PISHPASH to PLANTAIN
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 travellers 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.
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.
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 Miltons 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 Baileys Dict. the only