Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/93

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83
REEF-KNOT NETS.

secure a perfected and scientific statistical service in this country. This movement commenced during the closing days of the last Congress^ through memorials from boards of trade, presented by the National Board of Trade, asking that the question of the establishment of a permanent Census Office be considered by the Secretary of the Interior and a report made to the Fifty-second Congress. The matter is therefore open for consideration by the public and by Congress, and, whether a permanent statistical service is provided for or not, great good must come from the discussion, and ultimately the faulty features of the present system be removed.


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REEF-KNOT NETS.

By WILLIAM CHURCHILL.

AT the bottom of textile industries net-meshing appears to precede even such simple weaving as the making of mats of grass and bark. Not only is it the earliest of the textile arts, but it is even more prominently an unchanged art through all the stages of development which have culminated in the Jacquard loom. Ancient or modern, laboriously made by hand or the product of intricate machinery, the mesh knot is practically unmodified in the nets of the steam trawler and the naked savage. It seems, indeed, one of the few contrivances of human ingenuity which came early to perfection and have not proved susceptible of any improvement in all the succeeding ages.

It may, then, be not without interest to present a radical variant of the common mesh knot as noticed in general use among a considerable people in the western Pacific, together with such notes as are available to show a wider distribution of this knot.

In western New Britain, on the coast of Dampier Strait, facing New Guinea, where the Papuan characteristics are most strongly impressed upon the Melanesian type, the writer noticed the netting of a large seine and was attracted by the unfamiliar motions of the old women engaged in the work. Closer examination disclosed the fact that every knot in the mesh was of the sort known as the reef or square knot, in which the four ends come out in pairs, each pair on one side of the bight or loop of the other pair. As nothing could be more widely dissimilar from the ordinary mesh knot, an effort — and a successful one — was made to induce the netters to communicate their art, which is here presented with figures which may aid to a clear comprehension of the method of manufacture employed. These figures give a view of a net in process of construction, with detailed drawings of the foundation knot and of the successive stages in forming the mesh knot.