Chinese insect white wax.

The Living Age 2138, 13.6.1885

From Nature.

(Tekstiin lisätty kappaleita lukemisen helpottamiseksi. // Some paragraphs added to the original text for making reading easier.)A Parliamentary paper which has recently been published (China, No. 2, 1885) contains a report of a journey through central Sze-chu'an, which was made by Mr. Hosie, consular agent at Chung-king, chiefly for the purpose of collecting information on the subject of insect white wax, specimens of the insect wax-trees, and forms of the wax product, at the request of Sir Joseph Hooker. The report describes the country traversed, its trade and trading capabilities, and such information as was attainable on any commercial product of the district; but the portion relating to insect white wax is the most interesting part of the paper.

"Insect tree "is the name given by the Chinese in the extreme west of Sze chu'an to what is probably the Ligustrum lucidum of botanists. The point will doubtless be decided at Kew by the specimens which Mr. Hosie has sent home. It is also called the winter-green or evergreen tree; while in the east of the province it is known as the "crackling flea tree," owing, it is said, to the sputtering of the wood when burned. It is an evergreen, with leaves which spring in pairs from the branches. They are thick, dark green, glossy, ovate, and pointed. In the end of May or beginning of June the tree bears clusters of small white flowers, which give place to small seeds of a dark blue color.

In the month of May, 1883, Mr. Hosie found attached to the bark of the boughs and twigs numerous brown, pea-shaped excrescences or galls, in various stages of development. In the earlier stages they looked like minute univalves clinging to the bark. The larger galls were readily detachable, and, when opened, presented either a whitey-brown, pulpy mass, or a crowd of minute animals, whose movements were only just perceptible to the naked eye.

Last year an opportunity of examining these galls and their contents with some minuteness in the chief wax-producing locality in the province presented itself. They are very brittle, and there was found, on opening them, a swarm of brown creatures, like minute lice, each with six legs and a pair of club antenna, crawling about. The great majority of the galls also contained either a small white bag or cocoon, containing a chrysalis, whose movements were visible through the thin covering, or a small black beetle. This beetle also has six legs, and is provided with a lung proboscis, armed with a pair of pincers. It is called by the Chinese the "buffalo," probably from its ungainly appearance. After a few days it turned out that each chrysalis developed into a black beetle, or buffalo." If left undisturbed in the broken gall, the beetle will, heedless of the wax insects, which begin to crawl outside and inside the gall, continue to burrow with his proboscis and pincers in the inner lining of the gall, which is apparently his food.

The Chinese believe that he cats his minute companions in the gall, or at any rate injures them with the pressure of his heavy body, and galls in which beetles are numerous sell cheaper than others. But careful investigation showed that the beetle does not cat the other insects, and that his purpose within the gall is a more useful one. When a gall is plucked from the insect tree an orifice is disclosed where it was attached to the bark. By this the wax insects escape. But if the gall remained attached to the tree no mode of escape would appear to be provided for them. The beetle provides this mode. With his pincers he gradually bores a hole in the covering of the gall, which is of sufficient size to allow him to escape from his imprisonment, and which allows egress at the sane time to the wax insects.

When the beetles were removed from the galls some of them made efforts to fly; but at that time their elytræ were not sufficiently developed, and they had to content themselves with crawling, a movement which, owing to the long proboscis, they performed very clumsily.

Through the orifice thus created by the beetle the insects escape to the branches of the tree, if the gall be not plucked soon enough. When plucked, the galls are carried in headlong flight by bearers who travel through the night for coolness to the market towns, and every endeavor is made to preserve a cool temperature in order that the heat may not torce the insects to escape from the galls during the journey.

The wax-tree is usually a stump, varying from three or four to a dozen feet in height, with numerous sprouts or branches rising from the gnarled top of the stem. The leaves spring in pairs from the branches. They are light green, ovate, pointed, serrated, and deciduous. The branches are rarely found more than six feet in length, as those on which the wax is produced are cut from the stems with it. The sprouts of one and two years' growth are too pliant, and it is only in the third year, when they are again sufficiently strong to resist the wind, that wax insects are placed on them. In June some of the trees bear bunches apparently of seeds in small pods, and specimens of these have been sent to Kew.

The wax insects are transferred to these trees about the beginning of May. They are made into small packets of twenty or thirty galls, which are inclosed in a leaf of the wood-oil tree, the edges of which are fastened together with rice straw. These small packets are then suspended close to the branches under which they hang. A few rough holes are made in the leaf by means of a large needle, so that the insects may find their way through them to the branches. On emerging from the galls the insects creep rapidly up the branches to the leaves, where they remain for thirteen days, until their mouths and limbs are strong.

During this period they are said to moult, casting off "a hairy garment," which has grown in this short time. They then descend to the tender branches, on the under sides of which they fix themselves to the bark by their mouths. Gradually the upper surfaces of the branches are also dotted with the insects.

They are said not to move from the spots to which they attach themselves. The Cnincse idea is that they live on dew, and that the wax perspires from the bodies of the insects. The specimens of the branches encrusted with wax show that the insects construct a series of galleries stretching from time bark to the outer surface of the wax.

At an early stage of wax production an insect called by the Chinese the "wax-dog" is developed. Mr. Hosie was unable to obtain a specimen of this insect, but it was described to him as a caterpillar, in size and appearance like a brown bean. His theory (which, he confesses, is unsupported by outside evidence) is that the female of the "buffalo" beetle, already mentioned, deposits eggs on the boughs of the insect tree or the wax-tree, as the case may be, and that time wax-dog is the offspring of the buffalo.

There may possibly be a connection between this caterpillar and the gall containing the wax insects. It is said that during time night and early morning the insects relax their hold of the bark, and that during the heat of the day they again take firm hold of it. The owners of trees are in the habit, during the first month, of belaboring the trees with thick clubs to shake off the wax-dog, which, they assert, destroys the wax insects. After this period the branches are coated with wax, and time wax-dog is consequently unable to reach his prey. The first appearance of wax in the boughs and twigs has been likened to a coating of sulphate of quinine. This gradually becomes thicker, until, after a period of from ninety to a hundred days, the wax in good years has attained a thickness of about a quarter of an inch.

When time wax is ready, the branches are lopped off, and as much of the wax as possible is removed by hand. This is placed in an iron pot with water, and the wax, rising to the surface at melting-point, is skimmed off and placed in round moulds, whence it emerges as the white wax of commerce. The wax which cannot be removed by hand is placed with the twigs in a pot with water, and the same process is gone through.

This latter is less white and of an interior quality. But the Chinese, with their usual carefulness that nothing be lost or wasted, take the insects, which have meantime sunk to the bottom ot the pot, and, placing them in a bag, squeeze them until they have given up the last drop of the wax. They finish their short, industrious existence by being thrown to the pigs.

The market price of the wax is about ts. 1s. 6d. per pound. It is used chiefly in the manufacture of candles. It melts at 160°F., while tallow melts at about 95°. In Sze-chus'an it is mixed with tallow to give the latter greater consistency, and candles, when made, are dipped in melted white wax to give them a harder sheathing and to prevent the tallow from running over when they are lighted.

An indigo plantation in Bengal.

The Living Age 2138, 13.6.1885

From the Field.

(Tekstiin lisätty kappaleita lukemisen helpottamiseksi. // Some paragraphs added to the original text for making reading easier.) An indigo plantation or factory, with its extensive buildings and large sheets of indigo land adjoining, is not unlike a home farm, and is generally picturesquely situated on the edge of a lake or river for the sake of water during manufacture.

These great sheets of land, aggregating from two to four hundred acres, include the home cultivation; but the bulk of the indigo lands, from three to four thousand acres, it may be, are scattered far and near among the surrounding villages, and cultivated by the peasants of those villages. Superintending this work is a set of employés, who are always of high caste, often Brahmins for the sake of their greater influence over the villagers; while over home and outside cultivation is the overseer. On the other hand, a separate staff of employés, each head of his own department, have charge of the office work. The moonshee attends to the payment of rentals, renewal of village leases, law matters, and correspondence in Persian and Hindi with the different ranks of natives, and is au fait in all the special forms of address adapted to each, in regard to which such extreme particularity prevails. Next, the treasurer, who keeps his books or accounts in Persian, and is assisted by lallahs or Hindi writers, and the hereditary accountants of each village. Lastly, the Bengali baboo, who keeps a summary of all in English, which the European manager is supposed to check and sign.

The preparations for the indigo cultivation begin immediately with the close of the previous season's manufacture in October, and extend almost continuously till within a month of the sowings in March, for if the land is allowed to lie any length of time unbroken after rain (being the close of the rainy season), the tropical sun soon cakes the surface, and all moisture evaporates. During the four intervening months, therefore, it is undergoing an almost constant process of ploughing, hoeing, smoothing, and weeding, till it has reached a high state of culture in readiness for the delicate indigo plant. In the large home fields may be seen long lines of weeders (coolies), men, women, and children, from four to seventy years of age, moving slowly over the ground on their hams, each with a little spud or stick to dig up weeds or powder small clods.

In upper Bengal, where indigo cultivation is carried to its greatest perfection, the sowings begin about March 1, just as the last traces of the glorious cold weather are wearing away, and the dry west winds are growing hotter and more dusty each day. To get the sowings over without a drop of rain is now the first object, and these, once begun, continue all day, and by night if there be moonlight, for should even a single shower occur, entire re-sowing may be entailed.

Only when the plant is two or three inches high, and can stand raking is it considered safe. The seed germinates, if the weather be warm enough, in a couple of days, and the plant then presents a pretty appearance in its long, unbroken lines of blanched, delicate yellow. At this early stage, all it requires is warmth, a single night of cold bring sufficient to blight and wither it.

In a day or two, as its hue changes to a deep emerald, it is almost the only green thing to be seen over the parched, baked country. At this stage it may have to encounter caterpillars, locusts, or, it may be, hailstones as large as hen's eggs, but happily these enemies are not of frequent occurrence.

During the weeding, which begins again when the plant is two or three inches high, the planter has plenty of saddle exer6se to see that this is attended to over the cultivation.

When the plant has got about a foot high it is ploughed through, and this, instead of crushing or uprooting, as would be the case with a field of wheat, loosens the soil, lets in the air, and gives it a fresh start, so tough has the delicate plant now become. Rain, formerly so dreaded, now becomes each day more desirable, and should six weeks or more elapse without any, the plant gradually begins to blacken and burn as the moisture sinks to a lower level.

Manufacture begins with July, the commencement of the rainy season, when the plant is from two to five feet high, according to quality of soil. It consists entirely of tall, straight stem, and of leaf resembling the pea, and presents rich, waving masses of bright green, now in full leaf. The cutting is simply done by the primeval hook, small and serrated. Every morning hundreds of carts now come pouring into the factory, loaded with the cut plant; and it is quite a picture to see the little bullocks struggling bravely along the soft corduroy country roads, with their heavy loads and creaking bamboo carts, often kneedeep in water or mud.

This is now the busiest time of the year to the planter, as in it is condensed the burden of the whole year's labor; and what with the unaccustomed bustle and life all around him, it is quite a relief to the semisleepy rule of the other nine months of the year.

After the plant has been tightly packed into the vats, water is run on, and it is left to steep. The steeping is superintended by a special man, the hourman, a Brahmin or pundit who registers the flight of time by floating a perforated brass cup on water, each time the cup fills and sinks marking an hour. An hour or two after steeping commences, bubbles begin to rise rapidly to the surface, and the clear water gradually changes to a light green, as fermentation extracts the dye from the plant. These bubbles gather into a thick, inflammable froth, which explodes on the application of a light.

After eight to twelve hours, depending on the temperature, the steeping is over, and the liquid is run off into a lower vat to undergo the second process of manufacture — the "beating." This is done in one long vat running the whole length of the upper range, at one end of which a revolving paddle-wheel, driven by a shalt from an engine, keeps up a continual current and cloud of spray, and by bringing the liquid into contact with the air separates the dye, and gradually changes the color from rich amber green to dark blue. In this liquid now appear small particles of indigo distinctly floating about, which quickly settle to the bottom, leaving a clear brown liquid above.

Meantime the upper vats are being emptied of the waste plant or seet, which is carted away and spread over the fields for manure, the stems being afterwards dried and stacked for fuel to the engine. When the dye has settled to the bottom the waste water is run off, and the thick mass is pumped up through a succession of strainers into the boilers, where it is brought to the boiling-point to further separate the water, and consolidate the dye.

Thence it is run off through fresh strainers on to a long, shallow tank, called the table, through which the remaining waste water filters, leaving the indigo behind like a thick jelly. It is then spooned into iron or wooden presses, and subjected to continuous pressure by hand screws for five or six hours till moisture ceases to percolate.

The contents of each, now in the shape of a firm rake, are cut by a brass wire into a hundred smaller cakes or cubes, which are ranged on bamboo frameworks in the cake-house to dry. In about a couple of months, when the cakes have ceased to lose weight, they are classified according to quality, and packed in mango-wood chests for transmission to Calcutta, where they are sold by public auction, the richest shade and softest paste fetching the highest price. Such is the variation of quality, and a strange feature of manufacture, that one day's cutting may fetch nearly double that of another, without any accountable reason for the difference.

Manufacture closes about the end of September, averaging three months' duration, including two successive cuttings of the plant, the second nearly always giving the finer indigo, because from a more delicate leaf, grown quicker in the moist heat of the rains.

Russia is the largest customer, indigo forming the base of so many of her dyes, though nearly all Europe is represented among the buyers. The price of a chest of indigo weighing three hundred pounds varies from £80 to £110, according to quality and rate of market, the price in different years varying enormously. This, together with the great dependence of the indigo crop on the weather, and the variation of produce, even from a good crop, makes indigo planting so much of the lottery it is — at least, to the non-capitalist. In a good season a large factory of six thousand acres will send out perhaps six hundred chests, each three hundred pounds weight, realizing a gross value of about £50,000, and a net profit of at least half that amount.

- W. S.

Lyhyitä selontekoja. (Ote Suomen teollisuuslehdestä, "Muudan sana rakennusten ulkomaalauksesta")

Nykyaika 13-14, 30.7.1898

Suomen Teollisuuslehti N:o 24: "Muudan sana rakennusten ulkomaalauksesta" — nimisessä kirjoituksessa sanotaan m. m. seuraavaa:

Rakennusmaalauksella on oikeastaan kaksi päämäärää, kauneus ja kestävyys. Kun rakennus on saanut oikean värinsä; saa se eloa ja virkeyttä, jolloin se tietysti vaikuttaa silmään miellyttävästi ja itseensä kiinnittävästi. On tunnettua että mitä kirkkaampi esine on, sitä selvemmin se pistää esiin etäisyydestä; kaikki kirkkaat värit erittäinkin valkea, keltainen ja punainen pistävät enemmin silmään kuin tumma väri, varsinkin sininen, ruskea, vihreä j. e. p.

Metsän tai puiston sisällä olevan maatalon tulee olla vaalea ja kirkasvärinen voidakseen esiintyä vähänkään vaikuttavana. Kaupungin taloista on sitä vastaan rakennussäännöissä määräyksiä päinvastaiseen suuntaan: niillä ei saa olla liian räikeitä värejä. Varsinkin fasaadimaalauksessa olisi välttämätöintä, etteivät ala- ja yläpinnat, sileät ja epätasaiset paikat olisi samalla värillä siveltyjä. Hauska olisi myös suurissa taloissa, jos edes jonkun kerroksen väri olisi erilainen kuin toisten.