« ForrigeFortsæt »
regularity: they are very elastic, and the strength of them is universally known. The husk of the cocoa-nut is first made into plait, which is then twisted into strands, and of these the rope is made. The bark of the fow is not first made into plait, but at once into strands.
Bows and Arrows.—The bows are generally made of the wood of the mangrove, though some few are of the casuarina wood. The string made of the inner bark of a tree they call alongd, and is exceedingly strong. The arrows are made of reed, headed with casuarina wood. Some of these heads have three or four rows of barbs, and to make them more formidable, are tipped with the bone of the stingray.
Fabrication of Gnatoo. This substance is somewhat similar to cotton, but not woven, being rather of the texture of paper. It is prepared from the inner bark of the Chinese paper mulberry tree, and is used for dress and other purposes.
A circular incision being made round the tree near the root, with a shell deep enough to penetrate the bark, the tree is broken off at that part which its slenderness readily admits of. When a number of them are thus laid on the ground, they are left in the sun a couple of days to become partially dry, so that the inner and
outer bark may be stripped off together, without danger of leaving any of the fibres behind. The bark is then soaked in water for a day and night, and scraped carefully with shells, for the purpose of removing the outer bark, or epidermis, which is thrown away. The inner bark is then rolled up lengthways, and soaked in water for another day. It now swells, becomes tougher, and more capable of being beaten out into a firm texture. Being thus prepared, the operation of tatoo or beating commences. This part of the work is performed by means of a mallet a foot long and two inches thick, in the form of a parallelopipedon, two opposite sides being grooved longitudinally to the depth and breadth of about a line, with intervals of a quarter of an inch. The bark, which is from two to five feet long, and one to three inches broad, is then laid upon a beam of wood about six feet long, and nine inches in breadth and thickness, which is supported about an inch from the ground by pieces of wood at each end, so as to allow of a certain degree of vibration. Two or three women generally sit at the same beam: each places her bark transversely upon the beam immediately before her, and while she beats with her right hand, with her left she moves it slowly to and fro, so that every part becomes beaten alike. The grooved side of the mallet is chiefly
used first, and the smooth side afterwards. They generally beat alternately. Early in the morning, when the air is calm and still, the beating of the gnatoo at all the plantations about has a very pleasing effect, some sounds being near at hand and others almost lost by the distance; some a little more acute, others more grave, and all with remarkable regularity, produce a musical variety that is very agreeable, and not a little heightened by the singing of the birds and the cheerful influence of the scene. When one hand is fatigued the mallet is dexterously transferred to the other, without occasioning the smallest sensible delay. In the course of about half an hour it is brought to a sufficient degree of thinness, being so much spread laterally as to be now nearly square when unfolded : for it must be observed that they double it several times during the process, by which means it spreads more equally, and is prevented from breaking. The bark thus far prepared is called setage, and is mostly put aside till they have a sufficient quantity to go on at a future time with a second part of the operation, which is called cogaga, or printing with coca. When this is to be done, a number employ themselves in gathering the berries of the toe, the pulp of which serves for paste; but the mucilaginous substance of the mahoá root is sometimes substituted for it.
At the same time others are busy scraping off the soft bark of the coca tree and the tooi-tooi tree, either of which when wrung out, without water, yields a reddish brown juice, to be used as a dye. The cobéchi, or stamp, is formed of the dried leaves of the paoongo sewed together, so as to be of a sufficient size, and afterwards embroidered, according to various devices, with the wiry fibre of the cocoa-nut husk. They are generally about two feet long and a foot and a half broad. They are tied on to the convex side of half cylinders of wood, usually about six or eight feet long, to admit two or three similar operations to go on at the same time. The stamp being thus fixed, with the embroidered side uppermost, a piece of the prepared bark is laid on it, and smeared over with a folded piece of gnatoo dipped in one of the reddish brown liquids before-mentioned, so that the whole surface of the prepared bark becomes stained, but particularly those parts raised by the design in the stamp. Another piece of gnatoo is now laid on it, but not quite so broad, which adheres by virtue of the mucilaginous quality in the dye, and this in like manner is smeared over, then a third in the same way ; and the substance is now three layers in thick
Others are then added to increase it in length and breadth, by pasting the edges of
these over the first, but not so as there shall be in any place more than three folds, which is easily managed, as the margin of one layer falls short of the margin of the one under it. During the whole process each layer is stamped separately, so that the pattern may be said to exist in the very substance of the gnatoo; and when one portion is thus printed to the size of the cobéchi, the material being moved farther on, the next portion, either in length or breadth, becomes stamped, the pattern beginning close to where the other ended. Thus they go on printing and enlarging it to about six feet in breadth, and generally about forty or fifty yards in length. It is then carefully folded up and baked under ground, which causes the dye to become somewhat darker and more firmly fixed in the fibre: besides which, it deprives it of a peculiar smoky smell which belongs to the coca. When it has been thus exposed to heat for a few hours, it is spread out on a grass plat, or on the sand of the sea-shore, and the finishing operation of toogi hea commences, or staining it in certain places with the juice of the hea, which constitutes a brilliant red varnish. This is done in straight lines, along those places where the edges of the printed portions join each other, and serves to conceal the little irregularities there ; also in sundry other places, in the form