A pirogue (/pɪˈroʊɡ/ or /ˈpiːroʊɡ/),[1] also called a piragua or piraga, is any of various small boats, particularly dugouts and native canoes. The word is French and is derived from Spanish piragua [piˈɾaɣwa], which comes from the Carib piraua.

Madagascar - Traditional fishing pirogue
Traditional fishing pirogue (a lakana outrigger canoe) with sail from Madagascar
Group of pirogues
Group of pirogues at sunset on the river bank of Don Tati, Si Phan Don, Laos.
Pirogues Madagascar
Pirogues of Madagascar
Pirogue 010
A pirogue on the Niger River in Mali
Statuette Karajà MHNT.ETH.2011.17.53
Statuette Karajà - Brazil - MHNT


Pirogue does not refer to a specific kind of boat, but is a generic term for small native boats in regions once colonized by France and Spain, particularly dugouts made from a single log.[2] In French West Africa, pirogues refer to handcrafted banana-shaped boats used by traditional fishermen.[3] In Madagascar, it also includes the more elaborate Austronesian lakana outrigger canoe.[4][5]

Pirogues are usually propelled by paddles that have one blade (as opposed to a kayak paddle, which has two). It can also be punted with a push pole in shallow water. Small sails can also be employed. Outboard motors are increasingly being used in many regions.

Uses in military and piracy contexts

Pintle mounted gun on the "White" pirogue
Lewis and Clark's pirogues mounted blunderbuss to the bow with a pintle.

In 626, when the Avars were besieging Constantinople, the Slavs crossed the Golden Horn in their pirogues and landed on the shore of the Lower Blachernae, and in spite of all defensive measures that were taken, looted churches.[6]

There are accounts of 17th and 18th century Caribbean pirates using pirogues to attack and take-by-force much larger vessels including sloops and even barca-longas.[7] Pirogues were used extensively by pirates and buccaneers throughout the Caribbean, the now-Mexican and Gulf Coasts and the East Coast of what is now the United States. For the most part, though, such vessels were used for scouting or as tenders.[7]

Pirogues were used by Lewis and Clark on the Missouri River and westward from 1804–1806, in addition to bateaux, larger flat-bottomed boats that could only be used in large rivers.[8] Their pirogues referred to the medium-sized boats of the company carrying eight rowers and a pilot, capable of carrying eight tons of cargo.[9] Henry D. Thoreau writes of using heavy pirogues in his book "The Maine Woods".


Pirogues in the United States is associated particularly with the Cajuns of the Louisiana marsh. The early Cajun pirogues were cypress dugouts but today they are usually flat-bottomed boats. Pirogues are not usually intended for overnight travel but are light and small enough to be easily taken onto land. The design also allows the pirogue to move through the very shallow water of marshes and be easily turned over to drain any water that may get into the boat. A pirogue has "hard chines" which means that instead of a smooth curve from the gunwales to the keel, there is often a flat bottom which meets the plane of the side.

In his 1952 classic song "Jambalaya", Hank Williams refers to the pirogue in the line "me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou". Johnny Horton, an avid Louisiana fisherman who celebrated Cajun customs and culture, also mentions pirogues in his 1956 song "I Got a Hole in My Pirogue." Hank Williams, Jr. (son of country music legend Hank Williams) had a hit song in 1969, "Cajun Baby", which refers to the pirogue in the line "ride around in my old pirogue".

Doug Kershaw's 1961 hit "Louisiana Man" includes the line "..he jumps in his pirogue headed down the bayou". Many online lyrics sites misunderstand this line, saying 'hero' or sometimes 'biro' instead.

See also

  • Periagua, a cognate which became applied to a different kind of sailing vessel in the 18th century
  • Mackinaw boat


  1. ^ dictionary.com – pirogue
  2. ^ "Pirogue". Merriam-Webster.
  3. ^ "Among the pirogues of Africa". Voyage to the Sargasso Sea. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Sakalava pirogue". Alefa. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  5. ^ Setting sail Retrieved 9 June 2008
  6. ^ Dirimtekin, Feridun (1956) Fetihden Once Halic Surlari. Istanbul, Istanbul Enstitusu.
  7. ^ a b Marley, David F. (2010). Pirates of the Americas, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO.
  8. ^ Ambrose, Stephen. 1997. Undaunted Courage - ISBN 0-684-82697-6
  9. ^ Pirogues, Discovering Lewis & Clark, The Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, 2009

External links

Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge

Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge is located approximately 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, in north central Cameron Parish. It contains 9,621 acres (3,893 ha) that include fresh marsh, coastal prairie, and old rice fields.

The visitor center opened in 1994 and is located south of Lake Charles on Louisiana Highway 27, 11 miles south of Holmwood, Louisiana. The center's exhibits focus on the birds and other wildlife found in the refuge, and the plant and animal life and different types of ecosystems. An animated exhibit features a Cajun resident named Tante Marie, who sits in a pirogue and talks about life in the refuge. The visitor center suffered damage from Hurricane Rita, and is expected to reopen with new exhibits in the fall of 2009.

Canoe sprint

Canoe sprint is a sport in which athletes race canoes or kayaks on calm water.

Dispilio Lakeside Neolithic Settlement Archaeological Collection

The Dispilio Lakeside Neolithic Settlement Archaeological Collection is a museum in Dispilio, Greece. It was the first Neolithic settlement by the side of a lake excavated in the country. Many important artifacts were found, the most notable being the Dispilio Tablet.

The village is 8 km from Kastoria. In 1932, Professor Keramopoullos of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki located traces of a prehistoric lake settlement there. Thirty years later Professor Moutsopoulos conducted surface investigations and confirmed the existence of the settlement.

In 1992 Professor Nikos Hourmouziadis of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki began systematic excavations, which are still going on. A settlement has been uncovered which dates to the mid-Neolithic period, i.e. the middle of the 6th millennium BCE. The strategic aim of the excavations is to study the settlement as a specific cultural system.

The finds include tools (stone, bone, and flint) and quantities of animal bones, a discovery which shows that the inhabitants engaged in agriculture, hunting, and fishing; materials with which the huts were built (wooden piles and floors, post-holes); large clay storage jars; baskets woven in the manner of that period; cooking utensils (many of them boat-shaped); and bone and stone jewellery. The most important find is a bone flute, one of the oldest musical instruments ever found in Europe. There is also a model in the exhibition area illustrating the form of the huts and how they were constructed.

A short distance from the exhibition area, lake, lakeside and land dwellings have been built by the lake, all exact reconstructions of the huts of the prehistoric settlement. Inside the huts are all the utensils which the people used for their everyday needs. An earthen cover in the middle of the settlement served to protect the fire, and there is a kind of pirogue moored at the lakeside, which the inhabitants would have used for fishing.

Elkins Hall

Elkins Hall is an historic administrative building located on the north side of the campus of Nicholls State University fronting Bayou Lafourche. It was the first building constructed on the campus of what was then known as Francis T. Nicholls State College.

Guiana Amazonian Park

Guiana Amazonian Park (French: Parc amazonien de Guyane) is the largest National Park of France, aiming at protecting part of the Amazonian forest located in French Guiana. It is the largest park in the European Union, and one of the largest national parks in the world.

It cannot be accessed from the sea-shore or by any other means other than by airplane or pirogue.

The protected area covers some 20,300 square kilometres (7,840 sq mi) for the central area (where full protection is enforced) and 13,600 square kilometres (5,250 sq mi) for the secondary area. Thus, the overall protected area represents some 33,900 square kilometres (13,090 sq mi) of rain forest.The park has been built upon territories belonging to the communes of Camopi, Maripasoula, Papaïchton, Saint-Élie and Saül.


Lakana, also known as la'kana or laka, are traditional outrigger canoes of the Malagasy people of Madagascar. It is a double-outrigger canoe with a dugout main hull. It was traditionally rigged with the Austronesian crab claw sail, but most modern lakana are equipped with motor engines. The boat is often referred to by the general French term "pirogue", which can include boats with no outriggers. The technology was adapted in neighboring East Africa, like the Tanzanian ngalawa and the Fulani laana.

Lake Togo

Lake Togo (French: Lac Togo) is the largest part of a lagoon in Togo, separated from the head by a narrow coastal strip. It is shallow and a popular location for water sports. Towns on the lake's shore include Agbodrafo and Togoville. Transport on the lake is generally by pirogue.


The Laténium is an archeology museum located in Hauterive, a suburb of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Its name refers to the La Tène culture.

The Laténium is composed of a 2 500 m² parc, and a museum building which also harbours the archaeological section of the University of Neuchâtel. The parc features dolmens and erratic stones, reconstitutions of prehistoric and antique devices (a La Tène house, a Gallo-Roman ship and a Celtic bridge, notably), and modern works of art. The museum displays the Bevaix boat, a 20-metre Gallo-Roman ship found in Bevaix. Items from periods comprised between the paleolithic to the Roman empire are on display, including the remains of a Magdalenian hunting camp.

List of Montana state parks

This is a list of state parks and reserves in the Montana state park system, in the United States.

List of boat types

This is a list of boat types. For sailing ships, see: List of sailing boat types.

Lumières Award for Best French-Language Film

The Lumières Award for Best French-Language Film (French: Prix Lumières du meilleur film francophone (hors de France)) is an award presented annually by the Académie des Lumières since 2003. It rewards the best French language film made outside France each year. It replaced the Lumières Award for Best Foreign Film (French: Prix Lumières du meilleur film étranger) that was awarded from 1996 to 2002.


Morombe [murumˈbe] is a coastal city (commune urbaine) in Atsimo-Andrefana Region, Madagascar. It is located at around 21°44′56″S 43°21′47″E and can be reached by pirogue from Morondava.

Music of Cameroon

The best-known Music of the Cameroon is makossa, a popular style that has gained fans across Africa, and its related dance craze bikutsi.

The pirogue sailors of Douala are known for a kind of singing called ngoso which has evolved into a kind of modern music accompanied by zanza, balafon, and various percussion instruments.


Periagua (from Spanish piragua, in turn derived from the Carib language word for dugout) is the term formerly used in the Caribbean and the eastern seaboard of North America for a range of small craft including canoes and small sailing vessels. The term periagua overlaps, but is not synonymous with, pirogue, derived through the French language from piragua.

The original periaguas or piraguas were the dugout canoes encountered by the Spanish in the Caribbean. Small craft of greater capacity were created by splitting a dugout and inserting a plank bottom, while the freeboard was increased for sea voyages by adding planks on the sides. By the 18th century the term periagua was being applied to flat-bottomed boats, which could be 30 feet (10 m) or more long and carry up to 30 men, with one or two masts, which could also be rowed. Later in the 18th century periagua became the name for a specific type of sailing rig, with gaff rigged sails on two masts that could be easily struck, commonly with the foremast raked forward and the main mast raked back. The "periagua rig" was used on U. S. Navy gunboats on Chesapeake Bay in the early 19th century. The term periagua was also applied to rowing scows similar to a john boat.Periaguas were used in fishing and coastal and inter-island commerce. Early in the 18th century periaguas were used by pirates around the Bahamas, Cuba and Hispaniola. Periaguas could be rowed against the wind, useful for approaching potential victims or escaping from pursuers. Benjamin Hornigold and Sam Bellamy began their careers as pirate captains operating from periaguas.

Pirogue Island State Park

Pirogue Island State Park is a public recreation area on the Yellowstone River, just north of Miles City, Montana. The 269-acre (109 ha) state park has 2.8 miles (4.5 km) of designated hiking trails.

Père Noël

Père Noël (French pronunciation: ​[pɛʁ nɔ.ɛl]), "Father Christmas", sometimes called Papa Noël ("Daddy Christmas"), is a legendary gift-bringer at Christmas in France and other French-speaking areas, identified with the Father Christmas and/or Santa Claus of English-speaking territories. Though they were traditionally different, all of them are now the same character, with different names, and the shared characteristics of a red outfit, workshop at the North Pole, and team of reindeer.

According to tradition, on Christmas Eve children leave their shoes by the fireplace filled with carrots and treats for Père Noël's donkey, Gui (French for "Mistletoe") before they go to bed. Père Noël takes the offerings and, if the child has been good, leaves presents in their place. Presents are traditionally small enough to fit in the shoes; candy, money or small toys.Père Noël is sometimes confused with another character. In Eastern France (Alsace and Lorraine regions), in Belgium, in Switzerland, and in Eastern Europe there is a parallel tradition to celebrate Saint Nicolas on December 6. He is followed by Le Père Fouettard, who exists also in different parts of Germany (Knecht Ruprecht or Belsnickel), Austria (Krampus), the Netherlands Nicolaas van Myra, and Belgium (Zwarte Piet in Dutch, Le Père Fouettard in French). Le Père Fouettard is a sinister figure dressed in black who accompanies Saint Nicolas and spanks children who have behaved badly.

In Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, due to the influence of French culture in the 19th century, the name of Papá Noel/Papai Noel was adopted, opposing for example the name of Pai Natal in Portugal.

In Louisiana Cajun culture, a version of Papa Noël is modeled after Santa Claus, in which he arrives at homes in a pirogue towed by eight alligators.

The Pirogue

The Pirogue (French: La Pirogue) is a 2012 Senegalese drama film directed by Moussa Toure. The film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Éric Névé

Eric Névé (born 23 July 1961), is a French film producer who has produced since the early nineteen nineties.

In 1993, he founded his own production company, La Chauve Souris.

Eric is best known for Jan Kounen’s Dobermann, starring Vicent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, Jean-Paul Salomé’s Female Agents starring Sophie Marceau, and Frédéric Schoendoerffer's Crime Insiders.

In 2011, he founded Astou Films, a production company based in Senegal, with whom he produced the French-Senegalese film The Pirogue directed by Senegalese director Moussa Touré, screened in the section Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival 2012 and in over 80 film festivals across the globe.

In 2013 he created, with Nicholas Eschbach an international feature film sales and co-production company, Indie Sales, which focuses on diverse international independent films with a strong commercial potential.

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