Arabic داو dāw) is the generic name of a number of
traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails
used in the
Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Historians are divided as
to whether the dhow was invented by
Arabs or Indians. Typically
sporting long thin hulls, dhows are trading vessels primarily used to
carry heavy items, like fruit, fresh water or merchandise, along the
Eastern Arabia (Arab states of the Persian Gulf), East
Yemen and coastal
South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh).
Larger dhows have crews of approximately thirty, smaller ones
typically around twelve.
5 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
The exact origins of the dhow are lost to history. Most scholars
believe that it originated in India between 600 BC to 600 AD[citation
needed] Some claim that the sambuk, a type of dhow, may be derived
from the Portuguese caravel.
The Yemeni Hadhrami people, as well as Omanis, for centuries came to
Beypore, in Kerala, India for their dhows. This was because of the
good timber in the
Kerala forests, the availability of good coir rope,
and the skilled carpenters who specialized in ship building. In former
times, the sheathing planks of a dhow's hull were held together by
Beypore dhows are known as 'Uru' in Malayalam, the local
language of Kerala. Settlers from Yemen, known as 'Baramis', are still
active in making urus in Kerala.
In the 1920s, British writers identified
Al Hudaydah as the center for
dhow building. Those built in
Al Hudaydah were smaller in size, and
used for travel along the coasts. They were constructed of acacia
found in Yemen.
Alan Villiers (1903–82) documented the days of sailing trade
in the Indian Ocean by sailing on dhows between 1938 and 1939 taking
numerous photographs and publishing books on the subject of dhow
Even to the present day, dhows make commercial journeys between the
Persian Gulf and East Africa using sails as their only means of
propulsion. Their cargo is mostly dates and fish to East Africa and
mangrove timber to the lands in the Persian Gulf. They often sail
south with the monsoon in winter or early spring, and back again to
Arabia in late spring or early summer.
For celestial navigation, dhow sailors have traditionally used the
kamal, an observation device that determines latitude by finding the
angle of the
Pole Star above the horizon.
A Jalibut in the Persian Gulf
Baghlah (بغلة) – from the
Arabic language word for "mule". A
heavy ship, the traditional deep-sea dhow.
Baqarah or baggarah (بقارة) – from the
Arabic word for "cow".
Old type of small dhow similar to the Battil.
Barijah – small dhow.
Battil (بتيل) – featured long stems topped by large, club-shaped
Badan – a smaller vessel requiring a shallow draft.
Boum (بوم) or dhangi – a large-sized dhow with a stern that is
tapering in shape and a more symmetrical overall structure. The Arab
boum has a very high prow, which is trimmed in the Indian version.
Ghanjah (غنجة) or kotiya – a large vessel, similar to the
Baghlah, with a curved stem and a sloping, ornately carved
Jahazi or jihazi (جهازي). A fishing or trading dhow with a broad
hull similar to the Jalibut, common in
Lamu Island and the coast of
Oman. It is also used in
Bahrain for the pearl industry. The word
comes from jahāz (جهاز), a Persian word for "ship".
Jalibut or jelbut (جالبوت). A small to medium-sized dhow. It is
the modern version of the shu'ai with a shorter prow stem piece. Most
jalibuts are fitted with engines.
Pattamar, a type of Indian dhow.
Sambuk or sambuq (صنبوق) – the largest type of dhow seen in the
Persian Gulf today. It has a characteristic keel design, with a sharp
curve right below the top of the prow. It has been one of the most
successful dhows in history. The word is cognate with the Greek
σαμβύκη sambúkē, ultimately from
Middle Persian sambūk. 
Shu'ai (شوعي). Medium-sized dhow. Formerly the most common dhow in
Persian Gulf used for fishing as well as for coastal trade.
Zaruq – small dhow, slightly larger than a barijah
The term "dhow" is sometimes also applied to certain smaller
lateen-sail rigged boats traditionally used in the Red Sea, the
Mediterranean and the
Persian Gulf area, as well as in the
Indian Ocean from
Madagascar to the Bay of Bengal. These include the
feluccas used in Egypt,
Sudan and Iraq, and the
Dhoni used in the
Maldives, as well as the tranki, ghrab and ghalafah. All these
vessels have common elements with the dhow. On the Swahili Coast, in
countries such as Kenya, the Swahili word used for dhow is
Dhow seen off the coast of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Dhow seen in the Indian Ocean
A small dhow in Zanzibar
A painting of a Baghlah, traditional deep sea dhow.
Construction and repair of dhows in Sur, Oman
Dhow ferrying passengers near Inhambane, Mozambique.
1937 stamp of
Aden depicting a dhow.
Boom in the
Maritime Museum in
Kuwait City commemorating the founding
Kuwait as a sea port for merchants.
Patamar on a 10
Indian rupee note
Model of a Sambuk
Dhow on the
Shatt al-Arab (1958)
Middle East portal
Arab slave trade
^ a b Briggs, Philip. "Dhows of the swahili coast".
Guide. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
^ "The History & construction of the dhow". Nabataea. Retrieved 6
^ "Arab Dhows of Eastern Arabia". 1949.
^ Taylor, James. "Traditional Arab sailing ships". The British-Yemeni
Society. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 6
^ Prothero, GW (1920). Arabia. London: HM Stationery Office.
^ Villiers, Alan, An Account of
Sailing with the
Arabs in their Dhows,
in the Red Sea, round the Coasts of Arabia, and to
Tanganyika; Pearling in the Persian Gulf; and the Life of the
Shipmasters and the Mariners of Kuwait, archived from the original on
16 February 2012 .
^ Villiers, Alan,
Monsoon Seas: The Story of the Indian Ocean,
Sailing and Navigation". Nabataea.net. Retrieved 7
^ "The Traditional Dhow". Oman: Ministry of Information. Retrieved 7
^ Hourani, George Fadlo; Carswell, John (1995), Arab Seafaring in the
Indian Ocean in Ancient and Early Medieval Times, Princeton University
^ "Dhows", China, Facts & details .
Dhow Ship – Types", Marine engineering, Bright hub .
^ "Ghanjah", Cog and
Galley ships .
Dhow sailing in Kenya, UK: Diani beach, archived from the original
on 24 July 2012 .
^ Agius 2008, p. 316.
^ Oman, a Seafaring Nation, Oman: Ministry of Information, 1979 .
^ Agius 2008, p. 314.
^ Xavier, Sandy. "Zaruq". CA: Sympatico. Archived from the original on
5 October 2003. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
^ Abdullah, Thabit AJ (2000), The Political Economy of Trade in
Eighteenth-Century Basra, Social and Economic History of the Middle
East, SUNY, ISBN 978-0-7914-4808-3 .
Agius, Dionisius A (2008), Classic Ships of Islam: From Mesopotamia to
the Indian Ocean, Brill, ISBN 90-0415863-4 .
Bowen, Richard LeBaron, Essay on the tradition of painting eyes, known
as oculi, on the bows of boats among mariners and fishermen from
ancient times to the present. Found particularly in the Indian Ocean
Clifford W. Hawkins, The dhow: an illustrated history of the dhow and
Anthony Jack, Arab dhows.
Kaplan, Marion, Twilight of the Arab dhow .
Martin, Esmond Bradley, The decline of Kenya's dhow trade .
———; Martin, Chryssee Perry, Cargoes of the east : the
ports, trade, and culture of the Arabian Seas and western Indian
Ocean, foreword by Elspeth Huxley .
Henri Perrier, Djibouti's dhows.
Sailing from Lamu: A Study of Maritime Culture in
Islamic East Africa. Assen: van Gorcum & Comp., 1965.
A.H.J. Prins. The
Persian Gulf Dhows: Two Variants in Maritime
Enterprise. Persica: Jaarboek van het Genootschap Nederland-Iran,
No.II (1965-1966): pp.1-18.
A.H.J. Prins. The
Persian Gulf Dhows: Notes on the Classification of
Mid-Eastern Sea-Craft. Persica: Jaarboek van het Genootschap
Nederland-Iran, No.VI (1972-1974): pp.157-1166.
A.H.J. Prins. A Handbook of Sewn Boats. Maritime Monographs and
Reports No.59. Greenwich, London:: National Maritime Museum, 1986.
Dhow building : survival of an ancient craft.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dhows.
"Al wakrah vagina stadium, Qatar world", The Mirror, UK . Stadium
based on the design of the Dhow.
History of the dhow .
"Dhows of Kuwait",
Kuwait boom .
Lloyd, Christopher, The Navy and the Slave Trade .
Mondfeld, Wolfram, Die arabische Dau [The Arab dhow] (in German), DE:
Modell marine .
Vosmer, Tom, The durable dhow, Archaeology .
Maritime activities of the Arab Gulf people and the Indian Ocean World
in the 11th and 12th centuries (PDF), JP: Tufs .
Types of sailing vessels and rigs
Mast aft rig
By sail plan
Naval & merchant
(by origin date)
Chinese treasure ship
Square-rigged caravel (round or de armada)
Ship of the line
Clipper (Baltimore Clipper)
Ship of the line
Mast aft rig
Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter
Pinnace (ship's boat)