Continuity and Evolution in the Taiwanese Sailing Raft

Author(s): Patricia Cush; Richard Callaghan

Year: 2017


The Taiwanese or Formosan sailing raft likely has considerable antiquity as well as geographic distribution on the coasts of China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and possibly as far south as the Coromandel Coast of India. The Taiwanese version is the most studied and may have the longest continuous evolution into the 20th century. These seagoing craft were initially constructed from bamboo, equipped with lug sails, and steered using center boards in a very sophisticated manner. Analysis of their performance characteristics shows that they had considerable maneuverability, which along with the shallow draft allowed them to function well in seas with numerous sandbanks, reefs, and shoals. A great many of these vessels were registered for fishing in Taiwan in the mid-20th Century. With the demise of the giant bamboos on Taiwan during the latter part of the 20th Century and the introduction of new technologies, the sailing rafts evolved but still retained some of their traditional elements. Along with a discussion of the history and performance of the sailing raft we present excerpts from an interview with the last of the craftsmen building the rafts at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Cite this Record

Continuity and Evolution in the Taiwanese Sailing Raft. Patricia Cush, Richard Callaghan. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431001)


Taiwan Watercraft

Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14460