About Austronesian canoes

For the last few days I was reading the work “WANGKA The Austronesian Canoe Origins” written by Edwin Doran, Jr., with a foreword by Ben R, Finney.  While going over the pages I came across a line drawing of a typical Sulu Archipelago double outrigger.  The Sulu Archipelago is a chain of islands in the Southwestern Philippines that forms the northern limit of the Celebes Sea and which is predominantly Muslim.

For most Filipino a canoe, regardless of its type, is just a “banca”. But the Sulu double outriggers are of the type vinta nardi rigged with spritsails of exceptional beauty.  Further study of this particular type of vessel led me to discover, online, copies of 18th Century drawings of more than 280 different type of canoes, whether single or double outriggers, dugouts or double canoes distributed all along the South East Asia, from Taiwan to Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, East Timor, the Philippines, Borneo, Indonesia, Brunei, Java, Bali, Singapore, Orchid Island. That multitude of canoes and the familiar sight of their outriggers and floats, not mentioning common words used by the Tao of Orchid Island and Maori in New Zealand,  cannot but live you with the undeniable impression that the Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian have all their origin in South East Asia.

 Sulu Canoe

Sulu Canoe

Over the last 20 years I did build up a large collection of books, archival papers and photos about Oceanic and Austronesian canoes but little did I expect to be able to add another 280 drawings . I cannot wait to replicate some of them, in particular the Sulu type canoe.