Foeroyar dugout Maritime Topics On Stamps :

The Very First Boats, Dugouts!


This site represents only boats or canoes featuring a dugout as a hull. Other types of canoes shall be presented at some later time.


Mocambique dugout
Guine dugout
Dugouts represent the first boats constructed by man. According to the ‘out of Africa’ theory, dugouts first appeared some 40,000 years ago. Prehistoric man got hold of drifting logs to move across bodies of water. Later on, several logs were bundled together to make rafts. Next, the logs were hollowed out to become dugouts. In 1997 a 7,000 year old dugout was discovered at Ireland’s Shannon River; a year later a slender dougout dated 8,000 years ago was found in Nigeria.


Angola dugout making
Laos, dugout making
Dougouts aren’t confined to certain limited regions, they were made all over the world. Even today, they exist in the tropics. European dugouts were four to six meters long, determined by the straight lenghts of the logs, of course. Rain forest areas saw dugouts with lengths of 20 to 30 meters. Logs came from trees uprooted by nature, or trees that were felled by setting fire to their base.



Dominica, dugout making Fire was also used on logs for rough hollowing-out, followed by carving-out with tools of bone or stone. Moist soil or moss prevented burn-throughs in the case of very thin wooden walls. Dugouts in Bengal were widened by pouring boiled water into the hull and pushing the sides apart with crossbeams.


Comores dugout
Samoa dugout
A dugout is rather wobbly and capsizes easily. To keep it stable, man invented the outrigger, another log somewhat shorter and lighter than the dugout. It was fastened parallel to the dugout by means of flexible crossbeams, which allowed smooth movement with the waves. This technique was widely employed in the island archipelagos of South East Asia and throughout the Pacific. Outriggers were used either singly or on both sides; they were a prerequisite for rigging with mast and sail.


Dahomey dugout
Guinee dugout
Poles were used to move in shallow waters; paddles, when it was possible to sit or knee down in the dugout.


carib canoe
carib war canoe
In the Caribbean, dugouts were called ‘canoa’ or ‘cenu’ - hence the English word ‘canoe’. The Tainos of Hispaniola are known to have used boats with up to 80 rowers and 30 meter lengths. More common were the sizes shown on these stamps. The canoe on the right is a ‘streamlined’ war canoe.


fishing from dugout
Malagasy dugout
Gilbert dugout
Dougouts were used for travel, transport of goods, fishing, competitive races, and warfare. On the left, a shark is being snared; center and right stamps show a canoe being skillfully steered through the surf.


race dugout
piroge racing
A pirogue is a dugout with planks added to the sides for a higher freeboard, clearly visible on the stamp at right. The most giant-sized pirogues were those built in Africa wherever very high trees were found. They were 30 to 40 meters long and rowed by up to 80 natives. After abolishment of slaving raids and inter-tribal warfare, they were mostly built for competetive racing. To this day, the dragon boats of China are among the largest dugouts.


Latakoi dugout
sailing dugout
At left we see a pirogue with outrigger and sail, a type seaworthy for open ocean voyaging. The outrigger’s strong cross-stability allows for the setting of rather large sails. The right stamp shows a ‘camaku’, a small dugout with outrigger and sail for coastal waters. The vessel’s bow and stern are shaped alike and the mast can be rotated, for sailing in either direction. The outrigger always remains on the windward side.


Papua Lakatoi
Latakoi night time
The ‘lakatoi’ was a large sailing craft found in the coastal waters of New Guinea. The hull consisted of two, three, or four pirogues lashed together with crossbeams and topped by a platform made of bamboo. Often there were small huts built upon this deck, as well as one or two masts. Claw-shaped sails were customarily made of matting woven from the leaves and branches of sago trees. But there were also four-sided and elliptically shaped sails.


Niue, war canoe
A war canoe of the South Seas. The boat consists of two hulls joined together by planking, a mast and a sail. There are ten rowers. The warriors are adorned with war paint on their faces and bodies.


The Haida ceremonial canoe featured here is a permanent exhibit in New York’s Museum of Natural History. The Haidas, natives of Queen Charlotte Islands on Canada’s West Coast, built their 15 to 20 meters long canoes from Cedar tree logs. These canoes were approx. 2 meters wide, had a 5 ton cargo capacity, and a crew of ten rowers (often slaves of the tribe) and a boat steerer. Some boats were oceangoing and rigged with mast and sail. The bows, as seen here, were decorated with paints and carvings. These canoes were used for trading, warfare, and ceremonial occasions. Haida ceremonial canoe


Timor art
flying jana
The dugout in the world of arts and science. At left a native carving of a canoe model. On the right, the design of a ‘Flying Boat’ executed by Francesco Lana-Terzi, physics and math professor in Brescia, Italy, in the year 1670. The boat was not pure fantasy but a result of detailed mathematical calculations based on principles pronounced by Archimedes and Euclid. Once the air was sucked out of its four spheres, the dugout was to become lighter than the surrounding atmosphere and hence would be able to fly. Alas, this airship was never built, as the good professor was afraid of divine displeasure.

© 1998 - 2003 Bjoern Moritz, all rights reserved.

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