Pencalang is a traditional merchant ship from Nusantara. Historically it was called as pantchiallang or pantjalang. It was originally built by Malay people, but has been copied by Javanese shipwrights.[1] By the end of the 17th century this ship has been built by Javanese and Chinese shipbuilders in and around Rembang. However it was a popular choice for Balinese skippers followed by Sulawesian skippers.[2]


The word pencalang comes from Malay word, which has now been absorbed into Indonesian language, namely calang and mencalang, which means "to scout", "to recon", and "to peek". Therefore pencalang can be interpreted as "a boat used for spying" or "recon boat".[3]


The pencalang has a strongly curved front and rear stern and a round bottom with keel. The low freeboard is raised midship through the starboard. The ship has heavy transverse beams and a partial or continuous deck. A deckhouse has been built over most of the ship's hull. The helmsman is protected by a roof. The ship is steered with a side rudder that can be used by means of a hook on both sides of the ship. The sturdy mast, placed against a watertight bulkhead, can be lowered onto a mast support. The ship has a very wide and low tanja sail with boom. The rigging is connected to a long bowsprit. The crew is about 8-20 people. The length of the original local ships was 10.7 to 16.5 m with 3.7 to 5.5 m width. The draft 1.8 to 3.7 m, slightly larger than those built for individual merchants. For the VOC they had a length of 55-60 feet (16.5-18 m) And a load capacity of 20-35 last (36.2-63.35 metric tons) at the beginning of the 18th century; later they became even larger with 60-75 feet (18-22.5 m) and 60-80 last (108.6-144.8 metric tons).[4]


Pencalang is mainly a merchant vessel, but occasionally can be used in warfare. VOC also had this type of ship built in Indonesia to have a small transport ship for use in Indian waters. While at the beginning of the 18th century the VOC had both sloops and pencalangs, at the end of that century only pencalangs were built. In warfare, pencalang is often used to spy on the enemy by using its merchant disguise.[3]:1043

See also


  1. Liebner, Horst H. (2002). Perahu-Perahu Tradisional Nusantara. Jakarta.
  2. Knaap, G.J. (1996). Shallow Waters, Rising Tide – Shipping and Trade in Java around 1775. Leiden: KITLV Press.
  3. Departemen Pendidikan Nasional (2008). Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia Pusat Bahasa Edisi Keempat. Jakarta: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
  4. Groenewegen, G. (1789). Verzameling van vier en tachtig stuks Hollandsche schepen : geteekend en in koper gebragt. Rotterdam: J. van den Brink.
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