Canoa de Casca, Igara or Ubá

ubaCanoa de Casca, Igara or even Ubá is a general name for one piece canoes in the Tupi native vocabulary which means “canoe made of whole tree bark” or even Obá which means”open tree bark” for the Carijós indigenous people. Several other different names for indigenous canoes are known.  The larger canoe which could carry about 40 people. Still today indigenous peoples in the Amazon and Pantanal use some trees to build the canoes. One of those trees is the Jatobá.

Text written in 1556 by Hans Staden visiting Brasil and refering to this canoe: “There is a kind of tree that they cut the bark from top to bottom in one piece. Then the heat and fold it in front and behind, but before connecting the center pieces of wood across, so as not to close. The canoes are an inch thick, about three feet wide and forty long. Paddling with these canoes one can travel quickly to wherever they want. When the sea is rough, pull the canoes to the beach until the weather becomes good. They do not go more than two miles from the coast, but travel long distances along the coast”

According to the Admiral Antônio Alves in his Essay on Brazil’s indigenous naval construction (1937): “..for the construction of the Ubá the tree bark was cut down in the convenient lunar time to extract the whole bark with the tree standing. The smaller ones were built from from a single a tree bark of the palm Paxiúba Barriguda (or Paxiubão)  in the Amazon. It is during rainfall the best to prepare the building of the canoe. The trees are more humid and moisture from the atmosphere facilitates peeling the bark off the tree. It is the prefered because it has a large trunk, straight up. After finding the tree, the first thing they do is to take a piece of the bark to see if it is adequate. Then they  climb to make lateral grooves downwards forming the design of the canoe bow to tip. Then pull out as one single piece to the ground. The whole skin is taken to a fire and “cooked” for a night with burning leaves inside. Some sticks are placed square to the skin length, to keep it open as a canoe hull shape. The hull is ready by the morning and only the ashes from the fire must be leaned and it is ready to be placed on the water…”

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