one end is placed beneath the stretcher and a wedge or rough piece of wood between the stick and the floor, forces the other end up to the work and opposes the thrust of the tool; the arrangement being analogous to the simple support fig. 132. When turning many pieces of one size, the Arab employs two slips of wood sometimes jointed together fig. 8, with an open-ing the size of the work. He uses the same contrivance for internal turning and boring; one center point alone being used, the other extremity of the work being held in the circular aperture of the double bar. The Arab turner works nearly as much in public as the Indian, his workshop being a small square room, the front entirely open to the street, with the floor upon which he sits about three feet above the level of the road. He, also, will carry his lathe to his work, and it is his daily practice when the sun shines too powerfully, to quit his workshop, and carrying his lathe over to the opposite and shady side of the street, to establish himself on the ground in front of the shop of one of his neighbours ; driving the spikes into the hard sand forming the road, to retain his lathe stationary.
The lathe, although of so rough a description, has been most effectively employed for centuries, for the production of a peculiar and very beautiful ornamental wood work, for the interior decoration of Mosques and houses, for screens, seats and other objects, and for the Arabian lattice windows called "Meshrebeeyeh." These oriel windows, have all those portions which are usually of glass, entirely filled by open, turned, wooden latticework, formed of an infinite number of small turned pieces something like the bails of a wicket, but jointed and fixed one into the other. The work is sufficiently close to impede the passage of light and sun and to conceal the inmates from observation by the passers by, while still allowing a free passage to the air.
The skilful handicraft displayed in these constructions, especially when viewed in connection with the simple tools employed, is so remarkable, as to merit a short notice. The lines of turned work are generally from one to two inches apart from center to center, the smaller parts all securely fitted together crossing and intermingling in all directions; while the larger beads or collars turned upon the spindle-like pieces, are frequently flattened on the sides, subsequently to the turning, giving additional variety in effect and reducing the surface nearly to a level.
Figs. 10 to 16 are drawn from portions of windows in the author's possession, and give some idea of the work, although but little of its real beauty. The pieces forming the lattice work are often arranged in fantastic patterns, and are sometimes grouped to show the form of a basin and ewer, a fountain, a lion, a tree and other emblems; while the word "Allah" and phrases from the Koran are often met with. The best and most elaborate specimens are to be found in the enclosed courts of the more ancient houses.
Fig. 17, is sketched from a meshrebeeyeh projecting into the street from an ordinary Cairene house. The top horizontal panels are usually of the most open pattern fig. 10, the long vertical panels are of figs. 11, 12 or 13. The small framed panels, some of which open as doors and the smaller window or "roshan," a receptacle for water bottles, projecting from the front, are always of the more intricate patterns figs. 15 or 16. The lower portion of the window contains the divan or raised seat; this is never pierced but is covered externally with elaborate carved and fret cut ornament. The lines of the larger turned work fig. 14 are from about six to nine inches apart from center to center; this variety is employed for partitions in rooms and enclosed courts and for gratings to apertures for the passage of air, often placed above the meshrebeeyeh or high up in the walls.
Exactly the same lathe is used by the Moorish nations upon the north coast of Africa and was doubtless early carried by them into Spain, where it may still be found in common use in the southern cities. The apparatus, and the manner in which it is used leave little question as to its identity, while it appears probable that it was carried thence to South America, thus accounting for the great similarity of the lathe found there. The Indians and Creoles on the Spanish American coast, between Maracaybo and the Isthmus of Panama, use a similar lathe, and it is said, are famed for their skilfulness in turning.
The lathe commonly used by the Chinese fig. 18, is constructed entirely of wood, but the reciprocating motion is given by the feet, leaving both hands at liberty. The workman represents a maker of pipe stems, turning a bamboo fixed in the central hole of a spindle or mandrel supported in wooden collars, mounted on the top of the bench at which he is seated. Longer and larger works project to a greater extent beyond the collars, and the workman then places himself at the side instead of at the end, to turn the more central portions. The cord is shifted from place to place as the work progresses, and it is frequently double, the ends being distended by pieces of bamboo in the form of stirrups. Occasionally the work is set in motion by a wheel turned by an assistant. The Chinese lapidary employs a similar lathe for moving his laps, each of which is fitted to the end of an iron spindle to run in similar wooden collars.