A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel.

History of the term

The word "barc" appears to have come from Celtic languages. The form adopted by English, perhaps from Irish, was "bark", while that adopted by French, perhaps from Gaulish, was barge and barque. French influence in England after the Norman Conquest led to the use in English of both words, though their meanings are not now the same. Well before the 19th century a barge had become a small vessel of coastal or inland waters. Somewhat later, a bark became a sailing vessel of a distinctive rig as detailed below. In Britain, by the mid-nineteenth century, the spelling had taken on the French form of "barque". Francis Bacon used this form of the word as early as 1605.

In the 18th century, the British Royal Navy used the term "bark" for a nondescript vessel which did not fit any of its usual categories. Thus, when on the advice of Captain James Cook, a collier was bought into the navy and converted for exploration, she was called HM Bark "Endeavour". She happened to be a ship-rigged sailing vessel with a plain bluff bow and a full stern with windows.

By the end of the 18th century, however, the term "barque" (sometimes, particularly in the USA, spelled "bark") came to refer to any vessel with a particular type of sail-plan. This comprises three (or more) masts, fore-and-aft sails on the aftermost mast and square sails on all other masts. A well-preserved example of a commercial barque is "Falls of Clyde"; built in 1878, it is now preserved as a museum ship in Honolulu. Another well preserved barque is the "Pommern", the only windjammer in original condition. Its home is in Mariehamn outside the Åland maritime museum. The United States Coast Guard still has an operational barque, built in Germany in 1936 and captured as a war prize: the USCGC "Eagle" is used as a training vessel at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The oldest active sailing vessel in the world, the "Star of India", was built in 1863 as a fully square-rigged ship, then converted into a barque in 1901.

Throughout the period of sail, the word was used also as a shortening of the barca-longa of the Mediterranean Sea.


The advantage of these rigs was that they needed smaller (therefore cheaper) crews than a comparable full-rigged ship or brig-rigged vessel. Conversely, the ship rig tended to be retained for training vessels where the larger the crew, the more seamen were trained. Another advantage is that a barque can outperform a schooner or barkentine, and is both easier to handle and better to rise towards wind than a full-rigged ship. While a full-rigged ship is the best runner available, and while fore-and-aft riggers are the best to rise towards wind, the barque is the best compromise between these two, and combine the best of these two.

Most ocean-going windjammers were four-masted barques, since the four-masted barque is considered the most efficient rig available because of its ease of handling, small need of manpower, good running capabilities and good capabilities of rising towards wind. Usually the fore mast was the tallest; that of "Moshulu" extends to 58 m off the deck. The four-masted barque can be handled with a surprisingly small crew—at minimum, ten, and while the usual crew was around thirty, almost half of them could be apprentices.

Today most sailing school ships are barques.

Barque shrines in ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, gods (statues) travelled not by boats on water, but by smaller symbolic boats which were carried by priests. Temples included "barque shrines" in which the sacred barques rested when a procession was not in progress. [cite web | url= | title=Egyptian Temples of the New Kingdom] [cite web | url= | title=Ancient Egypt 2675–332 B.c.e.: Religion: Temple Architecture and Symbolism | work=Arts and Humanities Through the Eras]

See also

*brigantine (2 masts)
*List of large sailing vessels


*"Oxford English Dictionary" (1971) ISBN 0-19-861212-5

External links

* [ Description of the four-masted barque "Kaiwo Maru"]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • barque — [ bark ] n. f. • déb. XIVe; provenç. barca, lat. imp. ♦ Petit bateau ponté ou non. ⇒ embarcation, esquif. Barque à rames, à voiles (⇒ voilier) . Barque à moteur. Barque de pêcheur. Promenade en barque. Mauvaise barque. ⇒ coquille (de noix),… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • barque — BARQUE. s. f. Petit vaisseau pour aller sur l eau. Barque de pêcheur. Barque de passage. Barque longue. Conduire la barque. Cette barque prend l eau. Barque d avis. Le Patron de la barque. f♛/b] On dit figurém. Conduire la barque, pour dire,… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • barque — BARQUE. s. f. Petit vaisseau pour aller sur l eau. Barque de pescheur. barque de passage sur les rivieres. Barque longue sur la mer, que les vaisseaux de guerre portent, ou qu ils traisnent aprés eux, & desquelles ils se servent pour le… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Barque — Barque, n. Same as 3d {Bark}, n. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • barque — Barque, Aphractum, Nauigiolum, Lenunculus. Une façon de petite barque, Celox, celocis …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • barque — [ba:k US ba:rk] n [Date: 1400 1500; : French; Origin: Old Provençal barca, from Late Latin] a sailing ship with three, four, or five ↑masts (=poles that the sails are fixed to) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • barque — [ bark ] noun count a sailing ship with three or more MASTS a. LITERARY any small sailing boat …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • barque — variant of BARK (Cf. bark) (n.2) …   Etymology dictionary

  • barque — ► NOUN 1) a sailing ship in which the foremast and mainmast are square rigged and the mizzenmast is rigged fore and aft. 2) literary a boat. ORIGIN Latin barca ship s boat …   English terms dictionary

  • barque — [bärk] n. BARK3 …   English World dictionary

  • Barque — Photo d’une barque à avirons Sommaire 1 Types de bateaux 2 …   Wikipédia en Français

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