Seafood House Calabash Buffet is adorned with many interesting and beautiful ship figureheads, and the artform’s history goes back to ancient Egypt and through the peak pirate era of the 17th-19th centuries.

As early as 3000 BC, ancient Egyptians placed carvings of birds they considered to be sacred on their wooden ships’ prows, to provide protection from the dangers of the sea. Around 1000 BC, Phoenicians used horse figureheads as symbols of speed.

Wanting their impressions to be fierce, Ancient Greeks and Romans used carved wolf or boar heads on their ships. When Vikings sailed the seas around 700 AD, they also wanted to seem intimidating. The serpents and dragons on their prows were frightening, and they were also believed to ward off evil spirits.

A few hundred years later dragons were still popular, along with lions, and by the 1200s swans that represented grace and speed were favored. As more wooden ships sailed the seas, ship figureheads became increasingly diverse. Angels, soldiers, royalty, bulls, dolphin, eagles and even unicorns and witches were used.

As figureheads hit a peak in popularity from 1700-1800, some were edged in gilt and had detachable arms that were removed and stored while sailing. Pirates who roamed the seas during this time often used women as their figureheads, from mythological goddesses to mermaids and likenesses of the ship owners’ wives or daughters. It was thought that a beautiful woman could calm the seas.

No matter which type of figurehead was used, it was considered to be a physical representation of the ship’s spirit. When you visit Seafood House Calabash Buffet, you can see many examples of these spirited seafaring adventurers.

Seafood House Calabash Buffet is at 2000 Highway 17 Business North in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, which is a short drive from the south end of Myrtle Beach’s Ocean Boulevard. The 105-foot sailing ship buffet line features crab legs, prime rib, oysters, mussels, clams, shrimp, fish, Southern fare, a salad bar and many delicious desserts.