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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Brazilian Dugout "Ubá"

Here's a real beauty of a Brazilian monoxylon (hah! an expert's Latin-based jargon for a dugout, translating as "one tree") pointed out to me by correspondent Silvio Antunha. The original content from which I've borrowed the photo, with text in Portuguese, is here, and below is Silvio's commentary and partial translation (which I've edited):

The name of the beautiful canoe posted by Celso Lück is "Ubá", and it is used for fishing. Ubá (pronounced You-Bah) is a tupi-guarani word that means "a canoe made in one piece carved from a single trunk of a tree". It is from the coast of the state of Paraná, south of the state of São Paulo. Between the two states there is a marvelous, huge preserved area of Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) that forms the incredible Lagamar (The Swampy Land), on the estuary of the Rio Ribeira de Iguape. The source of this river is near the astonishing Caverna do Diabo (Devil's Cave), in the heights of the Serra do Mar.

The design of this canoe is original from Paraná. The canoemaker needs the skills and the know-how of a true sculptor. Faithful to the ancient indigenous traditions, the fishermen make their canoes by carving trunks of large trees, mainly of thick guapiruvus (Schizolodium parahybum), using only axes and hoes [blogger: adzes?], both curved and straight. The oars [paddles?], the fishing poles and fixtures are made of jacatirão (Tibouchina pulchra), yellow massaranduba (Mimusops brasiliensis) and caixeta (Tabebuia cassinoides), members of the rich regional Atlantic coast flora.(The information above is a mix from myself, from Celso Lück's post, and from entries of Wikipedia in Portuguese, for example http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caverna_do_diabo).

There is also a poem (which is sung) devoted to the canoe:

It is a canoe
Made of a single trunk
Guapivuru is the good tree
That gives the canoe
Of a single trunk

Now see master Tião [i.e., Sebastian]
A small chopper in his hand
Making the canoe
Carved from a single trunk

The last guardian
Keeps the tradition
The last maker
Of the canoe of a single trunk
...with his Caiçara hands
with his natural gift...
...The trunk carved
Now it is a canoe of wood...

This is probably the most elaborate dugout I've seen from a Western (i.e., not Pacific) culture. Note the rudder with steering lines, the elaborate fitting out with gunwales, thwarts, false stem, etc., and of course the striking paint scheme.

Many thanks again , Silvio, for wonderful input!

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