those who can play with words are meant to be read and reread.

"Human child," said the Lion, "Where is the boy?"
"He fell over the cliff," said Jill, and added, "Sir." She didn't know what else to call him, and it sounded cheek to call him nothing.
"How did he come to do that, Human Child?"
"He was trying to stop me from falling, Sir."
"Why were you so near the edge, Human Child?"
"I was showing off, Sir."
"That is a very good answer, Human Child. Do so no more."
C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (558)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Archaeological Artifacts: Butuan Boat and Others

• The Philippines has 7,107 islands
• Early Filipinos were a people of the sea: coastal villages or near rivers
* Boats were linked to many aspects of Filipino life: fishing, trade, warfare, “piracy” (trade-raiding for goods and slaves), travel, communication, dwelling
• “Boats are to Philippine archaeology what pyramids are to Egyptologists.”

• Kinds of ancient boats:
1. Banca
o Outriggers, usually dug out of a log
o Still seen on rivers and coasts today (Boracay, Pagsanjan, etc.)
o Also called: baroto, parao
o Features:
o Length: 3-10m, breadth: 1.5m
o Used for inland river network and important short-distance transports
o Some were small enough for one man to lift.

2. Barangay
o Also balanghai or balangay
o Plank-built, edge-pegged wooden boats
o first mentioned in 16th C. chronicles of Pigafetta
o Modern usage refers to the smallest political unit in government
o Declared National Cultural Treasures
o Oldest known pre-Hispanic period watercraft found in the Philippines
o First wooden watercraft excavated in Southeast Asia; it is only in the Philippines where a flotilla of such prehistoric wooden boats exists throughout the world.
o 9 specimens were discovered in 1976 in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Mindanao; 3 excavated.
o Dated 320, 990, & 1250 AD
o Builders of these boats demonstrated unity
o finely made without blueprints, using a technique still used by boatmakers of Sibutu Island (southern Phils)
o similar to the contemporary Badyaw/Sama Laut’s lepa boat (sea gypsies)
o used for cargo and raiding purposes; proof of Butuan as a major trading center

o Features:
o Length: 15m, breadth: 3-4m
o Large enough for 60-90 people
o Propelled by sail of buri / nipa fibre or paddling

o Similar boats in other regions in more recent times:
o Barangayans / cascos – used for rice cargo transport in Cagayan in 1920’s
o Benitans – seafaring Dumagats in 1910’s
o in the Batanes islands today

3. Caracoa
o Also korakora in Indonesia, joangas (king-sized caracoas)
o Highly refined warship, plank-built man-o-war in the 16th century
o Looked like a primitive and flimsy craft, hardly recognizable as a ship at all:
“They do not travel in boats or use oars, but only take bamboo rafts for their trips; they can fold them up like doorscreens, so when hard-pressed they all pick them up and escape by swimming off with them. (Chinese chronicles, 1225)”

o Similar to Viking ships, perfect for carrying warriors at high speed through reef-filled waters and dangerous currents, not for high seas or long voyages with heavy cargo
o Row of shields along the deck, and cannon on the bow
o Shallow draft for easy launching in shallow waters and beaching, but poor steerage in rough seas or unfavorable winds

o Features:
o Length: 20-25m
o Sleek, double ended, with a raised platform or fighting deck for about 100 warriors
o Double outriggers for 4-6 banks of up to 200 paddlers, which provided speed and stability
o Also propelled by square sails on tripod masts

o Gave a community superiority: enabled trade and raiding attacks
o those without caracoas established alliances with others by blood relations, marriage.

4. Burial boats
o To transport the dead in the afterlife
o Ex. In a rock shelter in eastern Masbate: a sawed-off banca with human skeletal remains
o Similar practice seen in
o Egypt: Cheops ship buried with pharaoh Khufu in 2600 B.C.
o Norway (Vikings): Oseberg ship in 9th C. and Gokstad ship in 850

• Boat-building methods
1. Dug out (using single trees)
o Used for banca

a. A panday (master shipwright; also iron-worker, goldsmith) selects a tree (usu. Lawaan, a strong hardwood) wide enough for a canoe 120 cm wide to be hewn from a single trunk

b. Outer form is carved into shape: hull is sharp at the bottom, pointed at both ends, and V-shaped, with sides no thicker than a board.

c. Interior is hollowed out.

d. Working alone, finishes it in 8-10 days.

2. Plank-built (joining planks of wood), shell-first
o Used for larger vessels, like the barangay and caracoa
o Typical of SE Asian boat-making technology; same style once popular in Scandinavia to the South Pacific (3rd century B.C. – today)

a. Build the hull like a shell first.
o Plank by plank, carved to fit; made of a local hardwood (doongon)
o Planks are pegged edge-to-edge every 12cm using hardwood pins or dowels that are19cm long ((Tagalog version was sewed or laced with holes and rattan strips)
o Most distinguishing feature of the planks: succession of flat, rectangular protrusions, or lugs (tambuko in Visayan), carved from the same piece of wood as the plank, on the inside of the boats

b. Shell is left to season (dry out) for a month or two.
c. Planks are removed one by one, all the broken pegs removed and replaced.
d. Shell is reassembled:
i. Sugi (matching)
ii. Os-os (tightening) – planks are left so tight one can hardly see the joints between them, making the hull strong, as if it was carved from a single block of wood
iii. Pamota (closing)

e. Hull is completed with the insertion of ribs and seats: a semi-circular flexible frame is pressed down across the planks and is lashed to the tambukos with cabo negro palm fiber, providing a flexible bulkhead that reinforced the hull

*This technique required the planks to be carved to shape in advance—no mean feat of carpentry in a boat the size of the Butuan examples! Even in 25-m warships, each of these planks was literally hand-carved out of a half a tree-trunk with an adze.

*Chinese medieval author in 14th C, recognized the essential features of the plank-built boat--light, flexible, and nailless.:
“They make boats of wooden boards and fasten them with split rattan, and cotton wadding to plug up the seams. The hull is very flexible, and rides up and down on the waves, and they row them with oars made of wood, too. None of them have ever been known to break up.”

f. Addition of wooden outriggers: to stabilize and increase effectiveness of sail power
g. Tripod mast: 2 poles fastened together like an inverted “V” with a third leg at the centerline.
h. Sail: woven from buri or nipa fibers (not cloth)
i. Paddles: 1m log, with a leaf-shaped blade 20 x 40 cm, that were sometimes used as chopping boards for preparing meals.

• Who used the boats? Who owned the boats?
• Only means of transportation: inter-island. All economic, social, and political contacts depended on boats.
• Caracoas were used mainly for trade-raids by harbor princelings with limited capital
• Malacca Filipinos’ fortunes were not based on petty commerce as the Philippine trade: rather, they came from ship-owning and the underwriting of large-scale export ventures in China markets
a. Regimo Diraja, a tycoon who sent junks to Bruneu, china, Pasai, Siam, and Sunda
b. Surya Diraja, annually sent tons of pepper to China

• What do we learn about life in ancient times?
• Barangays serve as a testimony to the long tradition of Filipino ingenuity in boat-building and seamanship.
• 17th C. Spanish dictionaries of Philippine languages had extensive vocabulary entries concerning seafaring and seamanship
• There was a well-established maritime trade network based on densely populated coastal communities, from which both native and imported goods were distributed.
• Presence of Spanish-speaking slave on the Luzon caracoa may not have been an isolated phenomenon
• European explorers recognized the superiority of local boats over their own in Philippine waters
a. Successfully used for exploration, trade, and quelling the natives, where European designs were less successful
b. Caracoa fleets were employed by the Spanish colonial regime to fight the Moros

• The construction and use of boats has been essential to the development of the Philippines, and craft with similar features still plays a major part in the islands today.


Brown, Roxanna M. ed. Guangdong Ceramics from Butuan and other Philippine Sites, Oriental Ceramic
Society of the Philippines, Makati, Metro Manila, June 1989
Evangelista, Alfredo E. Soul Boats: A Filipino Journey of Self-Discovery NCCA 2001.
Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People, Volume 2: The Earliest Filipinos.
Kasaysayan Online. http://www.filipinoheritage.com/crafts/boat/filipino_boat2.htm
Primavera, Jurgenne et.al. “Handbook of Mangroves in the Philippines-Panay"
Scott, William Henry. Searching for the Prehispanic Filipino

Bernad, Miguel A., S.J. “A Booming Inter-Island Trade", page 645, Filipino Heritage (The Making of a
Nation) Volume III.
Casino , Eric S. "A Family of Boats", page 711, Filipino Heritage (The Making of a Nation) Volume III.
Clark, P., Green, J.N., Vosmer, T. and Santiago, R. (1993) The Butuan Two boat known as a balangay in
the National Museum, Manila, Philippines. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 22.2.
Green, J.N., Vosmer, T., Clark, P. and Santiago, R. (1993) Interim report on the Joint Philippine–Australian
Butuan Boat Project, October 1992 Report - Department of Maritime Archaeology, Western
Australian Maritime Museum, No.65.
National Museum website, http://members.tripod.com/philmuseum/archaeo.htm
Nigos, Joel V. Two faces of Agusan del Norte Sept 11, 2005.
Patanne, E.P. "The Barangay", page 755, Filipino Heritage (The Making of a Nation) Volume III.
Sy, Dionisio. "Butuan Through the Ages" (1970) http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Cyprus/8446/bc.html


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