Iranian Lenj boats in the Persian Gulf

August 18

If you are planning to travel to Iran, we suggest to visit the Persian Gulf and see the process of building the lenj boat, the traditional skills of building and sailing the Lenj boats.

Lenj boat is a small ship or a large passenger or freight boat that can be seen in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea. They are hand-made and are built on the basis of common sailboats in the Persian Gulf, with the difference that they move with the engine instead of sail and also they have open or semi-open deck.

Interestingly, the lenj maker does not have any predetermined designs to build, and each lenj is unique in its kind. The skill of lenj building is handed over from fathers to sons in the traditional way.

Every lenj takes about two years to be built by a team of 5 or 6 persons because they use the old methods and tools. Lenj boats are made by different kinds of wood such as oak, berry, teak and so on.

Teak is a kind of Indian wood that is imported from Dubai but the other kinds are found in Iran. Every lenj is made by cutting 20 or 30 trees and it costs 20 billion Rials. Wooden Lenj boats are being replaced by cheaper fiberglass ones, and wooden Lenj construction workshops are being transformed into repair shops for older ones.

There is just one village in Qeshm Island, Gooran, whose lenj boats are built of wood.

Lenj boat

Music and rhythm is an integral part of lenj building and sailing culture. The sailors sing special songs during the time of lenj building or traveling across the sea. Unfortunately, every year we see the disappearance of this intangible heritage which was registered in the list of UNESCO in 2011.

Fewer tourists are eager to watch these wooden giants. The lenj makers’ wish is to maintain this art and want to change their workshops into the museum. The construction of sailing museums in ports and islands of the Persian Gulf is an important step in documenting and introducing this significant indigenous industry in the south of Iran. 

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