A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 794 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13.
tongue, Tellina gargadia, scrape it very carefully, dipping it continually in the water till nothing remains but the fine fibres of the inner coat.  Being thus prepared in the afternoon, they are spread out upon plantain leaves in the evening; and in this part of the work there appears to be some difficulty, as the mistress of the family always superintends the doing of it:  They are placed in lengths of about eleven or twelve yards, one by the side of another, till they are about a foot broad, and two or three layers are also laid one upon the other:  Care is taken that the cloth shall be in all parts of an equal thickness, so that if the bark happens to be thinner in any particular part of one layer than the rest, a piece that is somewhat thicker is picked out to be laid over it in the next.  In this state it remains till the morning, when great part of the water which it contained when it was laid out, is either drained off or evaporated, and the several fibres adhere together, so as that the whole may be raised from the ground in one piece.

[Footnote 17:  The reader will find additional information on this subject, and on several others here treated, in some of the subsequent accounts; from which, however, it seemed unadvisable to make quotations at present.  It is scarcely necessary to add, that the curious art of dyeing, which the Otaheitans seem to practise with no small ingenuity, has been much vestigated on philosophical principles since the date of this publication.  Modern chemistry has a right to boast of her acquisitions in so very important a point of domestic science; but it would be invidious and improper to specify them in this place.—­E.]

It is then taken away, and laid upon the smooth side of a long piece of wood, prepared for the purpose, and beaten, by the women servants, with instruments about a foot long and three inches thick, made of a hard wood which they call Etoa.  The shape of this instrument is not unlike a square razor strop, only that the handle is longer, and each of its four sides or faces is marked, lengthways, with small grooves, or furrows, of different degrees of fineness; those on one side being of a width and depth sufficient to receive a small packthread, and the others finer in a regular gradation, so that the last are not more than equal to sewing silk.

They beat it first with the coarsest side of this mallet, keeping time like our smiths; it spreads very fast under the strokes, chiefly however in the breadth, and the grooves in the mallet mark it with the appearance of threads; it is successively beaten with the other sides, last with the finest, and is then fit for use.  Sometimes, however, it is made still thinner, by beating it with the finest side of the mallet, after it has been several times doubled:  It is then called Hoboo, and is almost as thin as a muslin; It becomes very white by being bleached in the air, but is made still whiter and softer by being washed and beaten again after it has been worn.

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