After almost nine months of preservation work undertaken by the Culture Ministry, the grand royal chariots, palanquins and other accessories are ready for use in the procession for the Royal Cremation Ceremony of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in late October.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha this afternoon presided over a ritual ceremony for the refurbished royal chariots, which are housed in the National Museum’s Royal Chariot Garage near Sanam Luang.
The ceremony combined Buddhist and Hindu rituals and was followed by a garland presentation by the prime minister. Then a troupe of soldiers harmoniously pulled the royal chariots from the museum to the group outside. During the ceremony, the Culture Ministry’s Office of Performing Arts performed a traditional Thai dance accompanied by live pipat or traditional orchestra.
A few months after the demise of King Rama IX on October 16, 2016, at age of 89, the Culture Ministry had started the preservation work on the most significant conveyances – the Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot or the Royal Great Victory Chariot that will carry the late King’s Royal Urn to the crematorium at Sanam Luang – as well as three small chariots called Ratcharot Noi.
Built in the reign of King Rama I, Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot is 11.20 metres high, 18 metres long, and weighs 13.7 tonnes and requires 216 men to pull it. It was first used at the cremation ceremony of King Rama I’s father in 1796 and was last pressed into service in 2012 for the funeral of Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda, the daughter of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI).
The conveyances were built at the beginning of the Rattanakosin era, more than two centuries ago, for the royal cremation ceremonies of Siam’s kings and queens and high-ranking Royal Family members of the Chakri Dynasty.
The government has also ordered the Royal Thai Amy to build a new Ratcharot Puenyai or Cannon Chariot, which will also carry the Royal Urn for the cremation ceremony on October 26, the second day of five days of ceremonies.
The newly built Cannon Chariot will be used to carry the Royal Urn from Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall to Wat Phra Chetupon, or Wat Pho, where Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot will wait before leaving for Sanam Luang. The Royal Urn will be raised to the high platform by the Kern Bundai Nak – mechanical hoist – which will be pulled by hundreds of soldiers. The hoist was built in 1811 for the royal cremation of King Rama I.
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