Friday, October 10, 2014

Nau, or Nao, or just Ship.

Pick up a place and time that you dislike particularly. Seventeenth century Europe, for example. People don't wash, smell bad, are enthusiastic about massacres and torture, burn other people in public places, become hysterical on questions of religion and ethnicity, well it is almost like watching the evening news.

Collect information about that time and place and, before you collect too much and become overwhelmed by it, deconstruct what you already know and make with it different masks. Then put yourself behind those masks and speak aloud. There is an audience watching.


What is a nau (also written nao)? Considering we are still in the seventeenth century, the term is used by Portuguese and Spanish to describe the large armed transport vessels, now becoming outdated, that are distant relatives of the carrack, by now subjected to innovations in design but keeping the overall bulging shape. Any transport ship without specific characteristics may be called nau, or in case you are not sure what you are referring to, you may call it a nau, just a ship. It should be easy to distinguish the nao from the galleon, but it is not always easy to know which type the texts are referring to when using the term galleon. In the center of the image bellow, from a Portuguese roteiro of the middle of the sixteenth century, there is probably one of the first depictions of what was originally called a galleon, surrounded by galleys, a fuste, a mixed type caravel and two naus. Later on the word galleon took a wider meaning.

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