Monday, December 4, 2017

The Astronesian Boat-Shaped Houses

In a recent comment to one of our blog articles, a reader stated that “There were indeed Jaredite-like barges in the Pacific Ocean around the time of the Jaredites. You can still see models of these barges throughout the islands. According to folklore, these sealed barges were in the ocean 4500 years ago.” The unnamed reader also sent a link (Austronesian Boat Homes) in which the following image was referenced to verify the comment of enclosed boats that sailed the oceans.
Austronesian Boat Homes with a boat shaped roof line (referenced by reader)

Upon first glance, one might mistake these for enclosed boats that sailed the seas; however, upon closer view, these so-called Austronesian boats were not boats at all, but a unique form of houses, built on sturdy stilts, and with a somewhat boat-shaped roof line. But when lighting up the photo to expose details, we find that these are, indeed homes, or houses, with front door frame for entrance and side windows.
Same photo as above only lightened. Note the shingles on the roof, the shape of the house beneath, the door frame, and windows, barely noticeable in shadows, but obvious

The Oceanic term of Mayo-Polynesian construction for these houses is kalamiR, which translates into “men’s houses,” though an earlier meaning of “granary shed,” is also correct.
The houses, with posts and ladder, ridge-pole and hearth within an encompassing roof, were built on posts or piles and entered by means of a notched log ladder, and though an important aspect of Austronesian houses,  is really not restricted to Austronesians, but found throughout southeast Asia and New Guinea, Melanesia and the Pacific.
    One of the ritual aspects of these houses is that the piles or poles were ritually “planted” in the ground, and built parallel to the river, with ends of the house oriented to “upriver” and “downriver,” with a person going “upriver” to the house, and “downriver” to work (toward the river). The gallery or veranda faced the river, and along the east side. Also, to the Austronesian, the “origins” of the house, that is tales of the founding of settlements, of houses, or of ancestral shrines, establishes priority and secures the rightful transmission of ancestral relics, ordering of succession to office, and establishment of precedence in affinal (family through marriage) relations. Thus, the houses, by the nature of their construction, its directions sides and their occupancy, lend themselves to the expression of this concept of origins.
The kalamiR house represented a constant reminder of ritual activities, from placement and shape, to direction and orientation beside a river or its branch

The Austronesian boat house was typically built inland, along a main river or its branch, and always built on piles or poles. There manner of constructions was:
1. Built with specific and exact directional orientation;
2. Small with a high, gabled roof;
3. Strong cross-beams and center-posts;
4. Timbers secured by wooden pins or pegs;
5. Each had a upward projecting gable;
6. Each had a porch or raised open platform (patio) outside the room;
7. Stone-heated ovens, including earth ovens were close to the dwelling.
Method of constructing one of the Austronesian Boat Houses. As can be seen, the gable serves no specific purpose other than design and has noting to do with boat or maritime construction
As for the design of the so-called boat houses, Ulrich Oberiek (Anthropological Abstracts, Vol 7, LIT Verlag, Munster, Frankfurt, Germany, 2008) states that the similarities between the house and boat in Austronesia involve both being made of trunks of trees, and embrace the concept of origin and root (ancestors) and sprouts (descendants), with the house the root of the family on an island, while the boat design is the symbol of mobility and the relations to other groups.
    Modern Astronesians are descended from ocean voyagers, who traveled in outrigger canoes and the bigger camakau (slightly analogous to the local balangay) sailing through the Pacific Ocean from island to island, in search for a land more prosperous. They accomplished this with mere wooden boats and rudimentary navigation.
The Austronesian boat, or outrigger. Note the forward unusual extension of the outriggers, several feet beyond the bow of the hull

According to Adrian Horridge in Outrigger Canoes of Bali and Madura, Indonesia, claims in a series of factual and complex discussions, that this outrigger boat, called the Protolateen rig, is the original rig of the Austronesian people that all other Pacific rig types, except for the Western rigs introduced much later, derive from it. This boat with the shown rig found on outrigger canoes (especially double-outriggers) was found in Madura, Indonesia. Called variously the Madurese Jukung Rig (a simple descriptive term), the Primitive Oceanic Lateen (so-called by Haddon and Hornell), and the Protolateen Rig (by Horridge), as well as the “Crab Claw” because of the deep concave shape to the leech so the sail somewhat resembles a claw. 
    As can be seen in the photo, the sail  is a two-boom triangular one with no mast. Obviously, the prop that supports the upper boom (the blue and white striped pole in the photo), and hence the whole rig, can't be termed a mast, since it's movable and neither stepped nor supported by a thwart. Depending on the point of sail, much of the rig's weight bears on the tack, the forward corner where the two booms meet, which rests on the bow of the canoe itself. Guys or shrouds are rigged from the sail's upper boom back to both stern outrigger booms, to keep the rig down and keep it from blowing overboard.
    Edwin Doran, Jr., in Wangka: Austronesian Canoe Origins (Texas A&M University Press, 2000), who wrote that the Austronesians were intrepid seafarers whose exploratory voyages covered much of the great ocean on seaworthy canoes, states that while their boats, or outrigger canoes, are all basically the same, their sail types differ and can be grouped into nine categories. None, however, deal with barges, nor submersible vessels, and do not resemble the Jaredite barges in any manner.

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