Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Va'a Motu photo from 1868

This is one of my favorite canoe photos.  It was taken in 1868 in the Sous-le-Vent or Islands under the Wind, in Western French Polynesia.
The photo was published in a magnificent book called Va'a, La pirogue polynesienne, published by Au Vent Des Iles in Tahiti.  The text is in French, but the photos make it worthwhile even if you have to (very slowly in my case) translate.


  1. Brings back memories -- an odd memory. I started my first novel with that very image: a space farer is on low-technology planet watching that scene and reflecting the theme of ships and humans. I abandoned the novel but the scene stuck with me. .... Ha! I just looked and I actually saved it on my computer, forgot I even had it, here it is for the fun of it:

    "The lake is calm, broken only by the small ripples of a light canoe. A boy sits at the stern, steadying the craft with a balanced paddle. A man, perhaps his father, stands at the bow with a ready harpoon. He gestures to the boy; he seems to say: "See, I hold it like this." He watches the water. It is dawn, and the red sun is just about to tinge the far hills with fire. It will be a warm day, for mist is already rising from the water. As the morning veils lift, the man makes a motion and the harpoon is suddenly gone. Only the ripple of muscles and the ripple of the water betray the catch. The boy smiles, although he doesn't laugh like I expect him to--he has been well trained to work a silent hunt. The man tries to be stern and professional as he hauls in the struggling catch, but the simple joy of the moment loosens the hard set of his mouth. And behind the two fishermen, far away over the morning lake, a kilometer high space vessel settles into her berth, so quiet for something so huge. The sun catches her hull like it has the hills, and the vessel flames in the new day. The boy is paddling again, and the man poses gracefully on the bow, eyes intent on the task."

  2. Hi Gary,

    I just wanted to let you know that I've started a new outrigger Blog at: http://outriggeryacht.blogspot.com.au/
    and have linked two of your Blogs to this site.
    The purpose of the site is stated on my Blog.

    Many thanks,