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Model of a Torres Strait canoe

Date: c 1988
Overall: 445 x 1029 x 533 mm
Medium: Wood, bamboo, natural fibres
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Ship model
Object No: 00004428
Related Place:Torres Strait,

User Terms

    This model at a scale of 1:15 represents a traditional canoe of the early 20th century from Mabuiag Island (Jervis Island) in the Bellevue Islands, Torres Strait. It consists of a dug-out hull with twin outriggers, stone anchor, washstrakes and one or two matting sails on bamboo masts. The midships platform has woven storage crates on each side and the canoe is decorated with a sea eagle figurehead, carvings and paint work. These vessels could be up to 20 metres in length and were used for hunting, trading and fishing.
    SignificanceThis canoe reflects traditional sailing vessels from Mabuiag Island and the close relationship of the Torres Strait communities with the sea.
    HistoryDuring the 18th and 19th centuries European maritime navigators travelling through Torres Strait regularly saw outrigger canoes being used by the local population. The Torres Strait islanders extensively interact with their marine world and use canoes for trade, fishing and transport.

    Dugout canoes are commonly carved from kapok trees and other buoyant woods. In many regions they have pandanus-fibre sails attached to a mast. Canoes can feature single or double outriggers, suitable for long distance travel at sea. On these long journeys the constellations are used for navigation.

    Canoes and vessels from northern Australia are strikingly more complex than in other regions of the continent. This probably results from their need to be seaworthy during long journeys and the need to negotiate reefs and shallow waters. The presence and interaction of Melanesian vessels with the Islanders may have also generated advancements in boatbuilding technology.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Model of a Torres Strait canoe

    Primary title: Torres Strait canoe

    Related People
    Model Maker: George Crowley

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