The project aims to record the endangered craft skills and material culture underpinning construction of the chhot river boat—a wooden vessel of unique construction found on the Rupnarayan river, a tributary of the Hooghli river in West Bengal, India.

The chhot is a rarity in that its planking is joined using metal staples, a technique unknown elsewhere in India that echoes sewn-boat construction, while its keel-less construction echoes traditional watercraft in southeast Asia. The chhot-building tradition is threatened by dwindling demand for the vessel as a result of improved road infrastructure, rising wood costs, overfishing and new materials.


John Peter Cooper

Zeeshan Alli Shaikh

Location of Research:
Dihimandalghat village and surroundings, West Bengal, India

Host Institution:
Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies, University of Exeter


Top Banner Image: The oculus is common on chhot boats: to the fisherman, the chhot is not inanimate. (Photo: Swarup Bhattacharyya)