V1 mulberry

V1 mulberry
Kuppam, AP, 2010

Monday, 4 March 2013

Manual for Sericulture in Mysore

Dr H. De Vecchj de Piccioli

M/S (Karnataka State Archives, Agriculture, 1837-1912, 3 of 1869)[1]
General Rules (p.1)

As a general rule in trying to acclimatise in one country the products of another differing from it in respect of climate, as Japan and Mysore –  it is necessary to be particularly careful and to take certain minute precautions in order to compensate for each difference.

Japanese worms are very delicate and it is their nature to be affected by variations of temperature. For these reasons, the cultivators who would wish to obtain good results in the breeding of Japanese silk worms should observe as much as possible the following simple instructions.

Incubation and hatching

A few days before the eggs are expected to hatch, they must be washed several times for (p.2) the purpose of removing from them dust and other particles that might be covering them. Experience has proved that when the eggs are properly washed in cold water and when they are thereby subjected to a low temperature and made properly clean they hatch more {readily} and regularly. The eggs should be washed in a salt water bath. For that purpose a large bowl should be taken and filled to the two thirds with clear water to which salt should be added [‘x’ in margin] in proportion of ‘x’ 6 tolas for every large {chatty[2]}.

When the salt is well dissolved, the cartoons[3] must be placed in the bath and it must be left there for two days; and {precaution} should be taken to press them from time to time in order that the liquid may penetrate everywhere and operate equally on all points of the cartoons. The effect of the salt is to ...  ... take away the dirt without affecting the ... of the egg which is covered with a thin...} shell devoid of pores. In certain warm countries as (p.3) in Abyssinia and in certain parts of China this bath is kept in for five days in freezing water. In Mysore it would be proper to be satisfied with forty eight hours. At the end of that time the salt water must be decanted and clear fresh water substituted several times until there remains no salt left in the chatty, as may be ascertained by tasting for instance. For further precaution it would be advisable to leave the cartoons for ... more hours in fresh water and then they must be removed and spread with precaution, one by one on baskets prepared for their reception, and they should be allowed to dry in the shade. The cartoons should be frequently turned to allow them to dry more rapidly. 

When the cartoons are perfectly dry they should be carried into the chamber where they are to be hatched. The place should be free from damp and it should be protected ... as much as possible from currents of air. In case the hatching chamber be damp it is necessary to dry it by keeping in it a sufficient quantity of (p.4) { if  ... ... ... without ...} the place be exposed to currents of air, it {may} be sufficient to place mats on the doors and windows for the purpose of keeping out ... gusts of wind. The breeding chamber {should} be kept perfectly clean from dust, epidemics and all sorts of filth. The baskets and stands ... properly washed and cleaned, and if possible the walls should be freshly whitewashed. {Mairukoturi}, one of the best Japanese ... in his treatise on the breeding of Silk worms commends besides that all strong smells ... of tobacco, of onion, or garlic should not be in the breeding room, that unclean {people} should not be allowed to attend to the {worms}which are particularly liable to be affected by smells. {He also recommends} that many should not sleep in the breeding rooms, because during the night the air in the chamber ... not renewed but is tainted by the breath {and} perspiration of the sleepers and it becomes polluted and unhealthy. 

(p.5) When the young worms begin to appear they should not be fed forthwith, but it is advisable to wait until a certain quantity of them are out of the shell. As the hatching usually begins at about eight o’clock in the morning it would be advisable to wait till two to feed them for the first time. The neglect of the precaution is the cause of much inequality in the size and age of the worms of one batch. It is strictly necessary to set aside the horrid practice in Mysore of detaching the worms from the cartoons by scraping them off with a feather. The small delicate creatures by being {dragged} over the hard and grainy surface of the cartoons are killed in large numbers and those that escape are generally more or less hurt. It is also necessary to abandon the practice of laying large leaves over the eggs to remove the young worms. Because the large leaves by being wet and cold absorb the heat of the minute worms and kill them, by lowering the temperature of the eggs fatally arrest the [‘x’ and underlining, with marginal ‘x’ and ‘hatching’]. 

The only proper way of acting is as follows. When a large number of worms have made (p.6) their appearance, a few leaves should be taken and cut into very fine slices which should be sprinkled on the cartoons. The worms will {then} gather on the leaves. The cartoons should be taken to the baskets that are prepared for the reception of the worms and they should be gently ... so that the worms may {be moved} with the leaves. This operation should be {performed so} that the worms do not fall from a great {height and} should be hurt or falter by being {treated} rudely. It may happen that all the worms have not been transferred to the {baskets} but that a few worms still adhere to the {cartoons}. In such case these worms may be detached by gently tapping with the finger on the back of the cartoons so as to throw down the worms.

It is very important for the three or four days to keep and ... air from the breeding chamber because the young worms are so delicate that one {gust of wind} is enough to kill the whole of them. I have already suggested precautions to take (p.7) by placing mats on the doors and windows. For the first three days the worms should be fed with leaves cut very fine, in small quantities at a time but frequently, once in every hour even to do for the first three days and after that once in every two hours. Frequent renewal of the food is absolutely required for Japanese worms. Because the leaves being cut very fine, are soon dry in the heated atmosphere of the room and become quite useless as food for the worms which at this stage are naturally voracious. If they then be deprived of food they will never be able to recover afterwards from the evil effects of early neglect. The leaves given during the first five days should be tender and if possible of the Sultans leaves, which are more full of juice and more nutritious.

It is wrong to keep the worms in the dark, as light is necessary to all organised and living beings, and it promotes health and strength. The light should be admitted according to the age of the worms. Much light is required when they are small and less when they mature and {grow} (p.8) big. This point should be carefully attended to.
One of the most important reasons ... applicable at every stage of the {breeding} is to give sufficient space to the worms, {not to} be thrown one upon the other, they are ... to feed and they dirty each other with their dung and with their perspiration and {to be} more liable to become sick and to die. Let the worms therefore have sufficient {space} to live and to move about. That is one of {the main} conditions of success. The great secret for the successful breeding of worms is to give them space, sufficient air, and good leaves {according} to their age.
As already observed, great variation {in} the temperature should be avoided always. If during the night the weather is too {cold}, the room may be warmed with cow dung; if during the day the weather is too hot, air should be admitted and a little water {sprinkled} on the mats. But it is necessary to bear in mind that the room should not be ... (p.9) as that would prove fatal to the worms. 

To clean out the worms, it is absolutely necessary to set aside the practice of taking them up with the fingers as in this manner the little delicate creatures are hurt. The Japanese proceed as follows to clean the worms and they call their method ‘feather dressing’ in imitation of the manner that a bird cleans his wings by separating the feathers one by one with his bill. Thus the Japanese with small sticks divide the bed into small portions which they spread over the basket, each at a little distance from the others. This operation which requires great attention, having been performed the worms are fed by throwing leaves in preference in the vacant spaces of the old dry bed. There should be enough fresh leaves to level the space occupied by the worms. The young worms will naturally abandon the old bed to take to the fresh leaves. In regards the feather dressing it is important to observe that more the old bed is divided in small portions the (p.10) sooner it is dried and the less the worms are liable to sickness. Juginidaa, a Japanese {writer} says, with a dry bed are healthy worms.

First moulting

The Japanese worms for six days after being hatched become {torpid} for the first time, and within twenty four hours they shed their first skin. Immediately afterwards they grow considerably, it is necessary to give them more space after {this}. For this purpose, the operation of feather dressing should be performed but on a larger ... It must be borne in mind that if this is well done there will be no necessity to {move} the worms from one basket into another. Feather dressing being over, the worms should {be fed} as they feel a great want of food about this time. Their appetite however is soon satisfied. For the first day, or if required for the following also, the worms should be fed five times, (p.11) that at the interval of two hours, with tender Sultans leaves. The light should be regulated as during the first stage. If the windows have no glass shutters, oil paper may be used as a substitute.
Second moulting
It is usually after the sixth day that the worms become torpid for the second time. At this stage the temperature should be carefully attended to. If the weather is too warm the worms will awake too soon, and their skins not having had enough time to be shed, will adhere about their lower extremity, causing eventually their death. If the weather is too cold the worms will awake with a black skin, they will have no appetite, they will be drowsy and they will soon die. After the second moulting it is absolutely required to change the bed altogether. For that purpose the superior layer alone of the bed ... separated from the other layers, and later with all (p.12) the worms that are on it, to another basket in which it should be gently placed. The old bed should be kept for at least two hours in order that the worms that are {remaining} should have time enough to  ... It is by ... throwing away {the old} bed that a large number of good worms are frequently lost.  After the moulting, the worms should be fed with sultan’s leaves {or} the grafted and other species lately introduced into the country. The leaves should be cut thicker than before. During these days the worms should be fed four times and after that at the interval of two {hours}. It is now necessary to moderate the light. After the fifth day the bed should be separated as prescribed above, in order that the worms may be free from damp and bad smells ... they are torpid for the third time.
Third moulting
When the worms begin to ... the third moulting it is necessary to  ... (p.13) into another basket with the aid of small tender mulberry branches. For that purpose small branches with the leaves are placed over the worms, which will soon take to them. The branches with the worms are then carried into other baskets and they are placed so that the worms may have plenty of space, because at this stage they grow rapidly. The light should be further moderated and fresh air may be admitted with precaution. During the first day the worms may be fed four times and after that at the interval of two hours. At this stage the worms should be carefully and frequently cleaned but always with the aid of branches. The cultivator should beware not to use the rude method of cleaning the worms by taking them up with the finger. Want of space and cleanliness would inevitable cause a failure. For want of space the worms will not have within their reach a sufficient quantity of leaves to feed upon and they will die of starvation, besides being subjected (p.14) to various diseases in consequence of ... ...
Fourth Moulting
The worms take forty eight hours to shed their fourth skins. As they are {during this} time in a torpid state, it is necessary to watch the temperature. When the worms begin to awake they must be twice every ... into fresh baskets with the aid of branches as already described.  The riots should always {avoid} the practice in Mysore of picking up {the worms} and of gathering them into a large heap and of casting them afterwards over the baskets as if they were covering seeds. It will be {necessary} to insist on the evil effects of this procedure.
For the first two days the worms are fed four times and after that at intervals of two hours during the day and of three hours during the night, but in quantities ... according to their appetite. After this, {for the} fourth moulting, tender leaves ... (p.15) for the feed should be adapted to the age of the worm. Whereas tender leaves are indispensable at the beginning, they ... now prove dangerous. For the worms want to devour them with avidity, and as they contain but a small proportion of nourishment, the worms instead of benefiting would suffer from indigestion and die. The loss at this stage would be so much more serious as so much expense and labour would have been incurred in vain. Without being tender, however, the leaves should be fresh but they should not be wet either from rain or with dew. If the leaves have been gathered for some time, they are apt to become heated, as may be ascertained by putting the hand in the middle of them. If the leaves [x in margin] are heated, they must be rejected at any cost, because they have begun to ferment and instead of being good to feed the worms, they will act like poison. It has been already prescribed to avoid all bad smells. The cultivators should therefore be careful not to (p.16) cook their food over the worms room. Even ... perfumes are noxious, so that it is wrong to place garlands of jasmine or other flowers around the baskets. Great cleanliness should be observed at this time ... the worms eat much, {and} also deposit dirt in large quantities. They should therefore be frequently moved into fresh baskets, always with the aid of branches. The dung should not be thrown on the floor but it should be collected and be carried out immediately to the dung pit. For the smell emanating from its fermentation is very poisonous.
Five or six days after the fourth moult, the creature begins to be ripe for cocooning. ... As they begin to abandon the centre of the basket and to climb up the sides, it is time to prepare the arrangements necessary to assist them. There are several ways of ... (p.17) for the formation of cocoons. The model sent with the Manual is the best. It somewhat resembles the basket generally used in Mysore, except that the worms are able to select their own positions instead of being taken up by the fingers and set at random, and they are obliged to form single cocoons, thereby avoiding the formation of double cocoons and the waste of floss silk. While the worms are spinning they should be left very quiet. For three days they should be kept close and partly in the dark. After that much ventilation is good to dry the cocoons and to preserve the pupa in a healthy condition. After six days the pupa is perfectly formed. The cocoons may then be safely removed.
To obtain good eggs it is absolutely necessary to observe the following recommendations. First to select the best cocoons among those that (p.18) are formed during the final two days, and remove from them the whole of the loose floss silk, and to place them gently in clean baskets to wait for the appearance of the moth.  Second, the moths that have appeared during the first two days alone should be kept. All the others should be thrown away as they are good for nothing. Thirdly, among the moths of the first days, only those should be selected that are free from black spots. The only good moths are those that are white and are well formed and appear to be healthy. The male moths should flap their wings rapidly and move in search of the female moths which should carry the lower part of their body high and move it up and down frequently. When two moths are coupled they should be taken away and put in a quiet place in the dark. Fourthly, {the} moths should not be allowed to remain coupled for more than six hours, during the hot weather or of seven hours during the cold. ... that they should be separated gently so that the female (p.19) be not hurt. The males are then thrown away and the females are placed for a few minutes on blotting paper to allow them to reject a quantity of matter. They are at last placed upon the cartoons where they are to deposit their eggs. After ten hours the female should be thrown away, because the eggs that they lay after that time are not good. The cartoons should be left in the same ... until the eggs are dry and become of a light grey colour.
Abundant space, sufficient food   according to the age of the worms, cleanliness, a moderate temperature, these are the great secrets by which the Japanese have preserved their breeds of silkworms free from sickness and by which they have obtained abundant crops.If the cultivators in Mysore would follow these small instructions with the desire to conform to them as much as possible, they will not fail to obtain the benefit of their exertions and they will contribute to restore an industry which the providing care of Government is endeavouring to promote throughout the country.
(p.20)                Bangalore 26th March 1870             Dr H. de Vecchj de Piccoli

[1] Transcribed from authorised but amateur digital photography in the Reading Room of  KSA, Bangalore, 26.02.2010. It was not possible to take apart the original manuscript, meaning that the right hand margins of left hand pages were hidden. In addition, clarity and readability vary considerably. Gaps are here marked ‘…’ and uncertain insertions with brackets thus {    }. Mistakes and omissions are inevitable, marked or not, and though much is completely clear, not too much reliance should be placed on particular words appearing in this transcription. The general sense is mostly clear.

Corrections from the original text in the Archives would be much appreciated from anyone who has the necessary access, also information on any other texts that can be found. Please contact simoncharsley@yahoo.co.uk

[2] ‘chatty’: an earthern vessel or pitcher’ (OED).

[3] ‘cartoon’: doubt as to whether this term refers to paper sheets on which the eggs have been laid, or to cartons containing them.  ‘Cocoon’ derives from French ‘cocon’, the English form established from the early 19th century and replacing a variety of terms used earlier.  

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