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(51) Bungalows, bricklayers, houses smeared with cow-dung, mindy applied to hands and feet, hinnah [[235-239]]

[[235]] Most of the bungalows built by Europeans are run up with sun-dried bricks, usually of a large size, eight of them making a cubic foot; each being a foot long, six inches broad, and three inches thick. With these in a proper state for building, work proceeds rapidly, but much care must be taken that the mortar or slime used [[236]] for cement, be of a proper consistence, and well filled in.

Bricks are generally made in wooden moulds laid on some level spot, previously swept so as to remove stones &c., and filled with mud. The surface is then levelled, either with the hand or with a strike; when the mould is raised by means of handles, and washed in a large pan of water, and then placed on a fresh spot, contiguous to the brick already formed. An expert labourer in this avocation will, if duly supplied with mud and water, make from 2000 to 2500 bricks daily of the above dimensions. It will usually require one labourer to mix the soil, one to supply water, and two hand-barrow men, to keep one brick-maker in constant work; the whole expense being about sixteen- or eighteen-pence; which in England would cost full as many shillings.

Some of the rauz, or bricklayers, in India are very clever, so far as relates to mere practical operations; but they have not the smallest idea of planning from paper, or on paper; or of computing the quantities of materials, or the amount of labour. They work with a small trowel, like that used in England, and chip their bricks, whether sun-dried or burnt, with a small hammer, having either one or both its faces of a wedge form, and about three or four inches long from the insertion of the handle. They preserve the perpendiculars by means of a bell-shaped weighty commonly of free-stone, or of lead or iron, to which a long cotton cord is attached, having on it a piece of wood exactly as long as the diameter of the weight's base. This being pierced in the centre, and applied endwise to any part, preserving it at the same time as nearly horizontal as possible, points out the exact spot which is perpendicular to the corresponding edge of the weight

Williamson 1810 vol. 1: ((516)) Supposing a wall to be run up to any height, if the stick be applied to the upper tier of bricks, and the weight swings so as just to come in contact with the ground tier, the wall will be perpendicular. The method is simple, and the apparatus portable; therefore I may safely recommend their adoption to our workmen; especially when a large plumb-bevil is not at hand.

It is true that many of the bricklayers employed under regular architects, may be seen to use our tools of every description; but this takes place only under such guidance: in all other instances, the native bricklayer resorts to the practices of his ancestors; though, to say the truth, they are by no means so unwilling to change for better, as the opinionated British mechanic; who, I am obliged to confess, must yield the palm for sobriety, cheapness, ingenuity, and docility, to the unlettered artisan of the East. 

Nevertheless, I am sensible that one English workman will 'knock off' more work than two, or perhaps three, Asiatics of the same profession, and finish that work in higher style; but if we take into consideration that the latter employs tools such as the former would pronounce to be useless, and that he learns all by rote, without the smallest idea of figures, proportions, or computations, we must, however ((517)) unwillingly, give a verdict by no means partial to our countrymen.

Another point greatly in favor of the poor Hindu, is that he exercises not only the profession of bricklayer, but of plasterer, tarras-maker, &c. In like manner, we find the two professions of looaur (blacksmith) and durrye (carpenter) often exercised by the same individual. I once built a phaeton at Cawnpore, solely with the aid of a reputed blacksmith, who wrought every part of the iron work in a very superior manner, and constructed the whole of the wood-work in an excellent style. Nay, he made the head, and lined it with woollen very neatly; and, after all, lent a hand towards the painting. His wages were only eight rupees (twenty shillings) monthly, and he never had been concerned in constructing any kind of vehicle, except the hackery in common use; which has already been described. 

The natives are extremely negligent regarding the [[237]] strength of their floors. They seem also to be fully satisfied when the places where they lie down on their mats are tolerably dry; though the whole interior be so extremely damp that if any seeds, such as wheat, peas, rice, &c., happen to fall, and to be swept to the skirts of the apartments, such are sure to vegetate. Whatever the flooring may consist of, whether clay or tarras, that of the eating apartment is almost invariably smeared with a solution of cow dung. This certainly gives a freshness, and may probably tend to salubrity; nor is it so devoid of neatness as an European would imagine; but the scent is by no means agreeable.

Some ornament both the interior and the exterior of their houses, by dipping the palms of their hands horizontally into solutions of ochre, chiefly red, and then imprinting the walls with their hands thus coloured. These prints are put on irregularly, by no means proving the taste of the operators; who, nevertheless, consider their huts to be beautified: the great design is, however, to typify the infinite power of the Creator, whose hands are supposed to be innumerable, and perpetually in action.

Even horses, especially if white or dun-coloured, are very frequently marked in the same manner by means of mindy (or hinna), which, being reduced to a pulp, is applied to the part in the desired form. This plaster, as it may be called, is allowed to remain till perfectly dry; when it commonly cracks and falls off, leaving a rich barre colour; though if not allowed, either by the animal's restlessness or from want of time, to impart its colouring matter duly, the stain will be much fainter; perhaps not unlike a light mahogany colour.

The natives rarely omit to tinge about ten inches or a foot of the extremity of the tail of every light-coloured horse with mindy. Sometimes also, at about two inches [[238]]  asunder, one or two rings are stained in the same manner.

Nor is this herb restricted solely to the ornamenting, or rather the disguising of horses, oxen, &c. The Hindoostanee ladies generally stain the whole of the interior of their hands, including the fingers, as well as the soles of their feet, with mindy; the tips of all the nails are sure to undergo the operation. This often compels the party sustaining this gratifying penance, to sit motionless for hours, in order that the dye may take a firm hold of the skin. When properly managed, the stain will remain for at least a month, resisting every endeavour to wash it
out, and seeming only to yield to the constant growth of the outer skin.

Possibly an excellent dye for woollens might be obtained from the hinnah, which, being inspissated, or reduced to an extract, could be imported for dyers with peculiar advantage. The plant, which is not unlike myrtle, is indigenous throughout Hindoostan, where it is principally employed for garden hedges, like yew, box, &c.; but not proving a defence against cattle, and being of slow growth, the exterior hedges, instead of being formed of hinnah, are usually made of baubool, a species of mimosa, yielding some gum, and otherwise extremely serviceable, both from the excellence of its wood for all circular or angular work requiring great strength, durability, and toughness, and for its bark, which for tanning is at least equal to that of the oak.

The natives consider the application of mindy to be attended with good effects; they say it is cooling, but more probably the reverse, it being certainly an astringent, and contributing to check perspiration: hence the hands of such as apply it feel harsh and dry. That it may be a corrective of the scent sometimes attendant upon an habitual discharge from the feet, may be true; but it may be questioned whether the [[239]] obstruction of such a discharge can be reconciled to prudence. It is, however, a complaint very rarely to be met with in India, doubtless owing to frequent washing, and to an abundant and general perspiration.


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