logo banner honai/home page


© Kal Muller, 2004. (Bahasa Indonesia)

01. The making of a dugout canoe starts with the selection of a tree. Some ten species are commonly used. The girth of the tree is one factor in the choice, as well as the amount of labor available. Ironwood is too hard to hollow out, but other species can last up to eight years. Most canoes of softer woods are used for two years.

02. After a tree is hollowed out for a canoe, it must often be bent to a true, straight shape. Water is placed inside the body of the canoe and fires are lit at the sides. The wood can then be bent, hopefully without cracking. Many of the canoes, made of softer wood, only last one or two years.

03. The making of the larger dugout canoes is usually a collaborative effort by a group of related men. Individuals make small family canoes whenever needed, usually every two years. Formerly, stone adzes, occasionally traded with highland Papuans, served for making canoes. Feathers and shells were exchanged for the shaped stones.

04. Axes are now used to hollow out the dugout canoes, with the finer work done with metal adzes.

  © Copyright UNIPA - ANU - UNCEN PapuaWeb Project, 2004.

honai/home page