Penjajap, also pangajava or pangayaw, were native outrigger warships used by several Austronesian ethnic groups in maritime Southeast Asia. They were typically very long and narrow, and were very fast. They are mentioned as being used by native fleets in Indonesia, the southern Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Names and etymology

The original name for the ships among the natives of the Maluku Islands, eastern Sabah, western Mindanao, and the Sulu Archipelago is pangayaw or mangayaw (literally meaning "raider"). This was transcribed in European sources (chiefly Dutch and Portuguese) variously as pangaio, pangaia, panguaye, pangajao, pangajaua, pangajava, penjajab, penjajap, pindjajap, penjelajah, and pangara.[1][2][3][4] The British East India Company explorer Thomas Forrest also records that the Iranun called them mangaio.[3]

The terms (particularly pangaio) were also later borrowed and used generically for any native wooden sailing ships made from planks without using nails by the Portuguese Empire in their colonies in Africa and India. This usage later spread to other European colonial powers, being applied chiefly to Arab and Swahili-built ships.[5][6][4] The terms are similarly inaccurately applied to the garay, fast raiding vessels of the Banguingui and Iranun people in the Philippines. However, the garay were much broader and did not have outriggers.[1][2]

Penjajap may also be generically referred to as prao, prahu, proe, prauw, or prow in historical records.[7] The "List of Ships and Sea Vehicles from East Indies" which is periodically published by colonial government of Dutch East Indies, registered pangajaoa as pengajoehan (pengayuhan). The list records its name came from kajoeh (kayuh - means paddle) and pengajoeh (pengayuh - means paddler), and consider it as a kind of galley.[8]


The earliest record of penjajap is from 1509 by the Portuguese historian Fernão Lopes de Castanheda, he said that pangajava (penjajap) were vessels from Sumatra, long and swift, going very well under sail or oars.[9]

In 1775, the British explorer Thomas Forrest described a large penjajap in an Iranun harbor in Sulu as being only 4 ft (1.2 m) wide and 3.5 ft (1.1 m) deep, but was as long as 42 ft (13 m). It mounted six brass lantaka and carried a crew of thirty men.[3]

Admiral François-Edmond Pâris observed penjajaps during his voyage aboard the ship Favorite. The dimensions of the vessels encountered vary widely, the largest he saw were 17 meters long, 3,4 m wide and 2,1 m deep; the smallest was 11 m long.[10]

Herbert Warington Smyth reported the description of penjajap from Malay peninsula at the end of the 19th century. The boats were using dipping lugsail, with small deckhouse or awning (called kajang in Malay) and overhanging stern gallery (called dandan).[11]


Penjajap were made from light materials. They were typically very long and narrow and had a shallow draft. This allowed them to sail over dangerous reefs as well as upriver. Large penjajap had outriggers, without which, they would capsize.[3]

Small penjajap carried one to two lantaka supported on posts at the bow, while larger ones had additional guns mounted at the sides. They were propelled by oars and usually by two tanja sails (called saguran among Sulu pirates). They could be rowed both forwards and backwards. They had a relatively open deck covered by a platform. A small cabin is located at the back, which served as the quarters of the nakodah and as a magazine for arms.[3][7]

Like the larger and broader garay, they also served as motherships to smaller kakap war-boats. Penjajap were very fast. Large penjajap could reach speeds of 9 knots (17 km/h) under sail, and 5 knots (9.3 km/h) when rowed. In Iranun raiding fleets, they usually outpaced the slower lanong warships.[3]


Penjajap were chiefly used as inter-insular warships and as pirate ships. Iranun penjajap were usually lightly armed compared to the lanong. Usually they only mount a single lela (native cannon). While lanong was specially designed for ship-to-ship combat, penjajap is more suited to raid coastal villages and attack lightly armed or unarmed merchant ships. In such raids, penjajap were usually accompanied by smaller boats called kakap, which are used as scouts for the penjajap or lanong.[12]

The Portuguese diplomat Tomé Pires, on his visit to Nusantara, referred the penjajap as cargo vessels. Many cargo penjajap were collected by Pati Unus from various port cities in Java to attack the Portuguese in Malacca. Penjajap were converted to serve as armed troop transports for landing, as the Javanese junks were too large to approach shore. Penjajap was the other type of vessels counted by Pires after junks and lancaran upon arriving at a port. However Pires said that after the boats were donated to Pati Unus, trading activity in the ports became more lethargic.[13]

Admiral François-Edmond Pâris noted several cargo penjajap in Malacca strait during 1830s. The penjajap brought spices, dried areca nuts, and coconut almonds from Sumatra, and seem to frequent only the southern part of the strait.[10]

See also


  1. Pierre-Yves Manguin (2012). "Lancaran, Ghurab and Ghali: Mediterranean Impact on War Vessels of Early Modern Southeast Asia". In Geoff Wade & Li Tana (ed.). Anthony Reid and the Study of the Southeast Asian Past. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 155, 158, 173. ISBN 9789814311960.
  2. Leonard Blussé; Femme S Gaastra, eds. (2016). On the Eighteenth Century as a Category of Asian History: Van Leur in Retrospect. Routledge. ISBN 9781351913720.
  3. James Francis Warren (2002). Iranun and Balangingi: Globalization, Maritime Raiding and the Birth of Ethnicity. NUS Press. pp. 53–56. ISBN 9789971692421.
  4. Pyrard, François (1887). Gray, Albert; Bell, H.C.P. (eds.). The Voyage of François Pyrard of Laval to the East Indies, the Maldives, the Moluccas, and Brazil. Translated by Gray, Albert. The Hakluyt Society. p. 53.
  5. Zimba, Benigna; Alpers, Edward A.; Isaacman, Allen F. (2005). Slave routes and oral tradition in southeastern Africa. Filsom Entertainment. p. 214.
  6. Yule, Henry; Burnell, Arthur Coke (1886). Hobson-Jobson: Being a Glossary of Anglo-Indian Colloquial Words and Phrases and of Kindred Terms Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive. John Murray. p. 509.
  7. Ricardo E. Galang (1941). "Types of Watercraft in the Philippines". The Philippine Journal of Science. 75 (3): 291–306.
  8. Bruyn Kops, G.F. De 1921. 'Vaartuigen'. In: Stibbe, D.G. & Spat, C. (eds.) Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch-Indië. ‘s-Gravenhage: Nijhoff. p.485.
  9. Castanheda, Fernão Lopes de (1551). Historia do descobrimento e conquista de India pelos Portugueses. Portugal: Foy impresso este primeiro liuro da Historia da India em a muyto nobre & leal cidade de Coimbra, : Por Iohão da Barreyra & Iohão Aluarez, empressores del Rey na mesma universidade.
  10. Pâris, François-Edmond (1841). Essai sur la construction navale des peuples extra-européens : ou, Collection des navires et pirogues construits par les habitants de l'Asie, de la Malaisie, du Grand Océan et de l'Amérique. Paris: A. Bertrand.
  11. Smyth, H. Warington (May 16, 1902). "Boats and Boat Building in the Malay Peninsula". Journal of the Society of Arts. 50: 570–588 via JSTOR.
  12. Zen, Mohamad (2002). Orang Laut: Studi Etnopedagogi. Bandung: Penerbit Bahari Nusantara.
  13. Pires, Tome. Suma Oriental. The Hakluyt Society. ISBN 9784000085052.
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