SIRDAR, s. Hind. from Pers. sardar, and less correctly sirdar, ‘leader, a commander, an officer’; a chief, or lord; the head of a set of palankin-bearers, and hence the ‘sirdar-bearer,’ or elliptically ‘the Sirdar,’ is in Bengal the style of the valet or body-servant, even when he may have no others under him (see BEARER). [Sirdar is now the official title of the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian army; Sirdar Bahadur is an Indian military distinction.]

[c. 1610.—“… a captain of a company, or, as they call it, a Sardare.”—Pyrard de Laval, Hak. Soc. i. 254.

[1675.—“Sardar.” See under SEPOY.]

1808.—“I, with great difficulty, knocked up some of the villagers, who were nearly as much afraid as Christie’s Will, at the visit of a Sirdar” (here an officer).—Life of Leyden.

[c. 1817.—“… the bearers, with their Sirdaur, have a large room with a verandah before it.”—Mrs. Sherwood, Last Days of Boosy, 63.]

1826.—“Gopee’s father had been a Sirdar of some consequence.”—Pandurang Hari, 174; [ed. 1873, i. 252].

SIRDRÁRS, s. This is the name which native valets (bearer) give to common drawers (underclothing). A friend (Gen. R. Maclagan, R.E.) has suggested the origin, which is doubtless “short drawers” in contra- distinction to Long-drawers, or Pyjamas (qq.v.). A common bearer’s pronunciation is sirdraj; as a chest of drawers is also called ‘Draj ka almaira’ (see ALMYRA).

SIRKY, s. Hind. sirki. A kind of unplatted matting formed by laying the fine cylindrical culms from the upper part of the Saccharum sara, Roxb. (see SURKUNDA) side by side, and binding them in single or double layers. This is used to lay under the thatch of a house, to cover carts and palankins, to make Chicks (q.v.) and table-mats, and for many other purposes of rural and domestic economy.

1810.—“It is perhaps singular that I should have seen seerky in use among a group of gypsies in Essex. In India these itinerants, whose habits and characters correspond with this intolerable species of banditti, invariably shelter themselves under seerky.”—Williamson, V.M. ii. 490.

[1832.—“… neat little huts of sirrakee, a reed or grass, resembling bright straw.”—Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali, Observations, i. 23.]

SIRRIS, s. Hind. siris, Skt. shirisha, shri, ‘to break,’ from the brittleness of its branches; the tree Acacia Lebbek, Benth., indigenous in S . India, the Satpura range, Bengal, and the sub-Himalayan tract; cultivated in Egypt and elsewhere. A closely kindred sp., A. Julibrissin, Boivin, affords a specimen of scientific ‘Hobson-Jobson’; the specific name is a corruption of Gulab-reshm, ‘silk-flower.’

1808.—“Quelques anneés après le mort de Dariyaî, des charpentiers ayant abattu un arbre de Seris, qui croissoit auprès de son tombeau, le coupèrent en plusieurs pièces pour l’employer à des constructions. Tout-à-coup une voix terrible se fit entendre, la terre se mit à trembler et le tronc de cet arbre se releva de lui-même. Les ouvriers épouvantés s’enfuirent, et l’arbre ne tarda pas à reverdir.”—Afsos, Arayish-i-Mahfil, quoted by Garcin de Tassy, Rel. Mus. 88.

[c. 1890.—

“An’ it fell when sirris-shaws were sere,
And the nichts were long and mirk.”

R. Kipling, Departmental Ditties, The Fall of Jock Gillespie.


SISSOO, SHISHAM, s. Hind. sisu, sisun, shisham, Skt. sinsapa; Ar. sasam, sasim; the tree Dalbergia Sissoo, Roxb. (N.O. Leguminosae) and its wood. This is excellent, and valuable for construction, joinery, boat- and carri age-building, and furniture. It was the favourite wood for gun-carriages as long as the supply of large timber lasted. It is now much cultivated in the Punjab plantations. The tree is indigenous in the sub-Himalayan tracts; and believed to be so likewise in Beluchistan, Guzerat, and Central India. Another sp. of Dalbergia (D. latifolia) affords the Black Wood (q.v.) of S. and W. India. There can be little doubt that one or more of these species of Dalbergia afforded the sesamine wood spoken of in the Periplus, and in some old Arabic writers. A quotation under Black Wood shows that this wood was exported from India to Chaldaea in remote ages. Sissoo has continued in recent times to be

  By PanEris using Melati.

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