© Composition Richard Konkolski


Pattamar was the father of all the Malabar craft. It is most probably a Hindi name meaning messenger or despatch vessel, converted by the Mussulman seaman to Phatemari - the snake of victory. The Portuguese found the name when they first penetrated the Indian seas. It was basically a large two-or three-masted dhow of India.


Pattamar was a lateen-rigged dhow type of cargo-vessel. It was large, fast, and able vessel with sharp forward hull, with great sheer, with "dhow" manner square sterns in general, but without a poop deck. Instead of poop they had a bamboo and palm-leaf deck-house running almost all the way to the foremast. When loaded and making sea­passage their low waistsby was usualy raised by wash-strakes of palm matting to keep out the sea.


They could be distinguished by their red paint and black gunwales and the globe painted in bright colours on the stern transom. The lengths did not exceed about 75 feet and the tonnage was up to 300 tons.


The basic rig was that of the lateen with bowsprit and jib, but there were many variations of it. They carried two to three suits of sails of varying sizes for various weather conditions. Sailors could always make a temporary new yard if needed from the collection of odd spars generally carried on board for all sorts of purposes. As known, the lateen sails reached as far south as Ceylon, where they  could be seen in combination with staysails and fore-and-aft mizens.


Pattamars were used by the Mohammedan seamen on the Bombay coast from Colombo all the way to Aden.


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