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Monday, September 19, 2011

Nivkh Dugout

My previous posting, concerning the sturgeon-nose canoes of the (North American) Pacific Northwest, generated a comment by "Anonymous" who mentioned that the Nivkh  people of Siberia also built sturgeon-nose bark canoes. I did a quick Google search which didn't reveal any specifics about these, but it did turn up the information that the Nivkh people were a maritime culture of the Siberian northeast with certain cultural similarities to the Ainu of northern Japan. In addition to their use of bark canoes, the Nivkh also built dugouts of poplar.
Nivkh dugout canoe. (Click to enlarge.)
The photo above, from the Russian pages of Wikipedia, shows a Nivkh dugout under oars. Three oarsmen sit in the bow, each pulling two oars, while a helmsman sits high on the rounded stern, steering with a paddle. There is much empty space between them for cargo or passengers. The bow has substantial overhang, and some kind of decorative stem post rising about to the level of the rowers' heads. There is one thwart visible aft of the aft-most rower, and from the first and third rowers' elevated positions, it appears that they are not sitting in the canoe's bottom; i.e., they must be sitting on seat thwarts or some loose objects. The middle rower appears to be somewhat lower and might be sitting in the bottom.

I can not make out the object that appears between the head of the first rower and the stem post. It looks like a paddle or oar blade, but its location there makes no sense to me.

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