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Kanoe of the Аustral islands

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Kanoe of the Аustral islands

Postby Anatol » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:02 am

When Captain Cook's third Pacific expedition was at Mo'orea, near Tahiti, the expedition artist John Webber made a drawing of a canoe landed on the beach, one that was unlike any Tahitian design. Where had it come from? Expedition member William Ellis seems to have described the canoe in Webber's drawing when he wrote of a canoe "somewhat in the shape of a crescent, the stem and stern high and pointed and the sides deep", which had brought a chief from Rurutu. Cambridge scholar AC Haddon, co-author of Canoes of Polynesia (Bishop Museum Press, 1936) believed that this must be the canoe in Webber's drawing, noting that the high head and stern were distinctive of both Rurutu and Raivavae in the Australs. In Webber's drawing the hull is of the voyaging pahi type, wide and built up of carved strakes lashed over a dug-out keel-piece, similar to Tahitian and Tuamotuan pahi , but distinctively different because of a bulge along the side, apparently to provide extra floatation. Soon after contact with Europeans the Austral islanders were devastated by introduced diseases. The population collapse left open lands that attracted immigrants from Tahiti. They built canoes of Tahitian design, The earlier designs disappeared before they could be recorded and drawings made. Webber's drawing may thus be the single depiction we have of the voyaging canoes of the Australs that according to legends frequently voyaged the 400 or morе miles north to the Tahitian Islands.
French Polynesia 1976; 30f; SG228
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