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I am indebted to "Sea Breezes" reader Capt. H. J. Chubb for further information on the Karaweik, the royal barge of Burma shown on one or two of that country's stamps, and for a picture of the craft. From this picture it appears that the representation of a double-ended prow of the Karaweik is incorrect in detail. The pair of figureheads is quite different from that of the original vessel while two huge carved Burmese figures behind the figure-heads are not shown on the stamp. Perhaps these were not permanent fixtures of the royal barge. This craft was the ceremonial vessel of King Mindon of Burma who reigned from 1853 to 1878 and in some ways the craft resembles the royal palace at Mandalay. The spire (Pyatthet) with its seven roofs, the emblem of sovereignty, and the pagoda-like adjuncts and carvings are to be found in both palace and barge.
A minister of state, known as the Myit Sin Wungyi, was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the Karatweik, while the captain of the vessel was known as the Pethnin; the crew were called hle-hlawthas. When not engaged on the royal barge some of the higher ratings of the crew, known as Hlehlyinclaws (royal boat messengers) were employed as staff for the Burmese Cabinet Ministers and high court judges, as we would call them. Since Mindon's time Burma has had another state barge, in which the Russian leaders travelled when they paid their state visit to Burma in 1955.
SG25 Sea Breezes 6/56