Thai brings back the Royal Barge special livery on HS-TKF

Thai Airways International has finished painting its Boeing 777-3D7 HS-TKF (msn 29214) in the Royal Barge special livery at Don Muang International Airport (DMK) in Bangkok.

The aircraft is due to re-enter service shortly on Asian routes.

According to the airline;

“The Royal Barge Procession is indeed a grand pageantry, certainly Thailand’s most colorful and prestigious ceremony. As seen from afar, the Royal Barges in the procession make a splendid show, their gold-leaf figureheads jutting out into the wind, their bright red and orange coloured canopies amidships catching the rays of sunlight. But even more remarkable are these splendid vessels when seen up close.

The major barges, including the one that carries the king, are kept in a boathouse on Klong Noi, not far from where the canal empties into the Chao Phraya. In 1972, this old boathouse was renovated and became The National Museum of Royal Barges, under the direction of the Fine Arts Department. But this is no ordinary museum; it’s more like a workshop where teams of artists and artisans painstakingly tend the barges.

The most beautiful barge of them all, and the largest, is the King’s Suphannahong Royal Barge. With its golden swan figurehead, it is often referred to simply as the Golden Swan Barge; it first appeared in chronicles of the Ayutthaya period. She measures 49.17 metres long, 3.15 metres wide and weighs 15 tonnes. What comes as a surprise, among many surprises, is that she is hewed from a single tree, except for the figurehead of the golden swan, making it the largest dugout in the world.

Suphannahong requires a 77-man crew, all dressed in naval attire: 54 sturdy oarsmen and two steersmen, with two officers, one fore and another aft.  In addition there is one standard bearer, one signalman, one chanter and several royal insignia bearers. When in motion on the river, the silver and gold paddles are raised in the air at the end of each stroke, controlled by a rhythm keeper who taps the butt of his silver spear on the deck in time with the chanting of ancient boat songs. The large ‘tassel’ which swings from the beak of the golden swan, according to tradition, signifies that the King is aboard the barge.

The second-most important in rank to the Supannahong is the Anekchatphutchong Royal Barge, first built during the rein of King Rama IV. The present one was launched in 1914. The third is the impressive Anantanagaraj Royal Barge, with its seven-headed Naga figurehead at the bow. The throne amidships is the Kanya type with masterful wood carvings trimmed in gold around the outline. It is used to carry the monastic robes and the elaborate floral offerings to the monks at Wat Arun. The Anantanakaraj, as well as the Suphannahong and the Anekchabuchong, is manned by 54 oarsmen and has a full complement of crew with officers, signalman and standard bearer.”

This special livery was previously worn by Boeing 747-4D7 HS-TGJ and HS-TGO and Airbus A330-322 HS-TEK.