Monday, April 4, 2016

Kerala Coracle

"Coracle" from Kerala, India
"Coracle" from the Indian state of Kerala. Image by Joe Niemczura. (Click to enlarge.)
We received this photo over a year ago from Joe Niemczura, RN,MS. Of it, he says:
"I'm travelling in India and came across this scene in Kerala Backwaters.
It shows the construction pretty clearly. 
Evidently, you can take a group outing on these (!) in Kerala if you like."
We don't know the native name of this craft, but it's obviously a "coracle" in the broad sense of a round (or roundish) basketwork boat small and light enough to be carried. Here's what else we can tell from the photo:
  • The base structure is an openwork basket made of light laths, forming a very appealing hexagonal weave. 
  • Lighter material (withies, wicker or similar) are woven under-over-under around the tops of the laths in at least 28 courses, binding them together and forcing the ends up into a shallow bowl shape.
  • Six frames are bent into the inside of the bowl. The frames are roughly rectangular in section, and they are laid in three sets of parallel pairs at equal angles to one another. Each frame is laid either under-over-under-over the others or the reverse.
  • A wood inwale is bent around the inside of the basket's upper edge. It appears to be roughly the same weight as the frames. It's unclear if the inwale is installed before or after the frames are in place. It's possible that the frames are forced into place after the inwale is lashed in, to tighten and stress the basket and its covering.
  • The cover is of unknown material. It is pulled over the top of the inwale and just barely across its inside edge.
  • The cover and the inwale appear to be lashed together to the circumferentially-woven withies at the top of the basket, but it's possible that the inwale is lashed in before the cover is stretched over it. 
  • The paddle has no end-grip. As with many other coracles, propulsion is from the "front" -- i.e., the boat is drawn directly toward the paddle. 
Thanks to Mr. Niemczura for this intriguing image.

1 comment:

  1. my blog about Kerala:

    I would point out one missing feature: I saw a team of people using these to fish in a narrower channel using nets. they pulled themselves along a rope, as opposed to padding, which allowed them to travel in more of a straight line. aha!