The Collection of Mastic at Chios.
By M. J. LEON SOUBEIRAN.
Mastic flows from the Pistacia Lentiscus, a Terebinthaceous tree, growing principally in the south of the Isle of Chios, about Cape Mastic, which takes its name from this resin, and is situated about an hour's journey from the city of Chios. According to the natives it exudes, not only from artificial incisions, but also spontaneously from the branches, where it congeals in drops, which, under the name of dak-ra (tears), are gathered separately, and constitute the most esteemed kind. But the bulk of the resin issues from vertical incisions skilfully made with a knife close together round the whole circumference of the trunk, from the root to the branches. A few hours after this operation, which is done about the middle of June, there issues from the incisions a resinous, transparent, aromatic substance, which soon solidifies. After fifteen or twenty days this resin is collected in little baskets, lined with white paper or clean cotton cloths. Previous to this time the ground underneath the tree is covered so as to prevent the juice, which runs plentifully, from being soiled by the earth. If such contamination does take place, care is taken to cleanse it directly it is collected. The production of resin, which is collected by women and children, lasts about six months, and is valued at about £8 to £10 for a full-grown tree.
The mastic that exudes spontaneously is divided into two kinds,—the kadisto, which averages in value 100 Turkish piastres, the oke of 1200 grammes, and the phliskari, which has nearly the same value. That which drops from the incisions and is picked up from the ground is the peetta, worth 80 piastres the oke; whilst the worst quality, that which is mixed with earth, called phluda, is only worth from 40 to 60 piastres.
The annual production is about 2,000,000 drachms, and is attributed, by the natives of Chios, to the intervention of Saint Isidore, martyred in that island in the third century; the drops of blood of that martyr having given birth, they say, to the mastic tree.
In the East mastic is employed to strengthen the gums and to perfume the breath. It is at present little used in medicine, but principally in the arts, in the preparation of varnish.
A turpentine which has enjoyed a great reputation is also obtained at Chios, from the Pistacia Terebinthus, by means of more or less deep incisions in the trunks of the larger trees.—Pharm. Journ. and Trans., Sept. 16, 1871, from Journ. de Pharm. et de Chimie.