Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Preserve Kuakata antique boat: Expert

A French-born Bangladeshi expert on local traditional boats examined the ancient boat that surfaced from beneath the sandy beach in Kuakata recently and said it is a national heritage bearing ethnic history. 

‘I have never seen such an unusual traditional boat,” Yves Marre told The Daily Star after examining it on the beach Monday afternoon. It is important to preserve it now as it is lying at an insecure state,” Marre said.

Marre initiated a traditional boat museum under the banner “Protection and Preservation of National Naval Heritage of Bangladesh”. 

Marre with his project has so far replicated 65 types of traditional wooden boats of Bangladesh and exhibited those boats in France and other European countries. 

Talks are underway to open an exhibition of those boats in the naval museum of Greenwich in London soon. 

“I urge the government to take immediate step to save the boat to preserve our heritage and it is going to be a learning process for generations to come,” he said. 

“The boat should be kept in Kuakata by setting up a museum or at a safe place where tourists can visit it easily, this is going to be a landmark attraction of Kuakata,” he said.

Marre, an internationally acclaimed expert on traditional boats and also managing director for TARATARI Shipyard Ltd at Kalurghat in Chittagong, said the monsoon tides are too high to do anything on the surfaced boat. “We have to wait till November to lift the boat from the sand and start restoration,” he said.

The ancient boat which is believed to be belonging to the first Rakhine settlers from Arakan province in Myanmar over 200 years ago was found on June 29 during the low tide.

On July 11, a team of archaeologists from the Department of Archaeology Khulna office examined the boat and declared that the boat is over 200 years old. It is clearly an unusual boat that the first Rakhaine settlers in the area used for fleeing from Myanmar’s Arakan province, the team leader said. 

Earlier on July 24, Amitav Sarker, deputy commissioner of Patuakhali, visited the ancient boat and asked local authorities to take measures to protect it. 

Meanwhile, Department of Archaeology has formally asked the government to immediately form a committee and to provide funds for lifting the boat and to start restoring it. 

Made of timber of Gorjon tree, the 72-foot long and 22.5-foot wide boat was found near the tamarisk garden in Kuakata.