Bingo! Found the bamboospecies (well maybe)
After a new google-search with Bod's alternative spelling I found this site with some bamboospecies that could turn up to be Beccari's Bulu tamian. I've put the names that are similar to Bulu tamian in bold.
Schizostachyum blumei Nees (PROSEA,Wang)
SYNONYM(S) : Melocanna zollingeri Steudel var. longispiculata Kurz. ex Munro (PROSEA), Schizostachyum longispiculatum (Kurz ex Munro) Kurz (PROSEA)
CHINESE : Zhao wa si lao zhu.
ENGLISH : Borneo schizostachyum.
FRENCH : Schizostachyum de Borneo.
MALAY : Bongulungul (Sabah), Buloh anap (Sabah), Buluh lacau (Brunei, Indonesia), Buluh tamiang (Indonesia), Pring wuluh (Indonesia), Pring jawa, Tombotuon (Sabah).
SUNDANESE : Awi bunar (Indonesia), Awi tamiyang (Indonesia).
Schizostachyum iraten Steudel (PROSEA)
SYNONYM(S) : Schizostachyum biflorum McClure (PROSEA)
ENGLISH : Bali blowpipe bamboo, Bali schizostachyum, Java schizostachyum, Sumatra schizostachyum.
FRENCH : Schizostachyum de Bali, Schizostachyum de Java, Schizostachyum de Sumatra.
MALAY : Pring wuluh (Java).
SUNDANESE : Awi bunar (Indonesia), Awi tamiyang (Indonesia).
Schizostachyum irratun Kurz (OHRN)
MALAY : Bambu tamiyang (Indonesia).
Could this taxon (specific name) be a synonym of Schizostachyum iraten ? D. Ohrnbereger says that it is of doubtful status.
Schizostachyum jaculans Holttum (PROSEA)
MALAY : Buloh kasap, Buloh sumpitan, Buloh temiang.
Photograph at BambooDownUnder, Australia.
bamboo sparking with sharp flint
I tried again yesterday, striking my piece of bamboo with some new pieces of flint. The flints I used had a much sharper edge so I figured it would give better sparks. Oddly enough the opposite happened; I got some weak sparks, as dull as the ones I got last week with the blunt piece of flint, but most of the time the edge of the flint 'bit' into the piece of bamboo, chopping of bamboochips that were way too big to spark.
I think I'll have to improve my striking technique, preferably before my piece of bamboo is chopped to smithereens. ;)
"On Fire-Making in North Borneo"
I found this in an article called:
On Fire-Making in North Borneo
Sydney B. J. Skertchly
The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 19, 1890 (1890), pp. 445-452
"V- Fire from Bamboo and pottery
Pandeka, who is most skilful as a firemaker, often amused me by striking fire with a bit of broken crockery on a bamboo. He holds a long bamboo nearly upright, and taking a little of the scraped inside of bamboo in the hollow of his hand, and the crock between his finger and thumb, he strikes a spark from the siliceous coating of the bamboo by one free stroke of the arm. It requires a good hard, seasoned bamboo to work well."
The fire-syringe (fire piston), fire drill and fire saw are also depicted and described in a more detailed way. Skertchly also includes the english, dyak and malay names for the different parts of the fire piston and the tinder that was used by the locals for the fire piston, the "covering of the stem of a low palm, called by the Dyaks Apiang".
the quest for the fire bamboo
and then sell it to a Hollywood producer, it sounds like a good title! :D
That 's amazing news Bod! Let us know how & where you found the bulu temian bamboo. Did you try it out already or are you still busy with the new house?
On the original subject of this thread, the fire thong:
I tried again with hemp string on a split log of lime (basswood, Tilium sp). I doubled the 3 mm string this time but it still wears out, exactly at the time the smoke begins to rise. It doesn't cut into the wood as fast as a single string does though. Next step will be tripling the string and using a longer length (combined with longer strokes). This will (at least in theory) distribute the abrasion of the string over a longer length thus enhancing it's lifetime and maybe giving me the few more strokes that are needed to reach ignition.
fire thong, another try-out
Did you succeed?
Do you use a piece of bamboo just as those that are used with the bamboo fire saw (i.e. a length of bamboo cut in half with a transverse cut)?
I tried the split limewood again tonight with the string now doubled twice but still had no luck. I should be better prepared next time I try, I was trying it out in the dark and my split piece of limewood was shifting all the time so I had to pause and reposition a few times. In the end I got good smoke till the rope broke. Examination in the light showed that it had produced good dark brown powder, something I hadn´t seen up till now.
Quest for the Fire bamboo
The story continues...
I arrived during harvest time and many people were busy gathering in the rice crop or engaged in related matters and were too busy or too tired to humour my request for a lesson in an old way of making fire
These are subsistence farmers and it was not a good year as strong monsoon winds and storms had flattened parts of the fields so it was not my part to be pushy.
Fortunately, after spending the first day learning how to harvest rice, I spoke to an old man in his 70’s named Salang whom I knew. He was not busy with rice harvesting and he promised me a lesson the following morning.
I had come just to photograph the fire starting but the quest turned into a complete tutorial on this form of fire making. I’m setting it out in some detail for the record since the 19th Century accounts are brief and sometimes misleading.
Since I had collected and dried the temiang bamboo on a previous visit, we now started by collecting the tinder.
This meant locating an apiang palm, mentioned in Skertchly as growing only “on the banks of mountain streams far into the interior.” In our case, we were about 60km from the coast close to a large stream in a transition zone between low hills and swamp.
[Apiang palm and Salang]
The tinder is not, as Skertchly says, from the external covering of the stem but from intermediate layers between the outer layers and the inner pith. This is surprising since his description of the tinder is quite accurate.
Incidentally, his translation of ‘tinder’ as umbut is not correct as umbut simply means the palm pith or heart of palm. Salang never refered to the tinder fluff as umbut but as lulut (refered to by Skertchly as the Malay word for tinder) which he obtained from umbut apiang (apiang palm heart).
I have only a very small Dyak vocabulary and spoke to Salang in standard Malay. He has practically no English and a limited and heavily accented Borneo Malay but I am sure on this point.
[ cutting off the outer layers]
Getting the lulut is quick if you know what you are doing. Note the way he holds the parang
[“a brown flocculent mass, quite soft. This is scraped off and forms the best tinder.” Skertchly]
[heart of palm umbut]
We later brought the heart to a hut used when the Dayaks are working the fields so they do not have to walk all the way back to the long house.
The scraped lulut was then collected.
I had brought my collecting bag, Salang improvised. Aesthetically, it was no contest.
[bag vs. leaf]
The ethno-pyrology literature makes no mention of any additive to the apiang lulut but Salang said that we had to add something. He brought me to a plant which I know by sight but not name.
The leaves of this plant can grow to 10 metres and are shaped like a V with wings in the way a child might draw a distant bird in flight. Some call it nature’s corrugated iron and it is indeed used as shelter material as this picture shows
We collected some very dry old roof mats from the rice hut and brought it back to the longhouse. Salang washed it to remove dirt and impurities.
We then dried the lulut and leaves which is almost as exciting as watching grass grow.
When dry the leaves were burnt on a drum lid till they almost turned to ash at which time they were covered. I don’t know why this was done. Initially, when I heard the word ‘tin’, I thought they would make some kind of char fibre but this was almost entirely ash, char dust at best if there is such a thing (Any suggestions why they do this?)
[ burning leaves]
The lulut and the ash were then mixed taking care not to let any dirt etc on to it.
A piece of fluffed up tinder is then placed on top of a piece of stone / crockery with the thumb on top in the conventional way and the temiang section is struck hard with a glancing blow. If lucky a small spark or two is produced. As Balfour said it is a method requiring great skill and in a very demanding environment at that.
The tinder was not dry enough as it had barely 2 hours of direct sunlight to dry since being scraped off the inner stem. The crockery was also unsuitable being too modern though it threw off feeble sparks. We tried some robust ferrocium sparks to test the tinder. A very tiny part ignited but even hand fanning only produced more smoke.
[ smouldering tinder]
When I return to Borneo, we’ll do it again with drier tinder.
Some the Dutch bushies were experimenting last weekend with the bamboo I sent them with I hear better results.
A reply from the Dutch bushies...
Amazing to see BOD's pictures, they are very very much appreciated.
BOD :You_Rock_ had kindly sent me some of the Temiang bamboo so at the Dutch bushcraft meeting last weekend we had a chance to try it out. Sadly, I don't think there were pictures made while we were at it.
We did not succeed in creating fire with the temiang bamboo but it was very exciting to work with!
The temiang gave orange sparks easy but they tend to stick very close to the flint, or actually at the point of contact between flint and bamboo. The sparks do not travel far or fly like sparks from a flint & steel combination so they are difficult to project onto tinder. It could be that my tinder (charcloth) was too coarse or too damp as we tried it in the evening. It is also not easy to keep the charcloth in one piece when you hold it on the striking piece of flint. We tried it in several ways;
•the bamboo held steady & then struck with the flint (tinder below the flint)
•the flint held steady (charcloth on top) & then struck with the bamboo
•a glancing strike (as in the flint & steel method)
•a more scraping movement along the bamboo
(I didn’t try the method Skertchley mentioned as I think the tinder in the cup of the handpalm will be out of reach from the sparks, but then again, maybe I just have to strike harder).
I handed out some pieces of the temiang to some other Dutch bushcrafters so they can also experiment with it and they will report back to me if they get a result.
The difference between the temiang and the 'normal' bamboo pieces I used for my bamboo fire saw workshop was astonishing, with the latter the sole sparks are an occassional event while the temiang gives far more sparks, everytime it is struck.
I got some real prepared Fomes fomentarius-amadou from someone at the meeting so I can try that out for tinder as well. Maybe I should fold a piece around the sharp end of the flint so it is as close as it can get to the sparks, it is a method that works to set fire to a piece of paper with a ferrocium rod (the paper folded around the scraper).
I think it is just a matter of time (and of honing my technique).
A very excited Tom, eager to experiment further.