Indian Ocean Littoral Maritime Evolution: the Case of the Yemeni Huri and Sanbuq
Though Arab dhows are often considered as unchanging relics of a long-distant past, the author shows that they have been evolving constantly in response to external influences and economic constraints. Thus the huri have evolved from double-ended dugouts to transom-sterned planked boats. Meanwhile, the archetypal sanbuq has seemingly come full circle; originally a double-ended vessel, following sixteenth-century European contacts the sanbuq became the classic transom-sterned craft of the Red Sea. Today, in Yemen, the sanbuq is again double-ended, but the sanbuq of the late twentieth century bears little resemblance to its medieval predecessor, which was a sewn, teak-planked, shell-built craft, propelled by a lateen sail and directed by a steering oar. Diesel engines have replaced sails and teak has given way to cheaper, non-local timbers.