Monday, December 17, 2007

Figurehead of Kuan Yin

Traditionally, every ship should have a figurehead. Even "little ships" are good candidates if their design can support the embellishment. The same figurehead that graced Nelson's ship at Trafalgar would certainly look out of place on an uber stylish racing yacht, as well as adding unwanted windage.

My boat "Kuan Yin" is a classic design that I believe can support the addition of a figurehead. What better figure than a statue of the Kuan Yin, the boddhisattva of compassion. So last week I came back from a quick trip to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand searching for a carver who would be able to create a suitable figure.

There are important differences between a "statue" and a figurehead for a vessel. It's vital that the figurehead looks like she belongs to the ship, and is not taken from the shelf in someone's living room.

For practical reasons, I have had to move the location from the traditional place, at the bow of the ship, under the bowsprit, to before the main mast. Hopefully this will work and not add too much windage nor get in the way of sails and lines.

In addition, the posture and gaze of most figures of Kuan Yin, very popular in many parts of area, tend to be focused immediately in front of the figure. Obviously on a vessel, it's important to the wellbeing of the ship and to the people who greet her in harbours, that she is looking up and outward, offering compassion to the whole world, humans, whales, fishes and icebergs!

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