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Royal Coronation: The Royal Regalia

The offering of the Royal Regalia to His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun as performed in the Royal Coronation Ceremony today carries with it deep significance unto itself as part of the Royal Coronation ceremony.

Culture
By The Phuket News

Saturday 4 May 2019, 12:00PM


The Royal Regalia is considered the most important symbol of the Kingship, and it is essential that it be offered to the King in the Royal Coronation Ceremony.

The Royal Regalia is considered the most important symbol of the Kingship, and it is essential that it be offered to the King in the Royal Coronation Ceremony.

The offering of the Royal Regalia to the King as performed in the Royal Coronation Ceremony is a traditional practice from Brahmanism. The chief Brahmin, or Phra Maha Ratcha Khru, gives the address offering the Royal Regalia to the King. The Royal Regalia is considered the most important symbol of the Kingship, and it is essential that it be offered to the King in the Royal Coronation Ceremony.

According to the book of protocol concerning the Royal Coronation Ceremony of the King, it states the ceremonial articles to be used consist of: the Great Crown, the Royal Clothes made of red wool, the Sword, the Tiered Umbrella and the Golden Slippers.

Each item holds a symbolic meaning. The Great Crown refers to the high heavenly abode of Indra; the Red-wool Cloth represents the Khanthamat Mountain of the Sumerumat Range; the Sword represents the wisdom to cut through misunderstanding; the Six-tiered Umbrella refers to the sixth level of heaven; and the Golden Slippers are a reference of royal support to all subjects living in the royal kingdom, just as the earth is a support to the Sumerumat Mountain.

The Royal Nine-tiered Umbrella of State
or the “Nophapadon Maha Saweta Chatra”

The nine layers of the tiered umbrella are made of white cloth; each tier hangs into three layers trimmed with gold bands. The umbrella is topped with a finial. King Rama IV ordered the Great Tiered Umbrella to be covered with white cloth, instead of ‘tash’ cloth (silk woven with threads wrapped in gold or silver thread.) It is the most important article of the whole set of Royal Regalia. His Majesty King Rama IX ordered it to be presented while he was at the Atha Disa Udumbara Raja Asana Throne, after the Anointment Ceremony.

The Royal Scepter
or “Than Phra Kon”

The original scepter was made during the reign of His Majesty King Buddha Yod Fa Chulalok (Rama I). Its staff was made of Javanese Cassia wood. The finial was in the form of a trident and was gilded with gold, as was its iron hilt inlaid with gold. The scepter itself was named “Than Phra Kon,” but originally was named “Than Phra Kon Ratchaphruek,” or “Royal Staff made of Javanese Cassia wood.”

In the reign of His Majesty King Mongkut (Rama IV), His Majesty ordered a new scepter to be made of pure gold. The staff was designed to hide a sword within and it had the figure of a deity on its finial. The scepter was called “Phra Saeng Sanao,” and also called “Than Phra Kon Thewarup” or “The Royal Staff with a Deity.” This scepter is more a sword than royal staff, and His Majesty preferred using this new scepter than the old one.

However, His Majesty King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), due to his royal admiration of heritage objects, brought back the original scepter for use again in the Royal Coronation Ceremony, and the “Than Phra Kon Thewarup” was not included in the ceremony of that period.

The Great Crown of Victory
or “Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut”

The crown was made by the royal command of King Rama I and ornamented with diamonds set in gold enamel. The whole crown is 66 centimetres high and weighs 7.3 kilograms. King Rama IV later ordered the “Phum Khao Bin” tip of the crown replaced with a large diamond, bought from Kolkata, India. The diamond was named “Phra Maha Wichian Mani.”

In previous days, the crown was considered the next most important item in the whole set of Royal Regalia, following the Nine-tiered Umbrella in importance.

Upon receiving the crown, the King only placed the crown next to himself. But later, when Siam had more contact with European countries and reviewed their royal procedures, Siam changed the status of the crown.

In Europe, the status of Kingship is bestowed when the King puts on the crown. Therefore, when King Rama IV was coronated and presented with the crown, His Majesty placed the crown upon his head and gave an audience to the foreign diplomatic corps while wearing it.

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From then on, the Great Crown of Victory was reconsidered as the most important article of all the Royal Regalia and every King will wear this crown in the Royal Coronation Ceremony.

The Royal Fan and Fly Whisk
or “Walawichani”

The “Walawichani” made in the reign of His Majesty King Buddha Yod Fa Chulalok (Rama I) was the form of a fan made of a palm leaf, and was so-called a palm-leaf fan. The rim of the fan was trimmed with gold and the rod was made of enamelled gold.

Originally it was called “Phatchani Fak Makham” or the “Fan in the shape of a tamarind-pod.”

The meaning of its name was reconsidered by His Majesty King Mongkut (Rama IV) who recognised that for the name “Walawichani,” taken from the Pali language, use of a palm leaf fan may not be the correct interpretation. It referred more to a whisk-like item, made from the hair of a yak, as the word “Wala” meant the hair of one type of a cow, an animal that Thais called “Chammari.”

Hence, His Majesty King Rama IV ordered a fly whisk to be made with the hair of a yak and to be included in the Royal Regalia. In a later period, yak hair was replaced with the hair from the white elephant’s tail, and the name was changed to the White Elephant Fly Whisk. But as it would be deemed inappropriate not to use the original royal Palm-Leaf Fan, His Majesty ordered the use of both the Palm-Leaf Fan and the “Chammari Fly Whisk,” and together had them called the “Walawichani.”

The Sword of Victory
or “Phra Saeng Khan Chai Sri”

This sword was presented to His Majesty King Buddha Yod Fa Chulalok (Rama I) from Chao Phraya Abhai Bhubes (Ban) brought by an official sent from Battambang, then a vassal state to the Kingdom of Thailand, in 1784.

His Majesty King Rama I ordered a cover to be made for it. The hilt and sheath were ornamented in gold enamel and precious gems. It became part of the Royal Regalia in the Royal Coronation Ceremony of 1785.

The length of the blade itself is 64.5 centimetres, and 89.8 centimetres when it includes the hilt. It weighs 1.3 kilograms. When enclosed with the sheath, it is 101 centimetres in length and weighs 1.9 kilograms.

The Royal Slippers
or “Chalong Phrabat Choeng Ngon”

King Rama I ordered the making of a pair of gold slippers as a part of the Royal Regalia, following an ancient Indian belief. They were made of colourful enamelled gold and inlaid with diamonds.

In the Royal Coronation Ceremony, they are offered by the Chief Brahmin who puts them directly onto the feet of the King.


* All materials for this publication are from ‘The Royal Coronation Ceremony’ published by the Ministry of Culture.

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