Modern junk with traditional matting sails and a European-type jib—BBC Hulton Picture Library

Classic Chinese sailing vessel of ancient unknown origin, still in wide use. High-sterned, with a projecting bow, the junk carries up to five masts on which are set square sails consisting of panels of linen or matting flattened by bamboo strips. Each sail can be spread or closed at a pull, like a venetian blind. The massive rudder takes the place of a keel. Chinese junks were sailing to Indonesian and Indian waters by the early Middle Ages.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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