Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/892

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875
RAMESWARAM-RAMIE

first three passages cited above are all by the priestly (post-exile) author and go together. Jacob is settled by his son Joseph in the land of Rameses and from the same Rameses the exodus naturally takes place. The older narrative speaks not of the land of Rameses but of the land of Goshen; it seems probable, therefore, that the later author interprets an obsolete term by one current in his own day, just as the Septuagint in Gen. xlvi. 28 names instead of Goshen Heroopolis and the land of Rameses. Heroopolis lay on the canal connecting the Nile and the Red Sea, and not far from the head of the latter, so that the land of Rameses must be sought in Wādi Tūmīlāt near the line of the modern fresh-water canal. In Exod. i. 11, again, the store cities or arsenals which the Hebrews built for Pharaoh are specified as Pithom and Raamses, to which the Septuagint adds Heliopolis. Pithom also takes us to the Wādi Tūmīlāt. But did the Israelites maintain a continuous recollection of the names of the cities on which they were forced to build, or were these names rather added by a writer who knew what fortiied places were in his own time to be seen in Wādi Tūmīlāt? The latter is far the more likely case, when we consider that the old form of the story of the Hebrews in Egypt is throughout deficient in precise geographical data, as might be expected in a history not committed to writing till the Israelites had resided for centuries in another and distant land. The post-exile or priestly author indeed gives a detailed route for the exodus (which is lacking in the older story), but he, we know, was a student of geography and might supplement tradition by what he could gather from traders as to the caravan routes.1 And at all events to argue that, because the Hebrews worked at a city named after Rameses, they did so in the reign of the founder, is false reasoning, for the Hebrew expression might equally be used of repairs or new works of any kind.

It appears, however, from remains and inscriptions that Rameses II. did build in Wādi Tūmīlāt, especially at Tell Maskhūta, which Lepsius therefore identified with the Raamses of Exodus. This identification is commemorated in the name of the adjacent railway station. But Naville's excavations found that the ruins were those of Pithom and that Pithom was identical with the later Heroopolis. Petrie found sculptures of the age of Rameses II. at Tel Rotāb, in the Wādi Tūmīlāt west of Pithom, and concludes that this was Rameses. The Biblical city is probably one of those named Prarneses, “House of Ramesses,” in the Egyptian texts.

See Pithom; and W. M. F. Petrie, Hyksos and Israelite Cities, p. 28 et sqq. (W. R. S.; F. Ll. G.)


RAMESWARAM, a town of British India, in the Madura district of Madras, on the island of Pambam in Palk Straits. It contains one of the most venerable Hindu shrines, founded, according to tradition, by Rama himself, which for centuries has been the resort of thousands of pilgrims from all parts of India. The great temple, with its pillared corridors 700 ft. long, is perhaps the finest example of Dravidian architecture.


RAMIE (RHEA, CHINA-GRASS), the product of one or more species of the genus Boehmeria, a member of the order Urticaceae and nearly allied to the stinging nettle genus (Urtica), from which, however, it differs in absence of stinging hairs. Some confusion has arisen in the use of the various terms Chinagrass, Ramie and Rhea. Two plants are concerned. One, Boehmeria nivea, China-grass, has been cultivated by the Chinese from very early times under the name Tschou-ma. The other, probably a variety of the same species (Boehmeria nivea, var. tenacissima), though sometimes regarded as a distinct species (B. tenacissima), is the Ramie (Malay zdmi) of the Malay Islands and the Rhea of Assam.

Boehmeria nivea is a shrubby plant with the growth of the common nettle but without stinging hairs, sending up each season a number of straight shoots from a perennial underground rootstock. The long-stalked leaves recall those of the nettle in their shape and serrated margin, but their backs are 1 From the position of the words it is even not unlikely that “ Pithom and Raamses " may be the addition of a redactor, and that the first author of Exod. i. II only spoke generally of store-cities. clothed with a downy substance and have a silvery appearance. The minute greenish flowers are closely arranged along a slender axis. This variety has been cultivated by the Chinese for many years, and the fibre, which is obtained from it by a tedious hand-process, has been used more or less as a substitute for silk. The variety tenacissima differs in its more robust habit and larger leaves, which are pale green on the face and a very much paler green on the bark. They are not downy, however, and this affords a ready means of distinction from true China-grass. Boehmeria nivea is sometimes found wild in India, Malaya, China and ]apan, and is probably a native of further India and Malaya. China-grass and ramie are widely cultivated not only in China, Formosa, Japan, India and Malaya, but also in Queensland, Mauritius, the Cameroons, the West Indies, Brazil, Mexico and the southern states of North America, and also in south Europe.

The plant, which attains a height of from 3 to 8 ft., is grown from seed, cuttings or layers, or by division of the roots. It is easy to cultivate, and thrives in almost any soil, but especially in a naturally rich, moist, light, loamy soil. For the best growth a good and equally distributed rainfall is necessary. Sudden changes of weather result in irregularities in growth, and these have a tendency to produce plants the fibres of which vary in strength. Liberal manuring is necessaw, as the plant withdraws a large quantity of valuable constituent; from the soil. The plants should be cut when the flower is beginning to fall and the seed to form.

It is stated that two to four crops per season may be obtained on suitable ground, each crop yielding about 4 tons of stems per acre. With only two crops per year, and a 4% yield of fibre, the resulting product would nearly reach one-third of a ton per acre. When proper attention is given to the choice of ground, and to planting, there is not much difficulty in the way of raising a good crop; the trouble arises in the extraction of the fibre.

The stems when ripe are cut down, and after the leaves and small branches have been removed, the outer cover and the layers of fibre are stripped ofi in the form of ribbons. These ribbons contain the bark, the fibre and a quantity of very adhesive gum. The Chinese remove this bark and as much of the gum as possible before the plant has dried. This hand process is naturally a slow and tedious one, and many decorticators have been invented to supplant it. The action of all these decorticators is very similar. The ramie stalks are fed into the machine, and during their passage are beaten by 12 to zo rapidly revolving blades. These break the stalks into small pieces, and leave the bark and fibre in long ribbons. At the same time, part of the gum is squeezed out between the beaters and the anvil. Up to the present, however, these machines have not been very successful. They usually bruise or otherwise injure the fibre, and they do not squeeze out the gum thoroughly. If the gum be allowed to dry on the ribbons it is difficult to remove it, and the chemicals employed in the degumming, if not thoroughly removed by washing, often injure the fibre to such an extent that the ultimate fabric or article is soon decomposed. If, however, the ribbons be degummed immediately, or soon after the plants are cut down, the gum will be much more easily extracted-indeed it might be possible to remove it then by boiling water or steam. The fibre cannot be expected to make much headway until the operations of decorticating and degumming are successfully carried out on or near the growing grounds; and, until a proficient decorticator is made, the hbre should be stripped by hand and the degumming operation begun immediately. By this method the least possible damage would result to the fibre, no waste material would be shipped, and a clean fibre would be placed on the market.

The fibre possesses some very valuable properties; it is not only much stronger than any other known fibre, but almost equals silk in its brilliance. This latter property, however, is now challenged by mercerized cotton. It successfully resists atmospheric changes, is easily dyed and is affected but little by moisture. On the other hand, articles manufactured from it are