Renovation of the Royal Chariots for the Royal Cremation Ceremony

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The royal chariot which will be used to carry the body and the royal urn of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej is displayed at the National Museum. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
The royal chariot which will be used to carry the body and the royal urn of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej is displayed at the National Museum. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Craftsmen and relevant officials from three government agencies have been renovating the royal chariots, royal palanquins, and other accessories to be used in the royal cremation ceremony for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

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The three agencies include the Fine Arts Department, the Army Ordnance Department, and the Naval Dockyard Department. The renovation began after a religious ceremony for the launching of the renovation was performed.

The ceremony was presided over by Deputy Prime Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn at the Bangkok National Museum on 19 December 2016 at 14.49, the auspicious time suggested by the Chief Brahmin to the Royal Court. The royal carriages are kept at the Royal Chariot Building in the Bangkok National Museum compound, and they are brought out for use in important royal ceremonies.

The ceremony is considered a sacred rite that makes it possible for all people involved to be successful in their renovation work. The three agencies have been inspecting the conditions of the royal carriages and restoring damaged parts. The renovation were completed in September.

The renovation work involved Phra Maha Phichai Ratcharot, or the Great Victory Chariot; Wetchayanta Ratcharot; Ratcharot Noi, or Small Chariot; Phra Yan­namas Sam Lamkhan, or the Golden Palanquin with Three Poles; Rachentharayan, or the Royal Palanquin with Four Poles; Phra Wo Siwikakan, or the Royal Palanquin with Two Poles; and Kroen Bandai Nak, which is a special inclined plane used to bring the royal urn onto and out of the royal carriage.

The most significant carriage is Phra Maha Phichai Ratcharot. It is a large chariot, 11.2 meters high, 18 meters long, and weighs 13.7 tons. This royal chariot was built in the reign of King Rama I for the royal cremation of his father in 1795. Later, in 1799, the King commanded the use of Phra Maha Phichai Ratcharot again, to carry the royal remains of his two elder sisters. Since then, the royal chariot has been used to carry the royal remains of kings, queens, and members of the royal family.

Meanwhile, on 20 December 2016, a total of 1,461 planks processed from fragrant sandalwood were carried from the Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province. They were presented to the Office of Traditional Arts in Salaya, Nakhon Pathom province, on the same day.

The planks were used in the creation of the sandalwood royal urn for the royal cremation ceremony for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation was assigned to cut and process the fragrant sandalwood for use in the significant ceremony.