Fire-tnaking in North Borneo.
cylinder in the left hand the knob of the piston is smartly struck with the open right hand, with sufficient force to drive the piston home. The piston is instantly and quickly withdrawn, and the tinder is seen to be alight.2 Gently breathing on the spark it spreads, fresh tinder is applied, which catches fire immediately ; more blowing increases the fire, and first scraped wood and then small sticks catch alight, and a fire is produced. [Mr. Crocker (J. A. I. xv. 426) says : " The natives rarely fail in obtaining a light, and many of them still stick to their tube and tinder in spite of Bryant and May's matches, which are now found all over the country." H.L.R.]
It looks very easy, but I never succeeded, though my son, Mr. E. F. Skertchly, did. The piston soon gets out of order if the packing is not attended to.
This well-known method of fire-making is common to all the natives in this part of Borneo, Malays, Dyaks, Dusuns, Bajows. Cagayans, Sulus, Muruts, Cagayan-sulus, Bugis, and c., but it is getting rare to find a yonng man who knows how to work it, though they soon learn.
Only three kinds of wood are used as drills in this part of Borneo, none of which, unfortunately, have I yet been able to identify by flowers or fruit. In all cases the wood is light, even-grained, soft and friable. The commonest is a small rapid-growing tree with huge rhubarb-like leaves. It is called by the Cagayan-sulus ladang* as is the tree from whose wood the Japanese make shoe-soles. It starts up anywhere after the forest is felled, and grows twenty feet in the first year. Its extreme height is about thirty feet. The specimens sent home are of this wood. It is a short-lived tree, and it is from the dead trees the wood is taken
--v for fire-making, though that
-==7 from living trees does as well if b i thoroughly dried.
The description of fire-making in Australia by Captain Cook, as quoted by Tylor,4 is very exact, but there are one or two points either omitted or not applicable to the Australian method.
The first operation is to cut a notch or groove down the side, for the dust to fall through. This is not mentioned by Captain Cook, but is always done, and indeed is necessary, as the dust which falls on a little heap on the ground below the hot drill, would otherwise accumulate round the drill on the top of the fire-wood, and be scarcely heated.
2 I have never seen tinder " burst into flame," as we sometimes read about. No tinder known to me could perform such a feat. It can only smoulder. (S. B. J. S.)
Ladang means quick-growing. The tree is also called penembang. (S. B. J. S.)
4 aA Early Hist. Mank.," p. 238.
The drill (a) is a round stick about a foot long, tapering from a quarter to an eighth of an inch. The thicker end is slightly rounded.
The fire-wood (b), as the other piece may be called, since from it the fire is obtained, is of the same ladang wood, about 14 x 075 x 0 25 inches, roughly squared on all faces. This must not have any flaw in it.The fire-wood (b), as the other piece may be called, since from it the fire is obtained, is of the same ladang wood, about 14 x 075 x 0 25 inches, roughly squared on all faces. This must not have any flaw in it.