The Dhow Builders’ Yard, Zanzibar

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Zanzibar’s days of building large ocean-going dhows were on their last gasp when this photo was taken in 1999.  Hari, our guide, told us that the large dhow on the right had been commissioned by a Somali trader at a cost of around £7,000.  The building yard is on Maruhubi Beach,  not far from Stone Town, and on the edge of a mangrove forest which provides much of the construction timber. All the work is done by hand, following centuries old traditions. It is a slow and painstaking process, and dhow builders camp out on the beach while working on a big contract like this.


Rule of Thirds

21 thoughts on “The Dhow Builders’ Yard, Zanzibar

  1. I’m not so sure about this thirds thing, but you have that hull in wonderful opposition to the water. Is there a phi thing in photography. If there isn’t, there oughta be.

    1. No I don’t wholly get the thirds thing. But I’m glad you appreciated my dhow angle. I suddenly saw how you could both see the suggestion of its largeness and see beyond it, if that makes sense. As to a phi thing in photography – what sort of thing would that be, Bumba? I feel it might involve mathematical principles…

  2. Even if the practice continued the (local) building material is a finite resource – unless the forest was/is properly managed. By chance, do you know, if it is, Tish?.
    Nice photo.

    1. Yes, Ark, there are indeed ‘grassroots’ campaigns to restore mangrove forests on Zanzibar. The fishing depends on them as well. But the island, apart from being a centre of boat building, has been exporting boriti (mangrove) poles along the whole Indian Ocean seaboard for centuries – probably a thousand years, so they must have been doing something right even if it was only accidental.

  3. Lovely picture! There’s a time for everything, but I think it’s sad that many of these traditions …and skills …sink into history in front of our eyes.

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