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phius, it is this tree which yields the so much celebrated Japan lacquer or varnish. The varnish of Siam and Cochin China is probably the best, but that of Celebes and Java, which is the produce of this tree, is also employed for the same purposes, and cannot be much inferior, since it bears as high a price.
The process of obtaining and using it is thus given by Rumphius. “ The exhalations of this tree are considered noxious, and the people of Macassar, and other parts of Celebes in particular, entertain such dread of it, that they dare not remain long, much less repose, under its shade; they say, that whoever receives the droppings from it will have his body swell and be afflicted with malignant sores.
“As, however, it furnishes the so celebrated varnish, other people boldly repair to this tree, particularly the Chinese and Tonquinese, who employ great precautions in collecting the resin, which is accomplished in the following manner. A number of Chinese proceed about evening to the place where the trees grow, which is always at a distance from the resort of man or animals : each selects a few, and inserts into the trunks two pieces of bamboo,
sharpened at their points in such a manner as to penetrate the bark in a somewhat oblique direction. These remain all night, and are extracted before sun-rise the next morning, the tree yielding no juice during the day. The resin is found in greater or less quantity, according to the richness or poorness of the soil, and is obtained only at certain seasons of the year, particularly about the time of flowering. The people who collect it unite the fruit of their labour, and afterwards make a complete division of the whole, on which account this resin maintains a high price, a single pikrel (containing a hundred catties) selling in those provinces of China which do not possess this tree for two or three hundred dollars: in Tonkin and Camboja, however, it may be had for thirty, fifty, or sixty dollars. It is a custom among the Chinese, when they approach this tree, first to rub the trunk lightly, before inserting the bamboo, wishing by this to show that they are not afraid, for they say that timid persons will sooner feel its noxious effects than those who are bold and fearless. The resin is prepared for varnish in the following manner.
“ To one pound of resin add an equal weight of the oil of Tang-yhu, a Chinese tree, from whose fruit a red transparent oil is prepared resembling our linseed oil. Others put one pound of oil to three of resin, which are gently heated together, and make a very black varnish. If, however, to one pound of resin two of oil be added, a varnish of a brownish-yellow is produced with which wood is lightly done over, to bring out the grain and veins. If, while the varnish is heated, red lead, powdered galls, or other dry pigments be added, it gives the same colour to the work on which it is employed. This liquid varnish ought to be covered with water, to prevent it from becoming hard. The articles to which the varnish is applied must always be placed in a cool and moist place to dry, which they do slowly; but when once hardened the varnish never becomes soft again, except by the suffusion of hot water, which often dissolves it.
“The Chinese carry this prepared resin in large pots from Siam and Camboja to Japan, where it is disposed of to great advantage. The Japanese are the most skilful in preparing and ornamenting all kinds of wooden articles with this varnish, of which they annually use large quantities, and their black lacquered works are dispersed on account of their elegance over all parts of the world.
“Another tree very useful to the Chinese artisans is the Kou Chou, which resembles a fig tree. This tree on incision yields a milk or liquid gum, which they use in gilding with leaf gold. They wet their pencils with it, and then draw their figures and ornaments with the gum upon wood, over which they apply the leaf-gold, which is so firmly cemented by the gum, that it never detaches. This gum is in its effects like the transferring varnish now used in Europe, but more tenacious."
ESCULENT VEGETABLES OF VAN
O hand of bounty, largely spread,
HOWEVER wild and uncultivated, and devoid of human inhabitants, any part of this globe may be, there is sure to be found, as soon as such a spot is visited by man, that provision has been made for his support, till he himself, by the means which art has taught him, can prepare his artificial nutriment. Nowhere is proof more abundantly given of this merciful provision for the wants of man, than has been made known to us by botanical researches into the indigenous esculent plants which are to be found in Van Diemen's Land. These