IIAS Newsletter 47 Spring 2008

The wisdom of 'tied logs': traditional boats of India's Orissa coast during the colonial era

Ganeswar Nayak

The coast of the east Indian state of Orissa has been home to intense maritime activity for centuries. Its coastal and estuarine waters have been used to transport hinterland grain and salt via ports in river mouths and lagoons, and traditional fishingbased maritime commerce still flourishes. While traditional boat-building has declined since the colonial era, Orissa remains one of the world’s richest areas for traditional boats, including the carvel-built chhoat and salti, the non-reverse clinker-built danga, and the catamaran, whose structure was a sophisticated solution to navigating deep waters and aggressive surf.

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