one be sure such a wondrous event was really seen, and not just dreamed. 

General View of the Royal Barge Procession in the reign of King Narai the Great 

During the King's Golden Jubilee in 1996, on the auspicious occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's accession to the throne, the Thai Government commissioned the construction of the Royal Barge "Narai Song Suban Rama IX" to present to King Bhumibol (King Rama IX).  The king traveled by this Royal Barge in the Pha-Phra Kathin (royal presentation of robes to the monks) procession to Wat Arun Ratchawararam, which is one of the most significant royal temples of Thailand.