Building wooden ships is a tradition that goes back many generations in Liu Zu-bo’s (劉祖博) family.
Liu is a craftsman from the Quangang Fujian province in China and has been making ship models since the mid-1990s.
Liu’s father and his ancestors used to build real wooden ships, so many of Liu’s crafts have been inspired by their work.
His ship models are based on real historical facts. For instance, the Fujian fishing boat models follow the style of ships from the Song and Yuan Dynasty, while the Zheng He treasure ships are from the Ming style.
The models are also very detailed. In the video, Liu pointed out various parts of the design, including a compartment for installing masts and the watertight bulkhead.
The watertight bulkhead is installed for safety. In ancient times, fishing boats were usually made of wood with sails. This means that they can easily crash and water seepage can cause ships to sink, Liu said.
However, the watertight bulkhead makes it so that water seepage in one compartment would not affect the other compartments.
The watertight bulkhead is also used for organizing trade items. People normally carry many different goods on their ships for trade, including silk, spices, tea, ceramics, etc.
The watertight bulkhead allows these commodities to be stored separately.
In addition, there are 20 steps for making a ship model, Liu remarked.
The keel, bulkhead, and side frame are built first, which is similar to the steps of building a life-size boat. Then, decorations such as the 12 zodiac signs are carved and placed.
After that, the artists rig the sails and polish and paint the body of the ship.
Ship models have to withstand waves, not just still water, Liu said, adding that otherwise, the ship models cannot be called a great piece of engineering.