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A Sama-Bajau fishing vinta in Zamboanga with the characteristic colorful sails (c.1923) A Sama-Bajau vinta with sails (1923).jpg
A Sama-Bajau fishing vinta in Zamboanga with the characteristic colorful sails (c.1923)
A small Sama-Bajau tondaan with sails deployed (c.1904) Bajao boat with sail unrolled.jpg
A small Sama-Bajau tondaan with sails deployed (c.1904)
Two large Moro vinta from Mindanao in the houseboat (palau) configuration (c.1920) Two large Moro vintas, Mindanao, Philippines (Hornell, 1920).jpg
Two large Moro vinta from Mindanao in the houseboat (palau) configuration (c.1920)

The vinta is a traditional outrigger boat from the Philippine island of Mindanao. The boats are made by Sama-Bajau, Tausug and Yakan peoples living in the Sulu Archipelago, [2] Zamboanga peninsula, and southern Mindanao. Vinta are characterized by their colorful rectangular lug sails (bukay) and bifurcated prows and sterns, which resemble the gaping mouth of a crocodile. Vinta are used as fishing vessels, cargo ships, and houseboats. Smaller undecorated versions of the vinta used for fishing are known as tondaan. [3]


The name "vinta" is predominantly used in Zamboanga, Basilan, and other parts of mainland Mindanao. It is also known as pilang or pelang among the Sama-Bajau of the Tawi-Tawi islands; dapang or depang among the Tausug in Sulu; and balanda or binta in Yakan in Basilan. It can also be generically referred to as lepa-lepa , sakayan, or bangka , which are native names for small outrigger vessels. [3] [4]


The vinta has a deep and narrow hull formed from a U-shaped dugout keel (baran) built up with five planks on each side. It is usually around 4.5 to 10 m (15 to 33 ft) in length. The most distinctive feature of the vinta hull is the prow, which is carved in the likeness of the gaping mouth of a crocodile (buaya). It is composed of two parts, the lower part is known as saplun, while the flaring upper part is known as palansar, both are usually elaborately carved with okil motifs. The stern has two upper extensions (the sangpad-sangpad) which either emerge from the back in a V-shape, or are separated by a space in the middle. The stern may or may not feature okil carvings like the prow. Vinta hulls are traditionally made from red lawaan wood; while the dowels, ribs, and sometimes parts of the outrigger are made from bakawan (mangrove) wood. [2] [3]

Detail of okil carvings on a vinta stern (c.1920) Carved stern of a Moro vinta (Hornell, 1920).jpg
Detail of okil carvings on a vinta stern (c.1920)
Plan, midships section, and lines of a vinta (Doran, 1972) Plan, midships section, and lines of a vinta (Doran, 1972).png
Plan, midships section, and lines of a vinta (Doran, 1972)
A small Moro vinta (tondaan) from the Philippines (c. 1905) showing the bifurcated stern A Moro vinta outrigger canoe.jpg
A small Moro vinta (tondaan) from the Philippines (c. 1905) showing the bifurcated stern

The hull is covered by a removable deck made of planks or split bamboo. It has a central house-like structure known as the palau. This is used as a living space especially for vinta which are used as houseboats by the Sama-Bajau. The palau can be taken down to convert the houseboat into a sailing boat. However, this is usually only done when absolutely necessary for vinta which function as houseboats. When traveling, vinta are usually paddled or poled in shallow and calm coastal waters, with frequent stops along the way for supplies. They only sail when crossing seas between islands in a hurry. [3]

Vinta have two bamboo outrigger floats (katig) which are supported by booms (batangan). Large boats can have as many as four batangan for each outrigger. The floats are slightly diagonal, with the front tips wider apart than the rear tips. The front tips of the floats also extend past the prow and curve upwards, while the rear tips do not extend beyond the stern. Additional booms (sa'am) also extend out from the hull and the main booms. These provide support for a covering of planks (lantay) which serve as extensions of the deck. [2] [3] [5]

Vinta are usually rigged with a rectangular lug sail locally known as bukay, on a biped mast slotted near the front section. These are traditionally decorated with colorful vertical strips of the traditional Sama-Bajau colors of red, blue, green, yellow, and white. [3] The patterns and colors used are usually specific to a particular family or clan. [5]

Smaller sailing versions of the vinta used for fishing are known as "tondaan." They are usually undecorated and lack the upper prow and stern attachments. They are rigged with a mast and a sail at all times, though a temporary palau can be erected amidships if necessary. Modern vinta are usually tondaan instead of the larger houseboats. Like other traditional boats in the Philippines since the 1970s, they are almost always motorized and have largely lost their sails. [3] [6]

Along with the balangay, lightly armed vinta were also used in the civilian squadrons of the Marina Sutil ("Light Navy") of Zamboanga City and Spanish-controlled settlements in Mindanao and the Visayas in the late 18th to early 19th centuries, as defense fleets against Moro Raiders. [7] [8] [9]


Vinta are usually carved with okil designs, similar to the lepa and djenging boats of the Sama people. The three most common motifs are dauan-dauan (leaf-like designs), kaloon (curved lines), and agta-agta (fish designs). All three are used in carving the buaya design of the prow. The hull of the vinta is decorated with one to three strips of curvilinear carvings known as bahan-bahan (meaning "bending" or "curving"), which are reminiscent of waves. In new boats, these designs can be painted with the same colors as the sails, but once the paint wears off, it is usually not repainted. [3]


In 1985 the vinta Sarimanok was sailed from Bali to Madagascar to replicate ancient seafaring techniques. [10] [11]

Zamboanga City also celebrates vintas in the annual Regatta de Zamboanga during the city's Zamboanga Hermosa Festival each October. The participants are usually Sama-Bajau fishermen from the coastal areas of Zamboanga. Many of these modern "vinta" however, are not vinta, but are other types of bangka (like bigiw ) that merely use a vintapatterned sail (often non-functional). [6] [12]

Other uses

"Vinta" is also the name of a Moro dance that commemorates the migration of Filipinos into the archipelago. In the dance, dancers imitating the movements of the vinta (vessel) by balancing perilously on top of poles. PAREF schools in the Philippines have adopted the vinta as their symbol.

See also

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Sama-Bajau Ethnic group

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Sama language

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Lepa (ship)

Lepa, also known as lipa or lepa-lepa, are indigenous ships of the Sama-Bajau people in the Philippines and Malaysia. They were traditionally used as houseboats by the seagoing Sama Dilaut. Since most Sama have abandoned exclusive sea-living, modern lepa are instead used as fishing boats and cargo vessels.


Buggoh is a type of small dugout canoe of the Sama-Bajau people of the Philippines. They are made from a single log hollowed into a canoe with a rounded bottom. It is equal-ended, with the prow and the stern dropping straight down or sloping outward. They are sometimes equipped with two outrigger floats. They are usually around 1.5 to 4.5 m long. It is also known by various other names, including boggo', buggoh jungalan, buggoh-buggoh, or beggong.

Bangka (boat)

Bangka are various native watercraft of the Philippines. It originally referred to small double-outrigger dugout canoes used in rivers and shallow coastal waters, but since the 18th century, it has expanded to include larger lashed-lug ships, with or without outriggers. Though the term used is the same throughout the Philippines, "bangka" can refer to a very diverse range of boats specific to different regions. Bangka was also spelled as banca, panca, or panga in Spanish. It is also known archaically as sakayan.


Bigiw is a small double-outrigger sailboat native to the islands of Mindanao, Visayas, and Palawan in the Philippines. It is used for personal transport or small-scale fishing and can hold one to three people. It is traditionally propelled by sails and steered with a single oar, but is commonly motorized in modern times. It can also be paddled. The sail type used is predominantly triangular crab claw sails, but it can also use spritsails or tanja sails.


Djenging is a type of large double-outrigger plank boat built by the Sama-Bajau people of the Philippines. It is typically used as a houseboat, though it can be converted to a sailing ship. It was the original type of houseboat used by the Sama-Bajau before it was largely replaced by the lepa after World War II. Larger versions of djenging were also known as balutu or kubu, often elaborately carved with bifurcated extensions on the prow and stern.

Birau (boat)

Birau, is a type of small dugout canoe of the Sama-Bajau people of the Philippines. They are made from a single log hollowed into a canoe with a rounded bottom. The prow and stern of the vessel usually has knob-like protrusions. A smaller wider variant without these knobs is known as bitok. Birau are usually around 1.5 to 4.5 m long. They are sometimes equipped with two outrigger floats. They are very similar to the buggoh, differing only in that the prow and the stern of the birau slope inward.

Junkun Indigenous Philippines canoe

Junkun, is a type of small dugout canoe of the Sama-Bajau people of the Philippines. They are usually made from a single log, though a single plank can be added to the sides, and longer boats can include ribs that support a deck made of planks. They are around 2.5 to 8 m long. They have knob-like protrusions on the tip of the prow and the stern, which also sweep upwards from the waterline. They are sometimes equipped with double outriggers. They are used for fishing and short-distance travel.

Ontang is a type of raft of the Sama-Bajau people of the Philippines. They resemble a miniature catamaran, with two bamboo floats about 1 m (3.3 ft) long connected by two bow-shaped booms. A platform made split bamboo is built on top of the booms. Ontang can be used for fishing, but they can also hold lanterns during night-time fishing. They are typically towed behind Sama-Bajau houseboats during travel, with the towing line commonly strung with baited fish hooks.

Bangka anak-anak are very small dugout canoes among the Sama-Bajau people of the Philippines. They are typically made by Sama-Bajau fathers for their children and are patterned after the larger Sama-Bajau dugout canoes. They can be used for transportation between the Sama-Bajau houseboats, but are more commonly used for playing. They are typically no longer than around 1.5 m (4.9 ft) long. Children as young as three or four can use these boats, which allows them to learn valuable maritime skills.


Tiririt, also known as taririt or papet, is a type of small dinghy of the Sama-Bajau and Tausug people of the Philippines. It is commonly motorized. It is usually carried aboard larger motherships and assists in transporting passenger and cargo to the shore, as well as in towing the boat to port. However, it can also be used as a small inter-island transport. It is roughly leaf-shaped in outline with a distinctive hump-backed side-profile. The prow and stern can sometimes rise up into arcs. It normally has no outriggers.

Tempel, also known as temper or kurikong, is a type of wooden motorized boat used by the Yakan, Tausug, and Sama-Bajau people of the Philippines. It is commonly used in the Sulu Archipelago and the Zamboanga Peninsula. It is around 48 ft (15 m) long, 11 ft (3.4 m) deep, and around 5 ft (1.5 m) at the widest point. It has a V-shaped cross-section at the front, though it is flat-bottomed on the stern for stability. It is commonly made from thick marine lauan plywood attached to ribs and caulked with epoxy. Tempel can also be made from fiberglass, though wood is preferred. Tempel are larger than the junkung but smaller than the kumpit. They are usually used as cargo ships.

Junkung, also spelled jungkung or jungkong, is a small wooden motorized boat used by Tausug, Sama-Bajau, and Yakan people of the Philippines. It is a fast cargo ship and is commonly used as a smuggling vessel in the maritime borders of the Philippines, Sabah, Malaysia and Eastern Indonesia. They are also sometimes used by pirates and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in and around the Sulu Sea.


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