Author Topic: Kapu Ketima-ANCIENT CEYLON  (Read 4972 times)

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Offline cLeOpAtRa

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« on: October 12, 2007, 09:13:47 AM »

Drag From The

The Book,
An Account of the Aborigines and of Part of the Early Civilisation


For English Readers..
The origin of the Cotton Spinning Wheel, Kapu Katina Yantra, and Cotton Gin, Kapu Kapana YanirŪ, is doubtless much more recent; there is nothing to show the date of their introduction into Ceylon. Early spinning would be done by hand like that of the Kinnaras at the present day, by means of a whorl fitted on a wooden pin, which at a later date wasIMPLEMENTS
replaced by an iron one. Perforated whorls of earthenware, with a broad groove round the middle, were found in the lowest stratum at Tissa. The disk-like seeds of a large creeper are now used by the Kinnaras as weights for their spindles, which are sometimes made from the ribs of the side leaves of coconut fronds, and are 12 inches long.
The use of the Spinning Wheel seems to have been practically abandoned during the first half of last century, after cotton yarn and cotton goods of foreign manufacture became obtainable at a cheap rate; but a few persons in the interior still

FIGS. 242, 243. The Spianing Wheel.

employ it. Its shape (Figs. 242 and 243) was like that of the rough home-made type of wheel constructed in some Indian villages, having three flat boards, 2J inches wide, with two holes near each extremity, as spokes at each end of the axle, which was made of great thickness so as to support them firmly. A continuous cord wrapped with calico to prevent the slipping of the driving cord, was carried across from each hole to the nearest one of the next spoke at the other end of the axle, thus forming a flexible skeleton drum. The spokes at one end of it were opposite the spaces at the other end. A Spindle, Idda,564


on to which the cotton was fed by hand, was held in two bird-mouth rests fixed in an upright in front of the drum.
At the beginning, the operator, who was always a woman, commenced by drawing out from a heap of cleaned cotton a band of sufficient thickness which she twisted by rolling it on her thigh until it became as thick as the finger. From this a thread was drawn out, and after being twisted in the same manner on the thigh was wound on the spool or spindle while additional thread was being drawn out and twisted. To wind it on the spool the latter was placed in the bird-mouth rests, and a cord was passed round the drum and back round a reel fixed on the lower half of the spindle. When the loose handle at one end of the axle was turned the friction of the cord on the covered strings of the skeleton drum caused the spindle to revolve, winding the yarn on its upper half, and stretching it to nearly equal thickness. After as much yarn as it would hold had been thus passed on to the
spindle, it was removed, and the yarn was wound off it in hanks from the fork of the hand round the back of the upper arm near the elbow. From the hanks it was again wound round short sticks fixed in the ground thirty feet apart, for drying, after which it was ready for the weaver.

The Cotton Gin (Fig. 244), which must be of much later date, consisted of two horizontal wooden rollers (Kambamnga) placed one above the other between two uprights (Kakul) that were fixed in a stand or board. Both rollers were round bars ; they passed through the uprights, outside one of which they terminated in endless wooden screws. A loose handle passed through a hole in one roller, at the opposite end. When this was turned the screw on it working on the screw of the other

FIG. 244. The Cotton Gin.IMPLEMENTS 565

roller caused both to revolve In opposite directions. The space between the rollers was adjusted by means of a plug of wood inserted under the lower one.

While the handle was turned by the left hand (the operator sitting on the long jrest which projects at a right angle), the cotton was fed by the right hand between the plain parts of the rollers, which drew it off the seeds ; but the action as I have seen it performed was extremely slow. In early times of course the cotton cleaning was done by hand.

I have no notes of the Kandian Weaving Frames, Accuwa. They were large rectangular frames, some being 20 feet long and 4 feet 6 inches wide, fixed horizontally near the ground. The Shuttle, Nadawa, made of Tamarind wood, nj inches long if- inches wide and I inch deep, was of the European type, which is also used in West Africa, where the frame is nine inches wide, and is hung from a branch of a tree.

Although some cloth weaving was done by Potters, the principal weavers who worked for hire were men of the Berawa caste, the present tom-tom beaters, to whom the people of better castes were accustomed to hand their yam for the purpose. Coloured cloth of various interlacing patterns, as well as white cloth, was made in the villages by these people.

Indian weavers formerly settled on the west coast at Chilaw and elsewhere, but I am not aware that cotton cloth is now manufactured in the villages of the interior, although many people understand the work. It is still made at Batticaloa to a very small extent.

For Mat-weaving a long frame is used by the men of the Kinnara caste only, and the work performed by them is slow and laborious. No shuttle is used for it, but each strand, consisting of three or four fine strips of grass or fibre, is drawn towards the operator across the Niyanda strings of the warp at the end of a long thin flat stick, which is pointed at the end and has a hole there through which the grass is threaded after the stick has been pushed through the warp. The stick is then used for pressing it tight against the previous strand. This may be a relic of the original method of cloth weaving. A clue to the district from which these people came may perhaps566 ANCIENT CEYLON
be found by ascertaining what races employ this mode of mat weaving in India.

The Kinnaras make two kinds of mats in their frames. One is a very durable and flexible mat composed entirely of Niyanda fibre, and is called Hak-Kalal; it is from two feet to two feet three inches wide, and is always ornamented by lines or patterns in dyed thread of red, yellow, and black colours. The other, called Kalal, is made of aquatic grass on a warp of Niyanda fibre. The women usually take no part in the weaving, but assist in collecting the materials and preparing them for the work. A few, however, are able to weave.

Sinhalese of other castes never weave these two kinds of mats, although all, including even the highest castes, are accustomed to make and sell other mats which are plaited on the ground without a frame, and are termed Paedura

For the mats made on the ground three kinds of aquatic grasses are employed. These are called Haewan (Cyperus dehiscens) or Gal-laehae Pa%, the best, with a soft round dark green stem, and a long grass-like flower spike; Telhiriya (Colubrina asiatica], somewhat like the last, but much less durable ; and Tun-hiriya, with a tall coarse broad triangular stem, and a short head of flowers. These are all cut into regular sizes, usually about two and a half feet in length, spread out in the sun on the ground near the houses, and thoroughly dried. Narrow strips of the leaves of Dunukdeya (Pandanus foetidus), Indi (Phcenix zeylanica, the Wild Date), and Palmira and Talipat Palms are also used. Mats of all but the last material are termed Paedura; Kandian mats made of wider strips of Talipat leaves are called Magal, and are much larger than the others, and only used for covering floors and lining the walk of temporary buildings.

In making all these Kandian mats the women alone undertake the whole labour, which is performed in the verandas of their houses. The weaver commences the work at the near right-hand corner, and holds the strands down with the feet, squatting dose to the ground. Patterns, each having a distinctive name, are often plaited in such mats, with strands ? dyed red, yellow, and bkck. Many of them are survivals of IMPLEMENTS 567
very early designs, each family preserving and handing down to the next generation its own special set of designs, which the young girls learn by long practice under their mothers* tuition.

The water-tight plaited flat-bottomed baskets prepared in the Jaffna district from wide strips of Palmira leaf are well known to all those who have seen Jaffnese carters feeding their bulls out of them with liquid ' poonac/ the refuse coconut after the oil has been extracted. I am not aware that Sinhalese make any baskets that will hold water.XIV


games played by a people are usually either almost JL ignored by travellers and foreign residents alike, or are dismissed with a far too meagre description. Yet it must be evident that any account of a race which omits to notice its amusements cannot be considered a complete or satisfactory one. What should we think of a relation of the customs and habits and characteristics of the residents of Britain which contained hardly any reference to such games as cricket, football, golf, and tennis, or even billiards, bridge, and chess ? Such a work would enable no one who was unacquainted with us to form an accurate opinion regarding an important part of our national traits. And although an the case of the Eastern races and those of inferior civilisation the games of their countries occupy a much less commanding position than with us, a knowledge of these amusements is absolutely necessary for forming a satisfactory estimate of the national characteristics. It is often stated that the Western mind cannot comprehend the thoughts of the East. How can it be otherwise when not one European out of a hundred living in the East has more than the vaguest notion of the universal belief regarding the effect of magic and spells and the far-reaching powers of evil spirits, or the folk-lore and folk-stories, the prejudices, and the amusements of the people among whom he dwells ? Without a more or less thorough knowledge of the details of these subjects it is impossible for any real acquaintance with the inner mind of a people to be attained. However humanely a country may be governed, however impartially justice may be administered, however honestly the inhabitants may be treated in all their dealings with the ruling race, the certainty will always remain that without this knowledge we must continue to