Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/111

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the root of the tree, and kept burning till the tree falls. One man can attend a considerable number of such fires, so that the work, as a whole, may go on quite fast. Stones which it is desired to remove from the road are split by the aid of fire, and wells are bored through the rock sometimes to the depth of thirty feet or more.

Hardly any stone implements are used by the Africans, and no trace of a stone hammer or a stone knife has been found in the country. The nearest approach to anything of the kind is when the Bushmen and mountain Damaras occasionally bore through a stone, and load their digging-sticks with it. The stick, having been pushed through the hole till the weight is about at its middle, is grasped with one hand below the stone, and with the other hand above it; and is used more advantageously, just as better work can be done with a heavy crow-bar or mattock than with a light one. These stones are of a similar shape with those that are used for net-weights, but are considerably heavier. Fire-wood is broken up by throwing heavy stones upon it. Long stones seem better adapted to this purpose than others, and, when one peculiarly fitted for the work is found, it is generally kept. Flat stones are employed as lower millstones, and a convenient round stone is looked for with which to do the grinding. So far as I know, no art is applied in shaping the millstones, but the upper one naturally becomes more rounded and the lower one more hollow by use, and both are thus better adapted to their purpose. Old grinding-stones are, therefore, more highly prized than new, unused, and rough ones. These grinders resemble to a hair those that were formerly used by the northern peoples. Small, longish stones are used as hammers, but without any handle, being held directly in the hand. The native smiths now prefer the large bolts with which wagon-tongues are fastened; but stones were formerly used exclusively when native metallurgic art was not competent to produce iron tools adapted to hammering.

The use of clay in pottery is well known in Africa, and the potters are familiar enough with the places where the best material can be found. The pots that I have seen have the form of an egg, and will not stand without a support. Before the natives learned from the Europeans to put feet under their vessels, they laid stones around the bottom. The pots were made with the free hand, without a wheel, by adding to a ball of nearly dry clay a roll of similar clay, and then welding the two together, and smoothing them with the moistened hand; then another roll, and another, till the sides of the vessel were extended far enough; and the marks of the joints between the added rolls could usually be distinguished in the finished vessel. The Hereros characterize the method of this process quite strikingly in their expression "to build up a pot," for "to make one." The vessels are never glazed, but, as the people are not particular about cleanliness, they soon become water-tight. They are burned only as much as can