PISHPASH, s. Apparently a factitious Anglo-Indian word, applied to a slop of rice-soup with small pieces of meat in it, much used in the Anglo-Indian nursery. [It is apparently P. pash-pash, ‘shivered or broken in pieces’; from Pers. pashidan.]

1834.—“They found the Secretary disengaged, that is to say, if surrounded with huge volumes of Financial Reports on one side, and a small silver tray holding a mess of pishpash on the other, can be called disengaged.”—The Baboo, &c. i. 85.

PITARRAH, s. A coffer or box used in travelling by palankin, to carry the traveller’s clothes, two such being slung to a banghy (q.v.). Hind. pitara, petara, Skt. pitaka, ‘a basket.’ The thing was properly a basket made of cane; but in later practice of tin sheet, with a light wooden frame.
[1833.—“… he sat in the palanquin, which was filled with water up to his neck, whilst everything he had in his batara (or ‘trunk’) was soaked with wet. …”—Travels of Dr. Wolff, ii. 198.]

1849.—“The attention of the staff was called to the necessity of putting their pitarahs and property in the Bungalow, as thieves abounded. ‘My dear Sir,’ was the reply, ‘we are quite safe; we have nothing.’ ”—Delhi Gazette, Nov. 7.

1853.—“It was very soon settled that Oakfield was to send to the dák bungalow for his petarahs, and stay with Staunton for about three weeks.”—W. D. Arnold, Oakfield, i. 223.

PLANTAIN, s. This is the name by which the Musa sapientum is universally known to Anglo-India. Books distinguish between the Musa sapientum or plantain, and the Musa paradisaica or banana; but it is hard to understand where the line is supposed to be drawn. Variation is gradual and infinite.

The botanical name Musa represents the Ar. mauz, and that again is from the Skt. mocha. The specific name sapientum arises out of a misunderstanding of a passage in Pliny, which we have explained under the head Jack. The specific paradisaica is derived from the old belief of Oriental Christians (entertained also, if not originated by the Mahommedans) that this was the tree from whose leaves Adam and Eve made themselves aprons. A further mystical interest attached also to the fruit, which some believed to be the forbidden apple of Eden. For in the pattern formed by the core or seeds, when the fruit was cut across, our forefathers discerned an image of the Cross, or even of the Crucifix. Medieval travellers generally call the fruit either Musa or ‘Fig of Paradise,’ or sometimes ‘Fig of India,’ and to this day in the W. Indies the common small plantains are called ‘figs.’ The Portuguese also habitually called it ‘Indian Fig.’ And this perhaps originated some confusion in Milton’s mind, leading him to make the Banyan (Ficus Indica of Pliny, as of modern botanists) the Tree of the aprons, and greatly to exaggerate the size of the leaves of that ficus.

The name banana is never employed by the English in India, though it is the name universal in the London fruit-shops, where this fruit is now to be had at almost all seasons, and often of excellent quality, imported chiefly, we believe, from Madeira, [and more recently from Jamaica. Mr. Skeat adds that in the Strait Settlements the name plantain seems to be reserved for those varieties which are only eatable when cooked, but the word banana is used indifferently with plantain, the latter being on the whole perhaps the rarer word].

The name plantain is no more originally Indian than is banana. It, or rather platano, appears to have been the name under which the fruit was first carried to the W. Indies, according to Oviedo, in 1516; the first edition of his book was published in 1526. That author is careful to explain that the plant was improperly so called, as it was quite another thing from the platanus described by Pliny. Bluteau says the word is Spanish. We do not know how it came to be applied to the Musa. [Mr. Guppy (8 ser. Notes & Queries, viii. 87) suggests that “the Spaniards have obtained platano from the Carib and Galibi words for banana, viz., balatanna and palatana, by the process followed by the Australian colonists when they converted a native name for the casuarina trees into ‘she-oak’; and that we can thus explain how platano came in Spanish to signify both the plane-tree and the banana” Prof. Skeat (Concise Dict. s.v.) derives plantain from Lat. planta, ‘a plant’; properly ‘a spreading sucker or shoot’; and says that the plantain took its name from its spreading leaf.] The rapid spread of the plantain or banana in the West, whence both names were carried back to India, is a counterpart to the rapid diffusion of the ananas in the Old World of Asia. It would seem from the translation of Mendoça that in his time (1585) the Spaniards had come to use the form plantano, which our Englishmen took up as plantan and plantain. But even in the 1736 edition of Bailey’s Dict. the only

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