Page:Firemaking Apparatus in the U.S. National Museum.djvu/19

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f FIRE-MAKING APPARATUS. 545 scriptions given it seems to have been practiced by the Caranchua Indians, a recently extinct tribe in Texas and Mexico. (See below.) These specimens from Costa Rica are the crudest fire tools, not to be mere make shifts, that have come to my notice or have been described in the literature examined. The Costa Rican Indians are very inter- esting in their preservation of several other arts that may justly be classed among the most ancient. One may be mentioned, that of bark cloth making. Professor Gabb made quite a collection from Talamanca, but has not left any notes on these remarkable people, who are well worthy of the careful study of ethnologists. A curious modification of this central hole plan is figured and de- scribed in Oviedo, folio 90, as occurring in Hispaniola ; that is, the West Indies, Ilayti, San Domingo, etc. He says that "two dry light sticks of brown wood were tied firmly together, and the point of the drill of a particular hard wood was inserted between the two and then worked." Mr. H. Ling Roth* thinks that if one can judge from the illustration (which is a miserable one) in BenzonPs work, the natives of Nicaragua also used three sticks in making fire. Benzoni, however, says : t All over India they light fire with two pieces of wood ; although they had a great deal of wax, they knew no use for it, and produced light from pieces of wild pine wood. From Oviedo's description I am inclined to believe that the dust in which the fire starts was allowed to fall below on tinder i^laced beneath tlie hearth. Through the kindness of Prof. F. W. Putnam, curator of the Peabody Museum, at Cambridge, Mass., I have received an extract from a manu- script written by Mrs. Alice W. Oliver, of Lynn, who, as a girl, in 1838 resided on Matagorda Bay, and learned the language and customs of the Caranchua Indians, a separate stock, now thought to be extinct. Mrs. Oliver says : After the hnt is built a fire is made, the squaws usually begging fire or matches from the settlers, but, in case their fire is out and they hive no other means of kindling it, they resort to the primitive method of producing it by friction of wood. They always carry their fire-sticks with them, keeping them carefully wrapped in several layers of skins tied up with thongs and made into a neat package; they are thus kept very dry, and as soon as the occasion for their use is over, they are immediately wrapped up again and laid away. These sticks are two in number. One of them is held across the knees as they squat on the ground, and is abont two feet long, made of a close-grained, brownish-yellow wood (perhaps pecan), half round in section ; the flat face, which is held upward, is about an inch across. Three cylindrical holes abont half an inch in diameter and of equal depth, the bottoms slightly concave, are made in it. The three holes are equally distant apart, about 2 inches, and the first one is the same distance from the end of the stick, which rests upon the right knee. In one of the holes is inserted the slightly-rounded end of a twirling stick made of a white, softer kind of wood, some- what less than the diameter of the hole, so as to turn easily, and about 18 inches long.

  • The Aborigines of Hispaniola." J. Anthrop., Inst. Gt. Britain and Ireland, xvi,

p. 282. t G. Benzoni. — History of the New World. Hakluy t Society, XXI, p. 151. H. Mis. 142, pt. 2 35