cloth fibre bags
GUNNY. This name is applied to cloth or bags made of jute, and is supposed to be derived from ganya or gania of Rumphius, or from yonia, a vernacular name of the Crotolaria juucea - a plant common in Madras. One of the first notices of the term itself is to be found in Knox's Ceylon, in which he says : " The filaments at the bottom of the stem [cuir from the cocoa-nut husk (Cocos nucifera)] may be made into a coarse cloth called gunny, which is used for bags and similar purposes." JUTE (q. v.) is the fibre of two species of Corchorus, C. capsularis and C. olitorins, one species of which, probably the latter, has long been known as the Jew's mallow, from the fact that the leaves have long been used in Palestine, Egypt, and Arabia as a potherb.
The seeds of the jute plant are sown in April or May and the plant is cut down close to the roots just before flowering. The tops are then clipped off and the stems made into bundles, which are placed in tanks or ditches and covered with turf or other heavy substance.:, to keep the bundles under water. Here they are watched anxiously day by day till the fibre separates easily from the central woody portion. The period of retching or soaking takes from eight to ten clays; if allowed to remain too long, the fibre rapidly decays. In drying also the fibre generally becomes of a deeper colour. When the fibre is ready for manipulation, the operator descends into the tank or ditch, and taking 10 to 15 bundles, strips off the barky fibre and washes thoroughly, and by a dexterous movement of the wrist spreads and separates the fibres over the surface of the water. The fibre soon becomes clean, and is hung over bamboo framework to dry. The fibre thus obtained is fine, long, and silky, but the short staple and the portion near the root held in the hand of the operator during washing, which frequently has bark attached, are the portions generally selected to make gunny bags or cloth of.
The kind of cloth known as gunny, .tat, choti, &c., is woven in various lengths and widths for use as bedding, bags, &c., and formerly, more than at present, every man, woman, and child, boatmen, husbandmen, and others, in their spare moments, distaff in hand, wove gunny cloth. Even the Hindu widow, saved from death and despised by all, made her life less miserable by making gunny cloth, and thus rendering herself to an extent independent of her family. On the eastern frontier women are clothed in it, and the poor cover themselves with it at night. In the Malayan Archipelago it is no unusual sight to see a poor Chinese coolie with a dress made of gunny cloth. The great and most important use, however, to which gunny cloth is applied is in making bags wherein to pack rice, linseed, sugar, cotton, and other products for shipment.
As soon as this cheap, strong, and serviceable material became known, the manufacture speedily assumed enormous proportions, and vast quantities of jute were imported into Dundee for the manufacture of gunny'bags and cloth alone. The Dundee mills, in the early period of this trade, had only Indian hand-woven gunnies to compete with. The introduction of the latest machinery of the most approved patterns into Bengal, the chief seat of this industry in India, has, however, had the effect of giving India the opportunity of competing with the Dundee mills on advantageous terms, and now India supplies vast quantities of gunnies to Europe, Egypt, Ceylon, the Malayan Archipelago, China, and the United States. In America alone it is computed that the annual average outturn of cotton is 3,500,000 bales, each bale requiring 6 yards of wrapping materLd, and of this one-third at least is supplied in gunny cloth. In 1872-73 6,105,275 gunnies and 64,347 pieces were exported from India, whilst in 1876-77, during a period of eleven months, 30,110,616 gunny bags and 5,262,835 yards of gunny cloth were exported to foreign countries. These figures do not include what is sent coastwise or what is used for packing exported Indian produce.