Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/699

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INDIA RUBBER AND GUTTA-PERCHA.

Fig. 2, but the knots are all at the toe loop, and the entire lacing is in one piece.

Fig. 4 is quite different from the other three, and is practically woven on four coarse warp strands, by wickerwork, the thick ends of the leaves being left on top and shredded to form a soft bed for the foot. The toe loop is as in Fig. 2. Many sandals of eastern Asia are woven on the same plan, the long ends of the warp being left underneath next to the ground.

 

INDIA RUBBER AND GUTTA-PERCHA.
By CLARKE DOOLEY.

WAS India rubber known to the ancients? Early writers do not mention it. We need not necessarily conclude, however, that the primitive peoples established on the shores of the Mediterranean were ignorant of the existence of this substance. The game of tennis is one of great antiquity, Herodotus attributing its invention to the Lydians. It is believed they got it from Egypt, which may have received it from Ethiopia. It is known that India-rubber trees are found in Abyssinia to-day. Hence it is reasonable to suppose they were indigenous there in earlier times, and that the inhabitants knew how to prepare resilient balls from their milky product. The Chinese have laid claim to the discovery of rubber, but have so far been unable to prove that they were the first to employ it. Modern Europe had no knowledge of it until the discovery of America. The Spaniards were much surprised to find the Indians playing tennis with balls made of a strange substance which excited their attention, as mentioned by Fernandez de Oviedo at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

This remarkable substance is obtained from the milky juice of certain trees and different varieties of climbers. South America is the principal source of supply—Brazil, of the many states producing it, leading in quantity and quality, and having in its great forests sufficient to meet twice the wants of the world. The best is Pará (fine, medium, and sernamby), from the great basin of the Amazon, where more than eighty thousand seringueiros (gatherers) are engaged in the dry season in collecting gum. White Para, "virgin sheets," a new variety in three grades, comes from Matto Grosso. Since its importance first began to be felt, this gum has exerted an increasing influence upon the spread of civilization, especially along the Amazon and Orinoco and their tributaries and the great streams which pour out from the interior of the Dark Continent. Pará, formerly an insignificant village, has