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Ch. 2: Gems in Ceylon

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GOLD AND GEMS. .                                 257
of carved Coral and gold ornaments realized a high price: this probably may be explained by its having belonged to so distinguished a person. Fine specimens of carved Coral are not at all uncommon.
Coral was formerly in great repute as a talisman against enchantments, witch­craft, thunder, tempests, and other perils. It was consecrated to Jupiter and Phcebus.
It would not be wise to say that Coral either has lost, or will permanently lose, its share of popularity. It was only as the competitor of Wisdom that it was said, "No mention shall be made of Coral, or of Pearls, for the price of Wisdom is above Rubies."
General Remarks upon the term "CARAT."
The word Carat is probably derived from the name of a bean, the fruit of a species of Erythrina which grows in Africa. The tree which yields this fruit is called by the natives " Kuara" (Sun), and both blossom and fruit are of a golden color. The bean or fruit, when dried, is nearly always of the same weight, and thus in very remote times it was used in Schangallas, the chief market of Africa, as a standard of weight for gold. The beans were afterwards imported into India, and were there used for weighing the Diamond.
The Carat is not of the same weight in, all countries, for instance :—'
PLUMBAGO MINES OF CEYLON: BLACK LEAD.
Perhaps some of our readers will be interested in a description of the plumbago or black lead mines of Ceylon, at least of those which exist in the Pasdum and Rygani Korales in the district of Kalutara, the two great Korales which supply the English mart with this very useful mineral. Although the country abounds with minerals of all kinds, plumbago is the only mineral which is exported in very large quantities to Europe. It is to be found chiefly in Pasdum Korale, but there are also some very valu­able mines in the adjoining Korale and at Galle. The natives, as we are all aware, have no idea as to where minerals exist, the discovery of it depending entirely on mere chance. Since the Survey Department was organised, and Crown lands surveyed on a large scale for sale, the natives have learnt that the surveyors can put them in the way of buying plumb­ago lands, and accordingly these officers are not a little pestered for inform­ation on this point. That never failing index, the needle, always indicates in a greater or less degree the existence of minerals in the bowels of the
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