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Purnea

purpura, purple, railway and colour

PURNEA, a town and district of British India, in the Bhagal pur division of Behar and Orissa. The town is on the little river Saura, with a railway station. Pop. (1931) The DISTRICT OF PURNEA has an area of 4,972 sq.m. and a population (1931) of 2,186,543, extending from the Ganges northwards to the frontier of Nepal. It is a level tract of country, traversed by several rivers flowing from the Himalayas, the great est of which is the Kosi, which has been known to move 20 m. in 25 years, leaving behind it a trail of sterile sand. The principal crops are rice, pulses and oilseeds. The cultivation of indigo has declined, but that of jute has greatly increased. Branches of Eastern Bengal State railway join the Bengal and North-Western railway at Katihar, which is a rapidly growing town with inhabitants. Kishanganj (pop. 5,939) is the centre of the jute trade and is a branch terminus of the Darjeeling-Himalayan railway.

a shade varying between crimson and violet.

i Formerly was used of the deep crimson colour called in Latin purpura, from the name of the shellfish (Purpura) which yielded the famous Tyrian dye. Tyrian purple during many ages was the most celebrated of all dyed colours, and possibly the first to be permanently fixed on wool or linen. Being extremely costly,

robes of this colour were worn as a mark of imperial or royal rank, whence the phrase "born in the purple." In the Roman Catholic church "promotion to the purple" is promotion to the rank of cardinal.

The ancients derived their purple from the mollusc, Purpura haemastoma, known to Pliny as "Buccinum," and Murex bran daris, termed by Pliny "Purpura," the shells of which have been found adjacent to ancient dyeworks at Athens and Pompeii. The colour-producing secretion is contained in a small cyst adjacent to the head of the animal, and this pus-like matter when spread on textile material in presence of sunlight develops a purple-red colour. According to Pliny these receptacles after being laid in salt were boiled with water for several days, the liquor being tested from time to time as to its dyeing properties. Before dyeing the wool could be grounded with a second colouring matter, for which purpose alkanet root (Anchusa tinctoria) and "orchil" were employed. Friedlander has shown that the dye developed from the molluscs is 6 :6'-dibromoindigotin. (A. G. P.)