Jamri, a native Semelai, demonstrates the lost art of firepiston construction.
The firepiston creates fire by rapidly compressing a column of air, and thereby sufficiently increasing the temperature in the chamber to ignite the tinder placed in the cup at the head of the piston. (In excess of 430 degrees C)
In the early 19th century European explorers began encountering the native peoples of South East Asia and were astonished to see them utilizing a fire-lighting device they could not comprehend.
In 1877 Carl Linde gave a lecture in Munich in which he demonstrated a firepiston.
Rudolph Diesel was in attendance and this experience later stimulated him to designing the diesel engine.
Unfortunately, amongst its original inventors the knowledge of its construction and use is almost totally lost, replaced by the trappings of the modern world.
The process took approximately 2 hours, the gasket is made from fibres extracted from the bark of the Terap tree (Artocarpus Elasticus), the tinder is extracted from palms such as the Fishtail palm (Caryota) in Malaysia or the Apiang palm (Arenga undulatifolia) in Borneo. It is scraped from the layers which surround the palms heart.
Filmed in Malaysia by BOD and Stuart.
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