Ausgewählte Texte aus der Carakasaṃhitā

Anhang A: Pflanzenbeschreibungen

Gossypium L. sp.

zusammengestellt von Alois Payer

Zitierweise / cite as:

Carakasaṃhitā: Ausgewählte Texte aus der Carakasaṃhitā / übersetzt und erläutert von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- Anhang A: Pflanzenbeschreibungen. -- Gossypium L. sp. -- Fassung vom 2007-07-27. -- URL:       

Erstmals publiziert: 2007-07-27


Anlass: Lehrveranstaltung SS 2007

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Abb.: Gossypium arboreum L. = Baumförmige Baumwolle
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"Gossypium indicum (Linn.) N.O. Malvaceae

Indian Cotton plant, Eng. Paratie, Van-Paratie, Tam. Kapas, Duk. Puttie, Tel.

Description. - Herbaceaous ; stem more or less branches, 1 1/2 foot; young parts velvety, often hairy, in the upper part sometimes of a reddish colour, frequently marked with black spots ; leaves hairy, palmate, 3-5 lobed; lobes broad, rounded; petioles long, usually hispid and dotted; flowers axillary, generally solitary towards the extremities of the branches; petals yellow, with a purple spot near the claw: segment of involucel cordate at the base, margin dentate, sometimes entire; capsule ovate, pointed, 3-4 celled; seeds 5, clothed with greyish down under the short-staple white wool.—Royle. —G. herbaceum, Linn.—Roxb. Fl. Ind. iii 184.—Royle. Ill. Him. Bot. t. 23, fig. 1.-------Cultivated.

Economic Uses. — As flax is characteristic of Egypt, and the hemp of Europe, so cotton may truly be designated as belonging to India. Long before history ran furnish any authentic account of this invaluable product, its uses must have been known to the inhabitants of this country, and their wants supplied from time immemorial, by the growth of a fleecy-like substance, covering the seeds of a plant, raised more perhaps by the bounty of Providence than the labour of mankind.

In Sanscrit, cotton "is called kurpas, from whence is derived the Latin name carbasus, mentioned occasionally in Roman authors. This word subsequently came to mean sails for ships and tents. Herodotus says, talking of the products of India,—" And certain wild trees bear wool instead of fruit, that in beauty and quality exceeds that of sheep: and the Indians make their clothing from these trees" (iii. 106). And in the book of Esther (i. 6) the word green corresponds to the Hebrew kurpas, and is in the Vulgate translated carbasinus. The above shows from how early a period cotton was cultivated in this country. "The natives," says Royle (alluding to its manufacture in India), " of that country early attained excellence in the arts of spinning and weaving, employing only their fingers and the spinning-wheel for the former; but they seem to have exhausted their ingenuity when they invented the hand-loom for weaving, as they have for ages remained in a stationary condition."

It has sometimes been considered a subject of doubt whether the cotton was indigenous to America as well as Asia, but without sufficient reason, as it is mentioned by very early voyagers as forming the only clothing of the natives of Mexico; and, as stated by Humboldt, it is one of the plants whose cultivation among the Aztec tribes was as ancient as that of the Agave, the Maize, and the Quinoa (Chenopodiurn). If more evidence be required, it may he mentioned that Mr Brown has in his possession cotton not separated from the seeds, as well as cloth manufactured from it brought from the Peruvian tombs; and it may be added that the species now recognised as American differ in character from all known Indian species (Royle).

Cotton is not less valuable to the inhabitants of India than it is' to European nations. It forms the clothing of the immense population of that country, besides being used by them in a thousand different ways for carpets, tents, screens, pillows, curtains, &c. The great demand for cotton in Europe has led of late years to the most important consideration of improvements in its cultivation. The labours and outlay which Government has expended in obtaining so important an object have happily been attended with the best results. The introduction of American seeds and experimental cultivation in various parts of India have been of the greatest benefit. They have been the means of producing a better article for the market, simplifying its mode of culture, and proving to the Ryots how, with a little care and attention, the article may be made to yield tenfold, and greatly increase its former value. To neither the soil nor the climate can the failure of Indian cotton be traced : the want of easy transit, however, from the interior to the coast, the ruinous effect of absurd fiscal regulations, and other influences, were at work to account for its failure. In 1834, Professor Royle drew attention to two circumstances : " I have no doubt that by the importation of foreign, and the selection of native seed—attention to the peculiarities not only of soil but also of climate, as regards the course of the seasons, and the temperature, dryness, and moisture of the atmosphere, as well as attention to the mode of cultivation, such as preparing the soil, sowing in lines so as to facilitate the circulation of air, weeding, ascertaining whether the mixture of other crops with the cotton be injurious or otherwise, pruning, picking the cotton as it ripens, and keeping it clean—great improvement must take place in the quality of the cotton. Experiments may at first be more expensive than the ordinary culture; the natives of India, when taught by example, would adopt the improved -processes as regularly and as easily as the other; and as labour is nowhere cheaper, any extra outlay would be repaid fully as profitably as in countries where the best cottons are at present produced."

The experiments urged by so distinguished an authority were put in force in many parts of the country, and notwithstanding the great prejudice which existed to the introduction of novelty and other obstacles, the results have proved eminently successful. It has been urged that Indian cotton is valuable for qualities of its own, and especially that of wearing Well. It is used for the same purposes as hemp and flax, hair and wool, are in England. There are, of course, a great many varieties in the market, whose value depends On the length, strength, and fineness as well as softness of the material, the chief distinction being the long stapled and the short stapled. Cotton was first imported into England from India in 1783, when about 114,133 lb. were received. In 1846, it has been calculated that the consumption of cotton for the last 30 years has increased at the compound ratio of 6 per cent, thereby doubling itself every twelve years. The chief parts of India where the cotton plant is cultivated are in Guzerat, especially in Surat and Broach, the principal cotton districts in the country; the southern Mahratta countries, including Dharwar, which is about a hundred miles from the seaport; the Concans, Canara, and Malabar. There has never been any great quantity exported from the Madras side, though it is cultivated in the Salem, Coimbatore, and Tinnevelly districts, having the port of Tuticorin on one coast, and of late years that of Cochin on the other, both increasing in importance as places of export. In the Bengal Presidency, Behar and Benares, and the Saugor and Nerbudda territories, are the districts where it is chiefly cultivated.

The present species and its varieties are by far the most generally cultivated in India. Dacca cotton is a variety chiefly found in Bengal, furnishing that exceedingly fine cotton, and employed in manufacturing the very delicate and beautiful muslins of that place, the chief difference being in the mode of spinning, not in any inherent virtue in the cotton or soil where it grows. The Berar cotton is another variety with which the N. Circar long-cloth is made. This district, since it has come under British rule, promises to be one of the most fertile and valuable cotton districts in the whole country.

Much diversity of opinion exists as to the best soil and climate adapted for the growth of the cotton plant; and considering that it grows at altitudes of 9000 feet, where Humboldt found it in the Andes, as well as at the level of the sea, in rich black soil and also on the sandy tracts of the sea-shore, it is superfluous to attempt specifying the particular amount of dryness or moisture absolutely requisite to insure perfection in the crop. It seems to be a favourite idea, however, that the neighbourhood of the sea-coast and islands are more favourable for the cultivation of the plant than places far inland, where the saline moisture of the sea-air cannot reach. But such is certainly not the case in Mexico and parts of Brazil, where the best districts for cotton-growing are far inland, removed from the influence of sea-air. Perhaps the different species of the plant may require different climates. However that may be, it is certain that they are found growing in every diversity of climate and soil, even on the Indian continent; while it is well known that the best and largest crops have invariably been obtained from island plantations, or those in the vicinity of the sea on the mainland.

A fine sort of cotton is grown in the eastern districts of Bengal for the most delicate manufactures ; and a coarse kind is gathered in every part of the province from plants thinly interspersed in fields of pulse or grain. Captain Jenkins describes the cotton in Cacharas gathered from the Jaum cultivation : this consists in the jungle being burnt down after periods of from four to six years, the ground roughly hoed, and the seeds sown without further culture. Dr Buchanan Hamilton, in his statistical account of Dinagepore, gives a full account of the mode of cultivation in that district, where he says some cotton of bad quality is grown along with turmeric, and some by itself, which is sown in the beginning of May, and the produce collected from the middle of August to the middle of October, but the cultivation is miserable. A much better method, however, he adds, is practised in the south-east parts of the district, the cotton of which is finer than that imported from the west of India; The land is of the first quality, and the cotton is made to succeed rice, which is cut between August and the middle of September. The field is immediately ploughed until well broken, for which purpose it may require six double ploughings. After one-half of these has been given, it is manured with dung, or mud from ditches. Between the middle of October and the same time in November, the seed is sown broadcast; twenty measures of cotton and one of mustard. That of the cotton, before it is sown, is put into water for one-third of an hour, after which it is rubbed with a little dry earth to facilitate the sowing. About the beginning of February the mustard is ripe, When it is plucked and the field weeded. Between the 12th of April and 12th of June the cotton is collected as it ripens. The produce of a single acre is about 300 lb. of cotton, worth ten rupees; and as much mustard-seed, worth three rupees. A still greater quantity of cotton, Dr Hamilton continues, is reared on stiff clay-land, where the ground is also high and tanks numerous. If the soil is rich it gives a summer crop of rice in the same year, or at least produces the seedling rice that is to be transplanted. In the beginning of October the field is ploughed, and in the end of the month the cotton-seed is sown, mingled with Sorisha or Lora (species of Sinapis and Eruca); and some rows of flax and safflower are generally intermixed. About the end of January, or later, the oil-seeds are plucked, the field is hoed and manured with cow-dung and ashes, mud from tanks, and oil-cake; it is then watered once in from eight to twelve days. The cotton is gathered between the middle of April and the middle of June, and its produce may be from 360 to 500 lb. an acre.

In the most northern provinces of India the greatest care is bestowed on the cultivation. The seasons for sowing are about the middle of March and April, after the winter crops have been gathered in, and again about the commencement of the rainy season. The crops are commenced being gathered about the conclusion of the rains, and during October and November, after which the cold becomes considerable, and the rains again severe. About the beginning of February the cotton plants shoot forth new leaves, produce fresh flowers, and a second crop of cotton is produced, which is gathered during March and beginning of April. The same occurs with the cottons of Central India, one crop being collected after the rains and the other in February, and what is late in the beginning of March.

I venture to insert here the following interesting particulars about cotton manufacture : " The shrub Perutti, which produces the finer kind of cotton, requires in India little cultivation or care. When the cotton has been gathered it is thrown upon a floor and threshed, in order that it may be separated from the black seeds and husks which serve it as a covering. It is then put into bags or tied up in bales containing from 300 to 320 lb. of 16 oz. each. After it has been carded it is spun out into such delicate threads that a piece of cotton cloth 20 yards in length may almost be concealed in the hollows of both hands. Most of these pieces of cloth are twice washed; others remain as they come from the loom, and are dipped in cocoa-nut oil in order that they may be longer preserved. It is customary also to draw them through conjee or rice-water, that they may acquire more smoothness and body. This conjee is sometimes applied to cotton articles in so ingenious a manner that purchasers are often deceived, and imagine the cloth to be much stronger than it really is; for as soon as washed the conjee vanishes, and the cloth appears quite slight and thin.

"There are reckoned to be no less than 22 different kinds of cotton articles manufactured in India, without including muslin or coloured stuffs. The latter are not, as in Europe, printed by means of wooden blocks, but painted with a brush made of coir, which approaches near to horse-hair, becomes very elastic, and can be formed into any shape the painter chooses. The colours employed are indigo (Indigofera tinctoria), the stem and leaves of which plant yield that beautiful dark blue with which the Indian chintzes, coverlets, and other articles are painted, and which never loses the smallest shade of its beauty. Also curcuma or Indian saffron, a plant which dyes yellow; and lastly, gum-lac, together with some flowers, roots, and fruits which are used to dye red. With these few pigments, which are applied sometimes singly, sometimes mixed, the natives produce on their cotton cloths that admirable and beautiful painting which exceeds anything of the kind exhibited in Europe.

" No person in Turkey, Persia, or Europe has yet imitated the Betilla, a certain kind of white East Indian chintz made at Masulipatam, and known under the name of Organdi. The manufacture of this cloth, which was known in the time of Job, the painting of It, and the preparation of the colours, give employment in India to male and female, young and old. A great deal of cotton is brought from Arabia and Persia and mixed with that of India."—Bart. Voy. to East Indies.

The remaining uses of this valuable plant must now claim our attention. The seeds are bruised for their oil, which is very pure, and is largely manufactured at Marseilles from seeds brought from Egypt. These seeds are given as a fattening food to cattle. Cottonseed cake is imported from the "West Indies into England, being used as a valuable food for cattle. The produce of oil-cake and oil from cotton-seeds is, 2 gallons of oil to 1 cwt. of seeds, and 96 lb. of cake. A great quantity is shipped from China, chiefly from Shanghai, for the English market. It forms an invaluable manure for the farmer.—Royle on Cotton Cultivation. Simmonds. Lindley. Roxb."

[Quelle: Drury, Heber <1819 - 1872>: The useful plants of India : with notices of their chief value in commerce, medicine, and the arts. -- 2d ed. with additions and corrections. London : Allen, 1873. -- xvi, 512 p. ; 22 cm. -- s.v.]