Page:Firemaking Apparatus in the U.S. National Museum.djvu/25

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FIRE-MAKING APPARATUS.

Sticks of the Ainos of Yezo (!N^o. 129970, fig. 17) were loaned to the IMuseum by Prof. F. W. Putnam, who also secured the following letter of Mr. D. P. Peuhallow, who collected the sticiis: At our request the chief brought several fire- -stick.s to my house, together with the neces- sary number of men to get fire in the ai)proved style. Ui)on examination the sticks were fonnd to be from 6 to 9 inches long, and very dry. Our informant stated that they were from the root of the elm Ulmus campestris, var. JcKvis, and that it was customary to keep a supply ahead, as the sticks require to be seasoned for about one year, by hanging them from the rafters of the house above the fire. To prepare them for the jirocess of making fire, a shorter stick was cut flat on opposite sides, and about midway of one of the flattened sides a small hole was made with the point of the knife for the pur- pose of establishing the center of action. Another stick about 9 inches long was then well sharpened at one end. Three men now seated themselves in a circle, facing inward, with the flattened stick notched side upper- most in the center. The point of the long stick was now placed in the notch, and with the stick in a vertical position and grasped between the extended palms of the hands, a steady and somewhat fast rotating pressure was brought to bear, exactly as in the use of the old-fashioucd awl. As soon as the first man became weary, the second brought his hands to bear upon the upper end of the stick, and continued the mo- tion without allowing it to cease. This was repeated as often as necessary until fire was obtained. Owing to the very dry character of the sticks used, the parts in contact rapidly wear away, so that the notch quickly becomes cup-shaped, and the pointed end is correspond- ingly rounded, while at the same time the powdery product is thrown out, forming a raised ring on all sides. Before long it is observed that the powder acquires a brownish tinge. This gradually deepens as the temperature rises until finally a deli- cate line of smoke warns the operator that the end is near. The motion is now continued until the smoke is well established, when the verti- cal stick is raised, disclosing a spark on its end. The mouth is applied to the oppo- site extremity, and by means of a few vigorous pulls as if smoking a cigar, owing to the porous nature of the stick, the spark is drawn into a flame. The actual operation as witnessed by us consumed about two hours, and the Ainos state that the process requires from one and one-half to two and one-half hours. The sticks figured are the actual ones that were used in the operation above described. Fig. 17. FiKE-MAKiNo Set with ToucHwoon. (Cat. No. 1299~0. U. S. N. M. Aiiifw of Yezo. Jap^ii. Collected hy I). I'. Peuhallow. r.eiit by TcaLoily Mu- «euiii, through I'rof. V. W. Putnam.)