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Better Run Through the Ganjah

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Jun. 16th, 2006 | 10:17 pm
music: Steve Roach - Distant Signals

I came across this account the other day:

" Such, then, is the way in which the Arabians obtain
their frankincense; their manner of collecting the
cassia is the following:

- They cover all their body and their face with the
hides of oxen and other skins, leaving only holes for
the eyes, and thus protected go in search of the cassia,
which grows in a lake of no great depth.

All round the shores and in the lake itself there dwell
a number of winged animals, much resembling bats, which
screech horribly, and are very valiant.

These creatures they must keep from their eyes all the
while that they gather the cassia. "

~ from *THE HISTORY OF HERODOTUS*
by Herodotus circa 440 BCE
Translated by George Rawlinson in 1858-1860
The Third Book, Entitled THALIA

http://tinyurl.com/qvsok

I spend a lot of time trying to suss out what cobbers
like Herodotus and Pliny might have had on their minds
when they go on about stuff like this. Occasionally it
pays off - as, for example, when Pliny set me off on a
tangent regarding the manufacture of gems.

This image of folks swathing themselves in leather
gear before going out to harvest cassia put me in mind
of another passage from William Brooke O'Shaughnessy's
*ON THE PREPARATIONS OF THE INDIAN HEMP*:

" In Central India and the Saugor territory, and in Nipal,
churrus < or *charas* > is collected during the hot season,
in the following singular manner:

-- Men clad in *leathern dresses* run through the Hemp
fields, brushing through the plant with all possible
violence; the soft resin adheres to the leather, is
subsequently scraped off, and kneaded into balls, which
sell from five to six rupees the seer.

A still finer kind, the momeea or waxen churrus, is
collected by the hand in Nipal and sells for nearly
double the price of the ordinary kind.

In Nipal, Dr. McKinnon informs me, the leathern attire
is dispensed with, and the resin is gathered on the skins
of naked coolies.

In Persia, it is stated by Mirza Abdool Rhazes that the
churrus is prepared by pressing the resinous plants on
coarse cloths, and then scraping it from these, and
melting it in a pot with a little warm water.

He considers the churrus of Herat as the best and most
powerful of all the varieties of the drug. "

~ from *ON THE PREPARATIONS OF THE INDIAN HEMP*,
OR GUNJAH (CANNABIS INDICA); THEIR EFFECTS ON
THE ANIMAL SYSTEM IN HEALTH, AND THEIR UTILITY
IN THE TREATMENT OF TETANUS AND OTHER CONVULSIVE
DISEASES
By W. B. O'Shaughnessy, M.D.,
Assistant-Surgeon, and Professor of Chemistry, &c.
In the Medical College of Calcutta.
Presented October, 1839.

http://tinyurl.com/mjw5j

O'Shaughnessy's narrative turns up here nearly 100
years later:

" Sometimes men dressed in leather suits or jackets
pass through the fields of cannabis sativa rubbing
and crushing roughly against the plants early in the
morning just after sunrise and when a fall of dew has
taken place. The resinous material which sticks on is
then scraped off their jackets and forms the charas
resin of commerce. "

 ~ from *Indigenous Drugs of India*,
by Ramnath Chopra, 1933, p. 78.

http://tinyurl.com/neasm

And nearly 40 years later, it turns up here:

" Harvesting hashish is a more delicate and time-consuming
operation than harvesting simple marijuana. It is done by
one of a variety of methods. In earlier times, the pollen
was scraped off the sweaty bodies of laborers who had run
through a cannabis field for this very purpose. Later,
leather aprons were employed. "

~ from *The Marijuana Smokers*,
by Erich Goode, 1970.
Chapter 1 — Overview

http://tinyurl.com/lbyxw

Eleven < or 161 > years later, Dominik Wujastyk's citation
goes back to the source:

" O'Shaughnessy's account is full of lively anecdote and
observation. Allow your imagination, for a moment, to follow
O’Shaughnessy’s description of the collection of cannabis
resin during the hot season in central India and Nepal
(1839a: 6)k:

" Men clad in leathern dresses run through the hemp-fields,
brushing through the plant with all possible violence; the
soft resin adheres to the leather, is subsequently scraped
off, and kneaded into balls, which sell from five to six
rupees the seer [ca. 2lbs]. . . . In Nipal, Dr. McKinnon
informs me, the leathern attire is dispensed with, and the
resin is gathered on the skins of naked coolies. "

What a startling spectacle this might have presented to an
unsuspecting hill-walker! "

~ from *Cannabis in Traditional Indian Herbal Medicine*
by Dominik Wujastyk, 2001.

http://tinyurl.com/mlqbh

Chopra's account is then cited in this document,
from 2002:

" High Potency:  Charas (India), Hashish (Arabia and North
America), Hashishi (Syria):

Almost all of the THC is contained in the resin on the
leaves near the flowering tops.

The resin is scraped off of the leaves, pressed into blocks,
and usually smoked. Hashish is about 10 times as powerful as
marijuana and is the only cannabis derivative that has the
capacity to produce hallucinogenic and psychotomimetic
effects with any regularity.

An Indian pharmacologist, Chopra, has described another
method of harvesting charas:

Sometimes men, naked, or dressed in leather suits or
jackets, passed through the fields of cannabis sativa
rubbing and crushing roughly against the plants early in
the morning just after sunrise when a fall of dew has taken
place.  The resinous material that sticks on is then scraped
off them and forms the charas resin of commerce. "

~ from *HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL USES OF CANNABIS*
AND THE CANADIAN "MARIJUANA CLASH"
Prepared For The Senate Special Committee
On Illegal Drugs
by Leah Spicer
Law and Government Division
12 April 2002

http://tinyurl.com/llqfe

And this brief [ and apparently undated ] account turns
up in a PDF available from Dr. Steven Miller's homepage:

Marijuana

•Hashish - relatively pure resin
– in Nepal naked men run through fields of flowering female
plants and then scrape off the clinging resin globules.
~ from *Marijuana Neolithic Chinese legend*

http://w3.uwyo.edu/~fungi/Opium.pdf

Strap on those running shoes, kids!

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Comments {1}

Wentzel Jamnitzer

(no subject)

from: lhasa7
date: Jun. 17th, 2006 05:30 am (UTC)
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I recall some very odd photos in ‘The Good Old Days—They Were Terrible’ by Otto Bettmann of a fellow in the late 19th century who evidently tramped back and forth from Boston to New York wearing very odd leather clothes of his own manufacture. Big guy, could easily pass for a contemporary peripatetic loon.

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