The Rayal Barge Narai Song Suban (No.2)
The Royal Barge Narai Song Suban - H.M. King Rama IX, is a major decorated royal barge of the animalfigureheaded type. Royal vessels with animal figureheads came into being during the reign of King Maha Chakraphat of Ayutthaya, who commanded that these swift and sleek vessels be used as victory barges with the animal figureheads affixed to support artillery. The animals used signify the rank-indicating crests of noblemen or take the form of mythological beats like elephant-lion hybrids, nagas, and others. The Barge of State carrying the king bears a royal crest depicting the garuda.
During the Bangkok Period, King Rama lll commanded that a royal barge be built according to the ancient royal tradition of the Ayutthaya Period. It was named Mongkolsuban Royal Barge, and was meant to be emblematic of the glory of the land.
This royal barge was 44.30 meters long, 3.20 meters at the beam, and 1.10 meters deep. Its interior was painted red, and it was maneuvered by 65 oarsmen. The original bow was carved in the shape of the King of Garudas with a naga in his beak.
During the reign of King Mongkut, Rama IV, the figure of the god Narai was added, riding on the garuda in accordance with Hindu mythology. This god is described in the Thai version of the Ramayana, written during the First Reign, as a god who is green in color, has four arms, and bears a discus, a conch shell, a trident and a scepter. The name of the barge therefore became the Narai Song Suban Royal Barge.
The bow of the King Narai Song Suban Royal Barge is one of the artistic masterpieces of the Fourth Reign, when Thai sculpture and ornamental art reached a peak. It represents the significance and centrality of the monarchy in the life of the nation, and reflects profound faith in religious symbols, both Buddhist and Hindu. Such symbols can be found in patterns and decorations at palaces and temples all over the country.
The newly-built royal barge for the Ninth Reign was christened by His Majesty the King was the Royal Barge Narai Song Suban - H.M. King Rama IX.