Description: Different types of coracles throughout the world. Above left, traditional Irish Curragh, representing a very long Celtic tradition. On the right, the Scandinavian Coracle, used by the Vikings mainly for river transport and lake fishing. Below left, Traditional Coracle of the Tiger (Iraq). On the right, Coracle in coconut fiber for South Vietnamese coastal fishing. Below: Coracle Indien. Left: Ku-Dru or Tibetan Kowa.
The name Coracle, also related to Curragh is of Gaelic origin, (cwrwgl). This is the composite basket boat used probably as early as the Stone Age on rivers and lakes around the world. Its size is above all dictated by the materials, its shape by the calm navigation of lakes and rivers rather than marine or even river. The basket-boat was made of skins sewn together and fastened with a wooden or bone structure, or both, so as to have a vaguely or precisely hemispherical shape. Very simple, with a flat bottom and without a keel, the Coracle required only wood of recovery of small size, and its surface could be covered by two or three skins sewn only. On the other hand, it required numerous tendons or twines for its attachments, and the skin had to be treated carefully, including its fittings. But the Coracle had a fairly good longevity because of its navigation in fresh water, salt water, compared to ships in marine skin like those of Eskimos, attacking and deteriorating leather.
The coracle was used in antiquity and known in this way, as an archaic lacustrine and river fishing vessel throughout northern europe. It existed in many versions, but most were light and single-seater. Its large size allowed the carrying of loads, it could easily be carried on the back of a man and was even used in battle as additional protection to the shields. On the other hand, its shape made it a stable vessel but slow and awkward, with an important inertia due to its shape. Coracles were built all over the world, in Persia, Mesopotamia, Viet-Nam, and North America.