Making both ships and boats this craft tradition is an ancient one as it was the base of
maritime trade given the long coastline of Kerala. The deep-bellied, strong
ribbed ships built are spacious, fast and economical for carrying cargo as well
as sufficiently durable to withstand the rough seas.
various shapes, styles and techniques to cater to a variety of needs the timber
used for planks is from the branches of
the modakku tree, which is known for its exceptional strength. The construction
process begins with the joining of the stem posts to the front and rear of the
keel; eight pairs of the ribs are laid out at different intervals on the keels
and joined by planks at different heights to create the basic form of the hull.
The additional ribs and planks, made of karimarathu and pilavu wood, are
connected by thick planks using dovetail joints; these support the structure
and the deck platform and also serve as a bracing.
logs to be sawn into planks for ship building purposes are brought to the work
site and placed on a platform made by wooden logs. For operating the saw, one
craftsman climbs up on the platform while the other operates it from below.
This is a highly skilled job, as the craftsmen have to maintain a regular
thickness while cutting the planks. In order to form the ribs, the planks are
first made flat on two surfaces by sawing; the curve is marked by chalk and the
rib is cut according to the curve.
After the ship is complete and the shed is
dismantled, the entire inner side of the ship is washed and the dust and wooden
particles are removed. The outside body of the ship is then washed with soap
and water and special attention is given to the removal of fungal deposits that
may have accumulated during the long course of the construction. The ship is
allowed to dry and varnish is applied on the inside and the outside. The
surface which will be submerged is coated with a paste of ghee, clarified
butter, lime and oil, this mixture is reapplied after four years and later at
intervals of six months.
boats are produced in Beypore In Kozhikode district:
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