Early Pictures of Lateen Sails

By H. H. Brindley , published February 1926


The characteristic lateen rig of the Mediterranean and Red Sea is also found from Norfolk to Burma. This sophisticated fore-and-aft sail is descended from the simpler Roman running square-sail. The earliest pictures of Mediterranean lateen-rigged craft (with Jonah aboard) date from c880. Congruent evolution may have developed in the Pacific. Magellan, on arriving in the Ladrone Islands in 1521 was amazed at the speed of outrigger canoes with fore-and-aft lateen-like sails.   The Pacific lateens differ from Western rigs; they have a boom. The diagrams of eighteen Pacific sails from Indonesia to Tahiti shows the independent development.

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Filed under: Early Middle Ages | Mediterranean | Indian Ocean | Pacific
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design

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