On Thursday, October 24th, the 2019 Royal Barge Procession will take place along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. It is the final event of the Coronation of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X), and it will be the first Royal Barge Procession in the present monarch’s reign. In the past 65 years, royal barge processions have only appeared on the river a total of 16 times, making the upcoming procession a not-to-be-missed event.
To coincide with this momentous occasion, the Royal Thai Navy and ICONSIAM are presenting ‘Art Afloat’, an exhibition about the Royal Barge Procession that aims to showcase Thai artistry and instill pride in Thai heritage. The show runs from now until October 31st, and admission is free. This trilingual multimedia exhibition (in Thai, English, and Chinese), is set up on the 1st floor, and includes a display of models of the 52 ceremonial barges that will be used during the actual event, as well as a history of the royal barge procession illustrating the details through a photo gallery and panorama hologram. In addition, gold and silver oars and peacock feather fans that will be used during the upcoming royal ceremony will also be on display. It’s a unique chance for the public to view at close range the beauty and grandeur of these stunning vessels.
About the 2019 Royal Barge Procession
The Royal Barge Procession is a ceremonial event undertaken by Kings in Thailand since ancient times. The upcoming 2019 procession will be performed as part of His Majesty King Rama X’s city tour on the occasion of his coronation this year. The royal procession pays homage to the Holy Footprint, and brings significant Buddha images from the provinces to the capital, as well as a reception of foreign envoys.
The vessels used in the royal processions are carved from huge pieces of teak wood and are reserved for auspicious ceremonies and state occasions. On each barge the intricately decorated prow is gilded in gold and engraved with mythical creatures, all decorated with tiny shimmering pieces of glass.
The entire procession is made up of 52 barges, employing more than 2,000 oarsmen arranged in five groupings. The fleet measures about 1,200 metres long, and 90 metres wide. The rowing is performed in a synchronized movement and rhythm, accompanied by the singing of boat songs that praise the King and also describe the surroundings on both sides of the river and the beauty of the boats themselves.
This elaborate procession is a momentous spectacle that offers a rare glimpse into Thailand’s rich cultural history. The main event will be televised on October 24th, but the public can also watch full dress rehearsals on October 17th and 21st.
To find out more about the Iconsiam Royal Barge Procession exhibition, visit iconsiam.com.