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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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Manufactures, Boats, and Navigation (continued)

All these trees are propagated with great care, particularly the mulberry, which covers the largest part of the cultivated land, and is not fit for use after two or three year’s growth, when it is about six or eight feet high, and somewhat thicker than a man’s thumb; its excellence is to be thin, strait, tall, and without branches: the lower leaves, therefore, are carefully plucked off, with their germs, as often as there is any appearance of their producing a branch.

But though the cloth made of these three trees is different, it is all manufactured in the same manner; I shall, therefore, describe the process only in the fine sort, that is made of the mulberry. When the trees are of a proper size, they are drawn up, and stripped of their branches, after which the roots and tops are cut off; the bark of these rods being then slit up longitudinally is easily drawn off, and, when a proper quantity has been procured, it is carried down to some running water, in which it is deposited to soak, and secured from floating away by heavy stones: when it is supposed to be sufficiently softened, the women servants go down to the brook, and stripping themselves, sit down in the water, to separate the inner bark from the green part on the outside; to do this they place the under side upon a flat smooth board, and with the shell which our dealers call Tyger’s tongue, Tellina gargadia, scrape it very carefully, dipping it continually in the water till nothing remains but the fine fibres of the inner coat. Being thus prepared in the afternoon, they are spread out upon plantain leaves in the evening; and in this part of the work there appears to be some difficulty, as the mistress of the family always superintends the doing of it: they are placed in lengths of about eleven or twelve yards, one by the side of another, till they are about a foot broad, and two or three layers are also laid one upon the other: care is taken that the cloth shall be in all parts of an equal thickness, so that if the bark happens to be thinner in any particular part of one layer than the rest, a piece that is somewhat thicker is picked out to be laid over it in the next. In this state it remains till the morning, when great part of the water which it contained when it was laid out, is either drained off or evaporated, and the several fibres adhere together, so as that the whole may be raised from the ground in one piece.


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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 211 - 212, 2004
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To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-jrnl-hv23-211