The Sakalava pirogue belongs to the “outrigger pirogues” great family that can be found mainly in Asia, Polynesia and East Africa.
Madagascar outrigger pirogues have their origin in two main regions of the globe: the Indonesian’s Arc – Borneo- (two floats canoes) and Sri Lanka (single float canoes).
It was probably erring sailor rather than great migrations who brought the first pirogue on Madagascar west shorelines.
Cultural intermingling, environmental constraints, and good seamanship, gradually evolve from these two influences the typical Sakalava pirogue we know today. She is composed of a narrow center hull (usually between 4 and 9 meters) made with a hollowed trunk topped by several pieces of timber and assembled planks. The hydrodynamic shape of the whole, reminds of Venetian gondolas and … modern racing multihulls.
The float is built in a very light wood. It is linked to the hull by two highly flexible and solid wooden poles cleverly fixed with ropes, ensuring to the whole a high resistance combined to flexibility.
According to their size, traditional pirogues have three main uses: