Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/505

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THE PREHENSILE FOOT OF EAST INDIANS.

life of internal amity. To which it should be added that under the one set of conditions there is little or no ethical, or rather pro-ethical, reprobation of lying; while under the other set of conditions the pro-ethical reprobation of lying, and in considerable measure the ethical reprobation, become strong.

 

THE PREHENSILE FOOT OF EAST INDIANS.
By M. F. REGNAULT.

THE traveler who walks in the native quarters of the cities of India can easily study there all industries in their beginnings, as they were probably practiced in Europe in the middle ages. The shops are usually open, and the workmen can be seen inside; textile industries, pottery, shoemaking, joinering, armoring, jewelry, confectioners—all can be observed in a single street like Chitpore Street, Calcutta. If we take pains to examine attentively the methods of working, we shall be struck by the enormous function played by the lower limb. Whatever the industries, the Indian, squatting or sitting on the ground, works with his feet as well as with his hands; and it might be said that all four of his limbs are in constant exercise. The joiner, for example, has no assistant to hold his plank, but makes his great toe serve that purpose. The shoemaker does not employ a fixed clamp for the shoe on which he is sewing, but holds it in his feet, which change position to suit his convenience, while his nimble hands do the sewing. The metal-worker holds the joint of his shears on his feet in cutting copper.

In the making of wooden combs I have seen the comb held straight up by the feet, while the workmen marked the teeth with one hand and with the other directed the instrument that cut them. The wood-turner directs the hand-rest with his great toes; so, generally, do Egyptian and Arabian turners. In smoothing twine or sewing a bridle the Indians hold the article between the first and second toes. When the butcher cuts his meat into small pieces, he holds his knife between the first and second toes, takes the meat in both hands, and pulls it up across the knife. I have seen a child climb a tree and hold a branch between his toes. These are enough details concerning the constant, universal use of the foot.

In considering this property of the lower limb, it is well to distinguish between the parts that relate, first, to the articulation of the hip, which, being very loose, permits the Indian to squat in such a position that his foot shall not be very far from his hands, so as to make all four participate in the work and permit the whole