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The typical small and light boats of oriental waters and rivers. There are two types, the harbour sampan which usually has an awning over the centre and after part and is normally propelled by a single scull over the stern, and the coastal sampan fitted with a single mast and junk rig. The origin of the name, first recorded in the 8th century, is generally said to come from the Chinese san-pan, meaning ‘three boards’, but some believe it has a Malayan origin.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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