William and Robert Chambers,
Text on page 64
abides in these traces, but is wiped off with a cloth from the smooth surface. Of these boxes, and c., there is a great variety, some large enough to contain a bushel. Those about four inches in diameter, and the same depth, are generally used as coon-boxes. The best of this ware is made by the Shyans.
Jewellery is made at all the principal places, but it is rare that any thing of much taste and beauty is produced in this way. Embossing and filigree work form their chef-d'-oeuvres ; and some specimens which I brought home would do honour even to a Chinese. One of these is a silver box, such as is used for the tempered quicklime in coon ; another is a cocoa-nut shell, on which are the twelve signs of the zodiac, according to their names and ideas. I have never seen more beautiful embossing than these present. Gems are beautifully cut and polished.
In gilding they certainly excel ; putting on the leaf with great precision, and making it resist dampness. No European picture-frames, though kept with the greatest care, withstand the long and pervasive damp of the rainy season. But these artists make their gilding endure not only in the house, and on the iron tees of pagodas, but even when spread over common mortar on the outside of a building. To give both smoothness and tact, they use nothing but the common thitsay (literally " wood-oil") of the country, which is laid on repeatedly, like successive coats of black paint.
The assayers of precious metals are expert and exact; and as money goes by weight, and is therefore constantly getting cut to pieces, and alloyed, these persons are numerous. I saw a couple of them at work in the Rangoon custom-house. A small furnace is set in the earth, urged by a double bellows, made of two large bamboos. From each bamboo a small tube near the bottom conveys the air directly to the fire. The melted metal is cast into cakes, weighing two or three dollars, and thus passes into circulation, to be again cut into pieces as occasion may require.
Cotton and silk goods are made, in sufficient quantity to supply the country. Some of them are fine and beautiful ; but in general they are coarse and strong, and always high-priced. In getting the seed from the cotton, they universally use a small and ingenious machine, of which a good idea may be got from the picture. It consists of two small cylinders, in contact, one of which, moved by a crank, turns the other; the cotton is drawn through, and
_ ^ __^^^^ leaves the seed behind.
^^BBP^ST One person cleans thus Cleaning Cotton. ten viss, or thirty-six
pounds per day. About two-thirds of the weight is left in seed. .The seeds, sprinkled with oil, are used for torches at festivals, and c., in the open air. The whole process of making cotton and silk goods from the raw material, is managed by women. The spinning-wheel is like ours, only smaller, and without legs, as the people sit on the floor. In preparing the rolls, they have nothing like cards, and after whipping it fine with a furrier's bow, they form the rolls with their fingers.
Their loom differs in no respect that I could discover from our common loom in America, except that for foot-paddles they have rings or stirrups, in which the feet are placed. When figures are to be introduced, however, the mechanism is ingenious, and the labour very tedious. The colours for this purpose are each on a separate bobbin, or shuttle, passed back and forth with the finger, as the weaving advances. In this manner, the stripes have both warp and woof of the same colour, like ribbons put together. Sometimes a more curious process is adopted, which carries the figure aside into other stripes, in a manner which no British loom could imitate. To comb the warp, they use the fruit of the Sahtha, a strong grass, eight or ten feet high, with jagged, thorny leaves. The fruit is the size of an ostrich egg, having a shell like a young pine
bur. This being removed, leaves a sharp, strong hair* which makes an excellent* brush for the purpose.
The process of dyeing is well understood, and thA colours beautiful and various ; but, probably for want of proper mordants, or from frequent wetting and strong sun, they are apt to be transient. The colours of silks, however, are permanent.
Near Summei-kyoung saltpetre is obtained ; and the principal occupation of many of the inhabitants of that region is the manufacture of gunpowder. This is of pretty good quality, but the process of making it I had no opportunity of seeing. In making fire-works, which are liberally used on public occasions, particularly rockets, they display great ingenuity. Some of them are of incredible magnitude. I have seen some from eight to twelve feet long, and four to seven inches in diameter. They are sometimes still larger. Cox declares that when he was at Ava, he saw some made which contained 10,000 pounds of powder each. If such were the fact, which seems impossible, the powder must have been exceedingly weak. Large rockets are made of a log of mahogany, or other tough wood, hollowed out, and well hooped with strong ratans or thongs of raV hide.
Iron ore is smelted in several districts, and forged into implements at all the principal places. But they cannot make steel, and receive that article from England, by way of Bengal. Their chief tool, and one used for all manner of purposes, from the felling of a tree to the paring of a cucumber, is the dah. The handle is like that of a cleaver, and the blade like a drawing' knife. It is also a prominent weapon, and when made for this purpose, is somewhat more long and slender.
Brass is compounded and wrought with more skill than is shown in almost any other of their manufactures. A good deal is made in sheets, and wrought into water-vases, drinking-vessels, spittoons, and c. The latter are always of one form, namely, that of a vase with a very wide top.
In casting bells, Burmah transcends all the rest of India. They are disproportionately thick, but of delightful tone. The raised inscriptions and figures are as beautiful as on any bells I have seen. They do not flare open at the mouth, like a trumpet ; but are precisely the shape of old-fashioned globular wine-glasses, or semi-spheroidal. Several in the empire are of enormous size. That at Mengoon, near Ava, weighs, as the prime minister informed me, 88,000 vissamore than 330,000 pounds ! It seems almost incredible ; but i* any of my readers, interested in such matters, will make a computation for themselves, they will find it true. The bell, by actual measurement, is twenty inches thick, twenty feet high, including the ear, and thirteen feet six inches in diameter.* The weight waS ascertained by the Burmans, before casting, and its bulk in ;ubic inches proves them correct. It is suspended a few inches from the ground, and, like their other great bells, is without a tongue. That at Rangoon is not much smaller. It will be recollected that the largest bell in the United States does not exceed 5000 pounds. The Great Tom, at Oxford, in England, is 17,000 pounds, and the famous but useless bell at Moscow is 444,000 pounds. *
Gongs are made at or near Ava, but I could not see the process. Kettles, ornaments, images, and c., are nicely cast at the capital.
Two kinds of paper are made by Burmans. ' One is a thin, blackened pasteboard, made of macerated cane, and used for writing upon with a pencil of soap-stone. From this the writing may be removed with a sponge as from a slate. Sometimes, though rarely, it is made white, and written on with ink. The other is a thin? but very strong paper, rather fine, and used in the manufacture of umbrellas. English and Chinese paper3
* A friend, distinguished as a civil engineer, computed thA weight, from this measurement, to exceed 500,000 pounds, supposing the hell-metal to consist of three parts copper, and on0 part tin.* A friend, distinguished as a civil engineer, computed thA weight, from this measurement, to exceed 500,000 pounds, supposing the hell-metal to consist of three parts copper, and on0 part tin.