The story of this unique furniture dates back in history to the famous Trade Winds or “Monsoon Winds”. Many a fleet used to set sail in wooden dhows, filled with exotic silks and spices from Arabia, Persia and India to trade their goods for African treasures.
The dhows sailed across the Indian Ocean,along the east coast of Africa, down to Tanzania’s Kilwa port. Merchants would trade and barter , as well as use this time to repair their ships for their return journey.
The dhows are constructed using a layer of cotton between each plank joint,this helps in preventing any leakages (cotton swells when wet). When dhows need to be repaired ,the “fluffy-like” cotton from the seedpod of the Kapok tree is soaked in Hippo fat and forced into the leakage hole, ensuring the boat is once again watertight. The Tanzanian dhow boat builders have been able to retain the authenticity of the dhows.The builders have not been influenced much by modern day technology. To this day, the Tanzanian coastline is still dotted with dhows of various sizes. The term “dhow” is a general term for any wooden sailing boat with one or two masts with lateen (triangular) sails.
These beautiful dhows are constructed by hand,by boat builders who have mastered their trade through the generations, their skills handed down by their forefathers. Typically, the woods used in dhow construction are Mahogany and Teak, but Yellowwoods, Mango and Coconut woods are also used.
The dhows become available to our workshop when they have sailed the last of their many nautical miles. Therefore, the average estimated age of the wood is approximately 50-80 years old (some even older – the latest boat delivered to the workshop was confirmed to be at least 110 years old).
It is incredible to consider what is available in nature when one has “nothing”. No tools, no shops, no other modern day amenities. A picture that will be forever etched in one’s memory is after seeing a Swahili fisherman sitting happily on the white sand, surrounded by turquoise water, sanding his handmade block and tackle with a stingray’s tail (instead of sandpaper bought from a hardware store), before threading his rope through the rigging…..
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks”.