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CHAP. 36. (17.)—MASTICH.

The transition, therefore,1 is very easy to mastich, which grows upon another prickly shrub of India and Arabia, known by the name of laina. Of mastich as well there are two different kinds; for in Asia and Greece there is also found a herb which puts forth leaves from the root, and bears a thistly head, resembling an apple, and full of seeds. Upon an incision being made in the upper part of this plant drops distil from it, which can hardly be distinguished from the genuine mastich. There is, again, a third sort,2 found in Pontus, but more like bitumen than anything else. The most esteemed, however, of all these, is the white mastich of Chios, the price of which is twenty denarii per pound, while the black mastich sells at twelve. It is said that the mastich of Chios exudes from the lentisk in the form of a sort of gum: like frankincense, it is adulterated with resin.

1 This is most probably the meaning of Pliny's expression—"Ergo transit in mastichen;" though Hardouin reads it as meaning that myrrh sometimes degenerates to mastich: and Fée, understanding the passage in the same sense, remarks that the statement is purely fabulous. Mastich, he says, is the produce of the Pistacia lentiscus of Linnæus, which abounds in Greece and the other parts of southern Europe. The greater part of the mastich of commerce comes from the island of Chio. It is impossible to conjecture to what plant Pliny here alludes, with the head of a thistle.

2 This kind, Fée says, is quite unknown to the moderns.

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