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Peruvian Reed Boats and the History of Surfing
Was surfing invented in Peru using small fishing boats made from water plant reeds?
Modern scientific archaeology indicates, as many Peruvians have long claimed, that surfing may have been invented on their north Pacific coast by pre-Columbian cultures using reed boats to surf the waves. These boats are similar in shape to surfboards but are made from the reeds of a plant. Pottery from as early as 1000b.c. unearthed in Peru shows people wave riding. For those who think surfing was invented in Hawaii keep in mind no one lived on the Hawaiian Islands until 300-750AD or at least 1500 years and possibly 2000 years after surfing has been confirmed in Peru. To be certain, Peru has the oldest archaeological and cultural evidence in existence. Additionally, it is clear that the lineage in Peru originates in the Pre-Incan past 3000 years ago. It continues to the present in both the ancient and modern forms. As proven by archeologists this tradition can be traced back to 1000bc. Surfing is depicted on ceremonial vessels of the Viru Culture, an antiquity of 3000 years, where you can clearly see a man standing aboard a little reed craft, surfing.
It is known that Polynesians surfed. This was witnessed to be very similar to its modern form by European sources, such a Captain Cook, during his explorations less than 300 years ago. Because it was so deeply rooted in their culture, it is safe to assume that it had been taking place before then, however, we cannot be sure as there is absolutely no physical evidence in Polynesia like that found in Peru.
This means that the earliest surfing in the world, with actual physical evidence, took place in Peru. There is no anthropological or archaeological evidence for a Polynesian origin of surfing before the mid 1700s. All surfing, surfboards and board shapes can be traced back to these ancient Peruvian origins.
In the 20th Century is Duke Kahanamoku, often called "The Father of Modern Surfing" was a Gold medal winning Olympic swimmer and brought surfing into the public consciousness in the form it is currently known. Without his influence surfing wouldn't have become the well known sport it is today.
The modern Peruvian's Inca ancestors called the Kontiki´s, fishing along the Peruvian coastline, first rode the waves in the Pacific Ocean. Huanchaco is a village along the Peruvian coast in which, even today, the local fisherman use the reed canoes called "little reed horses" to ride the waves. A link to this ancient Inca past is evident as "modern" Peruvian fishermen stand on the tails of their "little horses made of reeds" and ride the small boats to shore after a long day of fishing.
The reed is a cultivated crop. Planting it is similar to planting rice: one must cut the roots and deposit them in the muddy bottom of a lake. The first harvest can be done after 12 months, and the reed can be harvested about three times a year. Peasants harvest it using a sickle on a 1.5 meter (5 feet) stick, cutting it at that depth below water. Once it is harvested, the water in it (comprising 90%) is dried out and it can even be fed to cattle. There is historical evidence of a floating reed bridge, used by the Incas, in the chronicle of a battle during the Spanish conquest.
But there´s a lot more surfing than just history to be found in Peru near Huanchaco. Chicama, with a rideable break almost a mile long on good days, is just around the corner from Huanchaco. In total there are 6 good spots in the 100 mile coastline between Trujillo and worldclass surf spot Pacasmayo in the north. The wave quality and consistency make Peru truly a surfers paradise and is the ideal surfer's hang-out.
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|BUY FISH SHAPES 5'- 6'|
|BUY FUNSHAPES 6'- 8'|
|BUY LONGBOARDS 8'- 9'|
|ORIGINS OF SURFING|