Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/29

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
19
THE EARLY HISTORY OF FIRE.

to slide rapidly to and fro upon a piece of dry, soft wood laid upon the ground (in Tahiti, the Sandwich Islands, New Zealand, Timor, etc.). This process Tylor denominates the stick-and-groove (Fig. 1), but the fire-drill (Figs. 2 and 4) is more generally used. In its simplest form, the fire-drill consists of a stick, one extremity of which is inserted in

PSM V10 D029 Ancient fire making methods.jpg
Fig. 1.—The Stick-and-Groove. (Tylor.) Fig. 2. The Fire-Drill. (Tylor.)

a hole bored in a piece of dry wood, while the stick itself is twirled between the hands and pressed downward (see Fig. 2).

This instrument occurs not only in Australia, Sumatra, the Caroline Islands, and Kamtchatka, but also in China, South Africa, and North and South America. It was employed by the ancient Mexicans, and is still in use among the Yenadis of Southern India, and the Veddas of Ceylon (Fig. 3).

PSM V10 D029 Ancient mexican fire drill.jpg
Fig. 3. Ancient Mexican Fire-Drill. (Tylor.)

It is still further modified by causing the stick to whirl by means of a thong wound round it, the ends of which are pulled in opposite directions alternately. This is the instrument described in the Vedas, and it is still employed by the Brahmans of our own day for lighting the sacred fire. For, as Tylor well observes, we very often see fire obtained for use in religious rites by the ancient processes,