This article discusses Pedersen’s interpretation of a boat observed in the backwaters of Kerala, south-western India in May 2003 as a previously undocumented vessel-type: a clench-fastened boat (2010). It argues that the boat he describes is not a new boat type but suggests instead that it reflects the flexibility and pragmatism of boat-building and repair in Kerala’s backwaters, where a plurality of fastening techniques and methods of construction are regularly employed in the construction of individual boats. The paper suggests the boat is a product of the dynamism, continued strength and adaptability, of Kerala’s ‘traditional’ backwater boat-building industry. In addition, it highlights some of the pitfalls of interpreting boats through construction features alone
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