Imágenes de páginas

earth (fossil alkali); boil an hour more, and add three ounces of powdered load (a straw coloured bark); boil a short time, let it stand one night, and strain next day; evaporate three quarts of milk without cream to two quarts, upon a slow fire, curdle it with sour milk, and let it stand for a day or two; then mix it with the red liquid above mentioned; strain them through a cloth, add to the mixture an ounce and a half of alum, and the juice of eight or ten lemons; mix the whole, and throw it into a cloth bag strainer. The blood of the insect forms a coagulum with the caseous part of the milk, and remains in the bag, while the limpid acid water drains from it; the coagulum is dried in the shade, and is used as a red colour in painting and colouring.

Dyeing. Take one gallon of the red liquid prepared as in the preceding page, without milk; to which add three ounces of alum; boil three or four pounds of tamarinds in a gallon of water, and strain the liquor.

Light Red.-Mix equal parts of the red liquid water and tamarind water over a brisk fire; in this mixture dip and wring the silk alternately, until it has received a proper quantity of the dye. To increase the colour increase the proportion of the red liquid, and let the silk boil a few minutes in the mixture. To make the silk hold the colour, they boil a handful of the bark called Load in water; strain the decoction, and add cold water to it; dip the dyed silk into this liquor several times, and then dry the silk. Cotton cloths are dyed in this manner, but the dye is not so lasting as in silk.

Spanish Wool.-The lac colour is preserved by the natives upon flakes of cotton dipped repeatedly into a strong solution of the lac insect in water, and dried.

Here I ought to have described the utilities of this body, as practised by Europeans, but I am not master of the subject, and shall be very glad to see it done by an abler hand. The properties of bodies should be as fully described as possible, for therein consists the principal utility of natural history. The present mode of describing natural productions merely as materiæ medicæ, pictoriæ, &c. is in my opinion highly injurious to the subject, trifling, unbecoming a natural historian, and is the cause of a great evil.

To be added.--After the grindstones, the gross remains after making shell lac is formed into balls, polished and painted for boys and men to play with, as our boys do with marbles. Perhaps in this consists the secret art of making the European marbles.

Added after Dying. The dye is used in colouring that red powder with which the Hindus bespatter one another in their holy festival time.


By Benj. Heyne, M.D. Naturalist to the Hon. East India Company at Madras.

(From the same.)

The Hindoos have since time immemorial not only excelled their neighbours in the management of metals for useful and curious purposes, but they are even familiarly acquainted

acquainted with alloys unknown to our practical chemists.

Among those in general use that have drawn the attention of Europeans living in India, are the alloys for the gurry, and the Biddery ware.

The gurry is a disk of a cubit and upwards in diameter, about half an inch in thickness in the centre, but decreasing towards the circumference, where it is scarcely more than one-fourth of an inch. It is used to mark the divisions of time, by striking it with a wooden mallet. The sound is in general remarkably clear, full, and loud, when it is properly managed. In common they are suspended on a triangular pyramid made of three bamboos tied together at top. They are used in all large cities, at the cutwal's choultry, at the houses and cutcheries of great men, at the main guard of every battalion, and head-quarters of every detachment of troops. Some commanding officers have them even near their doors, to the annoyance of their visitors, whose ears are not so blunted and insensible as their own. In short, they are the regulators of time and business over all India. The exact proportion of the compound of which they are made I do not recollect, but I believe it is somewhat variable, as the gurries are prized according to the places where they have been manufactured.

The Biddery ware is used particularly for hooka-bottoms, and dishes to hand betel about to visitors, where more precious metals are not attainable. It is of a black colour, which never fades, and which, if tarnished, may be easily restored. To relieve the sable hue

it is always more or less inlaid with silver. It is called Biddery ware from the place where it was originally, and I believe is still. exclusively, made; for though the people of Bengal have utensils of this kind, I have no where seen any new ones for sale, which would be the case were they manufactured there.

Biddery is a large city, about sixty miles N.W. from Hyderabad, formerly the seat of mighty kings, and one of the largest, or best places of the Dekan, belonging to the Nizam. It is situated on the eastern brink of a table-land, which is about 100 feet above the level of the surrounding country, and from S. to N. six to eight miles in diameter. The place is fortified, has high walls and extensive outworks, particularly to the northward; but whether strong, or otherwise, I am not competent to judge. I found them very badly guarded; as is generally the case in the fortified places belonging to the native powers of India.

As I had been always very desirous of learning the composition of the Biddery ware, and could get no information of it at Hyderabad, I requested Captain Sydenham, then resident at that court, to favour me with a dustuk (order) to the governor of Biddery, (which place I was to pass on my way to join the detachment at Jaulna,) to assist me in getting the desired knowledge. I must observe here, that it is not only extremely difficult in general for travellers, but almost impossible, without much money, to acquire any information on a subject of the most indifferent nature, without the concurrence and actual support of the head-man

head-man of the place. At Biddery the jealousy against Europeans of all classes is carried so far, that none are allowed to enter the gates of the city, except such as are in the service of the Nizam, and stationed in the fort. It happened fortunately that the chief of that place had some favours to ask of Captain Sydenham, and Mr. Russell, his assistant, whose kind assistance in promoting my inquiries on this and all other occasions I have gratefully to acknowledge: so that I received the dustuk without much delay, just as I ascended the table-land. On producing it at Biddery some of the manufacturers were immediately sent to me in the choultry, under a guard of peons, with the strictest orders that they should inform me of the whole and every part of their mystery. I wished to go to their houses; but as this had not been mentioned in the order, and as they lived in the city, I could not obtain permission. The men who attended me complained of want, in an employment which in former times had been the means of subsisting a numerous class of their own cast, and of enriching the place, but which now scarcely yielded food for five families that remained. They are of the goldsmith cast, which, together with some of other handicrafts, is the lowest of all sudras, though they wear the brahminical string.

At their first visit they brought nothing but a lump of their compound used for casting their ware, and a few vessels which they had just in hand, for inlaying them with silver, an operation which they conceived would be of all the most attractive to a curious fringi.

As the metal in this state was divested of all but its natural colour, I recognized it immediately as a compound of which its greatest portion is tin. It contained of this metal twenty-four parts, and one of copper, joined by fusion. I was herein not a little disappointed, as I had always understood that it was made of a metallic substance found on the table-land of Biddery, and which, as I never had made any experiment with a view of discovering its composition, I flattered myself might be a new mineral. In coming along I really had found also a lithomarga, which resembled the common Biddery ware in colour and appearance; and it was probably this that had given rise to the account which former travellers had given of that substance, as the mineral used for the ware manufactured at that place.

The business of their second visit was to cast, or to make before me, a vessel of their ware. The apparatus which they brought with them on the occasion consisted of a broken earthen pot, to serve as a furnace; a piece of bamboo about a foot long as a bellows, or blow-pipe; a form made of clay, exactly resembling a hooka-bottom; and some wax, which probably had been used by several generations for the purpose for which it is yet employed.


The first operation was to cover the form with wax on all sides, which was done by winding a band, into which the wax was reduced, as close as possible round it. A thin coat of clay was then laid over the wax, and, to fasten the outer to the inner clay form, some iron pins were driven through

it in various directions. After this had been dried for some time in the sun, the wax was liquified by putting the form in a place sufficiently heated, and discharged through the hole, by which the melted metal is poured in to occupy its place. It is scarcely necessary to say, that when the metal is sufficiently cooled the form is broken, and the vessel found of the desired shape.

Colouring the ware with the standing black, for which they are celebrated, is the next, and in my opinion the most remarkable operation. It consists in taking equal parts of muriate of ammonia and saltpetre earth, such as is found at the bottom of old mud walls in old and populous villages in India, mixing them together with water, and rubbing the paste which is thus produced on the vessel, which has been previously scraped with a knife. The change of colour is almost instantaneous, and, what is surprising to me, lasting.

The saltpetre earth of this place has, when dry, a reddish colour, like the soil about Biddery. It is very likely that the carbonate, or oxide of iron, which it contains, is essentially necessary for the production of the black colour. The muriate and nitrate of lime, which is in considerable proportion in all earth from which saltpetre is manufactured in India, may be perhaps not an useless ingredient in this respect.

The hooka-bottoms of this ware happen sometimes to get tarnished, acquiring a brownish, or shillering colour, which is easily removed, and the black restored, by rubbing

the whole surface with a little oil or butter.

As nothing looks handsome in the eyes of an Indian, but what is glittering with gold or silver, it may be imagined that their hooka and betel dishes, which are chiefly used on festive occasions, are not left destitute of these ornaments; they are chiefly decorated with silver, in the form of festoons, fanciful flowers, and leaves. Sometimes I have seen a little gold interspersed.

The way of inlaying them is very simple; but of course as tedious as can well be imagined, and could be only practised where time is of little value. The parts of the projected figure are first cut out in silver leaf, which are placed in a piece of broken earthenware before the artist, who cuts with a pointed instrument the same figure on the vessel, applies the silver leaf, piece after piece, and gently hammers it into its place.

The greatest skill consists in tracing the pieces of the figure on the vessel exactly of the same size as they are in the silver leaf, and in this I have never seen them mistaken.

They do their work very expeditiously, and will make any figure on copper with the greatest nicety, according to the sample which is laid before them.

Note.-Mr. Wilkins informed Dr. Heyne that the Biddery ware is likewise manufactured in Benares, and he thinks that zine is used as an alloy in that part of India. I examined a piece of a metal statue, which Mr. Wilkins considered as Biddery ware: it was zinc alloyed with a very little copper.



(From the same.)

A cocoa-nut planted in the sandy shore of Ceylon, shews its first shoots above the ground after about three months, and at the end of six is fit for transplantation. No particular care is necessary to rear it; planted in a barren soil, and fanned by the bleak winds of the ocean, it seems to gain strength from neglect, and fecundity from exposure: notwithstanding these apparent disadvantages, its hardihood surmounts every obstacle, and at the end of six years it begins to bear fruit —and from that period becomes a valuable source of wealth to the possessor. While it continues young, the fruit, or interior of the nut, affords a palatable and nutritive food to the native. The watery liquid within, which we term milk, is a beverage equally pleasant and cooling, and is as agreeable to the palate as invigorating to the body. The juice of the cocoa-nut when mixed with chunam serves to strengthen it, and to increase its adhesive qualities. When older, the cocoa-nut, as it is well known, is used in making curry, and without it, the Cingalese would find himself at a loss for one of the principal ingredients of this his simple, but constant and only food. The nut grown older still, when pressed, yields that oil, which affords almost the only sort of light used in Ceylon; and the nut itself, after the juice is pressed out, is converted into flour, and forms the

chief food of the poultry and other domestic animals.


When the tree has grown to a considerable height, one of the sprouts, which forms what is called the flour, is cut off nearly at its base, leaving, however, stump sufficiently long for a Chatty (or earthen vessel) to be attached to it, into which the juices of the tree drop and form the liquor called toddy, which is not only a pleasant beverage in its primary state, but is used in making jaggery (coarse sugar) vinegar and arrack, which, after cinnamon, is the chief article of merchandize in this island.

The inside or soft part of the tree is used for fuel, while the more solid external part is converted into rafters, and the natural net work which surrounds the base of the branches, forms sieves for straining medicinal oils, &c.-The boughs which support the fruit are used as brooms, as well as the husk of the shell, which is sometimes converted into brushes for whitewashing, &c. ; the shell itself makes fuel, and the fibres of the husk which encloses it, form coir, another most valuable article of exportation.

The cabbage is fit for almost every culinary purpose, but particularly for pickling; the root is useful in medicine, and the natives occasionally mix it with betel for chewing. The branches of the tree the natives weave into hedges, and sometimes burn for fuel. The cla or leaf is put to a great variety of uses; there are few natives who dwell under any other covering than that which an ola hut affords,


« AnteriorContinuar »