Saturday, May 17, 2014

Best Resource for Indigenous Boats Ever!

The title of this post is hyperbole in only the slightest degree, for Admiral A. Bertrand Paris's work Essai sur la Construction Navale des Peuples Extra-Europeéns (Essay on the Boatbuilding of Non-European People) is without doubt a superbly valuable resource for anyone seeking design and construction details of native watercraft from around the world at or around 1841. (Pity that it's in French.) 

Pointed out to me by Capt. Robert Whitehurst, Admiral Paris's book is available for download in numerous formats at the Internet Archive. The work is subtitled Collection des navires et pirogues construits par les habitants de l'Aise, de la Malaisie, du Grand Océan et de l'Amérique (Collection of ships and boats built by the inhabitants of Asia, Malaysia, the Great [i.e., Pacific] Ocean and the Americas). In spite of its length and apparent comprehensiveness, the subtitle omits Africa, which is also represented in the book.

Along with thousands of detailed, measured, engineering-style drawings and lines drawings, Paris includes hundreds of wonderful sketches of boats in use in their native habits -- wonderful as much for their artistry as for their detail and accuracy. Just to try to get you to go over to the Internet Archive to view (and hopefully, download) the entire book, I'll include a few representative images here.

Boom dhow from Admiral Paris
Sail, construction, and lines plans of dhows (click any image to enlarge) 
beached dhows by Adirmal Paris
Beached dhows 
inflated skin raft in Chile, Admiral Paris
A scene in Valparaiso, Chile, including (at right) an raft buoyed by inflated skins (presumably seal or sea lion)
Inflated skin raft, Chile, Admiral Paris
Detail drawing of the inflated skin raft in the previous image
Log boats, single- and double-outrigger canoes, umiaks, kayaks, bark boats, dhows, rafts...these are just a tiny sampling from a superb resource that has the power to hold the attention of any indigenous boats fans for hours. Do yourself a favor and check out the full document.

Capt. Whitehurst also kindly provided these links to biographical background on Admiral Paris:


  1. Just accessed the book. Very interesting, thanks.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.