Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Bow Drill

How can one possibly make a fire in a situation where there is no fire ignition tool?  What if one is gone missing in a jungle where there is no settlement. Imagine how you would react to this situation where there is no matchstick or lighter? This situation is difficult for those who have not heard of ancient ways of making fire, however, it is not challenging for those who have little understanding of friction and its practical application in igniting fire during ancient time.
Making fire using scientific knowledge of friction may seem classical and not so fashionable these days, nevertheless, it is essentially an inherited wisdom that our humanity has survived and succeeded through many generations using it. In fact, we have to cherish this age old tradition that endured generations after generations.
To upkeep traditional and cultural practices intact, Lho Mon Education taught a lesson on how to make fire using a bow drill. The fire was very important paraphernalia for the survival of early people. Deprived of effortless modern tools those days, people had to come up with simple devices to help make fire easily. Bow drill is a simple machine to make fire rubbing two pieces of wood together. It is made using bamboo, wood, branches and string. The tool generates heat after vigorously rubbing and produces fire ember from which fire is lit. We also need some dry grasses and sawdust to turn fire ember into the flame. There are specific soft woods found in our locality (Dewathang) that were used particularly for this purpose, such as phrangshing (a soft local tree) and khartong mancha (special stone).
For students, it was fun trying to rub with their last muscle strength and often break into laughter with a fume of smoke from the tool. With patience and repeated effort, it was a fascinating moment for them to witness fire ember and finally make fire using dry grasses. The experience was not only learning how to make fire but it was a practical demo of how friction leads to fire and understand how early people had to take hardship.

This art of making fire may not be completely useful in present day especially in an era of abundant light equipment, however, it connects previous generations’ cultural practices to the present generation.

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