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The Sheepskin Raft

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The Sheepskin Raft [File Photo]

Lanzhou is famous for the sheepskin raft. A city located in northwest China, Lanzhou does not have adequate wood to build ships. Instead, locals resort to using the sheepskin raft to cross the turbulent Yellow River.

The Sheepskin Raft, made of inflated sheepskin, had once been an important transportation tool for locals living along the banks of the Yellow River. The largest raft takes more than 600 pieces of sheepskin, while a regular-sized raft uses only a dozen pieces.

Starting from the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), the raft is made of a dozen (or even hundreds of) sheepskin bags in various sizes to carry cargo or passengers. The skin balloon, which should be made using all the skin from a sheep, would then be tied onto a wooden frame to form a raft.

The elastic sheepskin raft, propelled by the river’s current, could reach highest maximum speed of 200 kilometers per hour, avoiding crashes with rocks and reefs. Nowadays, tourists can enjoy the ancient ferry for fun and experience the brilliant culture of the Yellow River.

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