The traditional Maldivian fishing vessel, built with coconut wood and propelled with a single triangular lateen sail was shaped over centuries. It is a craft that perfectly suits the conditions of the Maldivian seas.

Traditionally, dhonis were built with coconut wood, its structure held by coir rope, and caulked with the oil of the sperm whale or shark. The local term for boatbuilding is “dhoani banun”, banun meaning tying together in the Maldivian language, Dhivehi.

Wooden dowels began to be used about four hundred years ago. Traditionally master boatbuilders turned out a perfect boat relying entirely on experience and observation. The planks were made of coconut wood, each piece shaped to fit its place in the hull, to bring out the dhoni’s desired shape and symmetry.

Mechanisation of dhonis began in the early 1970s and today the county’s fishing fleet is powered by engines. Coconut wood has given way to fiberglass, and variations of the vessel are used for fishing and cargo and passenger transport today.