efAP. vr.1 DRESSED AND TANNED LEATHER. 113
I had always plenty of employment for my men; they dressed some hides and made them into good saddle-bags, and also into packing reims, which have to be no less than sixty feet long. It is perfectly impossible to pack oxen with a short reim, for their hide is so loose, and their sides so shaky, that the packs require eight or ten turns of reim round them on the ox's back before they are properly fastened. The tugging that is necessary is enormous. It requires two skilled hands and one native to pack an ox. The native holds him by his nosereim (or thong) ; the things are placed on his back, the middle of the reim on the top of them, and the loose ends are pulled under the ox's belly from the opposite side. Then each packer puts his foot against the ox's ribs, and, holding tightly his end of the reim, pulls at it with all his might and main, till the ox's waist is considerably, and even fashionably compressed; then the reims are crossed over his back, and the loose ends again drawn through under his belly, and another pull is given, and so on, till the reim is exhausted ; finally the ends are tied.
My savages never could pack; they had not strength enough to do it. It is true that Damaras do sometimes put things on the back of an old worn-out ox that has not energy enough to kick them off; but they could never pack, as we did, one hundred and fifty pounds' weight on young oxen that had to be driven through thick cover, and amused themselves with trying to rub their pack off against every trunk or bough of a tree that they could get at.
We never had a sufficiency of leather to make reims of; in fact, we always wanted leather, and I would gladly at any time have exchanged a live ox for a dressed skin. It takes at least two days to dress an oxhide, and two days' provision is nearly one ox. If game was slaughtered, the Damaras eat so much that they could not work at dressing the hide, which is a most laborious job to undertake, and must be entered upon willingly, or the hide is spoilt. When a hide is dressed, in order to cut it into reims, the projecting edges are first trimmed off, and then with a knife the remaining part is cut spirally round and round the whole way from the circumference to the centre. The reim or band for packing purposes ought to be about an inch thick, and of a very regular breadth throughout. A reim, or any other piece of ox-hide that is dressed, is more limp than if it had been tanned; but it feels greasy, and is a nasty thing to handle. Tanned leather is abused by Hottentots and Dutchmen, but I conceive that is simply because it is an innovation upon their ideas. If I travelled