Ancient Art of ‘Stitch Ship Method’ of Shipbuilding – 12-09-2023

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    Syllabus: GS1/Art & Culture

    Context:

    • India’s rich maritime tradition is set to come alive with the revival of the stitched ship.

    About:

    • The Indian Navy, Ministry of Culture, and M/s Hodi Innovations, Goa collaborated to reconstruct an ancient stitched ship, reminiscent of the ships that once sailed the oceans on India’s ancient maritime trade routes.
    • The Project was approved by the National Implementation Committee, chaired by the Hon’ble Home Minister of India.
    • It is considered as a cultural and civilizational heritage and symbolised the rich shipbuilding legacy of India.

    Stitch Ship Method of Shipbuilding

    • Using this age-old technique, the wooden planks will be shaped using the traditional steaming method to conform to the shape of the hull.
      • The stitching work of the ship was undertaken by a team of traditional shipwrights, led by Shri. Babu Sankaran.
    • Each plank will then be stitched to another using cords/ropes, sealed with a combination of coconut fibre, resin, and fish oil – akin to the ancient Indian shipbuilding practice.

    Significance

    • India, throughout history, has had a strong maritime tradition, and the use of stitched ships played a vital role in trade, cultural exchange, and exploration.
    • The stitched ship holds significant cultural value in India, given its historical importance and the preservation of traditional craftsmanship.
    • These ships, constructed by stitching wooden planks together rather than using nails, offered flexibility and durability, making them less susceptible to damage from shoals and sandbars.

    Way Forward

    • Once the ship is ready, a unique voyage will be undertaken by the Indian Navy along the traditional maritime trade routes using ancient navigation techniques.
    • By sailing along ancient maritime routes using traditional navigational techniques, the project seeks to gain insights into the historical interactions across the Indian Ocean, which facilitated the flow of Indian culture, knowledge systems, traditions, technologies, and ideas.

    Source: PIB