Bangka (boat)

Bangka are various native watercraft of the Philippines. It originally referred to small double-outrigger dugout canoes used in rivers and shallow coastal waters, but since the 18th century, it has expanded to include larger lashed-lug ships, with or without outriggers. Though the term used is the same throughout the Philippines, "bangka" can refer to a very diverse range of boats specific to different regions.[1] Bangka were also spelled as banca, panca, or panga (m. banco, panco, pango) in Spanish.[2][3]

In the various animist anitism beliefs of precolonial Philippines, the building of bangka often involved religious rituals, from the choosing of the trees for timber to rituals before voyages. Newly-built bangka were imbued with a guardian spirit (anito) through various rituals, usually involving blood sacrifices. Ancient and early colonial-era bangka were also usually decorated with a carved or painted face. Bangka had a central role in pre-Hispanic Filipino culture, functioning as personal transports, fishing ships, trading ships, and raiding warships. Motorized or paddle-driven bangka still remain the main form of watercraft in the Philippines.[1][4]

Etymology

Bangka is derived from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *baŋkaʔ, with cognates including Kavalan bangka, Mori bangka, and Sumbawa bangka. It is a doublet of two other protoforms referring to boats: Proto-Austronesian *qabaŋ and Proto-Central-Malayo-Polynesian *waŋka. Ultimately from the Proto-Austronesian lexical root *baŋ for "boat".[5][6][7]

History

Indigenous Philippine boats originated from the ancestral single-outrigger dugout canoes of the Austronesian peoples, which themselves evolved from catamarans.[8][9] These boats were the first ocean-voyaging vessels in the world, which allowed the seaborne Austronesian Expansion around 3000 to 1500 BCE, from coastal southeastern China and Taiwan to Island Southeast Asia, Micronesia, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Madagascar.[10][7][11][12][13]

The oldest recovered boats in the Philippines are the 9 to 11 balangay found in Butuan dated to 320 CE, all specimens of whom were typical lashed-lug Austronesian boats. The technique remained common in Philippine (and Southeast Asian) boats right up to the 19th century, when modern boats started to be built with metal nails. Edge-joined planks continue to survive in some areas in the Philippines, though these are usually secured with metal rebars and rods, instead of the traditional lugs and lashings.[13]

Unfortunately most excavations and recoveries of pre-colonial shipwrecks (including those by the National Museum) in Southeast Asia focus more on the cargo rather than studying the ship structures themselves. Looting is also a problem, which contributes to the paucity of research on pre-colonial Filipino watercraft.[13]

Various types of bangka were used in maritime trade. While the polities in the Philippines remained small and largely in the periphery of Southeast Asian trade, they were nevertheless part of the Southeast Asian market. The earliest exchange of material culture was the late Neolithic trade in lingling-o double-headed jade or gold ornaments, manufactured in Luzon, which was traded with other Austronesian polities in southern Vietnam and Taiwan. This was followed by later trade in ceramics from mainland Southeast Asia and southern China in exchange for resins, aromatic woods, gold, pearls, sea cucumber (trepanging), tortoiseshell, civets, fabrics, beeswax, and bird's nest. The main trading contacts of Philippine polities included the Champa polities in Vietnam, China, and the Sultanate of Brunei.[13]

Bangka were also used in wars and the naval warfare and coastal raids (mangayaw) of thalassocracies, a notable example of such a warship is the karakoa of the Visayas. These were seasonal and played a large part in the noble and warrior classes gaining prestige and plunder. Warriors participating in the raids had their exploits recorded in elaborate full-body tattoos.[13][14][15][16][17]

Construction

Like all ancestral Austronesian boats, the hull of the bangka at its simplest form had five parts. The bottom part consists of single piece of hollowed-out log. At the sides were two planks, and two horseshoe-shaped wood pieces formed the prow and stern. These were fitted tightly together edge-to-edge with lugs, dowels and lashings (made from rattan or fiber), without using any nails. They formed the shell of the boat, which was then reinforced by horizontal ribs. They had no central rudders but were instead steered using an oar on one side. These were built in the double-canoe configuration or had a single outrigger on the windward side. In Island Southeast Asia, these developed into double outriggers on each side that provided greater stability when tacking against the wind.[19][20][8] Bangka were also typically traditionallu caulked using a boiled mixture of balaw sap from apitong trees (Dipterocarpus spp.) and gata (coconut milk.[21]

The ancestral rig was the mastless triangular crab claw sail which had two booms that could be tilted to the wind. The sails were made from mats woven from pandan leaves. The triangular crab claw sails also later developed into square or rectangular tanja sails, which like crab claw sails, can be tilted against the wind. Fixed tripod or bipod masts also developed in Southeast Asia.[8][9][20]

Cultural significance

Aside from being used in trade and war, bangka were of central significance to various cultures throughout the Philippines. Villages were known as barangay, derived from balangay, a common large boat type. Boat terminologies were used for ranks, place names, and even personal names, even in island interiors.[14][21] Among the Sama-Bajau people of the southern Philippines, various types of bangka like the djenging and the lepa served as houseboats of nuclear families and often sail together in clan flotillas.[22] Small bangka were also sometimes used to transport rice and farm goods on land, as they were more convenient on narrow pathways than sleds or wagons.[21]

Bangka feature prominently in Visayan mythology. A boat known as the balanday is used by the deity Magyan to ferry souls of the dead. In the epic Labaw Donggon of the Suludnon people, a boat known as biday na inagta (lit. "black boat") is featured prominently.[21] In the Western Visayas, a divination ritual known as the kibang involves occupants sitting perfectly still in a bangka and asking questions while a diwata (nature spirit) answers by rocking the boat.[21]

Modern bangka

Since the introduction of the motor engine in the 1970s, the formerly widespread Philippine sailing traditions have mostly been lost.[23] Most modern bangka are motorized and are known as "pump boats" (or pambot) or lancha (lantsa). Smaller boats usually use gasoline or diesel engines, while larger boats can use recycled automobile engines.[24]

Bangka are also increasingly being made with fiber-reinforced plastic (fiberglass) instead of wood, which are more resistant to shipworms and rotting and are relatively cheaper.[4]

Types

Outrigger boats

Plank boats

  • Avang - a large two-masted closed-deck cargo ship of the Ivatan people about 14 to 18 m (46 to 59 ft) in length. Extinct since 1910.[40]
  • Balangay - also known as barangay, were very large two-masted sailing ships made from sewn planks. They were used for ferrying cargo and sometimes as warships.[27][41]
  • Bilo - a cargo vessel with a small rectangular tanja sail.[27]
  • Falua - a traditional open-deck boat of the Ivatan people usually 8 to 12 m (26 to 39 ft) in length.[40]
  • Garay - single-masted warships of the Banguingui people.[42]
  • Lepa - houseboats of the Sama-Bajau with no outriggers.[43]
  • Salisipan - long and narrow war canoes of the Iranun and Banguingui peoples propelled by rowing.[42]
  • Tataya - a general term for small boats, with or without outriggers, powered by sails or rowers in the Batanes Islands. They have several subtypes based on size and island origin. They can also be used to refer to the larger traditional trading ships of the islands: the avang, falua, chinedkeran, and chinarem.[40]

Dugout canoes

Modern

  • Basnigan - very large modern motorized double-outrigger fishing ships around 70 to 100 ft (21 to 30 m) in length. They are capable of sailing in 12 to 15 ft (3.7 to 4.6 m) waves. They have detachable masts and booms used in a type of lift net fishing known as basnig or balasnig. They usually operate with smaller daughter ships known as lawagan, these are paddle-driven double-outrigger bangka carried onboard. They are a common type of bangka in the Visayas Islands.[12][46][47]
  • Pump boat - corrupted into pambot or pombot, a general term for motorized small bangka.[24]

See also

References

  1. Abrera, Maria Bernadette L. (2005). "Bangka, Kaluluwa at Katutubong Paniniwala (The Soul Boat and the Boat-Soul: An Inquiry into the Indigenous "Soul")" (PDF). Philippine Social Sciences Review. 57 (1–4): 1–15.
  2. de Navarrete, Martín Fernández (1831). Diccionario Marítimo Español. Imprenta Real. p. 401.
  3. Sobarzo, Horacio (1966). Vocabulario Sonorense. Editorial Porrúa. p. 232.
  4. Dedace, Sophia; Yan, Gregg (14 June 2014). "Re-engineering the Philippine banca". Rappler. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  5. Waruno, Mahdi (2017). "Pre-Austronesian origins of seafaring in Insular Southeast Asia". In Acri, Andrea; Blench, Roger; Landmann, Alexandra (eds.). Spirits and Ships: Cultural Transfers in Early Monsoon Asia. ISEAS Publishing. pp. 325–374. ISBN 9789814762755.
  6. Blust, Robert; Trussel, Stephen. "The Austronesian Comparative Dictionary (Web Edition)". Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  7. Jett, Stephen C. (2017). Ancient Ocean Crossings: Reconsidering the Case for Contacts with the Pre-Columbian Americas. University of Alabama Press. pp. 197–200. ISBN 9780817319397.
  8. Mahdi, Waruno (1999). "The Dispersal of Austronesian boat forms in the Indian Ocean". In Blench, Roger; Spriggs, Matthew (eds.). Archaeology and Language III: Artefacts languages, and texts. One World Archaeology. 34. Routledge. pp. 144–179. ISBN 978-0415100540.
  9. Doran, Edwin Jr. (1981). Wangka: Austronesian canoe origins. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 9781585440863.
  10. Meacham, Steve (11 December 2008). "Austronesians were first to sail the seas". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  11. Kirch, Patrick Vinton (2019). A Shark Going Inland Is My Chief: The Island Civilization of Ancient Hawai'i. University of California Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 9780520303416.
  12. Doran, Edwin Jr. (1974). "Outrigger Ages". The Journal of the Polynesian Society. 83 (2): 130–140.
  13. Lacsina, Ligaya (2016). Examining pre-colonial Southeast Asian boatbuilding: An archaeological study of the Butuan Boats and the use of edge-joined planking in local and regional construction techniques (PhD). Flinders University.
  14. Scott, William Henry (1994). Barangay. Sixteenth-Century Philippine Culture and Society. Ateneo de Manila University Press. p. 63. ISBN 9715501389.
  15. Roxas-Lim, Aurora. "Traditional Boatbuilding and Philippine Maritime Culture" (PDF). Interntaional Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region, UNESCO.
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  18. Doran, Edwin, Jr., Texas A&M University (1972). "Wa, Vinta, and Trimaran". Journal of the Polynesian Society. 81 (2): 144–159.
  19. Adrian, Horridge (2008). "Origins and Relationships of Pacific Canoes and Rigs". In Di Piazza, Anne; Pearthree, Erik (eds.). Canoes of the Grand Ocean (PDF). BAR International Series 1802. Archaeopress. ISBN 9781407302898.
  20. Abramovitch, Daniel (2003). "The Outrigger: A Prehistoric Feedback Mechanism" (PDF). Proceedings of the 42ns IEEE (WeNPL-1): 2000–2009.
  21. Funtecha, Henry F. (2000). "The history and culture of boats and boat-building in the Western Visayas". Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. 28 (2): 111–132.
  22. Nimmo, H. Arlo (1990). "The Boats of the Tawi-Tawi Bajau, Sulu Archipelago, Philippines" (PDF). Asian Perspectives. 29 (1): 51–88.
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  24. Spoehr, Alexander (1980). "Protein from the sea: technological change in Philippine capture fisheries". Ethnology.
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  26. Lozano, José Honorato (1847). Vistas de las islas Filipinas y trajes de sus habitantes.
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  44. Madale, Abdullah T. (1997). The Maranaws, Dwellers of the Lake. Rex Bookstore, Inc. p. 82. ISBN 9789712321740.
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