|Jukung in 1977 (NAA)|
Jukung are small yachts. They used to have significant practical function. Now, their importance is mostly symbolic.
|Jukung in 1977 (NAA)|
|Jukung in the old copra processing shed.|
Cocos Jukung are whaleboats, not outriggers
|Jukung 1977 (NAA)|
Cocos Malays have their own kind of yacht called jukung (also rendered "jukong"). Although its practical uses are limited, it still possesses, I think, an important symbolic role.
On the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the jukung used to be the preferred mode of transport across the atoll. Unlike in Indonesia, where the term "jukung" usually refers to a sailing boat with outrigger/s, on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the "jukung" has no outrigger. Indeed, its design could be equated with what, in the European tradition, is called a "whaleboat".
Viewed from the outside, the jukung has a white bottom (hull), over that are blue and yellow stripes, and then the top of the side (gunwale) has a varnished wood finish. It has a single and a detachable steering plank (rudder) at the back. It also possesses only one upright pole (mast) to hold up the sails. Jukung are of varying lengths.
Sizes of jukung
|Preparing for race 2014|
|Deteriorating jukung and the shed to house them.|
3 uses for jukung
|Jukung 1982 (NAA) .|
Jukung have had three main uses.
First, the jukung used to be used for transport (people, coconuts, etc.) around the atoll. The image on the right, for example appears to depict a coconut collector ("nutter") taking a sack of nuts from his jukung to be processed on Home Island.
Second, the jukung was used for hunting (spearing fish; sailing to Keeling Island to catch booby birds, catching turtles) and fishing (both line and net fishing). It was not uncommon, for example, for men to sail a jukung, alone, to Keeling Island and sail back navigating by the stars. Haji Wahiib, for example, remembers waiting at night for his dad to return from Keeling Island. The photo below seems to depict fishermen returning with a haul.
|Plenty of fish in a jukung. Photo courtesy of John Clunies Ross|
The third use of jukung continues to the present; namely racing after Hari Raya. In 2014 There were five days of racing using progressively larger sails and boats. The races lasted from about 9am-10am. I have written about the races in my blog on Hari Raya .
A small amount of prize money was available for each race. Some of this had been donated by the shire. Some had been raised by the jukung club. The races were competitive, keenly fought affairs. I've put up my shonky recording of a tight finish on YouTube.
These races hold a special place for the community on Home Island. They could be compared to the The Boat Race for Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Nevertheless, according to local residents, the number of competing boats declines as the years go by.
Fundraising for the jukung club
|The till, manned by Nek Fifi and Nek Sofia|
|Fish'n'chips tastes better when fried on a wood fire|
Symbolism of jukung
|Yellow and blue stripes|
I'm not sure if this is something that Cocos Malays explicitly dwell upon, but it seems that the jukung symbolism encapsulates much of what is important.
|Returning to shore after the jukung race, part of 2014 Hari Raya celebrations|