Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Download Worcester's Crooked Junks, Free

B&W photo of crooked stern junk
A crooked-stern salt junk of Fowchow, from Worcester, G. (1941) Notes on the Crooked-bow and Crooked-stern Junks of Szechwan, following p.36.

Among the most unusual Chinese watercraft are those described by G.R.G. Worcester in Notes on the Crooked-bow and Crooked-stern Junks of Szechwan (1941, Inspector General of Customs [Shanghai]), now available for free download here

Sketch of two crooked stern types
Different configurations of crooked sterns, from Worcester, 1941, plate 13.

Both types were used as transporters for the salt industry, with the crooiked-bow type being specially adapted to running a tortuous and twisting whitewater river, as shown in the image below. The junks were controlled by a huge sweep aft when running downriver, and were hauled by lines when travelling upstream

Sketch map showing route of salt junks through twisting section of river
The salt junk's path through a risky section of river, from Worcester, 1941, plate 8.

Worcester devotes much attention to the salt industry itself, describing its technology and economics, before turning to the vessels. As in his other works on Chinese junks and sampans (see more free downloads), he scrupulously documents the boats' structures, as in the next image. But he also describes in detail the boats' handling and the "domestic" lives on the crew when aboard.

Sketch showing staple that passes through boat to fasten inside of wale to outside of adjacent plank.
Method of fastening plank to wale on a salt junk, from Worcester, 1941, following p.42.

In addition to the two larger junks named in the book's title are plans and descriptions of two smaller vessels: the Tzeliutsing salt sampan and ferry sampan.

Many thanks to the contributor who provided this document so that we could make it available as a free resource.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Classification of Junks by Worcester - Free Download

Four bow types of junks: Kiangsu, Chekiang, Fukien, Kwangtung
Bow typology of Chinese junks, from A Classification of the Principal Chinese Sea-going Junks by Worcester (1948).

Continuing our series of free downloads of books about Asian watercraft, we are pleased to offer the useful A Classification of the Principal Chinese Sea-going Junks (South of the Yangtze), by G.R.G. Worcester, made available to us by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous. The book was published by China's Inspectorate General of Customs in 1948. 

Focusing entirely on sailing craft, Worcester identifies 93 junk types in the area of study. Few of them are less than 50' (about 15m) LOA  and some are well over 100' (30m). His guide to identification relies on three main characteristics. In order of importance they are: bow shape; stern shape, and (surprisingly), decoration and color scheme, which, he says, are highly characteristic of the region in which each type is found. Also suprising is that he lists the rig as a characteristic of secondary importance, less significant in identification than color and decoration. His typology for the main bow types is shown above.

Each type is depicted on a two-page spread, with the left page bearing a profile drawing of the ship above the waterline, including its rig. The right-hand page is consistently formatted with details of design, locale, and usage, as shown in the example below.

Junk profile diagram and description
Yencheng Trader-type junk, an example of the type descriptions in A Classification of the Principal Chinese Sea-going Junks by Worcester (1948).

Other books on Chinese and East Asian watercraft are available for free download on this page, including other works by Worcester.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Worcester's Upper Yangtze vessels - Free download


Includes profile and plan views, identification flag, and Chinese characters from hull marking
A river lifeboat, from Junks and Sampans of the Upper Yangtze (1940), by G.R.G. Worcester (Plate 9).

Junks and Sampans of the Upper Yangtze by G.R.G. Worcester (1940, published by the Inspector General of Customs of China) is now available for free download. It joins Worcester's other works on the traditional vessels of the Yangtze (Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze: Volume 1: Introduction: and Craft of the Estuary and Shanghai Area; and Volume 2:The Craft of the Lower and Middle Yangtze and Tributaries, on our page of downloads, where you'll find other books on Asian watercraft. The newest document was made available by an enthusiast who chooses to remain anonymous but to whom we are most grateful.

Like Volumes 1 and 2, the "Upper Yangtze" volume is a comprehensive survey of the traditional watercraft in the area under study, covering boat types, construction details, and fascinating descriptions of each boat type's design, history, and use. Worcester was an Englishman employed as a river inspector for China's Maritime Customs Service.

The Hung Ch'uan boat shown at the top, was a life boat. Dozens of these "red boats" (known as such for their characteristic color) were stationed along treacherous stretches of river, where they came to the aid of vessels in distress and saved hundreds of lives annually. The one shown measured 30' LOA by 7' beam. The characters on the flag identify its operator as "The Society for Rescuing Drowning People, Lower Section, Lungmenhao, South Bank, Chungking".

Diagram of rigging on towing mast, sliding metal collar, and configuration of rig on profile view of vessel
Tracking tackle and rigging, from Junks and Sampans of the Upper Yangtze (1940), by G.R.G. Worcester (Plate 4).

The second image shows the tackle used for tracking a boat upstream with a line made from braided strips of bamboo. The number of men hauling the tracking line could vary from one to hundreds, depending upon the size and weight of the boat and the speed and pitch of the current. Other illustrations in the book show sail rigs, rudder configurations, and comparative vessel profiles. It's well worth a look and a download. Enjoy!