SEETULPUTTY, s. A fine kind of mat made especially in Eastern Bengal, and used to sleep on in the cold weather. [They are made from the split stems of the mukta pata, Phrynium dichotomum, Roxb. (see Watt, Econ. Dict. vi. pt. i. 216 seq.).] Hind. sitalpatti, ‘cold-slip.’ Williamson’s spelling and derivation (from an Arab. word impossibly used, see SICLEEGUR) are quite erroneous.

1810.—“A very beautiful species of mat is made … especially in the south-eastern districts … from a kind of reedy grass. … These are peculiarly slippery, whence they are designated ‘seekul-putty’ (i.e. polished sheets). … The principal uses of the ‘seekul-putty’ are to be laid under the lower sheet of a bed, thereby to keep the body cool.”—Williamson, V.M. ii. 41.

[1818.—“Another kind (of mat) the sheetulupatees, laid on beds and couches on account of their coolness, are sold from one roopee to five each.”—Ward, Hindoos, i. 106.]

1879.—In Fallon’s Dicty. we find the following Hindi riddle:—

Chini ka piyala tuta, kói jorta nahin;
Mali ji ka bag laga, koi torta nahin;
Sital-pãtî bichhi, koi sota náhin;
Raj- bansi mua, koi rota nahin.”
Which might be rendered:

“A china bowl that, broken, none can join;
A flowery field, whose blossoms none purloin;
A royal scion slain, and none shall weep;
A sitalpatti spread where none shall sleep.”
The answer is an Egg; the Starry Sky; a Snake (Rãj-bansi, ‘royal scion,’ is a placatory name for a snake); and the Sea.

SEMBALL, s. Malay-Javan. sambil, sambal. A spiced condiment, the curry of the Archipelago. [Dennys (Descr. Dict. p. 337) describes many varieties.]

1817.—“The most common seasoning employed to give a relish to their insipid food is the lombock (i.e. red-pepper); triturated with salt it is called sambel.”—Raffles, H. of Java, i. 98.

SEPOY, SEAPOY, s. In Anglo-Indian use a native soldier, disciplined and dressed in the European style. The word is Pers. sipahi, from sipah, ‘soldiery, an army’; which J. Oppert traces to old Pers. spada, ‘a soldier’ (Le peuple et la Langue des Mèdes, 1879, p. 24). But Sbah is a horseman in Armenian; and sound etymologists connect sipah with asp, ‘a horse’; [others with Skt. padati, ‘a foot-soldier’]. The original word sipahi occurs frequently in the poems of Amir Khusru (c. A.D. 1300), bearing always probably the sense of a ‘horse-soldier,’ for all the important part of an army then consisted of horsemen. See spahi below.

The word sepoy occurs in Southern India before we had troops in Bengal; and it was probably adopted from Portuguese. We have found no English example in print older than 1750, but probably an older one exists. The India Office record of 1747 from Fort St. David’s is the oldest notice we have found in extant MS. [But see below.]

c. 1300.—“Pride had inflated, his brain with wind, which extinguished the light of his intellect, and a few sipahis from Hindustan, without any religion had supported the credit of his authority.—Amir Khusru, in Elliot, iii. 536.

[1665.—“Souldier—Suppya and Haddee.” —Persian Gloss. in Sir T. Herbert, ed. 1677, p. 99.]

1682.—“As soon as these letters were sent away, I went immediately to Ray Nundelall’s to have ye Seapy, or Nabob’s horseman, consigned to me, with order to see ye Perwanna put in execution: but having thought better of it, ye Ray desired me to have patience till tomorrow morning. He would then present me to the Nabob, whose commands to ye Seapy and Bulchunds Vekeel would be more powerfull and advantageous to me than his own.”—Hedges, Diary, Hak. Soc. i. 55, seq. Here we see the word still retaining the sense of ‘horse-man’ in India.

[1717.—“A Company of Sepoys with the colours.”—Yule, in ditto, II. ccclix. On this Sir H. Yule notes: “This is an occurrence of the word sepoy, in its modern signification, 30 years earlier than any I had been able to find when publishing the A.-I. Gloss. I have one a year earlier, and expect now to find it earlier still.”

[1733.—“You are next … to make a complete survey … of the number of fighting Sepoys. …”—Forrest, Bombay Letters, ii. 55.]

1737.—“Elle com tota a força desponivel, que eram 1156 soldados pagos em que entraram 281 chegados na não Mercês, e 780 sypaes ou lascarins (lascar), recuperon o territorio.”—Bosquejo das Possessões Portuguezas no Oriente, &c., por Joaquim Pedro Celestino Soares, Lisboa, 1851, p. 58.

1746.—“The Enemy, by the best Intelligence that could be got, and best Judgment that could be formed, had or would have on Shore next Morning,

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission.
See our FAQ for more details.