- Explorer Moments
Anchoring Bangladesh's Ancient Boatbuilding Technology
Preservationist Runa Khan is saving her country's wooden sailboat heritage, which dates back 3,000 years.
As rapid economic growth propels Bangladesh into the future, Runa Khan wants to ensure the country retains part of its past.
With 60 percent of the country enmeshed by a massive network of river deltas, Bangladesh has the world’s largest fleet of inland boats. But thousands of wooden sailing boats, rowboats, barges, and dugouts whose designs date back 3,000 years have all but vanished, replaced by faster, more efficient powerboats.
After restoring a wooden sailboat in 1994 with the help of locals steeped in traditional boatbuilding skills, Khan became enamored with old-world technology and decided that Bangladesh’s boat heritage needed to be preserved for future generations.
“The beautiful, ancient boats were disappearing, and the old-world carpentry skills were dying before your eyes,”