Maritime Art in an Islamic Context: Oculus and Therion in Lamu Ships

By A. H. J. Prins, published August 1970


Uses decorations aboard ships in the Lamu archipelago off Kenya during the 1950s and 1960s to carry out a sociological study of how particular elements of maritime art reflect Islamic norms. The Lamu fleet of over 200 lateen rigged merchant vessels and 100 fishing boats provides rich material as decoration of ships was highly popular in the period. While these decorations are primarily secular and occur on the fringes of religious awareness certain elements such as the use of the colour green (unusual in a Swahili context) and using pious Arabic phrases in flags of the oculus occur.

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Filed under: Post WW2 | Indian Ocean
Subjects include: Art & Music

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