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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dolos, one amazing South African invention!





South Africans are naturally very innovative, and we are credited with some amazing inventions! Here I have painted one of the enormous dolosse along the Yzerfontein Harbour and jetty. They are made of concrete poured into a steel mould. So heavy are these structures that they are manufactured here in Yzerfontein or wherever they are needed. Cranes will lift them into place so that they can protect harbour walls and breakwaters and they also prevent soil erosion.10 000 dolosse are required for a kilometre of coastline.


I have to quote from Wikepedia here: "They work by dissipating, rather than blocking, the energy of waves. Their design deflects most wave action energy to the side, making them more difficult to dislodge than objects of a similar weight presenting a flat surface. Though they are placed into position on top of each other by cranes, over time, they tend to get further entangled as the waves shift them. Their design ensures that they form an interlocking, but porous, wall."Wow, the power of water and the cleverness of this invention!


Now, why are they called dolos ( plural: dolosse)? The form is similar to the neck bones of oxen. In the early days of our country, small children would pretend that these bones were their oxen to pull their tiny pioneer wagons. So they were called "doll oxen", which generated into the word dolosse.Then the word was also used to describe the bones thrown to read fortunes by the tribal medicine men, called sangomas. The act of predicting the future was more like "dobbel" which means "gambling". So those bones are still known as dolosse too.

These lovely structures, the theme of my painting and photos shows the third use of the word, and they do look like the neck bones of large animals. Grandson Philip was here from the States, and posed against the dolosse. He could not stop questioning his grandfather about these structures that can be stacked ANY WAY, yet they always fit together.


Elephant's Eye sent me their link to an interesting West Coast ramble that included a lot of information about dolosse. Read her blog HERE


After leaving a comment, you may want to visit some of our more important inventions HERE

14 comments:

  1. wow, great painting Marie! I've always been amazed at these man-made breakwaters, an amazing invention as you say!

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    1. Thank you, Maree! Yes, they have a rugged beauty about them!

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  2. Very interesting, Marie. The above painting is lovely. Your seagulls have such 'life'.

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    1. Hi Linda, thank you for your comments!I get to know the gulls better and better, so that is probably why!

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  3. Love that you included the history of the dolosse and even more that you included the bird droppings on the forms. Very interesting and so well painted! And your grandson is a handsome guy!

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    1. Crimson Leaves, you seem to notice the fine detail. Yes, I was so surprised about my grandsons size! Taller than me by far!

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  4. There is a info sign at the Lambert's Bay Bird Island. I think you and I can remember when these were invented - 1963!
    http://elephantseyegarden.blogspot.com/2010/08/fishing-for-diamonds.html

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    1. Diana, I truly missed that sign, but will look out for it at a future visit! And 1963, I did not know as I was studying to be an art teacher in Pretoria! Was there a big media fuss about the invention?

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  5. Whenever I came across these structures, I never bothered to find much about them, thanks to this post, got to know about them. The paintings as usual are just stunning!

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    1. I am glad that you found my post informative, Padmaja!

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  6. Beautiful post, Marie and love that first painting!!! Gorgeous piece!!!

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    1. Hilda, I like the painting too, I get better with those seabirds! Thank you so much!

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  7. Your painting is wonderful Marie!!

    Hope your birthday was terrific today!!!... Love the bit of history as well.

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    1. Thank you Marian, I had a lovely birthday! Yes, I find that everything I see or paint has some story behind it!

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