ARCOT, n.p. Arkat, a famous fortress and town in the Madras territory, 65 miles from Madras. The name is derived by Bp. Caldwell from Tam. arkad, the ‘Six Forests,’ confirmed by the Tam-Fr. Dict. which gives a form arukadu=‘Six forêts’ [“the abode of six Rishis in former days. There are several places of this name in the southern districts besides the town of Arcot near Vellore. One of these in Tanjore would correspond better than that with Harkatu of Ibn Batuta, who reached it on the first evening of his march inland after landing from Ceylon, apparently on the shallow coast of Madura or Tanjore.”— Madras Ad. Man. ii. 211]. Notwithstanding the objection made by Maj.-Gen. Cunningham in his Geog. of Ancient India, it is probable that Arcot is the Arkatou basílÎion Swra of Ptolemy, ‘Arkatu, residence of K. Sora.’

c. 1346.—“We landed with them on the beach, in the country of Ma’bar …. we arrived at the fortress of Harkatu, where we passed the night.”— Ibn Batuta, iv. 187, 188.

1785.—“It may be said that this letter was written by the Nabob of Arcot in a moody humour….Certainly it was; but it is in such humours that the truth comes out.”— Burke’s Speech, Feb. 28th.

ARECA, s. The seed (in common parlance the nut) of the palm Areca catechu, L., commonly, though somewhat improperly, called ‘betel-nut’; the term Betel belonging in reality to the leaf which is chewed along with the areca. Though so widely cultivated, the palm is unknown in a truly indigenous state. The word is Malayal. adakka [according to Bp. Caldwell, from adai ‘close arrangement of the cluster,’ kay, ‘nut’ N.E.D.], and comes to us through the Port.

1510.—“When they eat the said leaves (betel), they eat with them a certain fruit which is called coffolo, and the tree of the said coffolo is called Arecha.”— Varthema, Hak. Soc., 144.

1516.—“There arrived there many zambucos [Sambook].….with areca.”— Barbosa, Hak. Soc., 64.

1521.—“They are always chewing Arecca, a certaine Fruit like a Peare, cut in quarters and rolled up in leaves of a Tree called Bettre (or Vettele), like Bay leaves; which having chewed they spit forth. It makes the mouth red. They say they doe it to comfort the heart, nor could live without it.”— Pigafetta, in Purchas, i. 38.

1548.—“In the Renda do Betel, or Betel duties at Goa are included Betel, arequa, jacks, green ginger, oranges, lemons, figs, coir, mangos, citrons.”— Botelho, Tombo, 48. The Port. also formed a word ariqueira for the tree bearing the nuts.

1563.—“…and in Malabar they call it pac (Tam. pak); and the Nairs (who are the gentlemen) call it areca.”— Garcia D’O., f. 91 b.

c. 1566.—“Great quantitie of Archa, which is a fruite of the bignesse of nutmegs, which fruite they eate in all these parts of the Indies, with the leafe of an Herbe, which they call Bettell.”— C. Frederike, transl. in Hakl. ii. 350.

1586.—“Their friends come and bring gifts, cocos, figges, arrecaes, and other fruits.”— Fitch, in Hakl., ii. 395.

[1624.—“And therewith they mix a little ashes of sea-shells and some small pieces of an Indian nut sufficiently common, which they here call Foufel, and in other places Areca; a very dry fruit, seeming within like perfect wood; and being of an astringent nature they hold it good to strengthen the Teeth.”— P. della Valle, Hak. Soc. i. 36. Mr Grey says: “As to the Port. name, Foufel or Fofel, the origin is uncertain. In Sir J. Maundeville’s Travels it is said that black pepper “is called Fulful,” which is probably the same word as “Foufel.” But the Ar. Fawfal or Fufal is ‘betel-nut.’]

1689.—“….the Neri which is drawn from the Arequies Tree in a fresh earthen vessel, is as sweet and pleasant as Milk”— Ovington, 237. [Neri=H. and Mahr. nir, ‘sap,’ but neri is, we are told, Guzerati for toddy in some form.]

ARGEMONE MEXICANA. This American weed (N.O. Papaveraceae) is notable as having overrun India, in every part of which it seems to be familiar. It is known by a variety of names, Firinghi dhatura, gamboge thistle, &c. [See Watt, Dict. Econ. Prod., i. 306 seqq.]

ARGUS PHEASANT, s. This name, which seems more properly to belong to the splendid bird of the Malay Peninsula (Argusanus giganteus, Tem., Pavo argus, Lin.), is confusingly applied in Upper India to the Himalayan horned pheasant Ceriornis (Spp. satyra, and melanocephala) from the round white eyes or spots which mark a great part of the bird’s plumage.— See remark under MOONAUL.

ARRACK, RACK, s. This word is the Ar. ’arak, properly ‘perspiration,’ and then, first the exudation or sap drawn from the date palm (’arak al-tamar); secondly any strong drink, ‘distilled spirit,’ ‘essence,’ etc.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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