Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/653
CORK, ITS MANUFACTURE AND PROPERTIES.
They drink wine from the same jar, and are both seated upon one mat; congratulations are renewed and another feast spread, this time at the house of the groom's parents. This concludes the ceremonies.
Cases of sickness are generally treated by the application of roots, herbs, and leaves; each family possesses certain preparations, whose composition is kept secret. There are no physicians, and they apply their own remedies.
When any one of their number dies, friends and neighbors hasten to the mountains, hew down a tree, hollow it out, and, after having washed and dressed the body, put sugar-cane into its mouth, and invoked the shades of the dead, place it in this rude coffin, open the eyes so as to look heavenward, and then carefully seal it up. On the day of burial, sacrifices are indulged in, according to the means of the relatives of the deceased. The grave is usually made in a forest, and the hewing of trees therein is superstitiously avoided. A soothsayer, or priest, plants two reeds at the borders of a stream in such a manner that the parents of the dead can pass underneath; while doing this, he sprinkles water upon them which had been used to clean rice. After washing their clothes and cutting their hair, they enter the house, and, in order to show the depth of their sorrow, throw everything about the house into confusion. The priest arriving, he reproaches them, restores order, and sprinkles a kind of holy water in order to drive out the evil spirits.
The language of these tribes is a mixture of the Annamite and Chinese. It is chanted in a manner peculiar to the former, but differs somewhat in sound. Thirty-six letters comprise the alphabet, a peculiarity of which is that there is no letter corresponding to our r.
By ARTHUR GOOD and WILLIAM ANDERSON.
A CONSIDERABLE number of trees, including the cherry, birch, elm, plane-tree, and maple, produce a corky substance in their bark, but in too thin layers to admit of economical use. In Brazil, the bark of a tree of the family of Bignoniaceæ, and the pith of Pourretia tuberculata, of the family of Bromeliaceæ, furnish a kind of cork, as does also the Euphorbia alsaminifera of the Canary Islands. But none of these substances is capable of any important use.
Two varieties of oak, the cork-oak (Quercus suber), which grows in the Mediterranean basin, and the Western oak (Quercus occidentalis) of Gascony, share the monopoly of the production of cork in thick-enough sheets to be utilized. But the natural cork which they furnish, and which is called male or virgin cork, has, whatever its thickness, but slight commercial value; and it is not employed industrially