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Culture Ministry, Indian Navy sign MoU to revive, preserve ancient technique of shipbuilding

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Ministry of Culture and the Indian Navy have joined hands to revive and preserve a 2000-year-old technique of shipbuilding, officials said on Wednesday.

The technique is known as 'Tankai' method or the "stitched shipbuilding method", the Ministry said.

"Reviving and rejuvenating this fading art is crucial to ensure the preservation of cultural heritage for future generations," it said in a statement.

The MoU was signed on July 18 in the presence of Govind Mohan, Secretary, Ministry of Culture; Uma Nanduri, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture; Priyanka Chandra, Director (AKAM), Ministry of Culture; and Rear Admiral K S Srinivas; Commodore Sujeet Bakshi; and Commander Sandeep Roy from the Indian Navy, it said.

The Indian Navy will oversee the implementation and execution of the entire project. As custodians of maritime security and experts in the field, Indian Navy's involvement ensures "seamless project management and adherence to the highest standards of safety and precision," the Ministry said.

Their invaluable experience and technical knowledge will play a "pivotal role in the successful revival of the ancient stitching method and the construction of the stitched ship," it added.

The stitched ship holds significant cultural value in India, given its historical importance and the preservation of traditional craftsmanship.

"Throughout history, India has had a strong maritime tradition, and the use of stitched ships played a vital role in trade, cultural exchange, and exploration.

These ships, constructed by stitching wooden planks together rather than using nails, offered flexibility and durability, making them less susceptible to damage from shoals and sandbars," the statement said.

Although the arrival of European ships led to a shift in shipbuilding techniques, the art of stitching ships has survived in a few coastal regions of India, primarily for small local fishing boats, officials said.

The proposal to construct an ocean-going wooden stitched sail ship using the ancient Indian art of stitching is a commendable initiative, the statement said.

The project aims at leveraging the expertise of the remaining traditional shipwrights in India and showcase their exceptional craftsmanship, it said.

By sailing along ancient maritime routes using traditional navigational techniques, the project seeks to gain insights into the historical interactions across the Indian Ocean, which facilitated the flow of Indian culture, knowledge systems, traditions, technologies, and ideas, it said.

The significance of the stitched ship project extends beyond its construction and aims to "revive the maritime memory and instill a sense of pride in India's rich maritime heritage" among its citizens, the ministry said.

Additionally, it aims to promote cultural memories among the Indian Ocean littoral countries.

"Thorough documentation and cataloguing of the project will ensure that valuable information is preserved for future reference. This project not only represents a unique boat-building endeavour but also serves as a testament to India's diverse cultural heritage and ancient seafaring traditions," the statement said.

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