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Royal Barges Museum

Royal Barges Museum Bangkok

The Museum of Royal Barges in Bangkok is a must for tourists wanting to take in the full majesty and splendour of Thailand.

To fully appreciate the importance of the Royal Barges, one should understand that the River Chao Phraya running through Bangkok, was the most important form of transport and communication in early times.

History of the Royal Barges

Royal Barges were first used to ferry troops along the rivers of Thailand.

At first reported time of Royal barge use - 13th century - the river was the most efficient way of moving large numbers of troops and their supplies.

The barges later became used for ceremonial purposes, and today that is their sole use in practical terms.

The first barges were destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767, however, under King Taksin - 1767 - 1782 - the barges again emerged with the building of many barges, and it saw a fleet of 115 barges afloat to Ayutthaya to bring back to Bangkok, the Emerald Buddha - now in Wat Phra Kaew.

There was a huge fleet of barges to 'welcome' the Emerald Buddha to Bangkok.

Royal Barges Museum Bangkok1782 - the start of the Bangkok era, was the re-emergence of Royal Barge activity, and sixty barges were built in the early part of the Bangkok era.

The Royal barge construction flourished during the Chari Kings reigns, and the mighty Anantanakkharat was built by King Rama IV. There is a seven-headed serpent on the bow of this magnificent barge.

Royal Barge activity was bought to a halt in 1932 when Thailand changed to a constitutional monarchy. The Royal Barge Ceremonies were banned for the following twenty five years.

To more recent times, the present king - King Rama IX, had the old barges restored, resulting in the first Royal Barge Procession taking place on the Chao Phraya River in 1957.

The Royal Barges continue to sail on ceremonial occasions - their tradition, and a blend of technical expertise and traditional craftsmanship on display for the nation and it's many tourist visitors.

The final stages of Royal Barge building involves the Department of Fine Arts. The fine sculptural works and the subsequent decorations bear fine witness to the work involved in the making of A Royal Barge.

The Narai Song H M King Rama 1X is the newest of the barges in the museum. Work started on the construction of this barge in 1994, and was completed and then launched for the fiftieth anniversary of the accession to the throne of His Majesty King Bhumibol Ayulyadej.

The work from start to finish on this Royal Barge, took two years to complete, with 200 craftsmen involved. It was launched in 1996.

The Narai Song Royal Barge, joined with the Royal barges procession to Wat Arun, for the ceremony of presenting the monks at Wat Arun with new robes. This happens after the end of the Buddhist lent.