The history of dhows is incredibly amazing in the Kenyan and Arab culture for countries that have been the hub of sea trading and fishing for centuries. Among all of the sailing vessels, you will find a dhow to be the most graceful of all. Centuries ago, when sea trade was a major occupation for the Arab and African nations, dhows were used as transportation for carrying out trade activities. Some of the chief activities in those times used to be fishing, trading of cargo and pearl diving among others.

Design of the Dhow

The history of dhows and their original design, date back to centuries. These vessels have been known to be a common feature in the Red Sea as well as the Indian Ocean, both of which were major routes of trading. For the wind patterns of the Indian Ocean, the lateen sail of the dhow has always been ideal and hence, this ancient design vessel has always been hugely popular in the Indian Ocean. Up until the 1950s, the dhows were designed following the original design and they used natural winds for sailing.

Kenyan Dhow

The history of dhows is a strong one and the Kenyan culture has managed to maintain this beautifully designed creation, which has been a major part of the Arabian and African culture throughout centuries. In the past, the Kenyan dhow was nothing more than a dugout boat that had matting sails. This was called the “dau la mtepe”. These boats, which had masts and cloth sails, were replaced about two centuries ago. These components used in the creation of the Kenyan dhow were introduced from the Persian Gulf. The ancient Kenyan dhow used nails for its construction.

Evolution of the Dhow

After the 1950s, commercial trading increased and the sailing fleets used for this purpose were fitted with the power engine. Over the period of centuries, there have been many additions to the great history of dhows, which have led to their evolution. In the recent times, the use of dhows has mostly been limited to tourism purposes. The size of these dhows has also become larger and they are mostly constructed in countries like Oman, Dubai and Kuwait. Another significant change in the history of dhows has occurred because of the diesel engines that are now commonly used for powering them.

The history of dhows is golden in its own right. From the artful creation of the dhows to their functionality for trading purposes, everything about them is amazing. In the past, the dhow has been used for carrying spices, carpets, dates and other materials from the orient to the west. In addition, the dhows were also used for transportation of slaves during the era in which the trading of Arab slaves was a common practice. Today, these dhows are no more used for commercial purposes and have become a part of the rich Arab and African heritage for tourism purposes.

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