Friday, January 11, 2008

Preparations on for Royal funeral

Ministry, Fine Arts Department readying chariots for Princess's Sanam Luang service

Published on January 7, 2008

Preparations on for Royal funeral

The Phra Maha Phichai Ratcharot chariot at the National Museum is one of three royal vehicles to be used in the funeral of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.

The Culture Ministry is preparing three chariots for the royal funeral of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.

The Fine Arts Department has also assigned Group Captain Ek-avudh Ngernchuklin to lead a team of veteran chiefs of the department to build a cremation pyre in Sanam Luang.

Culture Minister Khunying Khaisri Sri-aroon and senior officials yesterday inspected three chariots named Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot, Wechayan Ratcharot and Ratcharot Noi.

They also inspected a three-layer carved wooden casket called Yarnmart, which will transport the Princess to the pyre.

The ceremony will be in accordance with royal traditions observed since the reign of King Rama I.

Khaisri said she would consult with Fine Arts Department experts on what parts of the chariots need repair and cleaning, before forwarding a report to the funeral organising committee led by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.

As the committee meets this week, the ministry needs to assess the readiness of the respective areas under its charge, in order that His Majesty the King may be informed about the proceedings.

Fine Arts Department director-general Kriengkrai Sampatchalit, in his capacity as a member of the funeral organising committee, said his office had completed an initial inspection of the chariots and would contact the Army to make a final inspection of all the parts, including the wheels, axles and frames.

As for decorative cloths, the department will assign Krom Chang Sip Mu (the organisation of the 10 crafts) to carry out the overall inspection and assessment, Kriengkrai said.

HM the King will have the final say on the choice of chariots to be used, he said.

The department has also assigned a team to build the royal cremation pyre, led by Group Captain Ek-avudh. It comprises former department chiefs and experts from Krom Chang Sip Mu.

Kriengkrai affirmed the department had all the information, be it about the chariots or a record of royal tradition, all of which will later be presented to General Surayud.

Currently there are seven Ratcharot chariots being kept and displayed at the National Museum.

The Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot - 1,120 centimetres tall and 1,530 centimetres long - was built in 1795 during the reign of King Rama I (1782-1809) to be used for a king's funeral.

It carried the urn of Somdet Phra Pathom Borom Maha Chanok to the royal crematorium (Phra Merumas) at Sanam Luang in 1796.

It was also used in the funerals of King Rama I, King Rama III, King Rama IV and King Rama V.

On March 10, 1996, the Fine Arts Department and the Royal Thai Army's Ordnance Department restored the Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot for the royal cremation of HRH Princess Sri Nagarindra the Princess Mother at Sanam Luang.

The Wechayan Ratcharot, standing 1,170 centimetres tall and 1,750 centimetres long, was built in 1799 for the funerals of high-ranking Royal Family members.

The Fine Arts Department restored it for the funeral of Queen Rampaipannee in 1985.

It weighed 40 tonnes and required 206 men - 160 in the front and 46 at the back - to draw it.

There are three Ratcharot Noi chariots, built during Rama I's reign.

They were used for a Supreme Patriarch and linked to a chariot for Royal Family members to sit and sprinkle rice and petals.

The Ratcharot Noi chariots were built in the same pattern as the Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot and the Wechayan Ratcharot chariots, except they were smaller and had only one decorative "naga head".

Pakamard Jaichalard

The Nation

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