Here's a theory similar to grandma's roast.
Once upon a time, many years ago, Aleut paddle makers had a lot of time on their hands. They experimented with lots of sizes, shapes and even goofy appendages. One day, a guy put a ridge down one side of a paddle and declared that it produced some beneficial paddling effect. His buddies tried it out, thought it was worthless, and tossed all his goofy ridge paddles onto the midden mound (garbage heap).
Now guess where archaeologists find most of their ancient stuff -- midden mounds.
So some 19th century archeologists discover a few relics of these ridged paddles. They draw pictures of them. They take pictures with their newly invented Kodaks. Because the ridged paddle relics were so mysterious and sexy, the pictures of them proliferated in books out of proportion to their incidence, along with unsubstantiated performance myths.
Finally, some modern paddle makers, seeking distinctive paddle shape niches, and trying ride the late 20th century wave of aboriginal paddling worship, begin to replicate, talk excitedly about and essentially market the ridged paddle.
As the curtain comes down, the goofy garbage of yore is being bling-blinged via the internet as a sacred relic of paddling performance passed down from ancient sages.
Just a theory. Just a theory.
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