Meshhouf : Iconic, Endangered Iraqi Canoes

Iraqi marshes are a magical melange of land and water, the rivers float beneath basketry homes, and an entire ecosystem co-existing in a very delicate bond. In the 1980s, the craft of making Iraqi canoes became extinct.  Since 2018, We began a research collaboration for Safina Projects, to digitally reconstruct the Meshouf. 

The digitalization is based on reference images provided by Safina Projects’ Director and Heritage Researcher Rashad Salim. 

The Reconstruction of the Chilaika Meshuf was based on drawings and reference images provided to Maryam Saeed by Rashad Salim.

The digital reconstruction was a full years process of observation, experimentation with different digital reconstruction and documentation media, feedback from Safina Projects, many failures, programming errors, program clashes, but eventually, thankfully – success!

The significance of digital reconstruction is that it conserves the building technique and assembly of an endangered craft as a mathematical model. This can be explored and adapted digitally for museum archives and exhibits.

To demonstrate that value, the algorithms used to digitally reconstruct the endangered Chilaika Meshuf were adapted to revive the form and proportions of the extinct Tarada Mehuf, photographed above by Wilfred Thesiger in 1950s.

The list of commands required to digitally reconstruct the Chilaika Meshuf from scratch.