Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority
...Promoting and preserving the rich heritage of Majuli

CULTURE - BOAT MAKING

BOAT MAKING

Majuli receives heavy rains during the monsoons and the region is prone to biannual flooding of the river Brahmaputra. Hence, water ways are needed and they are the chief mode of transportation in Majuli. Boat making is one of the most common activities practiced on the island. Crafts related to boat making have been practiced in Majuli since the time of the arrival of diverse communities on the Island. Hence, the locals are proficient in the knowledge of making boats. This craft is popular among both Sattras as well as other communities. Auniati and Kamalabari Sattra are famous for making good quality boats in the region. Usually all the families in Majuli have boats which are used mainly during the Monsoons and during floods. Boats are used for commuting from one place to another as they are easily available and an economical mode of transportation.

PRESENT STATUS
Boat making is the main occupation of people from Salmara, Borgayon, Nawsali. 3000 families from these villages are dependent on this traditional craft of making boats. Traditionally, boats were made of Azhar wood which is presently very costly. Hence, the chief material used for construction of boats is the wood from Semalo tree, Uriam, Outenga, Atrocarpus chaplasha (Samkathal) and Hijal tree which are locally available in plenty. Traditionally, single piece of wood from a big tree was used to make boats called Guttaiya nao. Today boats are made from split timber. Boats are named on the basis of the use they are put to. Traditional hacksaws and blades, chisels and rivets are still used to make boats.

The economics of boat making is dependent on a sustainable cycle of production and consumption of boats on the island. Presently, the production of boats is on a small scale. There is a ready market available in the nearby areas and also within Majuli which helps to sustain this traditional craft.