MALABATHRUM, s. There can be very little doubt that this classical export from India was the dried leaf of various species of Cinnamomum, which leaf was known in Skt. as tamala-pattra. Some who wrote soon after the Portuguese discoveries took, perhaps not unnaturally, the pan or betel-leaf for the malabathrum of the ancients; and this was maintained by Dean Vincent in his well-known work on the Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients, justifying this in part by the Ar. name of the betel, tambul, which is taken from Skt. tambula, betel; tambula-pattra, betel-leaf. The tamala-pattra, however, the produce of certain wild spp. of Cinnamomum, obtained both in the hills of Eastern Bengal and in the forests of Southern India, is still valued in India as a medicine and aromatic, though in no such degree as in ancient times, and it is usually known in domestic economy as tejpat, or corruptly tezpat, i.e. ‘pungent leaf.’ The leaf was in the Arabic Materia Medica under the name of sadhaj of sadhaji Hindi, as was till recently in the English Pharmacopœia as Folium indicum, which will still be found in Italian drug-shops. The matter is treated, with his usual lucidity and abundance of local knowledge, in the Colloquios of Garcia de Orta, of which we give a short extract. This was evidently unknown to Dean Vincent, as he repeats the very errors which Garcia dissipates. Garcia also notes that confusion of Malabathrum and Folium indicum with spikenard, which is traceable in Pliny as well as among the Arab pharmacologists. The ancients did no doubt apply the name Malabathrum to some other substance, an unguent or solid extract. Rheede, we may notice, mentions that in his time in Malabar, oils in high medical estimation were made from both leaves and root of the “wild cinnamon” of that coast, and that from the root of the same tree a camphor was extracted, having several of the properties of real camphor and more fragrance. (See a note by one of the present writers in Cathay, &c., pp. cxlv.-xlvi.) The name Cinnamon is properly confined to the tree of Ceylon (C. Zeylanicum). The other Cinnamoma are properly Cassia barks. [See Watt. Econ. Dict. ii. 317 seqq.]

c. a.d. 60.—[Greek Text] “Malabaqron enioi upolambanousin einai thV IndikhV nardou fullon, planwmenoi upo thV kata thn osmhn, emfereiaV,idion gar esti genoV fuomenon en toiV IndikoiV telmasi, fullon dn epinhcomenon udati.”—Dioscorides, Mat. Med. i. 11.

c. a.d. 70.—“We are beholden to Syria for Malabathrum. This is a tree that beareth leaves rolled up round together, and seeming to the eie withered. Out of which there is drawn and pressed on Oile for perfumers to use. … And yet there commeth a better kind thereof from India. … The rellish thereof ought to resemble Nardus at the tongue end. The perfume or smell that … the leafe yeeldeth when it is boiled in wine, passeth all others. It is straunge and monstrous which is observed in the price; for it hath risen from one denier to three hundred a pound.”—Pliny, xii. 26, in Ph. Holland.

c. a.d. 90.—“… Getting rid of the fibrous parts, they take the leaves and double them up into little balls, which they stitch through with the fibres of the withes. And these they divide into three classes. … And thus originate the three qualities of Malabathrum, which the people who have prepared them carry to India for sale.”—Periplus, near the end. [Also see Yule, Intro. Gill, River of Golden Sand, ed. 1883, p. 89.]

1563.—“R. I remember well that in speaking of betel you told me that it was not folium indu, a piece of information of great value to me; for the physicians who put themselves forward as having learned much from these parts, assert that they are the same; and what is more, the modern writers … call betel in their works tembul, and say that the Moors give it this name. …

O. That the two things are different as I told you is clear, for Avicenna treats them in two different chapters, viz., in 259, which treats of folium indu, and in 707, which treats of tambul … and the folium indu is called by the Indians Tamalapatra, which the Greeks and Latins corrupted into Malabathrum,” &c.—Garcia, ff. 95v, 96.

c. 1690.—“Hoc Tembul seu Sirium, licet vulgatissimum in India sit folium, distinguendum est a Folio Indo seu Malabathro, Arabibus Cadegi Hindi, in Pharmacopoeis, et Indis, Tamala-patra et folio Indo dicto, … A nostra autem natione intellexi Malabathrum nihil aliud esse quam folium canellae, seu cinnamomi sylvestris.”—Rumphius, v. 337.

c. 1760.—“… quand l’on considère que les Indiens appellent notre feuille Indienne tamalapatra on croit d’apercevoir que le mot Grec [Greek Text] malabatron en a été anciennement dérivé.”—(Diderot) Encyclopédie, xx. 846.

1837.—(Malatroom is given in Arabic works of Materia Medica as the Greek of Sadhaj, and tuj and tej-pat as the Hindi synonymes). “By the latter names may be obtained everywhere in the bazars of India, the leaves of Cinn. Tamala and of Cinn. albiflorum.”—Royle, Essay on Antiq. of Hindoo Medicine, 85.

MALACCA, n.p. The city which gives its name to the Peninsula and the Straits of Malacca, and which was the seat of a considerable Malay monarchy till its capture by the Portuguese under D’Alboquerque

  By PanEris using Melati.

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