Thursday, June 6, 2013

Unidentified Indonesian Canoe

I received this query from Arnon Sheige in the Netherlands. Being unable to answer it myself, I'm throwing it open for reader input, with Arnon's permission. Please contribute any ideas via Comments. Thanks.

What can you tell us about this canoe? (Click any image to enlarge.)
Dear Bob 

As a researcher of ancient Indonesia, I would appreciate if you could let me know some details regarding a boat displayed in the Bahari Museum (photo is attached) Jakarta. The Museum Email apparently does not function. 

I am interested in the following:
1. The boat type name. (Generic name?)
2. Area of construction in Indonesian archipelago.
3. What kind of rig/sails does she have?
4. What does the figurehead symbolizes?
5. Type of construction (a dugout + sewn planks elements?) 

All the above is needed for an academic paper regarding the ancient Indonesians mariners. 

Many thanks in advance,

Arnon Sheige 

The Netherlands
The figurehead on the photo from Arnon reminded me of the elaborate carvings on another Indonesian canoe, below. I took these shots a few years ago in the storage area of the Canadian Canoe Museum. Aside from the obvious observations that it's very long, and of straight dugout construction, I have no information about it. 


  1. This Canoe would be from the Iryan Jaya/ Papua area

  2. You could search for info on the famous canoe race of Port Moresby -- some similar looking craft, for example:

    You could also ask the pundits in the Proa_file Yahoo group:

    Also, a guy named Tim Anderson has done some field work in that neck of the woods, however in Sulawesi and Madura (I'm not sure if he went to Papua):

    Here are a couple of texts:

    Title The Prahu: Traditional Sailing Boat of Indonesia
    Authors G. Adrian Horridge, Chris Snoek
    Edition 2, illustrated
    Publisher Oxford University Press, 1985
    Original from Indiana University
    Digitized Jun 10, 2009
    ISBN 019582637X, 9780195826371
    Length 112 pages

    Title Outrigger canoes of Bali and Madura, Indonesia
    Volume 77 of Bernice P. Bishop Museum special publication
    Outrigger Canoes of Bali and Madura, Indonesia, G. Adrian Horridge
    Author G. Adrian Horridge
    Edition illustrated
    Publisher Bishop Museum Press, 1987
    Original from the University of California
    Digitized Jul 17, 2008
    ISBN 093089720X, 9780930897208
    Length 178 pages

  3. Hi Bob, here is an update from Whittlesey, I hope to visit it myself soon! Regards, Marian