CHAYROOKA. MALEAL. Capparis Heyneana. CHAY ROOT. ANGLO-TEL.
Emboorel, . . . Tam. I Tsberi velloo, . TEL.
Rammisserem vayr, „ Chaya vern, . . „ This is the root of a small biennial plant, the Oldenlandia umbellate, which is largely used as a scarlet dye. It is extensively cultivated in Ceylon and the Peninsula of India, but also grows wild, and the Singhalese prefer the wild plant. The plant grows in light sandy ground near the sea, where its roots strike very deep. The colouring matter resides entirely in the bark of the root, the inner portion being white and useless. This root is of great importance to the S. Indian dyer, yielding a red dye similar to mun jeet, Rubia cordifolia. The celebrated red turbans of Madura are dyed with it. That of Madura is considered superior of its kind, but this superiority is probably owing to some chemical effect which the water of the Vigay river has upon it, and not to any peculiar excellence of the dye itself. Wild chay roots are shorter, and are considered to yield one-third or one-fourth more colouring matter than the cultivated root ; this probably arises from too much watering, as much rain injures the quality of the root. Roots of two years growth are preferred when procurable. It is said that chay root rapidly deteriorates by being kept in the hold of a ship, or, indeed, in any dark place. When cultivated, the minute seeds are gathered, together with the surface sand, and sown in land previously prepared. It is watered for a year, and then dug, and sells at Rs. 20 the candy of 500 lbs.
If left longer in the ground It increases in value, and does not require further watching.
When first sown, it is immediately watered with water in which cow-dung has been dissolved. This binds the surface, and prevents the seeds being blown about by the winds. Tho dyers in the Peninsula of India test the value of the root by mixing some of the pounded root and quick lime. If good, the mixture soon assumes a find red colour, if the mixture become pale or brown, or if no change of colour take place, it is con sidered of little or of no value. If a white colour
prevail in the inside of the bark and on the wood, it may be pretty certain that the root is spoiled ; a green colour is a sure indication of its goodness (Rhode, MSS.). It furnishes the colouring matter for the durable red for which the chintzes of S. India are famous. Chay root forms a consider able article of export from Ceylon. It grows there spontaneously on light, dry, sandy ground on the sea-coast. The cultivated roots are slender, with a few lateral fibres, and from one to two feet long. Attention was drawn to it as a dye stuff in 1798 by a special minute of the Board of Trade recommending its importation ; but Dr. Bancroft's report discouraged its further importa tion.
Dr. Heyne's description of dyeing cotton yarn with chay root is as follows : The yarn, being washed and untwisted, that it may not become entangled, and being so separated that every part may be equally penetrated by the colouring matter, is divided into bundles of thirty or forty threads, through each of which at the middle and extremities a cotton thread is loosely sewed, but so as to allow of every thread being exposed to the sun's rays when hung up, and the threads spread out on a bamboo.
The yarn is washed and cleansed in cold water, aided by half an hour's manipulation ; it is then kept in water in covered vessels till it acquires a putrid smell, which takes place in from twenty four to thirty-six hours, during which it is occasionally pressed and worked for a quarter of an hour together ; it is then to be washed as clean as possible, beaten on a stone or earthen pot, and then hung up to dry.
While this process is going on, a lye is prepared of the ashes of the plantain or other tree in cold water. It is an object to have this lye of sufficient strength, Which is determined by adding to a small quantity about half as much ingelly oil and giving to it a gentle motion. Should it turn immediately white, having no visible globules of oil swimming on the surface, it is good.