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any small skiff, widely used in the Orient, that is propelled by oars or a scull
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a general name for various types of flat-bottomed wooden boats used in the coastal regions and on the rivers of East and Southeast Asia mainly for transporting passengers and freight. Sampans are up to 9 m long, and 3 m wide and have a load capacity of up to 80 tons. They are propelled by one or two stern oars or by a straight sail made of mats. An awning or cabinlike structure made of mats is sometimes located astern or amidships; it may serve as a dwelling, store, or workshop.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.